Online Tutor Now
extremely small; tiny; diminutive.
In the first of the four adventures of his 1726 satirical novel Gulliver’s Travels, Jonathan Swift has his narrator, Lemuel Gulliver, shipwrecked on the invented island of Lilliput. Its residents, the Lilliputians, are under six inches high—and their smallness is widely interpreted as a commentary on the British politics of Swift’s day. Lilliputian was quickly extended as an adjective meaning “extremely small; tiny; diminutive,” often implying a sense of pettiness. In the second adventure, Gulliver voyages to an imaginary land of giants, the Brobdingnagians, whose name has been adopted as a colorful antonym for Lilliputian.
The Lilliputian vest was over-the-top ’00s style at its finest ….
… miniature things still have the power to enthrall us …. That, at least, is one theory as to why people obsessively re-create big things in Lilliputian dimensions.
a word that has come into existence by error rather than by normal linguistic transmission, as through the mistaken reading of a manuscript, a scribal error, or a misprint.
Ghost word is a term coined by the great English philologist and lexicographer Walter Skeat in an address he delivered as president of the Philological Society in 1886. One amusing example that Skeat mentioned in his address comes from one of Sir Walter Scott’s novels, The Monastery (1820), “… dost thou so soon morse thoughts of slaughter?” Morse is only a misprint of nurse, but two correspondents proposed their own etymologies for morse. One proposed that it meant “to prime (as with a musket),” from Old French amorce “powder for the touchhole” (a touchhole is the vent in the breech of an early firearm through which the charge was ignited). The other correspondent proposed that morse meant “to bite” (from Latin morsus, past participle of mordere), therefore “to indulge in biting, stinging, or gnawing thoughts of slaughter.” The matter was finally settled when Scott’s original manuscript was consulted, and it was found that he had plainly written nurse.
Your true ghost word is a very rare beast indeed, a wild impossible chimera that never before entered into the heart of man to conceive.
Spookily enough, phantomnation itself is a “ghost word” originating in a 1725 translation of Homer’s Odyssey by Alexander Pope.
strangely diabolical or cruel; monstrous: a ghoulish and questionable sense of humor.
Ghoulish literally means “of, relating to, or like a ghoul.” If you know your folklore (and word origins), you won’t be surprised to learn why ghoulish evolved to mean “strangely diabolical or cruel; monstrous.” Recorded in the late 1700s, English ghoul is borrowed from the Arabic ghūl (based on a verb meaning “to seize”), a desert-dwelling demon in Arabic legend that robbed graves and preyed on human corpses. A ghūl was also believed to be able to change its shape—except for its telltale feet, which always took the form of donkey’s hooves. A “monstrous” creature, indeed. Ghoulish entered English in the 1800s.
… her dark humor and ghoulish sensibility are not for everyone.
… much of the story’s ghoulish humor derives from his habit of visualizing and communicating with murder victims, their ghosts intervening to help him solve each crime in trial-and-error fashion.