GALLOWS, n. A stage for the performance of miracle plays, in which the leading actor is translated to heaven. In this country the gallows is chiefly remarkable for the number of persons who escape it.Whether on the gallows high Or where blood flows the reddest, The noblest place for man to die — Is where he died the deadest. —Old play
GAMBLING, n. A pastime in which the pleasure consists partly in the consciousness of advantages gained for oneself, but mainly in the contemplation of another's loss.
GARGOYLE, n. A rain-spout projecting from the eaves of mediæval buildings, commonly fashioned into a grotesque caricature of some personal enemy of the architect or owner of the building. This was especially the case in churches and ecclesiastical structures generally, in which the gargoyles presented a perfect rogues' gallery of local heretics and controversialists. Sometimes when a new dean and chapter were installed the old gargoyles were removed and others substituted having a closer relation to the private animosities of the new incumbents.
GARTER, n. [1.] An elastic band intended to keep a woman from coming out of her stockings and desolating the country. [2.] An order of merit established by Edward III of England, and conferred upon persons who have distinguished themselves in the royal favor. Other kinds of public service are otherwise rewarded."'Tis Britain's boast that knighthood of the Garter Was ne'er conferred upon a cad or carter; Well, any thrifty and ambitious flunkey Can drive a bargain — few can drive a donkey." So the proud cynic. Some ensuing dicker Gave him that pretty bauble for his kicker
GENDER, n. The sex of words.A masculine wooed a feminine noun, But his courting didn't suit her, So he begged a verb his wishes to crown, But the verb replied, with a frigid frown: "What object have I? I'm neuter."
GENEALOGY, n. An account of one's descent from an ancestor who did not particularly care to trace his own.
GENERALLY, adj. Usually, ordinarily, as, Men generally lie, A woman is generally treacherous, etc.
GENEROUS, adj. Originally this word meant noble by birth and was rightly applied to a great multitude of persons. It now means noble by nature and is taking a bit of a rest.
GENESIS, n. The first of the five sacred books written by Moses. The evidence of that great man's authorship of this book and the four others is of the most convincing character: he never disavowed them.
GENIUS, n. That particular disposition of the faculties intellectual which enables one to write poetry like Hector Stuart and prose like Loring Pickering; to draw like Carl Browne and paint like Mr. Swan; to model like the immortal designer of the Cogswell statue or the Lotta fountain; to speak like the great O'Donnell. In a general sense, any degree of mental superiority that enables its possessor to live acceptably upon his admirers, and without blame be unbrokenly drunk.
GENT, n. The vulgarian's idea of a gentleman. The male of the genus Hoodlum.
GENTEEL, adj. Refined, after the fashion of a gent.Observe with care, my son, the distinction I reveal: A gentleman is gentle and a gent genteel. Heed not the definitions your "Unabridged" presents, For dictionary makers are generally gents. —G.J.
GENTLEMAN, n. A rare animal sufficiently described in the lines immediately foregoing.
GENTLEWOMAN, n. The female of the genus Gentleman. The word is obsolete, gentlewomen, for no fault of their own, being now "ladies."The wretch who first called gentlewomen ladies, Being first duly hanged, arrived at Hades Where, welcomed by the devils to their den, He bowed and said: "Good morning — gentlemen."
GENUFLECTION, n. Leg-service. The act of bending the knee to Him who so made.
GENUINE, adj. Real, veritable, as, A genuine counterfeit, Genuine hypocrisy, etc.
GEOGRAPHER, n. A chap who can tell you offhand the difference between the outside of the world and the inside.Habeam, geographer of wide renown, Native of Abu-Keber's ancient town, In passing thence along the river Zam To the adjacent village of Xelam, Bewildered by the multitude of roads, Got lost, lived long on migratory toads, Then from exposure miserably died, And grateful travelers bewailed their guide. —Henry Haukhorn
GEOLOGY, n. The science of the earth's crust — to which, doubtless, will be added that of its interior whenever a man shall come up garrulous out of a well. The geological formations of the globe already noted are catalogued thus: The Primary, or lower one, consists of rocks, bones or mired mules, gas-pipes, miners' tools, antique statues minus the nose, Spanish doubloons and ancestors. The Secondary is largely made up of red worms and moles. The Tertiary comprises railway tracks, patent pavements, grass, snakes, mouldy boots, beer bottles, tomato cans, intoxicated citizens, garbage, anarchists, snap-dogs and fools.
