Gadgetry v1.3

A functional and fictional device.

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Springer, J.F., 1910. “In order to unite these plates by close-fitting joints, the contact surfaces were machined. At the centre of an ordinary segment a hole was tapped to receive a 1.25 inch pipe. This was the grout hole. […] The lug which, with the Hudson Companies, formed an integral part of the ordinary segment, was here omitted. A gadget was employed instead, in connection with a corresponding pair of bolt holes near the centre. The device furnished a means by which the mechanical erector controlled the plate. However, a great deal of placing was done by hand, in spite of the fact that all pieces except the key weighed a ton each.”

Brace, James H. and Mason, Francis, 1910. “No lug was cast on the segments for attachment to the erector, but in its place the gadget shown on Fig. 4, Plate LXX, was inserted in one of the pairs of bolt holes near the center of the plate, and was held in position by the running nut at one end.”

Dunn, Robert, 1910. “In the cell-like silence of the white cylinder, he cast his eyes upon each bright gadget crowded about him–the telescope sights, air-blast, hoist-controller–as if trying to fix the look of each irrevocably on his mind. Then he shut his eyes as he crawled to the deck under the turret.”

Cherry-Garrard, Aspley, 1910. “Further, at Cape Evans there had been running for more than three months a scientific station, which rivaled in thoroughness and exactitude any other such station in the world. I hope that later a more detailed account may be given of this continuous series of observations, some of them demanding the most complex mechanism, and all of the watched over by enthusiastic experts. It must here suffice to say that we who on our return saw for the first time the hut and its annexes completely equipped were amazed; though perhaps the gadget which appealed most to us at first was the electric apparatus by which the cook, whose invention it was, controlled the rising of his excellent bread.”

Kipling, Rudyard, 1912. “This is a political tract, set in a boiler-room (similar to those in coal-burning vessels of the time) in Hell where various souls are being punished for their sins. “‘Harnessed up the tide–the cool, big, wet, deep, blue, sparkling sea. I believe they did it on the pneumatic principle, not on the hydraulic, if you’re interested in those things.’ ‘I ain’t,’ Mr. Sugden retorted. ‘I’m only concerned with outstanding social facts. We leave machinery to the intellectuals.’ ‘That’s very kind of you. The inventor of this particular gadget was the son of a woman who committed suicide somewhere in the Potteries, I’m told.”

Japp, Henry, 1912. “Fig. 14 shows method of erecting the segments on the upper quarter. The segments were attached to the erector bar by a gadget with a large nut on one plain screwed end, and a flanged spigot on the other; the nut was run back far enough to insert the gadget, and the nut was spun by hand very quickly to lock it in place. This is a very effective way of lifting the segments and saved the expense of casting iron lugs on each segment. The cast iron in the four tunnels represents about 100,000 tons; each segment weight about one ton, so about 100,000 lugs were saved.”

March, Michael S., 1912. “A sound way to appraise the validity of a proposed budgetary gadget is to examine the value system of its architect. Budget systems are not neutral. They are designed on the basis of particular presuppositions as to the objectives of budget control, although these assumptions may be implicit rather than explicit. Different architects of budgetary systems may espouse different sets of values, and for this reason may have trouble in agreeing on a common blueprint.”

, 1913. ““My name is–er–Gadget,” exclaimed the nervous stranger, and trod short-sightedly upon O Miya San.”

, 1914. ““Having personally searched through the British patents before taking out my own, I can well understand your objection to ‘gadget’ stabilisers. Only one or two, if any, of the inventions ot be found there bear the stamp of the practical man, few appear to be products of men who had had any experience of aeroplanes, mostly the inventor seems to have had a ‘nebulous fancy which passed with him for thought.’ None the less, when one considers how cheaply such an apparatus as I have suggested could be put to the test, it seems a pity that we should not learn whatever it has to teach us, always bearing in mind that experimental mechanism must be capable of instant disconnection at the pilot’s discretion.” / A well known aviator writes:–“I must give vent to my feelings about ‘gadget stabilisers.’ First of all I must admit ot being prejudiced against any such thing. Not only would any such device give me ‘cold feet,’ but probably cold hands as well, having nothing to do with them, in the shape of stick wagging, etc., but seriously there is one point which I do not think anybody has yet brought up, and that is this: With the arrival of the fool-proof aeroplane, which the birth of ‘gadget’ devices seems to herald, there will have also to arise, and probably will, a fool (not proof) market to buy them. This, as it should be, is good for trade, but m yfear is that with the arrival of this class of buyer there is a grave danger of there arising a host of incompetent builders, who each and all will strive to turn out a cheap machine, and in this ambition they will be most undesirably assisted by the ‘gadget stabiliser,’ for instead of spending money on designing a machine properly, any old thing with wings will do, if fitted with some patent gadget which will do it for them. But what about it, if this gadget jams or dislocates itself, as all such things must do some time or other?””

