Here is an edited and numbered version of Caroline B Le Row's classic English As She Is Taught: Genuine Answers to Examination Questions in Our Public Schools (1887). English As She Is Taught is a bit like The Funny Dictionary: An A-Z of Kids' Funny Definitions (2018).

In his introduction to the 1887 publication, Mark Twain explained:

... all the examples in it are genuine; none of them have been tampered with, or doctored in any way. From time to time, during several years, whenever a pupil has delivered himself of anything peculiarly quaint or toothsome in the course of his recitations, this teacher and her associates have privately set that thing down in a memorandum-book; strictly following the original, as to grammar, construction, spelling, and all; and the result is this literary curiosity...

The contents of the book consist mainly of answers given by the boys and girls to questions, said answers being given sometimes verbally, sometimes in writing.

Although English As She Is Taught was published as far back as 1887, it remains very entertaining...

I. Vocabulary

1. Aborigines—a system of mountains.

2. Aboriginal—what was original before.

3. Alienate—to make a citizen of.

—to make a foreigner.

4. Amenable—any thing that is mean.

5. Aristocracy—to be stuck up.

6. Armistice—one who takes part in battle.

7. Assiduity—state of being an acid.

8. Audible—worthy of applause.

9. Beneficence—a state of insanity.

10. Burglarize—to make burglars.

11. Capillary—a little caterpiller.

12. Cassowary—a kind of dromedary.

13. Centaur—a three legged animal.

14. Culinary—cunning or cute.

15. Delineate—to make lean.

16. Demagogue—a vessel containing beer and other liquids.

17. Equestrian—an equal.

—a competetor.

—one who asks questions.

—one who walks on foot.

18. Erudition—state of being erude.

19. Espionage—a kind of cabbage.

20. Eucharist—one who plays euchre.

21. Ignition—the art of not noticing.

22. Impetuosity—to get into a pet.

23. Implacable—not able to be placed.

24. Ingratiating—grating up the ear.

25. Interloper—one who runs away to get married.

26. Mendacious—what can be mended.

27. Mercenary—one who sets on fire with hostile intent.

28. Ominous—power to eat all things.

29. Parasite—a sort of bird.

—one who speaks well.

—an example.

—a kind of umbrella.

—the murder of an infant.

30. Perennial—every seven years.

31. Plagiarist—a writer of plays.

32. Plagiarism—fire worship.

33. Prism—a prim precise person.

34. Publican—a man who does his prayers in public.

35. Reticence—something of the eye.

36. Technology—according to the text.

37. Tenacious—ten acres of land.

38. She is related to him by animosity.

39. A great many people alienate from their country to this.

40. Chronology is the science of the brane.

41. He had a chronic disease—something the matter with the chrone.

42. Her hat is contiguous because she wears it on one side.

43. The girl was delineate in her work.

44. The washwoman dilated the clothes.

45. The officer is to be tried for dissertation of his office.

46. The place was left in a state of dissertation.

47. He dominated or ruled the paper.

48. He preached to an egregious congregation.

49. He gave a correct elimination of the word.

50. The captain eliminated a bullet through the man's heart.

51. He was exhilarated to a better place.

52. You should fascinate the vine to the wall.

53. He treated her with ignition because he did not notice her.

54. The marriage was illegible.

55. I liquidate you from all blame.

56. John liquidated his bread with milk.

57. She has just returned from the mercenary.

58. The stomach contains nausea.

59. You should take caution and be precarious.

60. The serfdom at Cony Island is very high.

61. The men employed by the Gas Company go round and speculate the meter.

62. He prayed for the waters to subsidize.

63. The birds subsidize in the summer for the most part on fruits.

64. He is a very tacit scholar because he is easily taught.

65. The tenacious girl was good in church.

66. There are a good many donkeys in theological gardens.

67. Some of the best fossils are found in theological cabinets.

68. The telescope is very transparent because you can see through it.

69. He landed safe on vice versa.

70. Zoology is interesting to those who like the study of words.

71. A balance of power—making the poker stand up straight in your hand.

72. He issued a papal bull—the news written on the board outside the office.

II. Grammar

73. A quotation is asking a question.

74. An Exclamation Point is what causes supprise.

75. Grammer is how to talk good.

76. Grammar gives us the languish.

77. Grammer is to tell us the parts of speeth.

78. Adverbs should always be used as adjectives and adjectives as adverbs.

79. A dependent sentence is one that hangs from its clause.

80. Rhythm is a horse trotting on a road.

81. “Can” in poetry is sometimes used for “cant”.

