Welcome to the Funny Dictionary!
An exciting new edition of The Funny Dictionary, published by the National Library of Australia, will be launched on 16 October 2018. In the lead-up to the launch, and beyond, The Funny Dictionary website will be regularly updated with new content, including:
- rare archival material — including copies of The University Correspondent from the 1890s and early 1900s, from which many of The Funny Dictionary's funny definitions derive, and historical newspapers
- a Hall of Fame — paying tribute to the world's most prolific howler hunters, such as Cecil Hunt, Art Linkletter, Amsel Greene, Nanette Newman, and Richard Lederer
- interviews — with kids trying to decipher the meaning of new words and online interviews with authors
- competitions — including an Instagram competition closer to the launch
- quizzes — Do think you can do better than the kids whose howlers comprise The Funny Dictionary? Test your vocabulary to find out!
But, first, let author Troy Simpson explain more about The Funny Dictionary...
The Funny Dictionary (2018) is an alternative dictionary comprising amusing definitions based on real-life funny exam answers by school children, collected from hundreds of sources (such as newspapers, magazines, private collections, and the best-selling Howlers books of the 1920s and 1930s). The Funny Dictionary includes hundreds of funny definitions and 40 cleverly chosen photographs from the National Library's pictorial collections that bring to life some of the book's best funny definitions.
The Chief Minister of the Australian Capital Territory, Andrew Barr, is a fan of the book, saying:
"Troy [Simpson] has sought to tackle some of the more amusing elements of life at a time when there is often too much seriousness in our public discourse. I think it is terrific to look on the lighter side."
Above: The Chief Minister Andrew Barr speaking about The Funny Dictionary
I cannot, however, take full credit for the amusing insights in The Funny Dictionary. Those amusing insights belong to the contributors themselves — the school kids who, to borrow from a review by Julian Burnside QC, lean out as far as they can over the edge of an exam paper and fall heavily to the ground. I have merely documented the splatter marks those school kids have left behind.
A lot has changed in the years since I started compiling The Funny Dictionary, way back in 2011.
National and international politics seem more polarised than ever. Government and family budgets are tighter. Even the main resource I used to compile The Funny Dictionary, the National Library’s Trove resource, has faced existential threats.
Perhaps it’s because I’ve reached middle-age that it seems many of my friends are also doing it tough these days. They might be trying to cope with a recent death or illness of a loved-one, experiencing physical illness themselves, or confronting a mental illness. As I have revealed on my personal website, I, too, struggle to keep the black dog at bay.
Those struggles allow me to explain one of the main purposes of The Funny Dictionary. I want to give respite, however slight and however brief, to people facing hard times. Whether you have a chronic disease or a disability or infirmness or depression or you are just having a bad day, I hope you can take time out to forget your problems, even for just a little while.
Dip into The Funny Dictionary when you feel low. Ponder the delightful illustrations. And empathise with the school kids who have had a bad day, too. The Funny Dictionary is my little reminder that you are not alone.
Explore this website from time-to-time to bring a smile to your face or even, perhaps, a hearty laugh.
The Funny Dictionary