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 Answers.com, 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.