Sunday, November 1, 2015

Selections from Samuel Johnson’s Dictionary: “U/V”

Edited by Dan Leo, LL.D., Assistant Professor of Neglected 18th Century English Lit., Assistant Motivational Coach, Olney Community College; author of Bozzie and Dr. Sam: The Case of the Unpregnant Pause; the Olney Community College Press.

Art direction by rhoda penmarq for “penmarq topnotch™  productions” (pencils, inks, colors and design by roy dismas; lettering by eddie el greco)

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


Umber is a sad colour.

I'll put myself in poor and mean attire,

And with a kind of umber smirch my face.  Shakespeare.


Umbles.  A deer’s entrails.


Unable.  Not having ability.

The prince unable to conceal his pain,
    Gaz’d on the fair,
And sigh’d, and look’d, and sigh’d again.  Dryden.


Unacceptable.  Not pleasing; not such as is well received.

Tis as indecent as unacceptable, and all men are willing to slink out of such company, the sober for the hazards, and the jovial for the unpleasantness.  Government of the Tongue. 


Unapt.  Unfit; not qualified.

A longing after sensual pleasures is a dissolution of the spirit of a man, and makes it loose, soft and wandering, unapt for noble, wise, or spiritual employments.  Taylor.


Unargued.  Not disputed.

What thou bid’st,
Unargued I obey; for God ordains.  Milton’s Par. Lost.


To Unbuild.  To raze; to destroy.

This is the way to kindle, not to quench;
T’unbuild the city, and lay all flat.  Shakespeare.


Unpregnant.  Not prolifick.

This deed unshapes me quite, makes me unpregnant,
and dull to all proceedings. Shakespeare.


Uxorious.  Submissively fond of a wife; infected with connubial dotage.


Vagary.  A wild freak; a capricious frolick.

      They chang'd their minds,
Flew off, and into strange vagaries fell,
As they wou'd dance.  Milton's Par. Lost.


Vainglorious.  Boasting without performances; proud in disproportion to desert.


Valentine. A sweetheart, chosen on Valentine's day.

                Now all nature seem'd in love,

And birds had drawn their valentinesWotton.


Valetudinary.  Weakly; sickly; infirm of health.

Physick, by purging noxious humours, prevents sickness in the healthy, or recourse thereof in the valetudinaryBrowne. 



Velleity is the school-term used to signify the lowest degree of desire.  Locke.


Vigesimation.  The act of putting to death every twentieth man.



Vitious.  Corrupt; wicked; opposite to virtuous. It is rather applied to habitual faults, than criminal actions.

No troops abroad are so ill disciplin'd as the English; which cannot well be otherwise, while the common soldiers have before their eyes the vitious example of their leaders.  Swift. 


To Vouchsafe.  To condescend to grant.


It is not said by the apostle, that God vouchsafed to the heathens the means of salvation; and yet I will not affirm that God will save none of those, to whom the sound of the gospel never reached.  South's Sermons. 


Vulture.  A large bird of prey remarkable for voracity.

A rav'nous vulture in his open'd side,

Her crooked beak and cruel talons try'd.  Dryden.


(Our illustrated adaptation 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© Endowment for Under-Appreciated Art and Literature: “Yes – brr – we are beginning to feel a slight nip in the evening air, and what better way to warm the body and the soul than a visit to Bob’s Bowery Bar – conveniently located at Bleecker and the Bowery – and a steaming great tankard of ‘Bob’s Special Sailor’s Grog’?

A delightful slow-simmered mixture of cask-aged Royal Navy Rum, fresh and dried organic fruits and various secret spices: just try to stop at one, but take it from me, you’d better stop at four!” – Horace P. Sternwall, your host of Bob’s Bowery Bar Presents Horace P. Sternwalls Tales of the Old Sea Dog, Tuesdays at 9pm, exclusively on the Dumont Television Network.


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