Monday 3 March 2014

Dictionary: the feeling of air passing over privates when it falls out of pyjamas in the morning

Degenerate Dictionary stemmed from a party game my parents used to play when I was a kid. My mother and her best friend had so much fun thinking of them that they began to write them down. Unfortunately, that little maroon notebook got lost when we moved to Greece.

But I remembered a couple:

ARSENIC: A cut on the bum.
PROPAGANDA: Having a good look.

In 2013, I began posting these quirky, idiosyncratic, new definitions of familiar words on Twitter and Facebook with the hash tag #Jessicasdictionary.

And Adam Byatt soon chimed in with his own ...

The exchange went back and forth over a few days until I emailed Adam, fluttering my eyelids, despite knowing he couldn't see how pretty I was making myself look for him.

The gist of my message was: Would you like to write a dictionary with me?

Adam: *brief pause* F#@$ yeah!

And so, what once was a party game played by gothic musos in the 80s, and then became #Jessicasdictionary almost 35 years later, is now called Degenerate Dictionary and will soon become a BOOK.

Perfect for every school *cough* classroom *cough*.

So, here's how the degeneration process plays out:
  • Every day, we post a new degenerate word or two to this blog.
  • The same will be posted to twitter via @DegDic.
  • If you want to see one of your own whacky definitions in our book, with your name fully credited, tweet it to @DegDic. If we love your definition enough to include it, we'll let you know. (Keep in mind, it could be months before you hear from us.)
You can sign up to get the definitions straight into your inbox HERE.
And you can follow us on Twitter HERE!

We hope to see you join in the fun!

PS: I'm over at Writers Helping Writers today talking about how writing exercises that don't have anything to do with your novel, can keep you on top of your game. Hope to see you there too!

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  1. Hey funny and what a great game. Did you mean maroon as in colour or moron as in stupid for the book?

  2. I bet this will be a hoot! Can't wait!!

  3. I am beyond hearting you, right now! Yes, I just made that up. Because. You inspired me. <3

  4. Your definitions always make me laugh, Jess. Love them!

  5. That's a cool idea. I'd never heard of that game before.

  6. Hi Jess - that will be such a fun book to own ... and great that Adam is going to corroborate with you - I shall definitely keep my eyes open for it ... and what a great game your parents made up .. this falls into the good idea category! Degenerate Dictionary .. love it - Hilary


“I'm using my art to comment on what I see. You don't have to agree with it.” ~John Mellencamp

“Allowing an unimportant mistake to pass without comment is a wonderful social grace” ~Judith S. Marin

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