HADES, n. The lower world; the residence of departed spirits; the place where the dead live.
Among the ancients the idea of Hades was not synonymous with our Hell, many of the most respectable men of antiquity residing there in a very comfortable kind of way. Indeed, the Elysian Fields themselves were a part of Hades, though they have since been removed to Paris. When the Jacobean version of the New Testament was in process of evolution the pious and learned men engaged in the work insisted by a majority vote on translating the Greek word "Aides" as "Hell"; but a conscientious minority member secretly possessed himself of the record and struck out the objectionable word wherever he could find it. At the next meeting, the Bishop of Salisbury, looking over the work, suddenly sprang to his feet and said with considerable excitement: "Gentlemen, somebody has been razing 'Hell' here!" Years afterward the good prelate's death was made sweet by the reflection that he had been the means (under Providence) of making an important, serviceable and immortal addition to the phraseology of the English tongue.
HAG, n. An elderly lady whom you do not happen to like; sometimes called, also, a hen, or cat. Old witches, sorceresses, etc., were called hags from the belief that their heads were surrounded by a kind of baleful lumination or nimbus — hag being the popular name of that peculiar electrical light sometimes observed in the hair. At one time hag was not a word of reproach: Drayton speaks of a "beautiful hag, all smiles," much as Shakspeare said, "sweet wench." It would not now be proper to call your sweetheart a hag — that compliment is reserved for the use of her grandchildren.
HALCYON (Alcedo), n. The kingfisher. Halcyon days are days of tranquillity and calm; so called because for a few days in the season of storms, when the kingfisher was rearing its young, the gods used to curb the fury of the elements. So at least, the simple ancient was pleased to believe. It was an abominable superstition, altogether beneath contempt, and not at all comparable to the Christian belief that at midnight on Christmas eve the weather is moderated in deference to the birds and beasts which wake at that hour to worship the Savior.
HALF, n. One of two equal parts into which a thing may be divided, or considered as divided. In the fourteenth century a heated discussion arose among theologists and philosophers as to whether Omniscience could part an object into three halves; and the pious Father Aldrovinus publicly prayed in the cathedral at Rouen that God would demonstrate the affirmative of the proposition in some signal and unmistakable way, and particularly (if it should please Him) upon the body of that hardy blasphemer, Manutius Procinus, who maintained the negative. Procinus, however, was spared to die of the bite of a viper.
HALO, n. Properly, a luminous ring encircling an astronomical body, but not infrequently confounded with "aureola," or "nimbus," a somewhat similar phenomenon worn as a head-dress by divinities and saints. The halo is a purely optical illusion, produced by moisture in the air, in the manner of a rainbow; but the aureola is conferred as a sign of superior sanctity, in the same way as a bishop's mitre, or the Pope's tiara. In the painting of the Nativity, by Szedgkin, a pious artist of Pesth, not only do the Virgin and the Child wear the nimbus, but an ass nibbling hay from the sacred manger is similarly decorated and, to his lasting honor be it said, appears to bear his unaccustomed dignity with a truly saintly grace.
HAMMER, n. An instrument for smashing the human thumb — a malleus, as the Latin hath it. One of the old Frankish kings was called Charles Martel, or Charles the Hammer, because he was a beat.
HAND, n. A singular instrument worn at the end of the human arm and commonly thrust into somebody's pocket.
HANDKERCHIEF, n. A small square of silk or linen, used in various ignoble offices about the face and especially serviceable at funerals to conceal the lack of tears. The handkerchief is of recent invention; our ancestors knew nothing of it and intrusted its duties to the sleeve. Shakspeare's introducing it into the play of "Othello" is an anachronism: Desdemona dried her nose with her skirt, as Dr. Mary Walker and other reformers have done with their coat-tails in our own day — an evidence that revolutions sometimes go backward.
HANGMAN, n. [1.] An officer of the law charged with duties of the highest dignity and utmost gravity, and held in hereditary disesteem by a populace having a criminal ancestry. In some of the American States his functions are now performed by an electrician, as in New Jersey, where executions by electricity have recently been ordered — the first instance known to this lexicographer of anybody questioning the expediency of hanging Jerseymen. [2.] An officer of the law who produces suspended
HAPPINESS, n. An agreeable sensation arising from contemplating the misery of another.
