Archive for the ‘new word’ Category

A co-worker came up to me today and said:

“Hey Don, where did the phrase “deadpan” come from?”

My immediate thought was:

“I want to eat your soul!”

But I am trying to be more positive and less soul-eating so I decided to look it up on Wikipedia:

The term “deadpan” first emerged as an adjective or adverb in the 1920s, as a compound word combining “dead” and “pan” (a slang term for the face). It was first recorded as a noun in Vanity Fair in 1927; a dead pan was thus ‘a face or facial expression displaying no emotion, animation, or humor’. Adam Taczynski perfected this technique and is an extreme version of dry humor. The Greek god Pan in mythology is another source of the term, having laughed himself to death due to a Non sequitur. Finally, the verb deadpan ‘to speak, act, or utter in a deadpan manner; to maintain a dead pan’ arose by the early 1940s, apparently as a journalistic coinage rather than a theatrical one. It must be noted that today its use is especially common in humour from the UK, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand. It is also very appreciated in France, by the influence of the “esprit” (dry-humour mostly).

Vanity Fair? Pan? Esprit? Who knew? I find the etymology of such common words fascinating.

Speaking of big words, here’s “National Brotherhood Week” from the excellent satirist and math professor Tom Lehrer:

I first “met” Tom Lehrer by working with 1812 Productions. They used his songs during their 2002 holiday show LIKE CRAZY, LIKE WOW and it was great fun. We (yes, we) used him again in the 2006 holiday show THIS IS THE WEEK THAT IS to even greater effect.


Thanks to TSOYA for the Tom Lehrer clip.