82. Prose tells things that are true right along just as they are and poetry makes it up as you go along.

83. A preposition is a word that shews the position of one thing with kind regards to another.

III. Mathematics

84. A Decimal Fraction is one with a point.

85. A straight line is any distance between two places.

86. Parallel lines are lines that can never meet until they run together.

87. A circle is a round straight line with a hole in the middle.

88. The base of a triangle is the sum of its two sides.

89. Things which are equal to each other are equal to anything else.

90. To find the number of square feet in a room you multiply the room by the number of the feet. The product is the result.

IV. Geography


91. The three natural divisions of America are Europe, Ashea and Africa.

92. North America is separated by Spain.

93. America consists from north to south about 500 miles.

94. The great Lakes of America is champagne.

95. The great lakes of America are Siperior, Ontarria and Hurryon, Michigan.

96. The principal mts. of America are lamb beaf veal.

97. The rivers of America are ohio, Artic, and drandartic.

98. One of the leading industries of the United States is molasses, book-covers, numbers, gas, teaching, lumber, manufactures, paper-making, publishers, coal.

99. The chief products of the United States is troupil freuts an tobacto. The climit has 2 sesons a rainey and a dry.

100. The principal products of the U. S. is earthquakes and volcanoes.

101. The manufactured products of the United States is fish and agriculture and imports.

102. The prinicpal sports of New England are cotton, tobacco, ice.

103. Mineing is mostely carried on in new Englyn. The climit of New English is hot worm and coal.

104. Washenton is in the Northron part of New York. New York was once called the Emperor state because it once had a Emperor.

105. The Yosemity Valley is the highest mountain in the world.

106. The rapids of St. Lorence is caused by the canoes of the Indianes.


107. In Austria the principal occupation is gathering Austrich feathers.

108. Germany has very little clubbable land.

109. The Great Desert of Sarah was formerly discovered in Africa.

110. The two most famous volcanoes of Europe are Sodom and Gomorrah.

111. Ireland is called the Emigrant Isle because it is so beautiful and green.

112. Gibraltar is an island built on a rock. It has 15,000 inhabitants.

113. The north tempered zone is the best one.

114. The frigide zone is the most hottest.

115. The imports of a country are the things that are paid for. The exports are the things that are not.

116. Pine apples grow on pine trees.

117. Climate lasts all the time and weather only a few days.

V. Essays


118. Man is an animal that stands up. He is not very big and he has to work for a living.

A Rainy Afternoon

119. It rained hard so I could not go owdoors, so I went out in the shed and sod some wood.

The Cow

120. The cow she eats the grass. Wen she eats enought she will lie down in the shade. She is generally chewing. This chewing is called cud. The sheep has no upper Teeth. It there for belongs to the Cow's Family. The cry of a cow is called Low. Her youn of a Cow is called a calf. The Cow gives us milk. Butter and cheese are made out of bread. The flesh of the Cow is called beef and the Calf veil. We make from their skin shoes. The name of the Cow is called Soldt lether. The name of the calf is called calf-skin.


121. Laughter is something I know everybody can do. Some people laugh until the tears come from their eyes and then they have a crying spell and then when that is over they have a laughing spell. When people cry it will make them look very peculiar so most of people very seldom cry. It is the laughing they generally do.


122. The matereal at the top of an umbrella is placed on a skeleton of whales which meet all together in one place. They do be covered with silk, alpaca and Satan.


123. If we did not have the capacity of reading we might wait all our lives and never secure the desired information, but if instead of waiting for some one to tell us we take the book or paper or whatever it might happen to be and read it for ourselves we will be much better satisfied and also have the consolation of knowing we discovered it for ourselves and did not have to wait for other people to come and furnish us with the desired information.


124. The untutored mind is often surprisingly expanded in reading for only a short while a little every day. Then when we hear certain subjects spoken of we do not wonder what it all means.


125. Girls are very stuckup and dignefied in their maner and behaveyour. They think more of dress than any thing and like to play with dowls and rags. They cry if they see a cow in afar distance and are afraid of guns. They stay at home all the time and go to Church every Sunday. They are al-ways sick. They are al-ways funy and making fun of boys hands and they say how dirty. They cant play marbels. I pity them poor things. They make fun of boys and then turn round and love them. I dont beleave they ever kiled a cat or any thing. They look out every nite and say oh ant the moon lovely. Thir is one thing I have not told and that is they always now their lessons bettern boys.


126. Politeness is to say and do the kindest way. I think it is easier for girls to be polite than for boys, but I am not sure as I have never been a girl. Politeness is used in all parts of the United States.