HARANGUE, n. A speech by an opponent, who is known as an harangue-outang.
HARBOR, n. A place where ships taking shelter from storms are exposed to the fury of the customs.
HARMONISTS, n. A sect of Protestants, now extinct, who came from Europe in the beginning of the last century and were distinguished for the bitterness of their internal controversies and dissensions.
HASH, x. There is no definition for this word — nobody knows what hash is.
HATCHET, n. A young axe, known among Indians as a Thomashawk."O bury the hatchet, irascible Red, For peace is a blessing," the White Man said. The Savage concurred, and that weapon interred, With imposing rites, in the White Man's head. —John Lukkus
HATRED, n. A sentiment appropriate to the occasion of another's superiority.
HAUGHTY, adj. Proud and disdainful, like a waiter.
HEAD, n. That portion of the human body which is supposed to be responsible for all the others. It is customary in some countries to remove it, and many have acquired great skill and proficiency in the art. In ancient Japan, especially, this art was carried to a high degree of perfection.
HEAD-MONEY, n. A capitation tax, or poll-tax.In ancient times there lived a king Whose tax-collectors could not wring From all his subjects gold enough To make the royal way less rough. For pleasure's highway, like the dames Whose premises adjoin it, claims Perpetual repairing. So The tax-collectors in a row Appeared before the throne to pray Their master to devise some way To swell the revenue. "So great," Said they, "are the demands of state A tithe of all that we collect Will scarcely meet them. Pray reflect: How, if one-tenth we must resign, Can we exist on t'other nine?" The monarch asked them in reply: "Has it occurred to you to try The advantage of economy?" "It has," the spokesman said: "we sold All of our gay garrotes of gold; With plated-ware we now compress The necks of those whom we assess. Plain iron forceps we employ To mitigate the miser's joy Who hoards, with greed that never tires, That which your Majesty requires." Deep lines of thought were seen to plow Their way across the royal brow. "Your state is desperate, no question; Pray favor me with a suggestion." "O King of Men," the spokesman said, "If you'll impose upon each head A tax, the augmented revenue We'll cheerfully divide with you." As flashes of the sun illume The parted storm-cloud's sullen gloom, The king smiled grimly. "I decree That it be so — and, not to be In generosity outdone, Declare you, each and every one, Exempted from the operation Of this new law of capitation. But lest the people censure me Because they're bound and you are free, 'Twere well some clever scheme were laid By you this poll-tax to evade. I'll leave you now while you confer With my most trusted minister." The monarch from the throne-room walked And straightway in among them stalked A silent man, with brow concealed, Bare-armed — his gleaming axe revealed! —G.J.
HEARER, n. A person who finds in the remarks of a public speaker something singularly stimulating to thought about his own affairs.
HEART, n. An automatic, muscular blood-pump. Figuratively, this useful organ is said to be the seat of emotions and sentiments — a very pretty fancy which, however, is nothing but a survival of a once universal belief. It is now known that the sentiments and emotions reside in the stomach, being evolved from food by chemical action of the gastric fluid. The exact process by which a beefsteak becomes a feeling — tender or not, according to the age of the animal from which it was cut; the successive stages of elaboration through which a caviar sandwich is transmuted to a quaint fancy and reappears as a pungent epigram; the marvelous functional methods of converting a hard-boiled egg into religious contrition, or a cream-puff into a sigh of sensibility — these things have been patiently ascertained by M. Pasteur, and by him expounded with convincing lucidity. (See, also, my monograph, The Essential Identity of the Spiritual Affections and Certain Intestinal Gases Freed in Digestion — 4to, 687 pp.) In a scientific work entitled, I believe, Delectatio Demonorum (John Camden Hotten, London, 1873) this view of the sentiments receives a striking illustration; and for further light consult Professor Dam's famous treatise on Love as a Product of Alimentary Maceration.
