The Philosophical Lexicon



Copyright © Daniel Dennett and Asbjørn Steglich-Petersen.




The 2008 Edition of The Philosophical Lexicon is the first edition to be published since the Eighth Edition appeared in 1987. The Seventh Edition was published in 1978, while the earlier editions circulated in unpublished, mimeograph form. On the occasion of this edition, The Philosophical Lexicon has migrated from its former dwelling with Blackwell to its present online location.

The Lexicon began one night in September of 1969 in the hands of Daniel Dennett, who was writing lecture notes and found himself jotting down as a heading "quining intentions". He saw fit to compose a definition of the verb. In the morning he was ill prepared to lecture, but handed a list of about a dozen definitions together with the Introduction to his colleagues at Irvine. Joe Lambert promptly responded with several more definitions and sent the first batch to Nuel Belnap and Alan Anderson at Pittsburgh. Almost by return mail their first entries arrived, and within a few months they together prepared a second edition, then a third, and so it continued.

The editions have been cumulative, but along the way a few entries have either been dropped as sub-standard or replaced by better definitions of the same term. Originally, only twentieth-century philosophers were considered eligible, but how could the pronoun "hume" be resisted? The one strict rule is that no one has been permitted to define him or herself - editors included.


During the 21 years that have past since the publication of the last edition in 1987, Daniel Dennett received almost two hundred new entry proposals. These were all passed on to me along with the editorship in May 2008. 56 of the proposals have been selected for the 2008 Edition and added to the 245 entries from the Eighth Edition. Henceforth, a new edition of the Lexicon will appear annually.


For this edition, as for the previous, all (living, locatable) definienda were given the opportunity to delete the entry on them if they wished. I am happy to say that philosophers have proven to be good sports about being satirized, even when the satire is quite rude and unfair! My thanks go to all our eponymous colleagues, and my apologies to all the illustrious members of the profession who deserve to be included but have so far failed to inspire a suitably pungent definition.


Also thanks to all of those who have contributed to The Lexicon with entry proposals. Over the years, The Lexicon has benefitted from the wit of Kathleen Akins, Brian Barry, Devon Belcher, Nick Bellorini, Andrew Belsey, Simon Blackburn, George Boolos, Stewart Candlish, Ronald Carrier, Jordan Cates, Timothy Chappell, John Cronquist, Bill de Vries, J.A. Durieux, Peter Forrest, Jack Fortune, Jeff Foss, Jurg Freudinger, Don Garrett, Stephen Glaister, Soren Haggqvist, Martin Hollis, Gary Iseminger, Philip Kitcher, Carsten Korfmacher, Bill Lycan, Penelope Mackie, John MacKinnon, Hugh Mellor, Elijah Millgram, Robert Nozick, Panos Parissis, Hilary Putnam, Dan Radcliffe, David Sanford, Eric Schliesser, Mark Schroeder, George Sher, Harry Silverstein, Edward Stein, Steve Stich, Philip Turetsky, Steve Wagner, David Weinberger, Roger White, Jennifer Whiting, and Jamie Whyte.


Proposals for new entries may be sent to: submissions[at]



Asbjørn Steglich-Petersen



Department of Philosophy

Aarhus University




The pantheon of philosophy has contributed previous little to the English language, compared with other fields. What can philosophy offer to compare with the galvanizing volts, ohms and watts of physics, the sandwiches, cardigans, and raglan sleeves of the British upper crust, the sado-masochism of their Continental counterparts, or even the leotards of the circus world? We speak of merely platonic affairs, and Gilbert Ryle has given his name to a measure of beer (roughly three-quarters of a pint), but the former is inappropriate to say the least, and the latter is restricted to the patois used in certain quarters of Oxford. There are, of course, the legion of pedantic terms ending in "ian" and "ism", such as "neo-Augustinian Aristotelianism", "Russellian theory of descriptions", and such marginally philosophic terms as "Cartesian coordinate" and "Machiavellian", but these terms have never been, nor deserved to be, a living part of the language. To remedy this situation we propose that philosophers make a self-conscious effort to adopt the following new terms. With a little practice these terms can become an important part of your vocabulary, to the point that you will wonder how philosophy ever proceeded without them.






ackack, n. Rapid-fire criticism. "I had scarcely finished my talk when I was cut down by a withering barrage of ackack" Hence ackerman, n. Rapid-fire critic (cf. thomson gun).