, 1914. “Of the making of motor accessories anything that can be screwed or stuck on to any part of a car under the claim of increasing the efficiency of that part—like the making of books, there is no end. Most of them outweigh by their certain cost and manifest complication, any advantage their use could obtain. I make however, an exception of the tell-tale type of gadget, as prevention of trouble is better than the cure which at the same time may kill. One of these is an overheating tell-tale in the form of a plug set into the water circulation, electrically connected with a tiny red lamp on the dash board—which I saw at a depot for American accessories in Shaftesbury Avenue W.C.”

, 1914. “Imagine sitting outside a Dreadnought and trying to stabilise it with external gadgets, in the shape of water-ailerons worked by a lever from the bridge an da series of relay mechanisms! / Incidentally, “automatically” stable machines, consisting of aeroplanes of the present type stabilised by means of gadgets such as gyroscopes, pendula, and so forth, do not seem very promising.”

Bacon, Gertrude, 1915. “There are rival methods of achieving this end, some constructors (among them Orville Wright in America) seeking to attain it by ‘automatic’ and others by ‘inherent’ stability. The latter speak disrespectfully of the devices of the former; they call them ‘gadget’ stabilizers. The word is a trifle obscure, inasmuch as ‘gadget’ is the sea term for any miscellaneous article which does not appear to have a definite name, or at least one which comes ready at the moment. I asked a famous expert the other day to define a ‘gadget stabilizer,’ and he did s promptly and forcibly as ‘any old thing which you hang on.’ Less picturesquely an automatic stabilizer is some means of giving stability, such as a gyroscope or a pendulum, which is put to a machine, and is not in itself an essential part of its construction. / The inherent stability people maintain that by careful design and constructino alone, by theorist and practical man working side by side, by scientific disposal of weights and surfaces, different tendencies may be made to balance and correct each other, one set of oscilations to damp out another, and so the perfect machine be evolved. Further they have proved their point by succeeding. The naturally stable machine is no dream of to-morrow but the realization of to-day; not sprung upon us in a moment by some fresh epoch-making discovery, but now arrived at as the consummation of the labours which began with the earliest pioneers.”

Palmer, Frederick, 1915. “Wheels that lift and depress and swing the muzzle, and gadgets with figures on them, and other scales which play between the map and the gadgets, and atmospheric pressure and wind variation, all worked out with the same precision under a French hedge as on board a battleship where the gun-mounting is fast to massive ribs of steel–it seemed a matter of bookkeeping and trigonometry rather than war.”

McDonald, William C., 1915. ““Gadget” Law Repeal / The so-called “gadget” statute, providing for a specific type of license certificate containers in automobiles, should be repealed, unless you believe compliance with its…”

O’Brien, Seumas, 1916. “When I was a boy, I sailed over the ocean for six months without finding a single night, nothing but days all the time, until you forgot what darkness was like. Well, one night at twelve o’clock, though ‘twas broad daylight, mind you, one of our crew, Martin O’Farrell, was playing ‘The Boys of Wexford’ on a gadget, when lo and behold! a sea serpent puts his head out of the waters and ses: ‘Bravo, Martin, ses he.”

Lodge, Sir Oliver J., 1916. “”

, 1916. “There seems to be, or have been, three devices for accomplishing this result, i.e.: 1st, The Churchill ‘Gadget.’ 2nd, The new Nesbit ‘Standard’ Compress. 3rd, The Webb High Density Attachment. The first (Churchill ‘Gadget’) does not seem to be actively offered and is apparently not a live prospect. The second (Nesbitt Press) is a new style of compress, the process of which differs somewhat from the compress in general use. They ahve one or two plants in experimental operation. The third (Webb High Density Attachment) is intended for use in connection with their regular compresses. The Webb compress is in general use and their attachment is in successful operation at a number of places.”

