Monday, February 16, 2015

Selections from Samuel Johnson’s Dictionary: “M”

Edited by Dan Leo, LL.D., Horace P. Sternwall Professor of Pre-Post-Modern Literary Criticism, Pep Rally Coördinator, Olney Community College; author of Bozzie and Dr. Sam: The Missing Macaroon; the Olney Community College Press.

Illustrations by rhoda penmarq; inks and coloring by roy dismas; lettering by eddie el greco; a penmarq studios™/bob’s bowery bar™ co-production.

to begin selections from Samuel Johnson's Dictionary, click here

for previous selection from Samuel Johnson's Dictionary, click here

to begin at the beginning of Boswell's Life of Johnson, click here

for previous chapter of Boswell's Life of Johnson, click here

Macaroon. A coarse, rude, low fellow; whence macaronick poetry, in which the language is purposely corrupted.

Like a big wife, at sight of lothed meat,

Ready to travail; so I sigh and sweat,

To hear this macaroon talk on in vain.  Donne.


Macaw. A bird in the West-Indies.



The macaw-tree is a species of the palm-tree, and is very common in the Caribbee islands, where the negroes pierce the tender fruit, whence issues a pleasant liquor, which they are very fond of; and the body of the tree affords a solid timber, with which they make javelins, arrows, &c. and is supposed by some to be a sort of ebony.  Miller.


Mace. A heavy blunt weapon; a club of metal.

O murth'rous slumber!
Lay'st thou thy leaden mace upon my boy
That plays thee musick?  Shakesp. Julius Cæsar.


Man. Not a woman.

Bring forth men children only!

For thy undaunted metal should compose

Nothing but males.  Shakespeare's King Lear.


Miscreant. A vile wretch.

  Now by Apollo, king,
Thou swear'st thy gods in vain.
— O vassal! miscreantShakespeare's King Lear.


Monkey. An ape; a baboon; a jackanapes. An animal bearing some resemblance of man.

Other creatures, as well as monkeys, destroy their young ones by senseless fondness.  Locke on Education.


Monsieur. A term of reproach for a Frenchman.

                A Frenchman his companion;

An eminent monsieur, that, it seems, much loves

A Gallian girl.  Shakespeare's Cymbeline.


Monster. Something horrible for deformity, wickedness, or mischief.

            If she live long,
And, in the end, meet the old course of death,
Women will all turn monstersShakesp. King Lear.


Month’s mind. Longing desire.

  For if a trumpet sound, or drum beat,
Who has not a month’s mind to combat?  Hudibras.


Moon-calf. A dolt; a stupid fellow.

The potion works not on the part design'd,

But turns his brain, and stupifies his mind;

The sotted moon-calf gapes.  Dryden's Juvenal.


Muttonfist. A hand large and red.

Will he who saw the soldiers muttonfist,
And saw thee maul'd appear within the list
To witness truth.   Dryden's Juvenal, sat. 16.


My. Belonging to me.

Her feet she in my neck doth place.  Spenser.


Myrtle. A fragrant tree sacred to Venus.

  There I will make thee beds of roses,
With a thousand fragrant posies;
A cap of flowers, and a girdle
Imbroider’d all with leaves of myrtle. Shakespeare.



Mystick. Sacredly obscure.

Let God himself that made me, let not man that knows not himself, be my instructor concerning the mystickal way to heaven.  Hooker.


Mythology. System of fables; explication of the fabulous history of the heathen world.

The modesty of mythology deserves to be commended: the scenes there are laid at a distance; it is once upon a time, in the days of yore, and in the land of Utopia.  Bentley.


(Our illustrated version of Boswell’s Life of Johnson will resume next week. Classix Comix is made possible in part through a generous grant from the Bob’s Bowery Bar™ Project: “When my good friend T.S. Eliot scribed (in that most excellent poem The Waste Land) ‘April is the cruellest month’, I daresay he was forgetting New York City in February; however, even in the midst of the most grey and oppressive winter I can think of no surer way to fend off that urge for what the ‘bawdy Bard’ referred to as ‘self slaughter’ than a pleasant hour or three in the cozy confines of Bob’s Bowery Bar,

conveniently located at the corner of Bleecker and the Bowery. Allow me to recommend ‘Bob’s Mom’s’ Homemade Oyster Stew, only .99¢ a bowl (served with complimentary Uneeda Biscuits) – goes swell with a schooner of Bob’s justly famous ‘basement-brewed’ house bock!”  – Horace P. Sternwall, host of Bob’s Bowery Bar’s Tales from the Bible, exclusively on the Dumont Television Network, Sundays at 3 pm, EST.)


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