English really is the most delightful language. It uses one word, ‘love’, to describe a whole array of emotional experience. Yet, simultaneously, it holds a word like ‘pecksniffian’ that describes such a very distinct type of person.
I would wager everyone knows at least one person in their life who is rather ‘pecksniffian’.
&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;a href=”http://dictionary.reference.com/audio.html/lunaWAV/P01/P0199900″ target=”_blank”&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;img src=”http://sp.dictionary.com/dictstatic/g/d/speaker.gif” border=”0″ /&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/a&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt; \pek-SNIF-ee-uhn\ , adjective;
1. Hypocritically and smugly affecting benevolence or high moral principles.
With such departing words, did this strong minded female paralyze the Pecksniffian energies; and so she swept out of the room, and out of the house, attended her daughters, who, as with one accord, elevated their three noses in the air, and joined in a contemptuous titter.
— Charles Dickens, Martin Chuzzlewit, Volume 1
The men who do things in the world, the men worthy of admiration and imitation, are men constitutionally incapable of any such pecksniffian stupidity.
— H. L. Mencken, Damn! A Book of Calumny
Pecksniffian is named after Seth Pecksniff, a character in “Martin Chuzzlewit, a novel” (1843), by Charles Dickens.
(courtesy of Dictionary.com)
I uncovered this little poem in a stack of old writings. It was written my sophomore year of high school, in Chemistry, and I believe the assignment was to create an artistic tribute to an element. Mine was potassium. I decided to write a poem in heightened tone, a blend of Monty Python and Ode on a Grecian Urn. The resultant weirdness is below.
Ode to Potassium
O Potassium, Potassium, shining bright
Metallic, clean and silvery-white.
You’re abundant in nature, to my delight
In feldspar, saltepeter, and carnallite.
Your symbol is ‘K’, so tall and noble.
It’s a good thing that you’re insoluble.
Discovered by Sir Humphrey Davy,
Your surface is flat; it is not wavy.
You can be cut with a knife,
Though you cause no pain or strife.
In olden days, you were used in barter.
Today you’re used for cream of tartar.
You clean so well, I say with glee,
You’re also used in photography.
And now my ode has come to an end.
So farewell, Potassium, my mineral friend.