Monthly Archives: February 2013

Oil has poise(s)

One for the science and metaphor files? From “The Thermodynamics of Glass“: A liquid has viscosity, a measure of its resistance to flow.  The viscosity of water at room temperature is about 0.01 poises.  A thick oil might have a viscosity of about 1.0 poise. Now, OED lets us know that “poise, n.1” is originally […]


From Choate’s American Bird Names: Shite poke. An attempt to render more delicate by a change in spelling a name for the bird derived from its habit of ejecting effluent when making a startled departure. In America applied indiscriminately to the Black-crowned Night Heron, the Green-backed Heron and the bittern. Poke, now E. dialect, “bag”, […]

Poetry and the Dictionary Conference – Oxford 2013

The CFP for this summer’s conference in Oxford has been posted. I expect to be there discussing some aspect of the OED and poetry. This symposium will be held at St Peter’s College, Oxford, on 15 June, 2013, with a view to opening up and exploring connections between poetry and the dictionary. Proposals for papers […]

Three OED Poems

Recent posts on found poetry reminded me of several OED entries I  bookmarked out over the years because they gave me more than the usual pleasures of etymology, definition, and commonplace-book-like selection of previous uses. So I decided to work up a couple of these into poems. Other than acts of lineation, punctuation, elision, and […]