Hoefler&Co &Monotype.

The OED in Limerick Form


The OED in Limerick Form

Nineteen years of designing typefaces has amply proven H&Co’s Third Law, which states that for every act of exhaustive research, there is an equal and opposite act of total silliness. This principle extends from typography into other disciplines as well: behold — no kidding — the Omnificent English Dictionary in Limerick Form.

Precisely the kind of project that the internet was made for, the OEDILF{footnote_1} has brought together contributors from around the globe for the purpose of rendering every entry in the OED into a-a-b-b-a form. The fascicle A-Cr is well underway, with 45,297 109,743 entries so far, making this a site you don’t want to stumble upon when you’re up against a deadline.

As if the premise wasn’t mad enough, many contributors have taken a shine to words that offer a chance to demonstrate their meaning within the construction of the limerick itself. Above is abecedarius, a literary work in which lines begin with successive letters of the alphabet, by author Jo. Here’s acrostic, by Holger Martin:

At the tip (acro-, Greek) in each line:
Crossing words as in Scrabble design.
Reading columns’ extension
O, second dimension!
STIC means “line,” so this fits rather fine.

Those with a taste for wordplay might know the mind-bending autogram, a self-referential paragraph which describes an inventory of its own contents. Chris Doyle offers this autogrammatical limerick, one of four five autograms contributed so far:

My autogram has seven T’s;
Five A’s; three U’s, W’s, V’s,
M’s, F’s, I’s, Y’s, and G’s;
Twenty S’s; eight E’s;
Four H’s, N’s, O’s, R’s; two D’s.

Collinear, which means the positioning of many items along the same line, naturally calls for a one-line limerick. OEDILF Editor-in-Chief Chris J. Strolin contributed the following:

Asked speller Iago LaMar, / “A · r · e · Y · o · u · F · o · r / W · h · a · t · I / M · e · a · n · B · y / C · o · l · l · i · n · e · a · r?”

Strolin continues with ampersand, leaving it to readers to imagine what was so scandalous about Brandon and Mandy’s handstand:

H& in h& on the C&yl& b&st&,
D&y Br&on & M&y R& gr&st&.
W&a’s husb&, a b&it,
Is c&id: “Unh& it!
Ab&on your sc&alous h&st&!”

In conclusion, from author Judah:

That which suddenly comes to an end,
Like a greeting too brief from a friend,
Or flat ground, at steep rises —
An end by surprise is


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