For many years I’ve used the 1997 edition of The Chambers Dictionary, the dictionary of choice for people like myself who are keen on Scrabble and cryptic crosswords. A much-valued supporter, Paul, recently had a brainwave, to start a ‘Meme of the week’ series, drawing on the memes on the Facebook page of the fine people at ‘A Voice for Men’.
Because ‘meme’ wasn’t in the 1997 edition of my dictionary, I ordered the latest edition. It arrived today, and it’s about the size and weight of two house bricks. This is the dictionary’s definition of the word:
meme n a practise, belief, or other cultural feature that is passed on other than by genetic means (biol); an idea or question that is disseminated via the Internet and changes in form during the course of being passed on.
As well as all the definitions and much else, there’s a 64-page section in the middle of the book, most of which consists of The Word Lover’s Miscellany. From this enlightening and entertaining section I learned of a long list of collective nouns, the following being my personal favourites:
A clowder or glaring of cats
A coalition of cheetahs
A flatulence of feminists
A glint or troubling of goldfish
An implausibility of gnus
A mischief of mice
A murder of crows
An obstinacy of buffalos
A rumba of rattlesnakes
An ugly of walruses
An unkindness of ravens
I may possibly have added one of my own to the list.
Back to ‘Meme of the week’. Our first alludes to a quotation usually – but erroneously – attributed to Gloria Steinem. She’s on record as saying that a (female) Australian student first wrote the line ‘A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle’ on a wall of graffiti at her university in 1970.
So… drum roll… and with thanks to Paul… our first ‘Meme of the week’: