What is a "Gilligan Hitch?"

This is the third of four posts excerpting The Adventurer's Glossary, a word-nerd exploration of the theory and practice of all sorts of adventure by my old friend and frequent Boing Boing contributor Josh Glenn. It's his third collaboration with the philosopher Mark Kingwell (who contributes a rousing yet erudite introduction) and the incredible cartoonist Seth.

Here are five sample entries from the glossary's "G" section:

In chess, an opening sequence of moves involving a risky sacrifice to gain advantage is known as a gambit. The term, which was first applied to chess openings in 1561 by a Spanish priest, who borrowed it from the Italian expression dare il gambetto (put a leg forward to trip someone), has come to mean, more generally, "a sneaky plan, stratagem, or ploy." The 1966 Michael Caine movie Gambit, for example, is about the planning and execution of an ultra-complex heist.

"Diggin the scene with the gangsta lean" exults N.W.A's 1988 song "Gangsta Gangsta," quoting William DeVaughn's 1974 R&B hit, "Be Thankful for What You've Got." To recline to the side, while driving a car, is a sedentary form of peacockery related to the pimp rollgangster glide, and other swaggering, ambling gaits with a pronounced half-limp – which are intended to advertise one's status as a much-injured tough guy, a veteran of many a fracas or brawl.

The directive Get out of Dodge alludes to Dodge City, Kansas, the locale of the 1955–75 TV series Gunsmoke – in which the fictional US Marshal Matt Dillon (played by square-jawed actor James Arness) would issue this directive to bad guys. In the 1960s, juvenile delinquents began using the phrase to mean split, take off. In recent years, the phrase has become popular among apocalypse-fearing preppers, for whom "Dodge," in this usage, means "civilized society."

The mysterious origin of Bob Denver's character's name on the 1960s TV show Gilligan's Island is known only to producer Sherwood Schwartz. However, one suspects that it's a tribute to the antiquated nautical jargon gilligan hitch, meaning "unusual or hastily tied knot." This expression, in turn, may refer to an old-time vaudeville character, Mr Gilligan, a brawler who placed opponents in clumsy but effective choke holds.

During WWII, Go for Broke! was the slogan of the US Army's 442d Regimental Combat Team, recruited from among the country's Nisei – that is, second-generation Americans born of Japanese parents. The idiom, coined during a dice game among the bold soldiers of the 442d, most of whom didn't survive the war, means "to risk everything" in a single, final attempt.

And here are five sample entries from the glossary's "K" section:

Illustration: Seth

Shortly after WWI, the German slang term kaput, which means "done for, destroyed, rendered useless," was popularized in English usage. Like several other adventure terms in this glossary, this one was inspired by a popular game. When playing the French two-player card game piquet, in the unlikely event that one loses all twelve tricks, one's opponent can score a game-ending forty points. This trickless state of affairs is known as being capot.

The illusion, not to mention the upkeep of the illusion, that professional wrestling is not staged is known as kayfabe. The invented word, which is often said to have originated in travelling carnivals, may be derived from a distorted Pig Latin pronunciation of fake. When a wrestler is said to break kayfabe, it means that he or she is acting out of character.

This term, supposedly meaning "faithful friend," was introduced in 1933 on The Lone Ranger radio show; it was a catchphrase of Tonto's, the Lone Ranger's Native American sidekick. The show's director appropriated the term from a Michigan boy's camp. The camp, meanwhile, had appropriated the term from Ernest Thompson Seton, one of the founders of the Boy Scouts of America; he claimed, though this no longer seems plausible, that it meant "scout runner."

In WWII-era military argot, the phrase Kentucky windage — the allowance made for the effect of wind upon the accuracy of a rifle shot — acknowledged the uncanny ability of Bluegrass State backwoodsmen to allow for crosswinds when adjusting their aim. Fun fact: The WWI sharpshooter Alvin York hailed from the border of Kentucky and Tennessee.

mixer is a troublemaker, someone who stirs things up; to mix it up is to fight, in nineteenth-century slang, while a mix or mix-up is a fight or brawl. A king mixer, then, is a prankster who's turned troublemaking into something resembling an art form. The British slang term was memorably employed by Paul McCartney in the 1964 musical comedy A Hard Day's Night.