Adventures in Lexicography

I swear I was looking up a variant form of anachronistic. It’s the truth.

I think I’m getting really old before my time. At least that’s the best explanation I can give for enjoying a joke from a usage manual.

 So, as I was looking up anachronous, I happened to glance at this entry in Garner’s Modern American Usage1:

anilingus; anilinctus. The term denotes a non-standard thing, of course, but the standard form is anilingus. Anilinctus is a NEEDLESS VARIANT that many dictionaries record but that almost never appears in print. The term dates from the mid-20th century.

Because of its etymological association with anal, writers frequently, by false analogy (ahem) with that word, use a deviant spelling—e.g.:

  • The list contained 20 words for sexual acts that spanned the alphabet, from analingus [read anilingus] to zooerasty.” Teresa Burney, “Sex Definitions Perplex Council,” St. Petersburg Times, 9 Sept. 1993, Pasco Times §, at 1.

  • It was Carrie and chums who persuaded a couple of my friends to experiment with analingus [read anilingus].” “Learn to Love,” Guardian, 4 Feb. 2003, at P20.


Cf. cunnilingus.

Get it?

I think one sign that I’m getting old is that I really enjoy subtle humor. I used to think that that meant something wasn’t really funny. Now I laugh. But at least I’m still laughing at potty jokes, so I’ll wait for while before joining the local shuffleboard league.


A review, after a fashion, of GMAU in .pdf by DFW. (back)