A dictionary of the English Language by Samuel Johnson
Johnson’s dictionary has some unusual definitions in it.
Distiller: One who makes and sells pernicious and inflammatory spirits.
Dull: Not exhilaterating (sic); not delightful; as, to make dictionaries is dull work.
Excise: A hateful tax levied upon commodities, and adjudged not by the common judges of property, but wretches hired by those to whom excise is paid.
Far-fetch: A deep stratagem. A ludicrous word.
Pastern: The knee of a horse. (This is wrong. When Johnson was once asked how he came to make such a mistake, Boswell tells us he replied, ”Ignorance, Madam, pure ignorance.”)
Patron: One who countenances, supports or protects. Commonly a wretch who supports with insolence, and is paid with flattery.
Pension: An allowance made to any one without an equivalent. In England it is generally understood to mean pay given to a state hireling for treason to his country.
To worm: To deprive a dog of something, nobody knows what, under his tongue, which is said to prevent him, nobody knows why, from running mad
I particularly enjoy his definition of dull.
He reminds me both of Jack Aubrey, and of Blackadder. Good company for him.
It keeps getting better!
Oh lord, how I love this. It goes from strength to strength and then adds the Blackadder cherry on top. (Don’t care what anyone says, the best Blackadder series is the 18th C. series.)
"I was going to one of my first exams, and suddenly there was a bombing. In downtown Damascus! I couldn’t believe it! I didn’t think this was possible. Windows were broken everywhere, and there were people on the ground, and the sounds of ambulances. Then over the next few weeks, everything changed. The taxis in the streets were replaced by tanks. You no longer knew who was your friend and who was your enemy. Suddenly you could be killed, and nobody would ask why. Before war, you have rights. People will ask why you were killed. When war comes, nobody asks why you were killed anymore." (Erbil, Iraq)