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


S.O.S. mus. Same Only Softer.

SAILORS are nice little fat men, with red and brown faces. They wear boy’s coats and hats, and their trousers are too tight for them up above, and too wide for them down below. Sailors don’t wear collars because their necks are so thick; and they always have their boots blacked for fear the captain might meet them round a corner.

They don’t carry their best clothes in boxes, but they tie them up in big red and blue handkerchiefs just like Christmas puddings. Sailors are very fond of their mothers and sisters, and you nearly always see them taking them out for a walk. The reason why sailors like to get drunk is because it makes them roll about like as if they was on the ocean.

You think the sea is bigger than what it looks. I have seed it once and I wouldn’t believe that it was the ocean, till the teacher told me that it was. It was when our school went from Waterloo to Portsmouth. Just before I started from home that morning, my mother said to me while she was brushing me up nice, ‘Billy, you’ll see the waves jump mountains high, if it only blows a bit.’ Then I said to her, ‘Have you ever seed it give a jump mother?’ and she said ‘No, Billy, I’ve never seed the sea, nor never shall; but I’ve heard about it, Billy’.

So when the teacher told me that flat piece of green WATER was the ocean, I felt as if I’d just come all for nothing. I looked at it till I was nearly sick, and I should have set down and done a good cry, only I had to keep following the teacher, so I hadn’t got time.

At last I felt so riled that I went up and got hold of the teacher’s coat, and I said ‘Please, sir, can you make it jump a bit?’ But he only laughed, and told me what a funny boy I was. I do believe he thought I was kidding him. But I wasn’t kidding him at all. I only wanted to see the ocean carry on same as my mother told me it did.

A lot of the boys got some of the ocean up in their hands, and drunk it. You should have seed them spit it out like lightning. I wouldn’t touch none of the ocean, I was so riled.

The ships are very nice to look at, but them with sails on scarcely go at all. Why, they didn’t go half as quick as my boat goes down the street when it’s been raining. I think they build them a lot too heavy.

Them paddling steamers is the ones for going. They just begin to puff a bit first, then the paddles go splashing round like mad, and off they start as if they was going all round the world. I just tell you straight, if it hadn’t have been for them steamers I shouldn’t have enjoyed myself a bit, barring the meat tea. Them steamers without paddles go quick too, but they don’t make half such a loud noise.

The teacher took all the boys in a big steamer that was going to start the next week to cross the sea. There was some nasty dirty men doing all sorts of queer things. Some was having a game throwing buckets of water all over the ship. Others of them kept popping down a dark hole, and then they’d come up again laughing. Some was flinging ropes about as if they was silly, and two of them was walking about here and there with a paint pot, and kept touching one place and then another, but they couldn’t make up their minds to stop for long anywhere. So I asked the teacher what all them funny mucky men was and he said ‘Why, they’re sailors, William, real sailors; and very hard at work the poor fellers are’. Well, I’m sure teacher wouldn’t go and tell a story, but if anybody else had have told me that, I wouldn’t have believed it. It made me regular riled, it did.

There’s a nasty smell about ships, something like what our school smells on a hot day when all the boys stand together in our room singing, only it’s a bit funnier. You feel as if you want to be ill, but it won’t let you. The teacher said it once let him be ill and then he felt better. Sailors never get ill when they are on the ocean, because they know how to put their legs when they are walking.

My mother doesn’t want me to be a sailor. She says that if ever I go for a sailor, she’ll die while I’m away. I can’t make out why it is that your mothers never want you to go for sailors. It does rile me so. I do believe I should go if it wasn’t for her. I know a boy that got to be a sailor, all from stealing some black pudding. Instead of sending him to prison, they put him on a training ship, and now he dresses in nice sailors clothes, and is a lot fatter than me. I’d go and steal some black pudding if it wasn’t a sin. It’s no good stealing bits of sugar and little things like that, because they only box your ears for it, and never think of making you sailors. It does rile me so. Sugar is just as good as black pudding, so why can’t they send you to the training ship for stealing it?

I sometimes draw ships and then colour them yellow and blue with my box of paints. I can draw steamers best, because you haven’t to draw no sails, but only two black lines for funnels, and it’s so nice and easy to draw the smoke coming out. You just twirl your pencil round and round, and it’s done right.

Before I seed the ocean I used to make fishes swimming all round the steamer; but I don’t now, because I never seed one single fish swimming round them steamers at Portsmouth. It makes me riled to have to leave them out, but what’s the good of putting them in if they’re not there. The lesson what you learn is, always to be kind to sailors, and not to say the sea can jump as high as the clouds, when it can only just shift about like shovings.

SALIENT n. an attacker.

SALINE vb. riding on a boat. See also, ROBOT.

SALT n. stuff that makes potatoes taste bad when you didn’t put any on them.

SALUBRIOUS adj. slippery.

SANATORIUM n. a school for musicians.

SARCASM n. when you say: ‘God bless you, teacher.’  

SARDINE n. feminine of Czar.

SARDONIC adj. packed together tightly. See also, SARDINE.

