NECTAR, n. A drink served at banquets of the Olympian deities. The
secret of its preparation is lost, but the modern Kentuckians believe
that they come pretty near to a knowledge of its chief ingredient.
Juno drank a cup of nectar,
But the draught did not affect her.
Juno drank a cup of rye –
Then she bad herself good-bye.
NEGRO, n. The piece de resistance in the American political
problem. Representing him by the letter n, the Republicans begin to
build their equation thus: "Let n = the white man." This, however,
appears to give an unsatisfactory solution.
NEIGHBOR, n. One whom we are commanded to love as ourselves, and who
does all he knows how to make us disobedient.
NEPOTISM, n. Appointing your grandmother to office for the good of
NEWTONIAN, adj. Pertaining to a philosophy of the universe invented
by Newton, who discovered that an apple will fall to the ground, but
was unable to say why. His successors and disciples have advanced so
far as to be able to say when.
NIHILIST, n. A Russian who denies the existence of anything but
Tolstoi. The leader of the school is Tolstoi.
NIRVANA, n. In the Buddhist religion, a state of pleasurable
annihilation awarded to the wise, particularly to those wise enough to
NOBLEMAN, n. Nature’s provision for wealthy American minds ambitious
to incur social distinction and suffer high life.
NOISE, n. A stench in the ear. Undomesticated music. The chief
product and authenticating sign of civilization.
NOMINATE, v. To designate for the heaviest political assessment. To
put forward a suitable person to incur the mudgobbling and deadcatting
of the opposition.
NOMINEE, n. A modest gentleman shrinking from the distinction of
private life and diligently seeking the honorable obscurity of public
NON-COMBATANT, n. A dead Quaker.
NONSENSE, n. The objections that are urged against this excellent
NOSE, n. The extreme outpost of the face. From the circumstance that
great conquerors have great noses, Getius, whose writings antedate the
age of humor, calls the nose the organ of quell. It has been observed
that one’s nose is never so happy as when thrust into the affairs of
others, from which some physiologists have drawn the inference that
the nose is devoid of the sense of smell.
There’s a man with a Nose,
And wherever he goes
The people run from him and shout:
"No cotton have we
For our ears if so be
He blow that interminous snout!"
So the lawyers applied
For injunction. "Denied,"
Said the Judge: "the defendant prefixion,
Whate’er it portend,
Appears to transcend
The bounds of this court’s jurisdiction."
NOTORIETY, n. The fame of one’s competitor for public honors. The
kind of renown most accessible and acceptable to mediocrity. A
Jacob’s-ladder leading to the vaudeville stage, with angels ascending
NOUMENON, n. That which exists, as distinguished from that which
merely seems to exist, the latter being a phenomenon. The noumenon is
a bit difficult to locate; it can be apprehended only be a process of
reasoning – which is a phenomenon. Nevertheless, the discovery and
exposition of noumena offer a rich field for what Lewes calls "the
endless variety and excitement of philosophic thought." Hurrah
(therefore) for the noumenon!
NOVEL, n. A short story padded. A species of composition bearing the
same relation to literature that the panorama bears to art. As it is
too long to be read at a sitting the impressions made by its
successive parts are successively effaced, as in the panorama. Unity,
totality of effect, is impossible; for besides the few pages last read
all that is carried in mind is the mere plot of what has gone before.
To the romance the novel is what photography is to painting. Its
distinguishing principle, probability, corresponds to the literal
actuality of the photograph and puts it distinctly into the category
of reporting; whereas the free wing of the romancer enables him to
mount to such altitudes of imagination as he may be fitted to attain;
and the first three essentials of the literary art are imagination,
imagination and imagination. The art of writing novels, such as it
was, is long dead everywhere except in Russia, where it is new. Peace
to its ashes – some of which have a large sale.
NOVEMBER, n. The eleventh twelfth of a weariness.