GERMAN, n. A veller dot vas mighty broud (und mighty glat) to coom vrom Deutschland, don't it?
GHOST, n. The outward and visible sign of an inward fear.He saw a ghost. It occupied — that dismal thing! — The path that he was following. Before he'd time to stop and fly, An earthquake trifled with the eye That saw a ghost. He fell as fall the early good; Unmoved that awful vision stood. The stars that danced before his ken He wildly brushed away, and then He saw a post. —Jared MacphesterAccounting for the uncommon behavior of ghosts, Heine mentions somebody's ingenious theory to the effect that they are as much afraid of us as we of them. Not quite, if I may judge from such tables of comparative speed as I am able to compile from memories of my own experience.
There is one insuperable obstacle to a belief in ghosts. A ghost never comes naked: he appears either in a winding-sheet or "in his habit as he lived." To believe in him, then, is to believe that not only have the dead the power to make themselves visible after there is nothing left of them, but that the same power inheres in textile fabrics. Supposing the products of the loom to have this ability, what object would they have in exercising it? And why does not the apparition of a suit of clothes sometimes walk abroad without a ghost in it? These be riddles of significance. They reach away down and get a convulsive grasp on the very tap-root of this flourishing faith.
GHOUL, n. A demon addicted to the reprehensible habit of devouring the dead. The existence of ghouls has been disputed by that class of controversialists who are more concerned to deprive the world of comforting beliefs than to give it anything good in their place. In 1640 Father Secchi saw one in a cemetery near Florence and frightened it away with the sign of the cross. He describes it as gifted with many heads and an uncommon allowance of limbs, and he saw it in more than one place at a time. The good man was coming away from dinner at the time and explains that if he had not been "heavy with eating" he would have seized the demon at all hazards. Atholston relates that a ghoul was caught by some sturdy peasants in a churchyard at Sudbury and ducked in a horsepond. (He appears to think that so distinguished a criminal should have been ducked in a tank of rose-water.) The water turned at once to blood "and so contynues unto ys daye." The pond has since been bled with a ditch. As late as the beginning of the fourteenth century a ghoul was cornered in the crypt of the cathedral at Amiens and the whole population surrounded the place. Twenty armed men with a priest at their head, bearing a crucifix, entered and captured the ghoul, which, thinking to escape by the stratagem, had transformed itself to the semblance of a well-known citizen, but was nevertheless hanged, drawn and quartered in the midst of hideous popular orgies. The citizen whose shape the demon had assumed was so affected by the sinister occurrence that he never again showed himself in Amiens and his fate remains a mystery.
GIMLET, n. An instrument somewhat smaller than the man "with an inexhaustible fund of anecdote."
GIPSY, n. who is willing to tell your fortune for a small portion of it.
GIRAFFE, n. An animal that loves to bathe its fevered brow in the mists of dizzy altitudes, and supplies its own pinnacle for the occasion, whence it overlooks you like a step-ladder.
GLOOM, n. The mental condition produced by a nigger minstrel, the funny column of a newspaper, a hope in heaven and a devil's dictionary.
GLUTTON, n. A person who escapes the evils of moderation by committing dyspepsia.
GNOME, n. In North-European mythology, a dwarfish imp inhabiting the interior parts of the earth and having special custody of mineral treasures. Bjorsen, who died in 1765, says gnomes were common enough in the southern parts of Sweden in his boyhood, and he frequently saw them scampering on the hills in the evening twilight. Ludwig Binkerhoof saw three as recently as 1792, in the Black Forest, and Sneddeker avers that in 1803 they drove a party of miners out of a Silesian mine. Basing our computations upon data supplied by these statements, we find that the gnomes were probably extinct as early as 1764.
