Friday, December 01, 2006

Word of the Day: Clerihew

The Word of the Day for December 01, 2006 is:
clerihew • \KLAIR-ih-hyoo\ • noun
: a light verse quatrain rhyming aabb and usually dealing with a person named in the initial rhyme
Example Sentence:
My favorite of Edmund C. Bentley's clerihews is the following: "What I like about Clive / Is that he is no longer alive. / There is a great deal to be said / For being dead."

Did you know?
Edmund Clerihew Bentley (1875-1956) was an English writer whose book Biography for Beginners was published in 1906 under the name E. Clerihew. It was a collection of simple, humorous four-line verses about famous people. Bentley had begun writing them as a bored high school student. He didn't call them clerihews himself, but his readers began to do so after the book appeared. How soon after, we can't be sure, because so far we've unearthed nothing earlier than a 1928 description of clerihews as "nice slack metres and sly points." In any case, people have been having fun writing their own clerihews ever since Bentley shared his.

Hat Tip: Blogger and Gilbert reader Dan


  1. Bentley also wrote a wonderful mystery novel, TRENT'S LAST CASE, which I believe was dedicated to Chesterton. GKC responded by dedicating THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY to Bentley, if I'm not mistaken.

  2. That is indeed correct; GKC's introductory poem to TMWWT is to ECB.

    Another connection: GKC illustrated that collection of clerihews.

    Finally, Trent's Last Case is available from Dover Publications who have reprinted a number of GKC's novels. (I have no connection with them except for being a very satisfied customer.)


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