Scrumdiddlyumptious and other Roald Dahlesque words now in the Oxford English Dictionary

In celebration of the centenary of Roald Dahl's birth this month, the Oxford English Dictionary has added words and updated entries related to Dahl's iconic children's books like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and The BFG. From OED.com:

This update also includes brand new entries and senses for a range of vocabulary best described as Dahlesque—an adjective which makes its first appearance in OED today with a first quotation from 1983 in which a collection of stories is praised for its ‘Dahlesque delight in the bizarre’. These new additions provide Dahl fans with a golden ticket to the first uses and historical development of words like scrumdiddlyumptious, for those occasions when scrumptious simply won’t do (or at all times if you happen to be The Simpsons’ Ned Flanders), and the human bean, which is not a vegetable, although—according to the Dahl’s Big Friendly Giant—it comes in ‘dillions of different flavours’. A new sub-entry for golden ticket itself reveals that (long before Charlie Bucket found his own in the wrapper of a Wonka Whipple-Scrumptious Fudge Mallow Delight) the first such ticket was granted to the painter and engraver William Hogarth. Hogarth’s ticket granted the bearer and five companions perpetual free admission to the pleasure gardens of Vauxhall, in return for paintings carried out for the gardens by the artist....

The witching hour, the ‘special moment in the middle of the night when every child and every grown-up [is] in a deep deep sleep’, and when the BFG and his bloodthirsty cousins wander abroad, was first mentioned in 1762, in a poem by Elizabeth Carter Keene (now all-but forgotten, and dismissed by one twentieth-century critic as ‘a vapid bungler’), where it is a clear reference to—or misremembering of—Hamlet’s ‘the very witching time of night, When Churchyards yawne, and hell it selfe breakes out Contagion to this world’.

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AAirpass: American Airlines's all-you-can-eat lifetime first class ticket, and what became of it

The LA Times's Ken Bensinger tells the fascinating, dirty story of American Airlines's AAirpass, a too-good-to-be-true lifetime first-class-ticket-to-anywhere-anytime pass that the airline debuted in 1981 at $250,000 (the last one offered, in the 2004 Neiman-Marcus Christmas Catalog, was priced at $3,000,000, but none sold). Purchasers could also buy companion tickets they could use to fly anyone along with them.

The men who bought them -- the article only mentions men -- went a little bananas. They started flying everywhere, all the time. They'd pick random people out of the check-in line and give them free first-class upgrades. They'd fly to Japan for lunch and back to the States that night. One of them was costing the airline more than $1,000,000 a year.

The airline decided to get rid of them. They put private eyes and internal investigators on them. They sued. They extorted passengers who'd flown on companion tickets for confessions that they'd paid for the "gift," and froze their frequent flier accounts, saying they'd only restore them once the passengers fessed up. The ugly tale ends in limbo with the airline's Chapter 11 bankruptcy last year. But on the way, it has a lot of odd and colorful twists.

In July 2004, for example, Rothstein flew 18 times, visiting Nova Scotia, New York, Miami, London, Los Angeles, Maine, Denver and Fort Lauderdale, Fla., some of them several times over. The complexity of such itineraries would stump most travelers; happily for AAirpass holders, American provided elite agents able to solve the toughest booking puzzles.

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