VI. History


127. Columbus knew the earth was round because he balanced an egg on the table.

128. The West Indians was the first discovered by Christies Columbies.

129. The west Indaines was discovered in 1692 by Chrissor Columbius.

130. Kink Louis decleared ware against Kink William who commanded the English Fources.

131. Virginia was named from Queen Virgin who was called Elizabeth.

132. William Penn was born in Boston in 1607. He was the first white man who founded Pennsylvania. He founded Pennsylvania because his name was William Penn.

133. The Stamp Act was to make everybody stamp all materials so they should be null and void.

134. Gen. Washington is famous for the Washington Monument.

135. George Washington inherited consumption in the army.

136. The Mexican war was the war of Texas with the United States.

137. Gorilla warfare was war where men rode on gorillas.


138. England was named by the Angels.

139. The Habeas Corpus Act said that a body whether alive or dead could be produced in court.

140. Alfred the Great reigned 872 years. He was distinguished for letting some buckwheat cakes burn and the lady scolded him.

141. William the Conqueror was the first of the Mormons.

142. Chivalry is a fight on horseback between two horsemen in an open plain.

143. A night errant is a man who goes around in the night in search of adventures.

144. The Middle Ages come in between antiquity and posterity.

145. The War of the Roses was between the white and the red.

146. Lady Jane Grey studied Greek and Latin and was beheaded after a few days.

147. Queen Mary married the Dolphin.

148. The unfortunate Charles First was executed and after he was beheaded he held it up exclaiming Behold the head of a trater!

149. Queen Victoria was the 4th son of George Third the Duke of Kent.

150. John Bright is noted for an incurable disease.


151. Joan of Arc lived in New Orleans where she was discovered and burned by the British.

152. By the Salic laws no woman or descendant of a woman could occupy the throne.

153. Luther introduced Christianity into England a good many thousand years ago. His birthday was November 1883. He was once a Pope. He lived at the time of the Rebellion of Worms.


154. The history of Rome is wrapped in antiquity.

155. Hannibal at the early age of six years was raised to the command of the army.

156. The seven hills of Rome were the Capitoline, Palitine, Alpine, and I cannot remember those I have not written down.

157. Julius Caesar was quite a military man on the whole.

158. The Roman priests were chosen by the gods and some by a special diety.

159. When a Gladiator was killed he held up his finger and if the spectators wanted him to live they held up their thumbs.


160. Greece is a country noted for its handsome people. They are all sculptures.

161. Greece is divided into periods.

162. Egypt and Rome were the principal divisions of Greece.

163. The inhabitants of Greece lived in huts, eating the skins of wild beasts and dressing themselves in berries and acorns.

164. Ruins are almost always very historical for they show how much money the inhabitants must have spent on them. Ruins often give us the dates of their erection and are very useful in fixing the date of some event.

165. Elijah was a good man who went up to heaven without dying and threw his cloak down for Queen Elizabeth to step over.

VII. Writing

166. Washington Irving was a great poet and prose.

167. Washington Irving is noted for his sketch pieces. He also wrote the lives of men.

168. Emerson was first a minister but as he couldn't agree he decided to become a poetical and essay writer.

169. Hauthorn wrote the Dear Slyer.

170. Rev. E. P. Roe writes religiously.

171. Locke De Foe and Gibbons were ah American novalists and I have forgotten their works.

172. King Alfred wrote translations from the Bible and it is regarded as a very fine production yes one of the finest of the period.

173. Chaucer was the father of English pottery.

174. The Canterbury Tales are 24 volums. It concists or happens in an In in Canterberry and the people which is not uncustomary.

175. Shakespears translated the Scriptures and it was called St. James because he did it.

176. Hamlet one of Shakespeares best Tragedies in which Romeo and Juliet are the principal characters. It is a didactic poem.

177. King Lear is a play where King Lear has three daughters and is very ungrateful.

178. The early part of Milton's life was uphill work. He rose in favor towards the central part.

179. Milton's married life was not happy. He married three wives in succession.

180. Paradise lost begins rather low at first, but ends in one great climax.

181. Jonathan Swift belonged to the English Church but was not much of a ornament from a religious point of view.

182. Lord Byron was a great novelist. He also wrote a few poems.

183. Lord Macauley was born in London at a time when there was the greatest need to England of a good historian.

184. Thomas Babbington Makorley graduated at Harvard and then studied law, he was raised to the peerage as Baron in 1557 and died in 1776.