, 1917. “Aviator boys of twenty and eighteen had not thought of any motto at all, but they live up to it. Their only pass words are ‘gadget’ and ‘stunt,’ they show you in delight this and that bit of machinery, and it is a ‘gadget,’ and they do their ‘stunts’–eights and inside edges in the air, they seemed to me… […] The gadgets and stunts we have invented for our aviation and observation and photography are marvellous. Each officer shows you his own invention with a boy’s delightful pride, devices for signalling, quick methods for flying camp records, codes for announcing each shell where it falls,tricks for simplifying map reading. Something like Y.12.15 sent by wireless means that a shell has burst within so many yards of such an enemy position, and in a certain direction. The precision of aeroplane photographs is wonderful. I saw those of Guillemont before and after our shelling. Before, the minute map of the village; after, a square piece of pockmarked skin; that is exactly what it looked like, with the requisite patience one could have exactly counted the shell holes.”

Bott, Alan, 1917. “Every other officer has a pet mechanical originality. Marmaduke is preparing a small gravity tank for his machine, to be used when the pressure tank is ventilated by a bullet. The Tripehound has a scheme whereby all the control wires can be duplicated. Some one else has produced the latest thing in connections between the pilot’s joystick and the Vicker’s gun. I am making a spade-grip trigger for the Lewis gun, so that the observer can always have one hand free to manipulate the movable backsight. When one of these deathless inventions is completed the real hard work begins. The gadget is adopted unanimously by the inventor himself, but he has a tremendous task in making the rest of the squadron see its merits.”

Hutcheon, L.F., 1917. “On the way across o he hangars discovered two R.F.C. men lying on the ground trying to look like a mole-hill, and fidgeting with a gadget resembling an intoxicated lawn-mower, the use of which I have not yet discovered.”

Bartimeus, 1917. ““I appreciate the compliment,” began Sir William, “that he implies to my device, but, as a matter of fact, I hardly think the apparatus is sufficiently perfect yet——” / The Lieutenant-Commander laughed rather brutally. “He isn’t paying compliments. He went on to say he didn’t want the assistance of—er—new inventions to bag a Fritz once he’s sighted him.” / The First Lieutenant came quickly to the rescue. “Of course,” he said, “that’s all rot. We’re only too grateful to—to Science for trying to invent a new gadget…. Only, you see, sir, in the meanwhile, until you hit on it we feel we aren’t doing so badly—er—just carrying on.””

Wells, H.G, 1918. “War tempts imaginative, restless people, and a stagnant peace bores them. And you’ve got to reckon with intelligence and imagination in this world, Nobby, more than anything. … INventive, restless men are the particular instruments of my Old Experimenter. Under no circumstances can you hope to induce the chap who contrived the clock fuse and the chap who worked out my gas bag or the chap with a new aeroplane gadget, and me–me, too– to stop celebrating and making our damndest just in order to sit about safely in meadows joining up daisy chains–like a beastly lot of figures by Walter Crane.” Gadgets as the wonderful and seductive tools produced by a wartime nation”

, 1918. “”

, 1918. “It [the bell punch] will clip tickets only having the proper thickness of paper. As it clips it registers the number of the operations and rings a bell. The clippings fall into a receptacle in the punch so that their numbers and their various colors can be audited with the waybill. The punch cannot be opened, for it is sealed with a paper gadget that has to be broken to open the receptacle.”

Copplestone, Bennet, 1918. “If the conning tower is the brain of the ship, the engine-room is its heart. When Jellicoe was speeding up to join Beatty and Evan-Thomas his whole fleet maintained a speed in excess of the trial speeds of some older vessels. Think what skilful [sic] devotion this simple fact reveals, what minute attention day in day out for months and years, so that in the hour of need no mechanical gadget may fail of its duty. And as with Jellicoe’s Fleet so all through the war. Whenever the engine-rooms have been tested up to breaking strain they have always, always, stood up to the test. I think less of the splendid work done by destroyer flotillas, by combatant officers and men in th ebig ships, by all those who have manned and directed within the light cruisers. Their work was done within sight; that of the engine-rooms was hidden.”

