Words & Stuff

The Taxonomized Register of English "Stormy Petrels"

(Last modified 6/3/97)

Concept and registry by Elliott Moreton. Items provided by Elliott Moreton except where otherwise noted. Page maintained by Jed Hartman.

Sooner or later I'll mark each of the petrels as "first-tier," "second-tier," or "joke," as defined by Elliott on the comments page. In the mean time, you'll have to figure out which category each item is in on your own.

A question mark next to an item indicates doubt as to its petrelosity.

NOUN requiring MODIFIER

All PETRELS are STORMY
(Except, of course, those that aren't. This item remains on the list for historical reasons.)
All SHRIFT is SHORT
All DUDGEON is HIGH
All MEEMIES are SCREAMING
All DURANCE is VILE
(Jed Hartman)
All RECRIMINATIONS are BITTER
All FIGMENTS are OF somebody's IMAGINATION
Every CYNOSURE is OF ALL EYES
All TURPITUDE is MORAL
(Jed Hartman)
Every SCRUFF is OF THE NECK
(Jim Moskowitz)
All FETTLE is FINE
(Jim Moskowitz)
Every NAPE is OF THE NECK
(Diana Stiefbold)
All PARLANCE is COMMON
(Jed Hartman)
All SNIFTERS are BRANDY
(Jim Moskowitz)
All GUIGNOL is GRAND
(Jim Moskowitz)
Every SKIRL is OF BAGPIPES

MODIFIER requiring NOUN

Note that in these items, the petrel is the second word or phrase given; the modifier, not the noun.

Only TREASURE can be TROVE
(TROVE can be used by itself as a synonym for "treasure trove," but then it's a noun.)
Only MOTIVES can be ULTERIOR
Only a KNIGHT can be ERRANT
(Ellen Perry)
? Only a NOSE can be SNUB
(Ellen Perry)
Only VEINS can be VARICOSE
(Jim Moskowitz)
Only BACKS can be SWAY
Only SWITCHES can be TOGGLE
(Jim Moskowitz and Andy Swift)
? Only ARMS can be AKIMBO
(Jim Moskowitz)
? Only TIES can be FOUR-IN-HAND
Only SKIRTS can be DIRNDL
Only NOSES can be AQUILINE
Only LOVE can be UNREQUITED
(Jim Moskowitz)
Only IDIOTS can be BLITHERING
(Jen Austrian)
? Only TEETH can be SNAGGLE
Only PHRASES can be FUSTIAN
Only KNIGHTS can be TEMPLAR
(Jed Hartman)
Only the COMMISSION can be TRILATERAL
(Jed Hartman)
Only a SEAT can be CATBIRD
Only BEADS can be AGGRY
(Jim Moskowitz)
Only CIRCUMSTANCES can be STRAITENED
Only VIRGINS can be VESTAL
Only LINES can be PLIMSOLL
(Jim Moskowitz)
Only a LINE can be MAGINOT
Only TISSUE can be ERECTILE
(J*d H*****n)
Only SHEARS can be PINKING
(Jim Moskowitz)
Only GLANCES can be SIDELONG
Only a MOON can be GIBBOUS
(Mark-Jason Dominus)
Only the TIDE can be EBB
(Jed Hartman)
Only a PLOVER can be SEMIPALMATED
(Mark-Jason Dominus)
Only the ORACLE can be DELPHIC
(Mark-Jason Dominus)
Only a RECORD can be LONG-PLAYING
(Mark-Jason Dominus)
Only a CONE can be PYROMETRIC
(Mark-Jason Dominus)
Only a CLAM can be CHERRYSTONE
(Mark-Jason Dominus)
Only an OYSTER can be BLUE POINT
(Mark-Jason Dominus)
Only a SEIZURE can be GRAND MAL
(Mark-Jason Dominus)
Only CREME is BRULEE (in English)
(Mark-Jason Dominus)
Only EGGS can be SUNNY-SIDE UP
(Mark-Jason Dominus)
Only EGGS can be OVER EASY
(Mark-Jason Dominus)
Only EGGS can be BENEDICT
(Mark-Jason Dominus)
Only EGGS can be SOFT-BOILED
(Mark-Jason Dominus)

