Preface  |  A  |  B  |  C  |  D  |  E  |  F  |  G  |  H  |  I  |  J , K  |  L  |  M  |  N  |  O  |  P  |  Q, R  |  S  |  T  |  U  |  V  |  W  |  X, Y, Z  |  Index


A LA CARTE n. when you can have all the desserts that’s on the trolley.

A la carte

Above: a school kid mistakenly assumes carte means cart or trolley. We prefer his version. (Illustration by Tosh Bibb.)                

A.D. 1. A Date. 2. After Dark. 3. After Daniel. 4. Ancient Dominoes. 5. Gloucestershire.                

A.M. 1. Ave Maria. 2. Arf a Mo.

ABDOMEN n. an organ that contains the interestines.

ABLUTIONS n. bathings approved by the Church.

ABOMINABLE adj. able to be bombed.

ACOLYTE n. a base soluble in WATER.

ACRIMONY n. 1. (sometimes called holy) another name for MARRIAGE. 2. what a man gives his divorced wife.

ACROPOLIS n. the end of the world.

ACTIVE VOICE n. the voice of a person when he is quarrelling.

ACTUARY n. a place where bees are kept. Cf. APIARY.

ACUMEN n. the white of an egg.

AD NAUSEUM adj. about to be sick.

ADAGIO n. a kind of ANAESTHETIC dancing.

ADAMANT adj. pertaining to original sin.

ADJECTIVE n. something that describes something, for example doctor because a doctor describes medicine.                

ADMONITION n. what you fight with.

ADULTERY n. the period after adolescence.

ADVERSARY n. a thing that happens once every year.

AFFABLE adj. 1. able to be affed. 2. the state of being insane on one subject only.

AFFECTIONATE adj. catching — e.g., ‘I could not go on because I had an affectionate disease.’                

AL FRESCO n. 1. a famous gangster from Chicago. 2. a former baseball player.

Al fresco

Above: Some students mistake al fresco (Italian for 'in the fresh air') with the male name 'Al' (illustration by Tosh Bibb).

ALDERMAN n. a man who alders you about.                

ALI BABA n. being away when the crime was committed. Cf. ALIBI.                

ALIBI n. what your mother sings when she wants you to sleep. Cf. ALI BABA.

ALIGN n. from a fawn country.

ALLITERATION n. making all the words in a poem begin with the same letter — e.g., ‘Amen, Amen, Amen, Amen.’

ALTRUISM n. true in every respect.

AMBIDEXTROUS adj. able to use both hands as if they were your feet.                

AMBIGUITY n. 1. telling the truth when you don’t mean to. 2. having two wives living at the same time.

AMEN interj. ‘That’s the lot.’

AMNESTY n. a bird house.

AMORPHOUS PHOSPHORUS n. there is no such thing as amorphous phosphorus.

AMPERSAND n. a special kind of sand used in electricity.


Above: a school kid tries their best by latching on to the word amp (short for ampere, a unit of electicity) and sand.  An ampersand is actually the sign &, which stands for and, as in Simpson & Co. (Illustration by Denise Sutherland.)

ANACHRONISM n. the belief in the god Anachron.                

ANAESTHESIA n. a famous Russian princess.

ANAESTHETIST n. a person who does not believe in God.

ANATHEMA n. one nathema.

ANATOMY n. the study of heavenly bodies.

ANCESTORS n. our back relations.

ANGLE n. the exclamation made by two lines meeting in a plane.

ANGLOPHILE n. one who loves fishing.

ANOMALOUS adj. unsigned.

ANOMALY n. a token amount, as in ‘I paid anomaly fee’.

ANONYMOUS adj. all agreed.

ANTHOLOGY n. the study of ants.

ANTIC n. a very old piece of furniture.

ANTIDOTE n. 1. a funny story that you haven’t heard before. 2. an affectionate AUNT.

ANTIPODES n. 1. animals having two feet. 2. egg-laying animals found only in Australia. 3. heaven and hell. 4. before the time of podes.

ANTIQUARIAN n. 1. one who does not drink WATER. 2. a place you keep fish in.

ANZACS n. a race of South American savages.

AORTA n. a man who makes long speeches.                

APIARY n. a place where apes are kept.

APOSTLE n. the only pouched animal in America.

APPENDICITIS n. caused by information in the APPENDIX.                

APPENDIX n. 1. part of a book that no-one’s yet discovered to be of any use. 2. something that would be your tail if you were a monkey.

ARABLE adj. land where the Arabs live.

ARBITRARY adj. to do with trees and gardens.

ARCHIPELAGO n. a style of singing without music.

ARGONAUT n. a man who goes up in a spaceship.


Above: The young school student mistakes argonaut (a man who sailed on the mythical ship Argo in search of the Golden Fleece) with astronaut. (Illustration by Denise Sutherland.)

ARISTOCRAT n. 1. a man who performs tricks on the stage. 2. a public performer.

ARISTOTLE n. Alexander The Great’s tooter.

ARSENAL n. a kind of poison.

ARTERY n. another name for a picture gallery.

ARTICHOKE n. 1. an ancient instrument of torture. 2. a man who draws plans of things.

ASPIRANT n. someone who uses aspirin to excess.

ASS n. masculine of lass.

ASSIDUOUS adj. opposite of EVERGREEN.

ATHEIST n. a jewel.

ATOLL n. money paid to cross a bridge.

ATOMIC WEIGHTS n. used for weighing atoms.

AU FAIT adj. all feet.

AUGMENT n. a debate.

AUGUSTAN ERA n. a mistake by Augustus.                

AUNT n. a lady who screams if you put a firework under the table.

AUSTERITY n. enjoying what you have got when there isn’t any.

AUTHOR n. a person who has lost both father and mother.             

AVE DOMINE ‘Lord, I am a bird.’


Above: Gone a little cuckoo? (Illustration by Tosh Bibb.)

AVERSE n. part of a poem.