GNOSTICS, n. A sect of philosophers who tried to engineer a fusion between the early Christians and the Platonists. The former would not go into the caucus and the combination failed, greatly to the chagrin of the fusion managers.
GNU, n. An animal of South Africa, which in its domesticated state resembles a horse, a buffalo and a stag. In its wild condition it is something like a thunderbolt, an earthquake and a cyclone.A hunter from Kew caught a distant view Of a peacefully meditative gnu, And he said: "I'll pursue, and my hands imbrue In its blood at a closer interview." But that beast did ensue and the hunter it threw O'er the top of a palm that adjacent grew; And he said as he flew: "It is well I withdrew Ere, losing my temper, I wickedly slew That really meritorious gnu." —Jarn Leffer
GOLD, n. A yellow metal greatly prized for its convenience in the various kinds of robbery known as trade. The word was formerly spelled "God" — the l was inserted to distinguish it from the name of another and inferior deity. Gold is the heaviest of all the metals except platinum, and a considerable amount of it will sink a man so much more quickly and deeply than platinum will that the latter is made into lifebelts and used as a lifting power for balloons. British gold, an imaginary metal greatly used in the manufacture of American traitors to the patriotic axiom that two and two are five.
GOLD-BUG, n. In political matters, a miscreant who has the wickedness to know that legislation cannot maintain a permanent relation between the values of two metals, even by the luminous device of binding them together in the same coins. A miller who grinds the faces of the poor and takes the whole grist for toll. A hideous monster that disturbs the Bulletin's repose by sitting astride Deacon Fitch's stomach, picking the bones of "the debtor class" and blaspheming the dollar of our fathers.
GOOD, adj. Sensible, madam, to the worth of this present writer. Alive, sir, to the advantages of letting him alone.
GOOSE, n. A bird that supplies quills for writing. These, by some occult process of nature, are penetrated and suffused with various degrees of the bird's intellectual energies and emotional character, so that when inked and drawn mechanically across paper by a person called an "author," there results a very fair and accurate transcript of the fowl's thought and feeling. The difference in geese, as discovered by this ingenious method, is considerable: many are found to have only trivial and insignificant powers, but some are seen to be very great geese indeed.
GORDIAN KNOT, n. Gordon, the King of Khartoum, had as a fastening to his warchariot a knot so intricate that neither end of the thong could be seen, and he used to brag about it a good deal. Instructed by an oracle, he declared that anybody attempting to undo it and failing should stand the beer, but anybody succeeding should receive the greatest honor that he had ever conferred — a favor which would turn the unsuccessful competitors pea-green with envy and break them all up: the King would shake him for the drinks. When this decree was promulgated all Gordon's subjects joined the Good Templars, but Alexander Badlam of Macedon hearing about it, started at once for the Soudanese capital. Ushered with great pomp into the harnessroom, he took out his pocket-knife and calmly cut the knot, remarking with the ready wit which distinguished him from the humorist of the period: "Get onto that racket, my son." "Shake," replied the monarch with truly oriental exuberance of imagery. They shook, using four dice. The King threw four sixes. "Two small pairs," he explained, with royal unconcern. Alexander dumped the cubes back into the box, blew into it, muttered a few cabalistic words and threw. Five deuces! "In Macedon this is the national game, endeared to the popular heart by seventeen centuries of unbroken success, and I have been through it with a lantern," said he, laconically. Graciously pleased to mark his sense of the performance in words of memorable significance, the monarch exlaimed: "You take the cake," and led the way to the royal sideboard, when, later in the day, Alexander, over three fingers of the same as before, explained with the richness of metaphor which characterizes the speech of men familiar with that barbaric splendor of Eastern courts: "It's a cold day when I get left."
GORGON, n. The Gorgon was a maiden bold Who turned to stone the Greeks of old That looked upon her awful brow. We dig them out of ruins now, And swear that workmanship so bad Proves all the ancient sculptors mad.
GOUT, n. A physician's name for the rheumatism of a rich patient.
GOVERNMENT, n. A modern Chronos who devours his own children. The priesthood are charged with the duty of preparing them for his tooth.