SUBJECT requiring VERB

The only thing your HACKLES can do is RISE

DIRECT OBJECT requiring VERB

The only thing you can do with ASPERSIONS is CAST them
The only thing you can do with a FAIT ACCOMPLI is PRESENT someone WITH it
The only thing you can do with (SHORT) SHRIFT is BE GIVEN it
The only thing you can do with UMBRAGE is TAKE it
The only thing you can do with (THE) KIBOSH is PUT IT ON something
(Jim Moskowitz)
The only thing you can do with YOUR OWN DEVICES is BE LEFT TO them
(John Halbert)
The only thing you can do with LOGGERHEADS is be AT them WITH somebody
(John Halbert)
The only thing you can do with KILTER is THROW something OUT OF it
? The only thing I can do with MY DANDER is GET it UP
The only thing you can do with a DAMN is GIVE it
(Jim Moskowitz)
The only thing you can do with HEADWAY is MAKE it
(Donna Jo Napoli)
The only thing you can do with THE CATBIRD SEAT is BE SITTING IN it
The only thing you can do with TENTERHOOKS is BE ON them
The only thing you can do with THE LAM is BE ON it
The only thing you can do with THE COCKLES OF YOUR HEART is WARM them
The only thing you can do with (YOUR OWN) PETARD is BE HOIST by it
(Jim Moskowitz)
The only thing you can do with A JAUNDICED VIEW is TAKE it
The only thing you can do with YOUR TROTH is PLIGHT it

MODIFIER requiring VERB

The only thing you can do BALEFULLY is GLARE
The only thing you can do ABACK is BE TAKEN
The only thing you can do ASKANCE is LOOK on or at something

VERB requiring SUBJECT

Only HEAVEN can FORFEND
Only CLOUDS can SCUD
(Jonathan Kulick)

VERB requiring DIRECT OBJECT (& OBLIQUE OBJECT(S))

The only thing you can BOGGLE is THE MIND
(Jed Hartman)
The only thing you can PLIGHT is your TROTH
The only thing you can OBVIATE is the NECESSITY for something
The only thing you can GRIT is your TEETH
(Jim Moskowitz)
The only thing you can WEND is your WAY
(Jim Moskowitz)
The only thing you can GNASH is YOUR TEETH
(Jim Moskowitz)
The only thing you can BIDE is your TIME
The only thing you can METE OUT is PUNISHMENT
(Jed Hartman)
The only thing you can WORM is YOUR WAY into or out of something
(Jim Moskowitz)

VERB requiring ANAPHORIC OBJECT

The only person you can PRIDE is YOURSELF (ON something)
The only person you can RECUSE is YOURSELF
The only person you can INGRATIATE is YOURSELF (WITH someone)
The only person you can AVAIL is YOURSELF (OF something)

VERB requiring MODIFIER

The only way to BESTRIDE something is LIKE A COLOSSUS
The only way to DISABUSE someone is OF A NOTION
The only way to REDOUND is TO someone's CREDIT

NOUN requiring COORDINATE NOUN

You can't get SUCCOUR without AID
(Jed Hartman)
You can't have TRIBULATIONS without TRIALS
(Jed Hartman)
You can't have KITH without KIN
You can't have CRANNIES without NOOKS
(Jim Moskowitz)
You can't have BECK without CALL
You can't have DRIBS without DRABS
(Jed Hartman)

VERB requiring COORDINATE VERB

You can't ABET unless you also AID
You can't HAW unless you also HEM
(Jed Hartman)

ADVERB requiring COORDINATE ADVERB

You can't do anything FRO unless you've already done it TO

ADJECTIVE requiring COORDINATE ADJECTIVE

A thing can't be SPIC unless it's also SPAN, and vice versa
(Jed Hartman)

"VERB" requiring INFINITIVAL COMPLEMENT

The only thing you can BE RARING to do is GO
(Jed Hartman) (Note that this isn't really a verb: you can't rare to go, nobody ever rared to go.)

Candidate Petrels

I'll give readers a chance to look these over and comment before I add 'em to the main list.

The only thing that can BETIDE is WOE
(Chris Welty)
If something is BLINDINGLY a certain way, it must be OBVIOUS
(Chris Welty)

Former Petrels

Here are some items formerly believed to be petrels, but denounced as non-petrels by multiple native speakers. I'm keeping them on the list (in this special section) to avoid the indignity of accidentally adding them to the main list again and having to remove them again.

*Only a NOSE can be SNUB
(Ellen Perry) Counterexample: snub cube (Dominus)
*Every CORTEX is CEREBRAL
(Mark-Jason Dominus) Counterexample: adrenal cortex (JC Evans, "phma")
*All ZEST is FOR LIFE
Counterexample: lemon zest, orange zest (JC Evans, Chris Welty)
*Only an HOUR can be UNGODLY
(Jed Hartman) Counterexamples: ungodly noise (Amy Schmieder, JC Evans), ungodly racket (JC Evans, Kendra)
*Only BLACKNESS can be STYGIAN
Counterexample: Stygian gloom (Chris Welty)
*The only thing you can WREAK is HAVOC
Counterexample: wreak vengeance (Jed Hartman)
*Only DEPTHS can be BENTHIC
(Mark-Jason Dominus) Counterexamples: benthic invertebrates, benthic algae (JC Evans)
*The only person you can ENSCONCE is YOURSELF
*The only way to be ENSCONCED is FIRMLY
Counterexamples: too many to track easily, but consensus seems to be that you can ensconce just about anything or anyone anywhere and in any fashion.

Jed Hartman <logophilia@kith.org>