lalita larking

An obsession with cryptic crosswords. Everything else falls in place.

Location: Kolkata, India

Monday, July 31, 2006

I crib; therefore I am.

A few weeks ago, I made a gaffe that would have had my father spinning in his grave, had he been buried instead of cremated.

My father was a great one for research and verifying facts. If you asked him if the sun rises in the east, he'd probably have said that he'd have to cross-check. Once, when I wanted to verify whether Yudhishtira had another wife, like the rest of his brothers, I called and asked him. He'd know and could me tell off the top of his head surely, I thought.

"Yes, he did," he said in the deliberate, thoughtful way he spoke; "I will have to verify, call me tomorrow." And the next day he had the name of the other wife, her lineage and her progeny, chapter and verse at his fingertips to tell me.

When I took a cursory look at Wordweb, my desktop dictionary and wrote a hurried comment on Raj's blog, only to have him write back to me and ask which word I thought was misspelt, I was mortified.

I always thought that the word minuscule was spelt with an i, and took umbrage at Raj spelling minuscule with an u. Wordweb, when I checked with it, confirmed that the spelling with u was the variant.

So I went to my shelves and checked my Webster. It didn't have any other spelling than minuscule. I checked my concise OED. It said miniscule was a variant.

Sigh. My father would have checked first before dashing off that comment.

That brings me to the point of this post.

What a nice thing it is to have friends who cheer you up, and provoke your curiosity. That biddable young lady Rimi, commenting on the previous post, offered a suggestion. She said if the muse refused to whisper inspiration, I could always crib.

I knew what she meant, of course. But I know the word means other things, too. (A child's cot with high ends and sides, a manger, to pass off other people's ideas or writing as one's own and to grumble.)

So I went to check my Webster. I wasn't going to check Wordweb first anymore, just because it sits conveniently on my desktop, and doesn't involve heavy lifting.

The Webster had ten definitions for crib as a noun, five for verb transitive, and three for verb intransitive. And none of them involved what Rimi suggested. I don't think she meant me to do a Kaavya Vishwanathan, after all.

I then checked the concise OED. It informed me there were nine definitions for the noun, including slang for a brothel and a light meal. Wonderful, isn't it? As a verb transitive it had four definitions and the fourth, which is British colloquial, is what Rimi meant. Grumble.

My father would have approved what I did next. I checked online. The first result that Google returned was this, and there was no definition of crib as grumble.

Undaunted, I checked more results. At, if you scroll down and read further, you can find that to crib is to grumble, in colloquial British slang. But Webster online didn't recognise the usage.

All this research in the course of an afternoon had one effect, though. The incipient blues lifted, and I was buoyed at the prospect of telling you all about it and boring you to tears.

Ah Rimi, my muse, as ye sow so ye shall reap.



Blogger Priya said...

Only 13 definitions for crib? And we wimmin have such unlimited reasons that all the dictionaries of the world will be put to shame!:P

2:11 pm  
Blogger jhantu said...

did you check in google/ the following:

crib+"when women do it"

the result is: page overflow, server out of memory

2:37 pm  
Anonymous Ash said...

Ah. We are back larking, are we, Missus Em?

Very instructive.

3:34 pm  
Blogger Rimi said...

Dear lord! Who would have thought! :D

@Jhantu--your ideas are most interesting. I don't happen to know you, do I? (You never know who writes under these secwet nicks...)

4:20 pm  
Blogger Lalita Mukherjea said...

Priya- Wimmen don't crib. We offer constructive criticism and character analyses. :D

Lovely post, by the way, and keep attacking those keys. We wants it.

Jhantu- Refer to above remark. We can't help it that we are so full of wisdom.

Ash- No Comment.

Rimi- What a coincidence, Princess. I had no idea you posted and linked. What an absolutely adorable honeychile you are.

4:34 pm  
Blogger db said...

@ Lalita:
1. "Complaining is good for you as long as you're not complaining to the person you're complaining about." - Lynn Johnston

2. Wimmen don't crib. We offer constructive criticism and character analyses .... Dale Carnegie once said, "Any fool can criticize, condemn, and complain - and most fools do." .... Are all ye wimmen fools ? ... ( Ooops, didn't mean to be sexist .. just kiddin ! )

9:05 pm  
Anonymous Rajesh said...

