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.

grammar & usage

 

Please write down all the adjectives you can think of to describe someone who is very intelligent. Chances are that among your answers are words like:

  • bright, brilliant, dazzling, lucid, scintillating
  • acute, clever, incisive, keen, sharp

Examine these two lists, and you will notice that each clusters around a single basic concept. All the words in the first bullet point compare intelligence to light, including scintillating, which descends from the Latin scintilla, meaning “spark.” All the words in the second bullet point compare intelligence to the edge of a knife, including clever, which can be traced directly back to the Old English cleave and cleaver.

Such comparisons are called metaphors. A metaphor (the word originally meant “carry beyond”) is a figure of speech that merges two objects or ideas that are, for the most part, different from each other but turn out to be alike in some significant way. We usually think of metaphors as figurative devices that only poets create, but, in fact, all of us make metaphors during almost every moment of our waking lives.

Now think of the tag phrases we use to identify loopy, wiggy people who are short on intelligence, judgment or sanity. The best-known of these figurative comparisons is “He/she isn’t playing with a full deck.” In fact, these metaphors have come to be called “full deckisms.” Here are a half dozen clusters of these jocular comparisons:

light metaphors: He’s a dim bulb in the marquee of life, the light’s on, but nobody’s home, she’s not the brightest bulb among the Christmas lights, he’s so dense that light bends around him, she’s so dumb her psychiatrist carries a flashlight;

food metaphors: She’s nutty as a fruitcake, he’s one pickle short of a full jar, her pail is empty, his kernel never popped, she’s two cans short of a six-pack, the butter slipped off his noodle, she’s two sandwiches short of a picnic, he’s not cooking on all burners, she’s a french fry short of a Happy Meal, there aren’t any beans in his pod, she’s one doughnut shy of a dozen, he puts mustard on his Froot Loops, somebody blew out her pilot light, he takes an hour to cook Minute Rice, she has a mind like a sieve, if brains were chocolate, he wouldn’t have enough to fill an M&M, she’s all foam and no beer, he’s slow as molasses in January, she didn’t drink from the fountain of knowledge; she just gargled;

nautical metaphors: He doesn’t have both oars in the water, her line’s in the water, but the bait’s missing, he hasn’t packed a full sea bag, the wind is blowing, but nothing is moving, she has a Titanic intellect in a world of icebergs, he’s a submarine with a screen door, her mooring lines don’t reach the dock, there’s no hand on his rudder;

car metaphors: His brain is stuck in first gear, her tank is a quart low, his motor isn’t firing on all cylinders, her battery is dead, he’s running on empty, she’s driving in reverse, he’s got one wheel in the sand, her wipers don’t touch the glass, he has his brain floored in neutral, her tires are low, his clutch is slipping, if brains were gasoline, he wouldn’t have enough to drive a dinky car around the inside of a cheerio, she missed her last four scheduled tune-ups;

building trade metaphors: It’s a nice house, but nobody’s home, his elevator doesn’t go all the way to the top, she’s one brick short of a full load, he has a few screws loose, her vacancy sign is always on, the top rung of his ladder is missing, she’s a bubble off plumb, he has a room for rent, she’s off her hinges, he has a leak in the think tank, her fence doesn’t have all its pickets, there are termites in his attic, her driveway doesn’t reach the road, he’s long on drywall and short on studs, her brain is an unfurnished room for rent, his lint trap is full;

computer metaphors: She’s one chip short of a megabyte, he has a 10K brain attached to a 9600 baud mouth, she has a terabyte drive, but data on punch cards, his is a vacuum-tube brain in a microchip world, she is an experiment in Artificial Stupidity, his files are compressed 100%, her data bus stops for red lights.

Metaphors be with you!