“’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.”
If that section of verse doesn’t make much sense to you, you’re reading it right. It’s taken from Lewis Carroll’s classic poem “Jabberwocky,” and is the quintessential example of today’s wacky word – amphigory.
A nonsensical piece of writing, usually in verse form, typically composed as a parody.
Amphigory reads like gibberish but actually is most often used to poke fun at some other writing. Lewis Carroll, for instance, was supposedly satirizing pretentious poetry and ignorant art critics with “Jabberwocky.” However, despite his contrariness, the poem quickly became the subject of serious study and is still taught in English-speaking elementary schools as an example of great poetry.
Not all amphigory is poetic, though. This piece from Powet.TV is more a parody of technical instructions:
“It how to transfer VHS DVD me lacebark so tensional to be perfumed and to be sedulous by the demotic and quitter that I blowfly…”
…while this amphigory is said to make fun of poorly told stories:
“So she went into the garden to cut a cabbage leaf, to make an apple-pie; and at the same time a great she-bear, coming up the street, pops its head into the shop. “What! No soap?” So he died, and she very imprudently married the barber; and there were present the Picninnies, and the Joblillies, and the Garyulies, and the grand Panjandrum himself, with the little round button at top; and they all fell to playing the game of catch as catch can, till the gunpowder ran out at the heels of their boots.”
As usual, we’ve included a few example sentences demonstrating the use of today’s wacky word.
- “The amphigory should focus on one main thing: it should not make any sense whatsoever, yet appear to do the opposite.” Travis Lyon, Forms of Poetry
- “He is the one that refuses to clarify and test his ideas with experts in the fields he claims to be revolutionizing and instead hides behind amphigory and ambiguity.” Michael Shermer, “Deepakese: The Woo-Woo Master Deepak Chopra Speaks”
Amphigory can be fun and can even be used to illustrate important points, so the next time you hear someone seemingly speaking nonsensically, listen closely and you may find it’s actually brilliant satire. Join us here at Simply CSOFT again next week for another exciting edition of Wacky Word Wednesday!
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