The Devil’s dictionary, Sept. 26 update!

See the complete Devil’s Dictionary of Scientific Words and Phrases here.




sonogram  the standard unit for measuring the weight of a sound. Contrary to popular belief, loud sounds are not heavier than soft ones. Weight is determined by pitch: the lowest pipe on an organ, for example, produces a bassogram, which when converted to standard measurements is approximately the weight of an adult whale. By contrast, a sopranogram weighs about as much as a hummingbird.

maternal lineage  anything – physical or metaphysical – that binds a daughter to her mother, including the umbilical cord, a leash with a collar, the choice of an inappropriate partner, or various sticky substances found in the refrigerator.

preservation  any artificial procedure that extends the shelf life of organic material beyond its natural expiration date, usually to ensure that there will be a supply of food in the future. Various methods are used, including freezing. Humans are often cryopreserved, for example, so that someday they can be cured of diseases, or eaten, depending on the state of society when the electrical grid breaks down.

GFP  Good Freaking Pie

optimize  to improve the performance of a procedure or machine that has produced inconclusive or fuzzy results by putting on your eyeglasses.

ramification  what happens to a door during the springtime if you put a ewe on one side and a male sheep on the other.


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