Beyond Embiggen: Real Words "The Simpsons" Used Well

April 8, 2014
"The Simpsons" has been justifiably celebrated for the new words and memorable phrases it has given English during its impressive run on the air. What is sometimes lost in a sea of "Embiggen"s and "Cromulent"s however, is how well the writers of the show use everyday English to hilarious and often educational ends. The dialogue excerpted under "specious" below, for example, may be the most concise and insightful illustration of "specious reasoning" ever, in any medium. The fact that it's hysterical doesn't hurt either. Below are ten vocabulary words and the memorable ways "The Simpsons" used them.
Homer tries a subliminal message tape in order to lose weight, but the company substituted a "vocabulary builder" tape instead.
"Lamentably" here means "Regretfully"
"Gastronomic" means "related to food"
"Rapacity" means "extreme, insatiable desire"
Homer: Lamentably, no. My gastronomic rapacity knows no satiety.
Homer: Well, there's not a bear in sight. The Bear Patrol is sure doing its job.
Lisa: That's specious reasoning, Dad.
Homer: Thank you, sweetie.
Lisa: Dad, what if I were to tell you that this rock keeps away tigers.
Homer: Uh-huh, and how does it work?
Lisa: It doesn't work. It's just a stupid rock.
Homer: I see. Lisa: But you don't see any tigers around, do you?
Homer: Lisa, I'd like to buy your rock.
Mr. Burns: Smithers do you think you could dig up Al Jolson?
Smithers: Ummm... Remember we tried that?
Mr. Burns: Oh right, he's dead... and rather pungent. The rest of that night is something I'd like to forget.
Kent Brockman: First, a look at a local holiday that was called distasteful and puerile by a panel of hillbillies: Whacking Day!
Marge: It's an heirloom my grandmother passed down to me. A very rare old figurine from the Civil War.
Lisa: Please don't construe our ownership of this as an endorsement of slavery.
Luigi:They say if he stirs the sauce-a just-a right, he can also see what might have been.
Lisa: As a rational skeptic, I find that hard to believe.
Also, as a vegetarian, I hope there's not meat in that sauce.
Luigi: Any other orders, Mussolini?
Grampa: Now, my story begins in 19-dickety-two. We had to say "dickety" cause that Kaiser had stolen our word "twenty". I chased that rascal to get it back, but gave up after dickety-six miles...
[the children laugh]
Martin Prince: "Dickety"? Highly dubious!
Grampa: What're you cackling at, fatty? Too much pie, that's your problem!
Mr. Burns: This anonymous clan of slack-jawed troglodytes has cost me the election, and yet if I were to have them killed, I would be the one to go to jail. That's democracy for you.
Mr. Burns: "Oh, so Mother Nature needs a favor? Well, maybe she should have thought of that when she was besetting us with droughts and floods and poison monkeys. Nature started the fight for survival and now she wants to quit because she's losing? Well, I say 'Hard cheese!'"
Mr. Burns is trying to get Smithers to pedal a bicycle, but Smithers has just been stung by a bee, and he is allergic to bee stings.
A "Flange" is any "projection from a support" in this case a bike pedal.
A "Clodhopper" is a heavy shoe.
Mr. Burns: Fear not, I'll get you to a hospital -- the only way I know how. Smithers, you infernal ninny, stick your left hoof on that flange, now! Now, if you can get it through your bug-addled brain, jam that second mephitic clodhopper of yours on the right doodad! Now pump those scrawny chicken legs...

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