Sunday, April 12, 2015

Selections from Samuel Johnson’s Dictionary: “O”

Edited by Dan Leo, LL.D., Horace P. Sternwall Professor of Lexicographical Studies, Associate Life Coach Program Coach, Olney Community College; author of Bozzie and Dr. Sam: The Bawd from Battersea; the Olney Community College Press.

Illustrations and layout by rhoda penmarq; proofreading by roy dismas; lettering by eddie el greco; a penmarq™/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


1. O is used as an interjection of wishing or exclamation.

O that we, who have resisted all the designs of his love,
would now try to defeat that of his anger! Decay of Piety.

2. O is used with no great elegance by Shakespeare for a circle or oval.


          Can this cockpit hold

The vasty field of France? or may we cram

Within this wooden O, the very casks

That did affright the air at Agincourt? Shakesp.


Oaf. A dolt; a blockhead; an idiot.


Obeisance. A bow; a courtesy; an act of reverence made by inclination of the body or knee.


        Bartholomew my page,

See drest in a suits like a lady;

Then call him Madam, do him all obeisanceShakespeare.


Obequitation. The act of riding about.


Obese. Fat; loaden with flesh.


Obmutescence. Loss of speech.

A vehement fear often produceth obmutescence. Bacon.


Obstreperous. Loud; clamorous; noisy; turbulent; vociferous.

These obstreperous villains shout, and know not for what they make a noise.  Dryden.


Obstupefaction. The act of inducing stupidity, or interruption of the mental powers.


Odontalgick. Pertaining to the tooth-ach.



Past the middle part of life; not young.

He wooes high and low, rich and poor, young and old.  Shakesp. Merry Wives of Wind.


Oneirocritick. An interpreter of dreams.

Having surveyed all ranks and professions, I do not find in any quarter of the town an oneirocritick, or an interpreter of dreams.  Addison's Spectator, No. 505.


Ostrich. Ostrich is ranged among birds. It is very large, its wings very short, and the neck about four or five spans. The feathers of its wings are in great esteem, and are used as an ornament for hats, beds, canopies: they are stained of several colours, and made into pretty tufts. They are hunted by way of course, for they never fly; but use their wings to assist them in running more swiftly.

The ostrich swallows bits of iron or brass, in the same manner as other birds will swallow small stones or gravel, to assist in digesting or comminuting their food. It lays its eggs upon the ground, hides them under the sand, and the sun hatches them.

I'll make thee eat iron like an ostrich, and swallow my sword like a great pin, ere thou and I part. Shakesp.


Own. This is a word of no other use than as it is added to the possessive pronouns, my, thy, his, our, your, their. It seems to be a substantive; as, my own, my peculiar: but is, in reality, the participle passive of the verb owe, in the participle owen or own: my own; the thing owned by, or belonging to me.

            Inachus in his cave alone,

Wept not another's losses, but his own. Dryden.


Oyes. Is the introduction to any proclamation or advertisement given by the publick criers both in both England and Scotland. It is thrice repeated.

Fairies, black, grey, green, and white,

Attend your office and your quality.

Crier hobgoblin make the fairy O yes. Shakesp.


Oysterwench. A woman whose business is to sell oysters.
Proverbially. A low woman.

Off goes his bonnet to an oysterwench.Shakesp.


Ozaena. An ulcer in the inside of the nostrils that gives an ill stench.


(Our illustrated adaptation of Boswell’s Life of Johnson will resume next week. Classix Comix is made possible in part through the sponsorship of Bob’s Bowery Bar™, conveniently located at the corner of Bleecker and the Bowery: “Allow me to recommend the justly famous ‘Bob’s Mom’s Organic Mulligan Stew, made with free-range squirrel and truck garden vegetables du jour’,

both filling and nutritious – and a bargain at $2.95 a bowl! Goes swell, as nearly everything does, with Bob’s own basement-brewed house bock!” – Horace P. Sternwall, host of The Bob’s Bowery Bar Mystery Hour, exclusively on the Dumont Radio Network, Tuesdays at 10pm, EST.)


No comments:

Post a Comment