SAUSAGE n. some time after the Stone Age and Bronze Age. 

SAVAGES n. people who don’t know what wrong is until missionaries show them. See also, MISERY.


Above: Insightful social commentary by a 10-year-old. (Illustration by Tosh Bibb.)

SCALE mus. a succession of sounds arranged in chronological order.

SCANDALS n. what the Greeks wore on their feet. 

SCEPTRE n. a kind of ghost.

SCHOOLMASTERS n. human beings the same as anyone else.

SCIATICA n. a sigh from the head.

SCULPTOR n. a man who makes faces and busts.

SEASONS (four seasons) n. 1. mustard, pepper, vinegar, and salt. 2. football, cricket, horseracing, and supercars.

SEMIBREVE mus. equals two minions and one crocket four semiskews.

SEMI-COLOGNE n. a mark of punctuation (;). 

SEMINARY n. a place where they bury the dead. See also, SYMMETRY. 

SENATOR n. half-HORSE, half-man. Cf. CENTAUR.

SENTIMENT n. found at the bottom of the sea.

SEVEN HILLS OF ROME n. the seven hills (Cataline, Valentine, Quarantine, Caroline, Epistoline, Appletine, Eataline) on which the ancient city of Rome was built.

SEVEN YEARS WAR n. a war that lasted five years. 

SEWERAGE PLANT n. a kind of smelly tree.

sewerage plant

Above: An easy mistake to make. A young girl mistakes sewerage plant (a treatment facility for sewage) with a tree or plant made from sewage. Ew! (Illustration by Tosh Bibb.)

SHADOW n. a ray of darkness.

SHEEP n. mutton covered with wool.

SHERIFF n. a French cook.

SILHOUETTE n. an onion which is grown in Spain.

SIMILE n. a widening of the face when pleased.

SINECURE n. a remedy for sinus troubles.

SINGLET n. a young swan. 

SINISTER n. a woman who has not MARRIED.

SIRLOIN n. an article of clothing like what Gandhi wore.

SKYSCRAPER n. 1. a man who studies the stars. 2. a bird of the same family as the skylark. 3. a large telescope.

SLEEPING PARTNER n. a man who goes to sleep playing bridge.

SNORING vb. letting off sleep.

SOCIALIST n. a man who goes to parties all the time.

SOCRATES n. the inventor of soccer.


SOLAR SYSTEM n. a way of teaching singing.

SONATINA n. an instrument which you play by pulling it in and out.

SONNET n. a fourteen-line poet.  

SOVIET n. another name for napkin.

SPAGHETTI n. thrown on people at weddings.

SPECTRE n. a man who cheers a football team. Not to be confused with SCEPTRE.

SPEECH n. either a wordy harangue — e.g., in the Houses of Parliament — or just the power of expressing one’s thoughts in words.

SPINE n. quite an important bone.

SPINSTER n. 1. a machine on which wool is wound. 2. a woman who goes round and round looking for a man. Cf. SINISTER.

SPOONERISM n. a love affair.

SPURIOUS adj. 1. on the spur of the moment. 2. wearing spurs.  

STALEMATE n. a friend you are sick of.


Above: One can easily see the logic of the schoolboy's mistake. He connected stale (meaning no longer fresh) with mate (meaning friend). Stalemate is actually a chess term when a match is drawn because a player is not in check but can only move into check.

STEAM n. WATER perspiring.

STEVEDORE n. a travelling musician.

STILL LIFE n. an art movement that makes believe apples are something to look at.

STOCK EXCHANGE n. where cattle and pigs are bought and sold.  

STOICS n. disciples of Zero who believed in nothing. Cf. NIHILIST.

STRATEGY n. when you don’t let the enemy know you are out of ammunition, but keep on firing. See also, ADMONITION.

STYLUS n. lacking style.

SUBSTITUTE n. the right article made from the wrong material.

SUCCOUR n. a nitwit.

SULTAN n. 1. a kind of Christmas RAISIN. 2. the kind of language you get taken to the Police for.  

SULTANA n. the feminine of RAISIN.

SUMMARY adj. 1. warm and sunny. 2. n. a Japanese warrior.

SUNDRY adj. dried up by the sun.

SURLY adj. of course.

SURREY adj. remorseful.

SWASTIKA n. a thing you kill flies with.

SWITCH n. a little thing you have on your wall for turning on the dark.

SYLLABLE n. that which can be pronounced with one sweep of the tongue.  

SYMMETRY n. relating to dead bodies. See also, SEMINARY. 

SYMPHONY n. the opposite of antipathy.

SYMPOSIUM n. something like a SYMPHONY, but not quite so bad.

SYNCOPATION n. 1. emphasis on a note that is not in the piece. 2. a disease caused by modern fast living. 3. the device by which a composer when he has no room for the first beat of the bar, pushes it back to the previous bar.

SYNONYM n. 1. a word you can use when you don’t know how to spell the one you first thought of. 2. what Jews pray in.

SYNTAX n. all the money collected by the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church is very wealthy.