Claim: Disgruntled Random House employee sneaks unusual definition of ‘mutton’ into the publisher’s 1999 dictionary.
Example: [Collected via e-mail, July 2007]
I don’t have a 1999 Random House unabridged handy, but I hope this one is true. Received via email:
Disgruntled Former Lexicographer
The following definition was discovered in the 1999 edition of the Random House dictionary. The crafting of this definition was the final assignment of Mr. Del Delhuey, who had been dismissed after
Mutton (mut’n), n. [Middle English, from Old French mouton, moton, from Medieval Latin multo, multon-, of Celtic origin.]
9. A bacteria-resistant amoeba with an attractive do.
20. In architecture, a bad idea.
28. Then she would ask me to define our relationship, which at that point would be one minute old. I would demur. But she would say, “Oh please define this second for me right now.”
32. I would take her to my motel room, and teach her the meaning of love.
36. We would call room service and order tagliolini without looking it up.
the best efforts of proofreaders, typographical errors still manage to creep into print from time to time. And other kinds of mistakes (e.g., factual errors, inappropriate material) can creep into even such staid publications as maps, dictionaries, and encyclopedias for a variety of reasons: simple human error, intentional insertion as copyright traps, and even deliberate acts of sabotage.
The item quoted above isn’t an example of that last category, however. Supposedly a long, anarchic definition of the word ‘mutton’ sneaked into the 1999 edition of the Random House dictionary by a recently-dismissed, long-time employee, it’s actually a humor piece by comedian Steve Martin which was published in the
Last updated: 5 August 2007