GOVERNOR, n. An aspirant to the United States Senate.
GRACES, n. Three beautiful goddesses, Aglaia, Thalia and Euphrosyne, who attended upon Venus, serving without salary. They were at no expense for board and clothing, for they ate nothing to speak of and dressed according to the weather, wearing whatever breeze happened to be blowing.
GRAMMAR, n. A system of pitfalls thoughtfully prepared for the feet of the self-made man, along the path by which he advances to distinction.
GRAPE, n. Hail noble fruit! — by Homer sung, Anacreon and Khayyam; Thy praise is ever on the tongue Of better men than I am.
The lyre my hand has never swept, The song I cannot offer: My humbler service pray accept — I'll help to kill the scoffer.
The water-drinkers and the cranks Who load their skins with liquor — I'll gladly bare their belly-tanks And tap them with my sticker.
Fill up, fill up, for wisdom cools When e'er we let the wine rest. Here's death to Prohibition's fools, And every kind of vine-pest! —Jamrach Holobom
GRAPESHOT, n. An argument which the future is preparing in answer to the demands of American Socialism.
GRASS, n. All flesh.Two monks upon a field of battle Observed some lean and hungry cattle. Said one: "But little feed is growing Where Death so lately has been mowing." Replied the other, gravely eying The piles of dead about them lying: "All flesh is grass — I'm quite confounded That cows should starve by hay surrounded."
GRASSHOPPER, n. An insect with legs like a couple of step-ladders. The Gryllus campestris of Linnæus; the Yumyum chawbully of Sarah Winnemucca.
GRATITUDE, n. A sentiment lying midway between a benefit received and a benefit expected.
GRAVE, n. A place in which the dead are laid to await the coming of the medical student.Beside a lonely grave I stood — With brambles 'twas encumbered; The winds were moaning in the wood, Unheard by him who slumbered,
A rustic standing near, I said: "He cannot hear it blowing!" "'Course not," said he: "the feller's dead — He can't hear nowt that's going."
"Too true," I said; "alas, too true — No sound his sense can quicken!" "Well, mister, wot is that to you? — The deadster ain't a-kickin'."
I knelt and prayed: "O Father, smile On him, and mercy show him!" That countryman looked on the while, And said: "Ye didn't know him." —Pobeter Dunko
GRAVITATION, n. The tendency of all bodies to approach one another with a strength proportioned to the quantity of matter they contain — the quantity of matter they contain being ascertained by the strength of their tendency to approach one another. This is a lovely and edifying illustration of how science, having made A the proof of B, makes B the proof of A.
GREAT, adj. "I'm great," the Lion said — "I reign The monarch of the wood and plain!"
The Elephant replied: "I'm great — No quadruped can match my weight!"
"I'm great — no animal has half So long a neck!" said the Giraffe.
"I'm great," the Kangaroo said — "see My femoral muscularity!"
The 'Possum said: "I'm great — behold, My tail is lithe and bald and cold!"
An Oyster fried was understood To say: "I'm great because I'm good!"
Each reckons greatness to consist In that in which he heads the list,
And Vierick thinks he tops his class Because he is the greatest ass. —Arion Spurl Doke
GRIFFIN, n. An animal having the body and legs of a beast and the head and wings of a bird. It is now thought to be extinct, though Arseène Marsil saw one as lately as 1783, in the Vosges. Its fossil remains in singular preservation are so frequently found in the ruins of ancient cities that many eminent scientists (including Drs. Harkness and Behr, of the California Academy of Sciences) suppose it to have been generally domesticated. Linnæus, following Pliny, calls it the Quadrupavis amalgamata mirabilis, but the learned Professor of Natural History at the Berkeley University ingeniously points out that it belongs to the genus Aquileo. Like the mule (Asinequus obstinatus) the griffin owed nothing to the Creator: it was the result of an entangling alliance between the eagle and the lion.
GRIME, n. A peculiar substance widely distributed throughout nature, but found most abundantly on the hands of eminent American statesmen. It is insoluble in public money.
