Chapter & Verse

Edith Kovach seeks the author and additional text of a poem she believes was titled "The Father Mole to His Son," which ended...

Edith Kovach seeks the author and additional text of a poem she believes was titled "The Father Mole to His Son," which ended, "...but a mole, my son, has a soul."

 

John Barrett asks who first defined what as "like a sharply cut rock in the midst of a shapeless sea"--an unidentified phrase used by Justice Robert H. Jackson in a eulogy to describe FDR.

 

"miss-in-baulk, oojah-cum-spiff" (May-June). Douglas Cox identified the former as a billiards term. P.G. Wodehouse specialist Charles E. Gould suggested that "giving some dreaded encounter or event the 'miss-in-baulk' means not only giving it a miss but gaining something else, e.g., avoiding Aunt Agatha and enjoying the pleasures of New York simultaneously." Gould noted that the second term "did not appear in the [Oxford English Dictionary] until a supplement cited Wodehouse's as the first usage (Very Good, Jeeves [1930])." Oojah, he posited, is roughly synonymous with "thingummy" or "whatsis"; cum is "with" in Latin; the OED defines spiff as the percentage allowed drapers' boys for selling off old stock; the expression, he concluded, means, "in the parlance of today's American youth, 'Like whatever, wow--plus!'"

 

Send inquiries and answers to "Chapter and Verse," Harvard Magazine, 7 Ware Street, Cambridge 02138.

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