Whether it’s with one fish, two fish, a red fish, or a blue fish, Dr. Seuss’s weird little word world still has us all equal parts tongue-tied and inspired by his insane imagination.
To celebrate the late writer-illustrator’s birthday today—it’s truer than true, there’s no one youer than you, Dr. Seuss!—we wanted to pay a little yuzz-a-ma-tuzz tribute to the man who created his own dictionary of silly lingo (which we can credit for a few now-common-use words like nerd, zillow, and kweet, too, by the way).
Seuss’s love of the rhyme game was so intense that if there wasn’t already something to suit the moment, he’d zip-a-dee-zoot and make something up! “I like nonsense,” he once said of his tinker technique. “It wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living. It’s a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope. Which is what I do, and that enables you to laugh at life’s realities.”
Here are some of his nuttiest little nuggets that’ll help you feel extra Seussical while you supp on green eggs and ham and lament the woes of the cat in the hat in celebration today.
In Hunches in Bunches, the line reads, “That mind of yours … is frightfully ga-fluppted. Your mind is murky-mooshy!” Reading it in context like that, we *think* the term is meant to be some kind of funky hybrid of befuddled and gaffe, but in the spirit of Dr. Seuss and his philosophy of always peeking through the twisted telescope, you can use it however seems right to that decidedly un-ga-fluppted brain of yours. (Hunches also taught us about the power of calling someone a wonter, a donter, and/or a canter in the same passage.)
In The Lorax, this is the name of the scary beachside shack which housed the Once-ler (also a fun ‘lil werdy-derd) and has since been replicated to astonishing accuracy. Since the place actually looked like it was physically lurking over the town, it was the perfect way to describe the home. But the phrase could also easily apply to your loitering labrador who’s staring you down for every bite at dinner. Total lerkim, that one. Or maybe it’s the hovering dad who’s staring you and your date down through the window as you say goodnight. LERKIM.
Dr. Seuss’s ABC: An Amazing Alphabet Book! introduced this three-Z creature of the wood at the tail-end of his vocab adventure, but we think “zizzer-zazzer-zuzz” can definitely sub in as the new “thingamajig.”
Gluppity-glup and schloppity shlop were the particular breeds of nasty pollutants ruining the town’s ponds in Lorax, but the oh-so-onomatopoeic words could definitely have a more positive spin by describing that satisfied sound your bathtub drain makes when it’s slurped up all the water or the sloshing noise your boots make in a hard rain. Oh the places we’ll all go with this word!
Seuss was slinging out new characters left and right in There’s a Wocket in My Pocket, and the jertain in the curtain was one of the catchiest concoctions. What’s a jertain, you ask? Well, it had bird-ish legs and was as tall as the little boy who found him, but the rest remains ~uncertain~ (hence the stand-out intrigue). It could be anything, and it’s fun to say so roll with it in whatever direction seems right to you.
The zong from Oh the Thinks You Can Think! looks like some kind of hairy aardvark with a tail as long as a water hose, but we could see it representing that beat that really gets you groovin’. You know, the zone song … the zong. See?
The jogg-oons of Seuss’s mind are things which “doodle around in the far desert dunes … crooning very sad tunes,” but we could totally apply this to those early morning rise-and-runners who are out and at it before we’ve even hit the second snooze.
The obsk from If I Ran the Zoo is a mountain bird with a rockin’ red ‘do and an unbeatable side-eye, and we can think of at least five people who could pass for an obsk by that descriptor alone. But then we think of all the potentially related “ob-” words like obstinate and obstreperous, and suddenly we know a lot of obsks running around causing a fuss.
What are some Dr. Seuss words and phrases you might apply to your everyday life?