Lexical Compendium

Wait... what is this? Sometimes I come across a word, phrase, idiom, etc that either I don't know or I find amusing, interesting, etc. This is a collection of those items so that I can refer back to them in emails, texts, etc.


"...and she stepped on the ball."

My favorite line in the movie "Trading Places" is a reference to a joke in another movie called "Aunti Mame." In that movie, a rich and condescending woman tells a story about a ping pong game in which she "stepped on the ball."

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"...an effective plot must be 'unexpected but inevitable'..."

I came across this quote in the television series Mythic Quest. In that show, it was attributed to Aristotle, but I haven't been able to confirm this.

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Bees?

There is a "Cards Against Humanity" card that simply reads: "Bees?" It's so fatuous that it has become a common expression for me.

Some on the internet believe that this is a reference to an "Arrested Development" episode.

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"Beware the Jabberwock, my son!"

From Lewis Carroll's "Jabberwocky," a poem in "Through the Looking Glass."

The poem was about the capture and killing of a creature called the "Jabberwock" and is filled with many other nonsense terms.

The word "jabberwocky," itself, has come to mean something meaningless in writing.

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Caledonian Orogeny

When Great Briton's two halves were slammed together.

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"I know enough to turn you inside out, old gal, you sockdologizing old man-trap."

These were the lines spoken in the play "Our American Cousin" when Abraham Lincoln was assassinated. A "sockdologer" is the decisive word in an argument; the final blow.

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interregnum

  1. A period when normal government is suspended, especially between successive reigns or regimes.
  2. An interval or pause between two periods of office or other things.

As in:

...the interregnum between the discovery of radioactivity and its detailed understanding.

or:

You are a weak monarch in a dangerous interregnum.

The latter comes from a line of dialog from the character Gerri in the television series "Succession"

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rhodopsin

I learned, from sort of an unlikely source -- the National Park Service, the reason why "night vision" is reset after exposure to light.  That our pupils dilate  is probably obvious, but what I didn't know was that the body produces a protein called rhodopsin which, through a series of chemical reactions, gives our rods the ability to "see" in dim light.  The protein decays in bright light (though much slower in longer wavelengths, i.e. red light).  When depleted, it takes ~30m to regenerate.

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stigmergy

From Wikipedia:

Stigmergy was first observed in social insects. For example, ants exchange information by laying down pheromones (the trace) on their way back to the nest when they have found food. In that way, they collectively develop a complex network of trails, connecting the nest in an efficient way to various food sources. When ants come out of the nest searching for food, they are stimulated by the pheromone to follow the trail towards the food source. The network of trails functions as a shared external memory for the ant colony.

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"This feels schemey. Redolent of thwart."

Something that the character Tom Wambsgans says in the television series "Succession."

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"What ho! She bumps!"

I came across this bit of old-timey slang in the television show "The Artful Dodger." It means something like, "Wow! It works!"

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