Paine, Ralph Delahaye, 1918. “He was an engineer, in fact, – a man who knew every nut, bolt, and gadget of his submarine, and he had a mind infinitely fertile as a resource.”

Cable, Boyd, 1918. “A patent gadget invented by Guns [the gunnery officer] allowed the gun-muzzles a certain amount of play up and down, play which careful calculation showed would pour a couple of streams of bullets across the end of the wood up and down a height extending to about a thousand feet, that is, 500 above and 500 below the level at which it was estimated the Huns usually flew on these night raids. It simply meant that as soon as the sound was judged to be near enough the two guns only had to open fire, to keep pouring out bullets to make sure that the Huns had to fly through the stream and ‘stop one’ or more. It was, in fact, a simple air barrage of machine-gun bullets.”

Williams, Bertram W. , 1918. “On a dashboard in front of the pilot are various engine controls, comprising an independent throttle lever for each engine, a revolution counter, spark controls for both magnetos, a grease pump, gasoline regulator, and various other ‘gadgets.’ The flying controls do not differ in any particular way from those of the ordinary machine, the Deperdussin wheel type being adopted. Naturally, they are much more powerful, and by an ingenious system of springs worked round a small hand-winch close to the pilot’s seat, the elevator can be locked in any position desired.”

, 1918. “He makes change a dozen times, answers questions with a smile, hollers ‘Step up in the aisle;’ pulls a lever here and there regulating brakes and air. When he is prepared to go, shuts the bird-cage with his toe, moves a gadget with his knee–regulates the speed, you see–pulls the bell cord with his teeth, lest some folks get caught beneath. That would throw ‘er off the track; maybe flop ‘er on ‘er back. Calls out names of every street, punches transfers with his feet. Thus he earns his daily pay, running cars out Summit Way.”

, 1918. “He also saw a bird–a great bird–on the way up, which he took to be a British eagle because it had ‘large white circles on the under sides of its wings’! Sounds as though it were the now almost extinct Gadget.”

Kauffman, Reginald Wright, 1918. “You know, in the marines, when we can’t think of a generic name for anything, we call it a ‘gadget’ or a ‘gilguy.’ Now, this man has won two Congressional Medals and has another coming. When we sighted the French coast, I was standing, where he could n’t see me, just behind him; and I heard him say: ‘I got two o’ them gadgets now, an’ one on its way. I wonder if I’ll get another over here.”

Bartimeus, 1918. “But what I should like to know is, what the deuce is a doo-hickie?’ ‘A doo-hickie?’ replied the squadron commander. ‘A doo-hickie? H’m’m. George, how would you describe a doo-hickie?’ The officer appealed to puffed his pipe in silence for a moment [sic]. ‘Well,’ he said at length, ‘you know more or less what a gadget’s like?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘And a gilguy?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Well, a doo-hickie is something like that, only smaller as a rule.’ […] The Stranger within the Gates of the Navy-that-Flies had the drink, and from then onwards forebore to ask any more questions. But he still sometimes wonders what the functions of a doo-hickie might be.”

Tapley-Soper, 1918. “A discussion arose at the Plymouth meeting of the Devonshire Association in 1916 when it was suggested that this word should be recorded in the list of local verbal provincialisms. Several members dissented from its inclusion on the ground that it is in common use throughout the country and a naval officer who was present said that it has for years been a popular expression in the service for a tool or implement, the exact name of which is unknown or has for the moment been forgotten. I have also frequently heard it applied by motor-cycle friends to the collection of fitments to be seen on motor cycles. ‘His handle-bars are smothered in gadgets’ refers to such things as speedometers, mirrors, levers, badges, mascots, &c., attached to the steering handles”. / ‘Gadget’ is a colloquialism in the Navy for any small fitment or uncommon article–for example, ‘a curious gadget.’ I never came across anybody who could give a derivation.” -A.G. Kealy / “In a list of words and phrases used by our soldiers at the Front, sent to me recently from Flanders, there is the word ‘gadget,’ and its meaning is given as billets or quarters of any description, ‘and sometimes it is used to denote a thing of which the name is not known.’” –Archibald Sparke. / ‘Webster’s New International Dictionary’ says that ‘gadget’ is often used of something novel, or not known by its proper name (slang).’ It is a word in frequent use in this sense by seamen and other workers.” –F.A. Russell”

de Gramont, Armand Antoine Agénor, 1918. “GADGET, dispositif (m) [servant à un usage quelconque.”

