From the weeding shelf…

The kids are always horrified by this, but sometimes we get rid of books. Usually there’s a good reason. Sometimes there’s a very, very good reason. I want to share with you some of the best that cross my desk on their way to the “free books” cart…

Crosbie's Dictionary of Puns cover
Crosbie, John S. Crosbie’s Dictionary of Puns. New York: Harmony Books, 1977.

Let’s start with the fact that there’s a dictionary of puns. It’s alphabetized by keyword, without attribution, such that each entry reads (for example):

fray A good seamstress is like a good poet: She knows how to turn a frays.

Thanks, pun dictionary! That was… helpful?

But what’s really “awesome” about this book (by which I mean “gross”) is its casual racism. The fourth paragraph of the introduction reads:

One recalls the story of Eleanor Roosevelt at a state dinner, discussing democracy with an Oriental ambassador. “And when did you last have an election?” she asked. “Before blekfast,” he replied with some embarrassment.

Nothin’ but class, John Crosbie. (And no, I did not “recall” that in no way apocryphal story.) Ew, on so many levels.

Because there’s not enough “ew” in this post, I will close with a quote from the final page, an excerpt from Word Play: What Happens When People Talk, copyright 1973 by Peter Farb. It attempts to be “scholarly,” characterizing a common two-part structure of obscene puns. For example:

The two-element structure is adaptable to a great variety of pun forms, such as… the Confucianism, which partakes of the traditional proverb with its pretensions of wisdom, thus adding an extra bite to the humor: “Confucius say, ‘Seven days on honeymoon make one whole week.'”

Gosh, weren’t the 70s fabulous? If this is the first page and the last page, I can only imagine what’s in the middle. Off to the discard pile with you, Crosbie’s!

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8 Responses to From the weeding shelf…

  1. jess says:


  2. Michael Kleber says:

    If there’s more demand than Parenthetical can meet, there’s always ABE Books:

  3. Martini-Corona says:

    Okay, I guess King House may need to have first dibs, but if they end up not wanting this, I know at least 2 people who desperately need this for Christmas. I will pay you money to take it off your hands. (Not a lot of money.)

  4. Jessie says:


  5. Lance says:

    …I was curious about the Farb book, so I tried Googling a phrase or two from the snippet view I got from Google Books. Sadly, I found the 1962 journal article “Some Minor Genres of Obscene Folklore”, which might be scholarly in some sense, I suppose. But the jokes it offers…good lord, how many “heh heh Greeks like anal sex” jokes do we need? Plus some that I’m never, ever likely to repeat, even illustratively.

  6. Lance says:

    That’s so not acceptable. (And the “turn a frays” doesn’t even make sense.) Plus the cover–get it? Get it? Buns instead of puns? Get i…oh, never mind. I kind of want to flip through the book to see if there’s anything at all of merit in it, but I must admit I’m skeptical.

  7. redbeard says:

    Are you kidding? That needs to be donated to the King House library, stat! There, it can sit alongside Issac Asimov’s dirty limericks tome, happy to have found its soulmate.

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