185. The most important event in the life of Horace was his birth in 45.

186. Homer's writings are Homer's Essays, Virgil the Aneid, and paradise lost; some people say that these poems were not written by Homer but by another man of the same name.

187. Sanscrit is not used as much as it used to be as it went out of use 1500 B.C.

188. The theory that intuitive truths are discovered by the light of nature originated from St. John's interpretation of a passage in the Gospel of Plato.

VIII. Science

189. The name of the great philosopher of modern times was called Eurekia.

190. An inclined plane is a plane that inclines.

191. Drops of water are generally spherical for various reasons known only to the gracious Providence who has formed them.

192. Affinity is a liking evinced between two objects, contact not being necessary. One person may have an affinity or liking for another.

193. Inertia is that proberty of bodies by virtue of which it cannot change its own condition of rest or motion. In other words it is the negative quality of passiveness either in recoverable latency or insipient latescence.

194. The air pump is an instrument used for forcing water into a pump and expelling it by means of a vacuum. It ascends in the water downwards.

195. If you listen closely you can vibrate a pitchfork.

196. If an experiment be successful the result will be inevitable.

197. If we were on a railroad track and a train was coming the train would deafen our ears so that we couldn't see to get off the track.

198. Tides are caused by the reflection of the sun and moon upon the water.

199. A simple pendulum is an imaginary point hung on a thread.

200. The vibrations of a pendulum is determined by the time they take.

201. A sound is not like a noise because it has essential things to depend upon and a noise has not.

202. Physillogigy is to study about your bones, stummick, and vertebry.

203. The body has an infinite number of bones joined together by the joints.

204. We have an upper and a lower skin. The lower skin moves all the time and the upper skin moves when we do.

205. The upper skin is called eppederby and the lower skin is called derby.

206. We should never eat because the food does not digest.

207. Digestion is reducing our food to plump.

208. The organs of digestion are the stomach, liver, spleen, and utensils.

209. The gastric juice keeps the bones from creaking.

210. The gastric juice digests the stomach.

211. Eating rapidly the food does not give the saliva time to get into the mouth.

212. The salivary glands are used to salivate the body.

213. Perspiration is caused by the culinary glands.

214. The heart is a comical shaped bag.

215. The function of the heart is between the lungs.

216. The heart is suspended from the fifth pair of ribs.

217. Nerves always give us the toothache.

218. Neuralgia is caused by nerves trying to pierce the bones.

219. The bones need constant oiling. This oil is called cartilege and runs from all the glands in the body.

220. The eyes are set in two sockets in a bone which turns up at the end and then becomes the nose.

221. The three coverings of the brain are the diameter, the perimeter, and the trachea.

222. The cow has a pulse as well as anybody else.

223. The cow has a pulse but you can not feel it at his wrist.

224. All animals that have feet are called quadrupeds.

225. The molars are the teeth that grow outside the head.

226. The growth of a tooth begins in the back of the mouth and extends to the stomach.

227. Fat is found in the creases of the body.

228. The weight of the earth is found by comparing a mass of known lead with that of a mass of unknown lead.

229. To find the weight of the earth take the length of a degree on a meridian and multiply by 62½ pounds.

230. The reason for believing that there are mountains on the moon is due to the shadows reflected on the earth.

231. There can be an eclipse of the moon when the sun gets into the moon's shadow.

232. Venus, Jupiter and perhaps the earth was known to the ancients.

233. The planets shine with a steady light but the stars sprinkle.

234. The stars would cover up the whole heavens if they were all spread out so astronomers have concluded to arrange them in constellations.

IX. Politics

235. The world would be in a state of cosmos if it had no system of government.

236. Congress is divided into civilized half civilized and savage.

237. The Constitution of the United States was established to ensure domestic hostility.

238. The Constitution of the United States is that part of the book at the end which nobody reads.

239. A bill becomes a law when the President vetos it.

240. The three departments of the government is the President rules the world, the governor rules the state, the mayor rules the city.

X. Music

241. Musical sounds differ because some are nicer than others.

242. Pitch is the length of the key board of a orgin.

243. An interval in music is the distance on the key board from one piano to the next.

244. A dotted note holds on longer.

XI. Speech

245. Elocution is opening the mouth wide open.

246. It is a very important thing to breathe.

247. Vigorous breathing gives you wind in the lungs.

248. Breathing is very good for reading for when you are reading you carnt breathe at all and so it is good to breath a good deal before.

249. Vowel sounds are made by keeping the mouth wide open and consonant sounds by keeping it shut.

250. Emphasis is putting more distress on one word than another.