Welcome to the website woven for wordaholics, logolepts, and verbivores. Carnivores eat meat; herbivores eat plants and vegetables; verbivores devour words. If you are heels over head (as well as head over heels) in love with words, tarry here a while to graze or, perhaps, feast on the English language. Ours is the only language in which you drive in a parkway and park in a driveway and your nose can run and your feet can smell.

Richard Lederer

 

Last week, I wrote about malapropisms, the misuse of words in an illiterate but humorous manner. Today I feature a special kind of malapropism.

An Austin, Texas, emergency medical technician answered a call at the home of an elderly woman whose sister had collapsed. As they were placing her into the ambulance, the lady wailed, “Oh, lawdy, lawdy. I know what’s the matter with her. She done got the same thing what killed her brother. It’s a heretical disease.”

The technician asked what that would be, and the lady said, “The Smiling Mighty Jesus!”

When the technician got the sister to the county hospital, she looked up the brother’s medical records to find he had died of spinal meningitis.

A woman rushed into the lobby of a hospital and exclaimed, “Where’s the fraternity ward?” The receptionist calmly replied, “You must mean the maternity ward.”

The woman went on, “But I have to see the upturn.” Patiently, the receptionist answered, “You must mean the intern.”

Exasperated, the woman continued, “Fraternity, maternity, upturn, intern — I don’t care wherever or whoever. Even though I use an IOU, and my husband has had a bisectomy, I haven’t demonstrated for two months and I think I may be fragrant!”

That same woman later became 3 centimeters diluted and, narrowly avoiding a mess carriage, she ultimately went into contraptions. Her baby was born with its biblical cord wrapped around its arm, and she asked if she could have the child circumscribed before leaving the hospital.

It is ironic that the humor in hospitals, emergency rooms and doctors’ office — usually some of the scariest places — can be exceedingly hilarious. The giddy ghost of Mrs. Malaprop haunts medical halls and application forms, where we discover all manner of strange conditions, such as swollen asteroids (adenoids), an erection (anorexia) nervosa, shudders (shingles!), corroded arteries and migrating headaches. All the malappropriate terms in this column were miscreated by anxious patients or hassled doctors and nurses.

A man went to his eye doctor, who told him he had a case of myopera and would have to wear contract lenses. That was a lot better than his friend who had had a cadillac removed from his eye. Still, when he worked at his computer, he would have to watch out for harbor tunnel syndrome. He worried that his authoritis of the joints might be a signal of Old Timer’s disease and fretted that a genital heart defect was causing trouble with his duodemon (duodenum).

Another man was in the hospital passing gull stones from his bladder while the doctor was treating a cracked dish from his spine. After the operation, his glands were completely prostrated. A hyannis hernia, hanging hammeroids, inflammation of the strocum, and a blockage of his large intesticle could have rendered him impudent.

It was enough to give a body heart populations, high pretension, a peppery ulcer and postmortem depression — even a cerebral hemorrhoid. But at least that’s better than a case of sea roses of the liver, cereal palsy or sick as hell anemia. Any of these could cause one to slip into a comma.

A woman didn’t worry about her very close veins, but she thought that a mammy-o-gram and Pabst smear might show if she had swollen nymph glands and fireballs of the eucharist. That’s “fibroids of the uterus,” and it’s something you can’t cure with simple acnepuncture, Heineken Maneuver, breast argumentation or a bare minimum (barium) enema. Apparently, evasive surgery would be required. Afterward, she would recuperate in expensive care.