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The Devil's Dictionary:    

Definition of Whangdepootenawah

In the Ojibwa tongue, disaster; an unexpected affliction that strikes hard.
  Should you ask me whence this laughter,
  Whence this audible big-smiling,
  With its labial extension,
  With its maxillar distortion
  And its diaphragmic rhythmus
  Like the billowing of an ocean,
  Like the shaking of a carpet,
  I should answer, I should tell you:
  From the great deeps of the spirit,
  From the unplummeted abysmus
  Of the soul this laughter welleth
  As the fountain, the gug-guggle,
  Like the river from the canon [sic],
  To entoken and give warning
  That my present mood is sunny.
  Should you ask me further question --
  Why the great deeps of the spirit,
  Why the unplummeted abysmus
  Of the soule extrudes this laughter,
  This all audible big-smiling,
  I should answer, I should tell you
  With a white heart, tumpitumpy,
  With a true tongue, honest Injun:
  William Bryan, he has Caught It,
  Caught the Whangdepootenawah!

  Is't the sandhill crane, the shankank,
  Standing in the marsh, the kneedeep,
  Standing silent in the kneedeep
  With his wing-tips crossed behind him
  And his neck close-reefed before him,
  With his bill, his william, buried
  In the down upon his bosom,
  With his head retracted inly,
  While his shoulders overlook it?
  Does the sandhill crane, the shankank,
  Shiver grayly in the north wind,
  Wishing he had died when little,
  As the sparrow, the chipchip, does?
  No 'tis not the Shankank standing,
  Standing in the gray and dismal
  Marsh, the gray and dismal kneedeep.
  No, 'tis peerless William Bryan
  Realizing that he's Caught It,
  Caught the Whangdepootenawah!

Devil's Dictionarydefinition from:
The Devil's Dictionary
by Ambrose Bierce, 1911


Last updated: 9/3/2011 12:48:30