Tapley-Soper, 1918. “A discussion arose at the Plymouth meeting of the Devonshire Association in 1916 when it was suggested that this word should be recorded in the list of local verbal provincialisms. Several members dissented from its inclusion on the ground that it is in common use throughout the country and a naval officer who was present said that it has for years been a popular expression in the service for a tool or implement, the exact name of which is unknown or has for the moment been forgotten. I have also frequently heard it applied by motor-cycle friends to the collection of fitments to be seen on motor cycles. ‘His handle-bars are smothered in gadgets’ refers to such things as speedometers, mirrors, levers, badges, mascots, &c., attached to the steering handles”. / ‘Gadget’ is a colloquialism in the Navy for any small fitment or uncommon article–for example, ‘a curious gadget.’ I never came across anybody who could give a derivation.” -A.G. Kealy / “In a list of words and phrases used by our soldiers at the Front, sent to me recently from Flanders, there is the word ‘gadget,’ and its meaning is given as billets or quarters of any description, ‘and sometimes it is used to denote a thing of which the name is not known.’” –Archibald Sparke. / ‘Webster’s New International Dictionary’ says that ‘gadget’ is often used of something novel, or not known by its proper name (slang).’ It is a word in frequent use in this sense by seamen and other workers.” –F.A. Russell”

Wodehouse, P.G., 1919. “There she was. And there he was. In fact, putting it another way, there they both were. And now jolly well what? Archie rested his left ear against the forearm of a long, strongly built young man in a gray suit who had followed him into the car and was sharing his strap, and pondered. / Of course, in a way, the gadget was simple. The wheeze was, in a sense, straightforward and uncomplicated. What he wanted to do was to point out to the injured girl all that hung on her. He wished to touch her heart, to plead with her, to desire her to restate her war-aims, and to persuade her–before three o’clock, when that stricken gentleman would be stepping into the pitcher’s box to loose off the first ball against the Pirates–to let bygones be bygones and forgive Augustus Biddle.”

Duffield, Edgar, 1919. “But the Rolls-Royce Company would never pay big dividends upon the patronage or custom of the minority who buy their cars as toys–to play with all the intriguing little gadgets with which they are fitted.” (124) / “The motor car trade is a ‘fashion’ trade, just as much as ladies’ hats, and if there is a desire for taper bonnets or pointed radiators, or any of the many gadgets we have to fit, it is necessary to conform to that desire, or else the car is difficult to sell.” (140) / IN THE RETORT/CONVERSATION: “The author cannot seriously suggest that the gadgets designed into the majority of cars, especially the high-priced types, are undesirable fads. That would be an insult to the intelligence of their sponsors, who are presumably men who know their jobs both on the technical and financial side. Any gadgets embodied in a design are, rightly or wrongly, provided for a specific purpose and achieve some refinement which a competitor’s car does not possess. I say rightly or wrongly, as they do not always fulfil [sic] expectation.” (143) / “I really cannot help wondering whether all the gadgets on those big, magnificent cars we aw at Olympia are really necessary, when I can get equal or greater comfort, smoothness and quietness without them. IT is very nice, of course, to be able to sit back in a chair and adjust the petrol-feed of the carburettor to such a degree that the mixture can be gradually varied while under way. It is beautiful for the man who wants to do it, but the very man who buys a GBP 2,000 car does not do it.” (148) / “The man who can afford GBP2,000 for a chassis , who can afford all the gadgets in the world, and who sits in the car while his man does the rest, does not care how many gadgets the car is fitted with, so long as he gets from his house to his office in time.” (157) / “As a designer I object to exaggerated smoothness of design, and though at a Motor Show clean outline may look charming, I feel that external smoothness can be overdone. The question of suiting the springing of a car to the load in the car has always been rather a fancy of mine, and although it is an extra gadget I think it will shortly be fitted on a number of cars. I do not say it is a good thing on every car, but there are plenty of people who will appreciate a device which will ensure equally good suspension, whether the car is light or loaded. […] As far as other gadgets go, such as controllable carburettors, I must say I do feel that if the owner drives his car–and we are always being told that owners will drive, and not have chauffeurs–he will appreciate them. A water circulation thermometer is a ‘gadget,’ but I find it very useful.”