GRIP, n. Ex-Speaker Parks's manner of fondling the property of the commonwealth.
GROAN, n. The language in which a Republican Federal officeholder expounds his view of the political situation.
GUARDIAN, n. One who undertakes to protect from others what he is not ready to get for himself.
GUILLOTINE, n. A machine which makes a Frenchman shrug his shoulders with good reason.
In his great work on Divergent Lines of Racial Evolution, the learned Professor Brayfugle argues from the prevalence of this gesture — the shrug — among Frenchmen, that they are descended from turtles and it is simply a survival of the habit of retracting the head inside the shell. It is with reluctance that I differ with so eminent an authority, but in my judgment (as more elaborately set forth and enforced in my work entitled Hereditary Emotions — lib. II, c. XI) the shrug is a poor foundation upon which to build so important a theory, for previously to the Revolution the gesture was unknown. I have not a doubt that it is directly referable to the terror inspired by the guillotine during the period of that instrument's activity.
GUILT, n. The condition of one who is known to have committed an indiscretion, as distinguished from the state of him who has covered his tracks.
GUINEA, n. A coin of twenty-one shillings, formerly minted in Great Britain, and still used as the unit of computation in fees for professional service, bribes and other transactions between gentlemen.The bank is but the guinea's camp. —Burns
GUINEA-PIG, n. A small Brazilian animal of the genus Cavia, and frequently called the cavy. In the opinion of the President of the California Academy of Sciences it is rather a dog than a pig. He grounds his judgment upon the classical admonition, Cave canem.
GULL, v.t. To tell the sovereign people that if elected you will not steal.
GUM, n. A substance greatly used by young women in place of a contented spirit and religious consolation.
GUNPOWDER, n. An agency employed by civilized nations for the settlement of disputes which might become troublesome if left unadjusted. By most writers the invention of gunpowder is ascribed to the Chinese, but not upon very convincing evidence. Milton says it was invented by the devil to dispel angels with, and this opinion seems to derive some support from the scarcity of angels. Moreover, it has the hearty concurrence of the Hon. James Wilson, Secretary of Agriculture.
Secretary Wilson became interested in gunpowder through an event that occurred on the Government experimental farm in the District of Columbia. One day, several years ago, a rogue imperfectly reverent of the Secretary's profound attainments and personal character presented him with a sack of gunpowder, representing it as the seed of the Flashawful flabbergastor, a Patagonian cereal of great commercial value, admirably adapted to this climate. The good Secretary was instructed to spill it along in a furrow and afterward inhume it with soil. This he at once proceeded to do, and had made a continuous line of it all the way across a ten-acre field, when he was made to look backward by a shout from the generous donor, who at once dropped a lighted match into the furrow at the starting-point. Contact with the earth had somewhat dampened the powder, but the startled functionary saw himself pursued by a tall moving pillar of fire and smoke in fierce evolution. He stood for a moment paralyzed and speechless, then he recollected an engagement and, dropping all, absented himself thence with such surprising celerity that to the eyes of spectators along the route selected he appeared like a long, dim streak prolonging itself with inconceivable rapidity through seven villages, and audibly refusing to be comforted. "Great Scott! what is that?" cried a surveyor's chainman, shading his eyes and gazing at the fading line of agriculturist which bisected his visible horizon. "That," said the surveyor, carelessly glancing at the phenomenon and again centering his attention upon his instrument, "is the Meridian of Washington."
GYMNAST, n. A man who puts his brains into his muscles. The word is from the Greek gumnos, naked, all the athletic exercises of the Greeks being performed in that shocking condition; but the members of the Olympic Club make a compromise between the requirements of the climate and those of the ladies who attend their exhibitions. They wear their pajamas.
GYMNODANTES, n. Malacopterygian Plectognathes, if you please.
GYMNOSOPHISTS, n. Not sloggers who fought with the naked fist, as Professor Adolph Spreckels of the Olympic Club so learnedly but erroneously contends, but a sect of Hindoo philosophers who found the doctrine of metempsychosis a cheap and serviceable substitute for wearing apparel.