What a schoolmarm you'd have made, lady. A lovely lesson. But come on, tell us about meeting K.

9:41 pm  
Blogger Lalita Mukherjea said...

Ram- Lovely definitions.

Complaint: a greif resume.

You just lost any chance of making friends with any/all wonderful girls who read my blog.

Now don't you feel silly? :D

Rajesh- Yeah, yeah, you nag wonderfully well. I grant you that.

10:06 pm  
Blogger Lalita Mukherjea said...

Sheesh. Sorry about the typo.

Yours sincerely,

Ze Lark

10:08 pm  
Blogger karthik durvasula said...

crossword clue for the day:

1. An i for an i, and an u for an u - a blocked nose might help? (1,1)

additional clues in a couple of days if you can't get it. lol.

12:42 pm  
Blogger Lalita Mukherjea said...

Karthik- This is PhD stuff. Do elucidate for us mere mortals.

3:19 pm  
Blogger db said...

@ Lalita:
I am at a loss for lasses ! ;-)

7:00 pm  
Blogger Lalita Mukherjea said...

Ram- The lasses don't feel your loss, alas and alack!

You don't want hostile 'what does he know' reactions, do you, now?

Women cribbing is not a matter to make fun of, my dear young man. We can do it kindly or we can do it in the Black Widow spider way.

Think on this. :D

9:56 pm  
Blogger karthik durvasula said...

clue 1: An i for an i, and an u for an u - a blocked nose might help? (1,1)

clue 2 (for the same answer): It is indefinitely you!! (1,1)

PS - the PhD reference is accepted much appreciation. (Karthik bows to an unseen audience).

10:31 pm  
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12:56 am  
Blogger db said...

@ Lalita:

All those comments were in jest .. no offense meant to anyone :-|

1:40 am  
Blogger Raj said...

Ha, my name appears in print again. Thanks.

Somewhere on the continuum between 'good' and 'perfect', the law of diminishing returns sets in. Doesn't make sense to be that perfect, I argue.

But, wait,you say. If 99.99% of the flights landed safely, would you say that's good enough ? That would mean a 100 plane crashes every day. Wouldn't you prefer perfection?

Good point,I concede.

3:10 pm  
Blogger Lalita Mukherjea said...

Karthik- I I is the best I can think of.

Ram- I know it was 'jest' for fun. No offense taken.

Anon- Arrgh! Spam appears.

Raj- Thou cribbeth wonderfully. Also quibbleth, and carpeth. Bravo.

3:35 pm  
Blogger karthik durvasula said...

"I always thought that the word minuscule was spelt with an i, and took umbrage at Raj spelling minuscule with an u"
It should have been '...minuscule with a u'.

clue 1. An i for an i, and an u for an u - a blocked nose might help? (1,1)

The (mis-)quote and "an u for an u", was to high-light the search space. A blocked nose is a clue to remove an 'n' which is a nasal sound.

clue 2 (for the same answer): It is indefinitely you!! (1,1)

'a' is an indefinite article.

The answer should be obvious now (= a u).

your irritation for all things ungrammatical would have had an ally in me a few years back. lol. 'an u' was a personal front of attack in those years.

PS - sorry for the bad clues. lol.

6:34 am  
Blogger Lalita Mukherjea said...

karthik- Arrrgh!

I go now to honourable seppuku.

8:14 am  
Blogger karthik durvasula said...

seppuku, and not hara-kiri?

aaah, honour is thine, O great one!

10:25 pm  
Blogger Lalita Mukherjea said...

Karthik- Yup. wimmen commit honourable seppuku, men venture into harakiri.

It's something to do with binding feet together so there is no shaming loosening of limbs in death that might embarrass your ghost, I think. :D

10:47 pm  
Blogger Lalita Mukherjea said...

PS. We must stop meeting like this. Somebody might notice. *giggle*

10:48 pm  
Blogger tilotamma said...

I am glad you posted on it because I wanted under the same impression -- that crib did not really mean gripe...

5:53 pm  
Blogger Lalita Mukherjea said...

Tilo, it is usage prevalent in India and slang Brit phrases alone, I think.

We are the only ones to use this word like this only. :D

10:06 pm  
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