Saturday, September 13, 2008

Beer as Brains

Ever since I realized I was in no hurry to make a full alphabetical loop with my words of the week, I’ve been more okay with repeating a given letter. Here’s another “T.” Thank Dina, who emailed me about it.
toby (TOH-bee) — noun: a drinking mug, usually in the shape of a stout man wearing a large three-cornered hat.
I can hear you saying it now: “Oh, that toby.”

How Dina came across it: “So I’m playing Scrabble and I get 27 points for toby. Wondering what a toby is, I stumble upon this amusingly specific definition.” Really, that’s what online Scrabble is for. Why else would we know words like adz and vita?

Dina also included a link to what she and everyone else should refer to as a “vaguely terrifying example.” It is below:


Wikipedia’s example photo is no better:


I can’t imagine why people would want to make it seem like they were drinking brains, but I suppose it wouldn’t necessarily strike everybody that way. (It certainly didn’t to the people who designed my mother’s Christmas punch bowl.) Dictionaries aren’t much help for where this term came from. Most entries for toby are actually just entries for Toby, the nickname for Tobias. Which I think we all knew. However, the etymology doesn’t interest me so much as the knowledge that such a specific term exists.

Now mind how much you drink, lest you end up looking like a toby.

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