HEAT, n. Heat, says Professor Tyndall, is a mode Of motion, but I know not how he's proving His point; but this I know — hot words bestowed With skill will set the human fist a-moving, And where it stops the stars burn free and wild. Crede expertum — I have seen them, child. —Gorton Swope
HEATHEN, n. A benighted creature who has the folly to worship something that he can see and feel. According to Professor Howison, of the California State University, Hebrews are heathens."The Hebrews are heathens!" says Howison. He's A Christian philosopher. I'm A scurril agnostical chap, if you please, Addicted too much to the crime Of religious discussion in rhyme.
Though Hebrew and Howison cannot agree On a modus vivendi — not they! — Yet Heaven has had the designing of me, And I haven't been reared in a way To joy in the thick of the fray.
For this of my creed is the soul and the gist, And the truth of it I aver: Who differs from me in his faith is an 'ist, An 'ite, an 'ic, or an 'er — And I'm down upon him or her!
Let Howison urge with perfunctory chin Toleration — that's all very well, But a roast is "nuts" to his nostril thin, And he's running — I know by the smell — A secret and personal Hell! —Bissell Gip
HEAVEN, n. A place where the wicked cease from troubling you with talk of their personal affairs, and the good listen with attention while you expound your own.
HEBREW, n. A male Jew, as distinguished from the Shebrew, an altogether superior creation.
HEIGH-HO, int. This word is supposed to denote a certain degree of languor, mingled with regret. It is frequently seen in literature, but never heard in life. By some it is supposed to stand for a yawn, by some, for a sigh. The poets use it variously, Joaquin Miller as a war-whoop, Adair Welcker with good effect as the love-plaint of the night-blooming tomcat.
HELL, n. The residence of the late Dr. Noah Webster, dictionary-maker.
HELPMATE, n. A wife, or bitter half."Now, why is yer wife called a helpmate, Pat?" Says the priest. "Since the time 'o yer wooin' She's niver assisted in what ye were at — For it's naught ye are ever doin'."
"That's true of yer Riverence," Patrick replies, And no sign of contrition evinces; "But, bedad, it's a fact which the word implies, For she helps to mate the expinses!" —Marley Wottel
HEMP, n. A plant from whose fibrous bark is made an article of neckwear which is frequently put on after public speaking in the open air and prevents the wearer from taking cold.
HERMIT, n. A person whose vices and follies are not sociable.
HESITATION, n. You've heard, my dear, "the woman's lost Who hesitates." Then stand Not foolishly to count the cost, But kiss me on demand.
HIBERNATE, v.i. To pass the winter season in domestic seclusion. There have been many singular popular notions about the hibernation of various animals. Many believe that the bear hibernates during the whole winter and subsists by mechanically sucking its paws. It is admitted that it comes out of its retirement in the spring so lean that it has to try twice before it can cast a shadow. Three or four centuries ago, in England, no fact was better attested than that swallows passed the winter months in the mud at the bottoms of the brooks, clinging together in globular masses. They have apparently been compelled to give up the custom on account of the foulness of the brooks. Sotus Escobius discovered in Central Asia a whole nation of people who hibernate. By some investigators, the fasting of Lent is supposed to have been originally a modified form of hibernation, to which the Church gave a religious significance; but this view was strenuously opposed by that eminent authority, Bishop Kip, who did not wish any honors denied to the memory of the Founder of his family.
HIPPOGRIFF, n. An animal (now extinct) which was half horse and half griffin. The griffin was itself a compound creature, half lion and half eagle. The hippogriff was actually, therefore, only one-quarter eagle, which is two dollars and fifty cents in gold. The study of zoölogy is full of surprises.
HIRELING, n. A mercenary wretch who serves another person for wages, as distinguished from the respectable functionary who receives a salary.