Lind, Wallace L. , 1919. “As an addition to a set of mathematical instruments the gadget shown in Fig. 2 forms a useful adjunct. The pin Z is arranged to fit into leg of the compass such that the center point of the compass and points X and Y all lie in the same straight line.”

Winterbotham, H. St. J. L., 1919. “The distortion of the ‘field section’ or ‘field sheet’ due to changes of humidity and temperature, has been a thorn in the side of the topographer for many years, neither does there appear to be any means of eliminating it as long as the field sheet is of paper, or Bristol board, mounted upon a wooden board. […] Indeed the feeling of many topographers is averse to the introduction of anything in the nature of a ‘gadget.’ In those countries where most of our plant table work is done breakdowns may be fatal. Experiment has proved, however, that a simple but ingenious arrangement can be fitted to the existing pattern of legs which provides a slow motion, thrown in or out of action by a cam, and detachable at will. It was tried in 1914 and unanimously approved of.”

Macfarlane, Peter Clark, 1919. “To-day, when she was wanted worst, the dory was perversely more out of kilter than usual and lay sprawled on the mid-deck, opposite the engine-room hatch, with Kennedy inside and tinkering inquisitively, unscrewing nuts, looking at carburetors, examining spark plugs, and testing aim-pump valves or any other gadget that might possibly have been the seat of such cantankerous misbehavior.”

Edwards, R. Stanley, 1919. “In order to make possible the translation of this specimen of ‘Flyese,’ our British contemporary, Flying, has published the following list of aeronautic slang phrases, with which some of our airmen are no doubt familiar. … Gadget – Accessory, fitting, anything difficult to remember or define. Super-gadget – The latest thing in fittings. “

, 1919. “he would turn up suddenly, by air or road, with an oily old raincoat, a long lurching stride, a deep voice, a noisy laugh and a tentative unsymmetrical smile half-hidden by a large grey-brown moustache: and would proceed at once to ‘touch off’ a rocket, to fire incendiary bullets into a gas-bag or a petrol-tin, to inspect some new ‘gadget’ for a machine-gun, or to practise some other of the many strange arts of which Orfordness was the home.”

Bott, Alan, 1919. “We don’t let’ em see, neither, if we can ‘elp it. Once or twice Turkish (mime’ ve seen us at play, but they only laughs. They ‘ates the Huns a blurry sight more ‘n we do. Why, I remember when a coupler Turks’ elped us in the good work one mornin’. “ “ Guns an’ aererplanes is’ andiest, “ he continued, reflectively. “ Yer see, when we finds the breech-block uv a gun it don’t take long to take aht some gadget er other, accordin’ as the gunners with us sez. Aererplanes we attacks mostly on the longeerongs? those ribs o’ wood that runs claim the length of the body, ain’t they? English pilot’ oo passed dahn the line some months ergo give us the tip.’ Corse, we gives the other parts a bit uv attention? wires an’ spars, an’ such like…. No, it don’t seem likely that those things over there’ll fly fer.”

, 1919. “One of the city departments require, let us say, five gross of woven wire gadgetsgadgets in this case meaning anything you may be pleased to imagine. Upon request of this request, the Division of Purchases sends a copy of the requisition to each gadget house in the city, as shown by the division’s mailing lists, and requests quotations.”

Burke, Thomas, 1919. “As a born Cockney, living close to London every minute of my life, I had not noticed the slow change in the face and soul of London. […] The young men having gone to war, the streets were filled with middle-aged women of thirty, in short skirts, trying to attract the aged satyrs, the only men that remained, by pretending to be little girls. […] The common Cockney seemed to walk almost fearfully about his invaded streets, hardly daring to be himself or talk his own language. apart from the foreign tongues, which always did annoy his ear, foul language now assailed him from every side: ‘no bon,’ ‘napoo,’ ‘gadget,’ ‘camouflaged,’ ‘buckshee,’ ‘bonza,’ and so on. This is not good slang. Good slang has a quality of its own–a bite and spit and fine expressiveness which do not belong to dictionary words. That is its justification–the supplying of a lacking shade of expression, not the supplanting of adequate forms. The old Cockney slang did justify itself, but this modern army rubbish, besides being uncouth, is utterly meaningless, and might have been invented by some idiot schoolboy: probably was.”