HISTORY, n. An account mostly false, of events mostly unimportant, which are brought about by rulers mostly knaves, and soldiers mostly fools.Of Roman history, great Niebuhr's shown 'Tis nine-tenths lying. Faith, I wish 'twere known, Ere we accept great Niebuhr as a guide, Wherein he blundered and how much he lied. —Salder Bupp
HOG, n. A bird remarkable for the catholicity of its appetite and serving to illustrate that of ours. Among the Mahometans and Jews, the hog is not in favor as an article of diet, but is respected for the delicacy of its habits, the beauty of its plumage and the melody of its voice. It is chiefly as a songster that the fowl is esteemed; a cage of him in full chorus has been known to draw tears from two persons at once. The scientific name of this dicky-bird is Porcus Rockefelleri. Mr. Rockefeller did not discover the hog, but it is considered his by right of resemblance.
HOME, n. The place of last resort — open all night.
HOMICIDE, n. The slaying of one human being by another. There are four kinds of homicide: felonious, excusable, justifiable and praiseworthy, but it makes no great difference to the person slain whether he fell by one kind or another — the classification is for advantage of the lawyers.
HOMILETICS, n. The science of adapting sermons to the spiritual needs, capacities and conditions of the congregation.So skilled the parson was in homiletics That all his moral purges and emetics To medicine the spirit were compounded With a most just discrimination founded Upon a rigorous examination Of tongue and pulse and heart and respiration. Then, having diagnosed each one's condition, His scriptural specifics this physician Administered — his pills so efficacious And pukes of disposition so vivacious That souls afflicted with ten kinds of Adam Were convalescent ere they knew they had 'em. But Slander's tongue — itself all coated — uttered Her bilious mind and scandalously muttered That in the case of patients having money The pills were sugar and the pukes were honey. —Biography of Bishop Potter
HOMŒOPATHY, n. [1.] A school of medicine midway between Allopathy and Christian Science. To the last both the others are distinctly inferior, for Christian Science will cure imaginary diseases, and they can not. [2.] A theory and practice of medicine which aims to cure the diseases of fools. As it does not cure them, and does sometimes kill the fools, it is ridiculed by the thoughtless, but commended by the wise.
HOMOIOUSIAN, n. In ecclesiastical history one who without having committed actual crime believes that the Son is not exactly the same as the Father. An Arian by another name, smelling as sweet.
HONEST, adj. Afflicted with an impediment in his dealing.
HONORABLE, adj. [1.] Afflicted with an impediment in one's reach. In legislative bodies it is customary to mention all members as honorable; as, "the honorable gentleman is a scurvy cur." [2.] Holding or having held a certain office in the public service — a title of courtesy, as "the Honorable Snatchgobble Bilque, Member of Congress."
HOPE, n. Desire and expectation rolled into one.Delicious Hope! when naught to man is left — Of fortune destitute, of friends bereft; When even his dog deserts him, and his goat With tranquil disaffection chews his coat While yet it hangs upon his back; then thou, The star far-flaming on thine angel brow, Descendest, radiant, from the skies to hint The promise of a clerkship in the Mint. —Fogarty Weffing
HORNET, n. A red-hot meteor of many tons weight, which sometimes hits a fellow unexpectedly between the eyes and knocks him silly. It is represented symbolically, as an insect with a bald head and an influential tail, but the man who has incurred a hornet shot out of a clear sky is not satisfied with that kind of representation, and avers with feeling that an instantaneous photograph of a hornet in flight would tell a different story.
HORRID, adj. In English, hideous, frightful, appalling. In Youngwomanese, mildly objectionable.There was a pretty girl. In the terror and the whirl Of the tempest of her passion she was torrid! But when moderately moved By what she disapproved She said, with gentle censure, it was horrid.
HORSE, n. The founder and conservator of civilization.What should we do without the steed— The good strong steed, the friendly steed? He bore us from barbaric night Up the steep slope and into light— He served the purpose of our need.
All honor to the noble horse— The friendly horse, the faithful horse! His saddle is Dominion's seat— They say in France he's good to eat. I'll back him — yea, I will indorse!
HOSPITAL, n. A place where the sick generally obtain two kinds of treatment — medical by the doctor and inhuman by the superintendent.
HOSPITALITY, n. The virtue which induces us to feed and lodge certain persons who are not in need of food and lodging.
HOST, n. In popular usage, a man who in consideration of your weekly payments permits you to call yourself his guest.
HOSTILITY, n. A peculiarly sharp and specially applied sense of the earth's overpopulation. Hostility is classed as active and passive; as (respectively) the feeling of a woman for her female friends, and that which she entertains for all the rest of her sex.
HOURI, n. A comely female inhabiting the Mohammedan Paradise to make things cheery for the good Mussulman, whose belief in her existence marks a noble discontent with his earthly spouse, whom he denies a soul. By that good lady the Houris are said to be held in deficient esteem.
HOUSE, n. A hollow edifice erected for the habitation of man, rat, mouse, beetle, cockroach, fly, mosquito, flea, bacillus and microbe. House of Correction, a place of reward for political and personal service, and for the detention of offenders and appropriations. House of God, a building with a steeple and a mortgage on it. House-dog, a pestilent beast kept on domestic premises to insult persons passing by and appal the hardy visitor. House-maid, a youngerly person of the opposing sex employed to be variously disagreeable and ingeniously unclean in the station in which it has pleased God to place her.
HOUSELESS, adj. Having paid all taxes on household goods.
HOVEL, n. The fruit of a flower called the Palace.Twaddle had a hovel, Twiddle had a palace; Twaddle said: "I'll grovel Or he'll think I bear him malice" — A sentiment as novel As a castor on a chalice.
Down upon the middle Of his legs fell Twaddle And astonished Mr. Twiddle, Who began to lift his noddle, Feed upon the fiddle- Faddle flummery, unswaddle A new-born self-sufficiency and think himself a model. —G.J.
HUG, v. very a. To —— to —— What the devil does it mean, anyhow?
HUMANITARIAN, n. A person who believes the Savior was human and himself is divine. In Californian journalism, the word means an Eastern man who favors Chinese immigration, but Humaniac would seem to be the better name.
HUMANITY, n. The human race, collectively, exclusive of the anthropoid poets.
HUMORIST, n. A plague that would have softened down the hoar austerity of Pharaoh's heart and persuaded him to dismiss Israel with his best wishes, cat-quick.Lo! the poor humorist, whose tortured mind Sees jokes in crowds, though still to gloom inclined — Whose simple appetite, untaught to stray, His brains, renewed by night, consumes by day. He thinks, admitted to an equal sty, A graceful hog would bear his company. —Alexander Poke
HUN, n. The Scythian ancestor of the current Hungarian. He wasn't a nice man and his descendant has inherited him.
HUNGER, n. A peculiar disease afflicting all classes of mankind and commonly treated by dieting. It is observed that those who live in fine houses have it the lightest. This information is useful to chronic sufferers.
HUNT, v.a. To get after, with horse, dog or gun.O I love to hunt the tiger bold, With shouting loud and free, In jungles where the sands of gold Border the black Gangee.
But when the tiger turns about And takes to hunting me, That's not so fine — I'd rather shout As hunter than huntee.
The "pleasures of the chase" depend On this, as you'll agree: When I and tiger in speed contend, If I'm ahead or he.
It's a solemn sight for a Christian soul The angry game to see Urging the hunter to hunt his hole With a sad celeritee.
HURRICANE, n. An atmospheric demonstration once very common but now generally abandoned for the tornado and cyclone. The hurricane is still in popular use in the West Indies and is preferred by certain old-fashioned sea-captains. It is also used in the construction of the upper decks of steamboats, but generally speaking, the hurricane's usefulness has outlasted it.
HYDRA, n. A kind of animal that the ancients catalogued under many heads.
HYENA, n. A beast held in reverence by some oriental nations from its habit of frequenting at night the burial-places of the dead. But the medical student does that.
HYGEIA, n. In Grecian mythology the goddess of health — the only one of the goddesses whom it was healthy to have anything to do with.
HYPOCHONDRIASIS, n. Depression of one's own spirits.Some heaps of trash upon a vacant lot Where long the village rubbish had been shot Displayed a sign among the stuff and stumps — "Hypochondriasis." It meant The Dumps. —Bogul S. Purvy
HYPOCRITE, n. One who, professing virtues that he does not respect, secures the advantage of seeming to be what he despises.