æil weil, n. A peculiar spiritual hunger characteristically expressed by lamentations such as, "Man’s great affliction, which begins with infancy and accompanies him till death, is that looking and eating are two different operations." (Simone Weil, Gravity and Grace)


ajdukiewics, n. A term that is untranslatable, except in a language which is an exact copy of the language in which the term appears.

aiken, adj. Said of one who is in the grip of some urgently occurrent aesthetic emotion, or in whom merely pleasurable impressions of reflection have given way to paroxysms. "Leo was moved by the performance, but as the orchestra finished the adagio of the Beethoven, Henry was just aiken."

albritton, adj. Contraction of "all but written". "It's albritton here; I'll be with you in a minute."

alvinize, v. To stimulate protracted discussion by making a bizarre claim. "His contention that natural evil is due to Satanic agency alvinized his listeners."

ameliorortate, v. To complicate discussion of a theory or topic by drawing attention to a panoply of distinctions, difficult examples, and writings whose relevance had hitherto been conveniently underestimated. "We were really making progress until she had to go and ameliorortate the issue."

anscombe, v. (1) To gather for safe-keeping. "She anscombed with all the notes and letters." (2) To go over carefully, with a fine-tooth comb, in an oblique direction.

A. Priori, n. A species of undeniable truth first discovered in New Zealand.

aquinas, (from a-, not, and quine) Philosophers who refuse to deny the existence or importance of something real or significant.

arendt, n. The relationship between "thoughts" and "the apex of human achievement."

armstrong unit, n. Measure of the wavelength of belief (= 10 micro-smarts).

armstrong tactics, n. pl. In argument, using the mind as a physical weapon.

a rortiori, adj. For even more obscure and fashionable Continental reasons.

arthurdantist, n. One who straightens the teeth of exotic dogmas. "Little Friedrich used to say the most wonderful things before we took him to the arthurdantist!" - Frau Nietzsche

assearltion, n. A speech act whose illocutionary force is identical with the speaker. "He assearled himself across the room."

austintatious, adj. Displaying in a fine sense the niceties of the language. "I'm not sure what his point was, but his presentation was certainly austintatious."

ayer, v. (from Spanish, ayer, meaning yesterday) To oversimplify elegantly in the direction of a past generation. "Russell, in the Analysis of Mind, ayers a behaviorist account of belief."

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bachelard, n. A philosopher who has not attained master level.

bahm, v. To devastate with reprints. "He bahmed the country with his latest piece."

baier, n.m. One who obtains his ethical theory from a vendler. Also, n.f., one who obtains her philosophy of mind from sellers.

bambrough, n. (1) A rare and umbrageous tree in the shelter of which all philosophical perplexity can be charmed away.

Where the bread fruit fall

And the penguin call

And the sound is the sound of the sea

Under the bam

Under the brough

Under the bambrough tree.

(2) (from bang-brow) A comment of such transcendent obviousness that were any hearer actually informed by it, he would smite his forehead with the heel of his hand. "Such a bambrough! Why didn't I think of it?"

barcan, n. The cry of the bulldog. "Tho 'bitin' may scar us, no barcan can mark us" - Old Professor's Song at Yale.

bar-hillel, n. A whipping post. "We've got him over a bar-hillel."

barry, v. To infer dismissals of philosophical skepticism. Cf. hume. "It was barried in a long white stroud."

bedau, n. A water bed, equipped with a light show and a hi fi system with recordings of the sea surf; one lies gently lulled by the sound of the sea going on and on. It is reputed by its users to foster a heightened sense of social justice, and hence is often advocated by rehabilitationists as a benign alternative to the electric chair, "You'll get the chair for this - or at least the bedau!"

belnap, n. (from bel-, beautiful, + carnap) A carnap felicitously defined in ordinary idiomatic language (e.g. "synonymous" for "intensionally isomorphic").

benettiction, n. Praise for a philosopher for solving a problem that was not invented until several hundred years after his death. "His study of Kant concludes with a bennettiction of Kant for solving the problem of a private language."

benjamin, n. A philosopher who is not yet a bachelard (q.v.).

bergson, n. A mountain of sound, a "buzzing, blooming confusion".

berlin, n. An old fashioned stage coach, filled with international travelers, all talking rapidly and telling anecdotes of vivid life elsewhere. "As the berlin came through town, one could hear many accents one had never heard before, and delightful tales."

bernard, n. (1) (from St Bernard) A shaggy dog story. Hence bernard, v. to tell such stories in lieu of making general arguments. "The risk one takes in bernarding is that one may be outsmarted." Also baown. the punch line of a bernard. (2) A psychotic state in which one finds it impossible to visualise a bath without a naked woman in it.

bertrand, n. (1) A state of profound abstraction of mind and spirit; a trance. "He went into a bertrand and began to babble about the class of all classes which are not member of themselves." (2) The state of a person who suffers from delusions (e.g. as of one who doubts that, when he sees a table, he sees a table), or has visions (e.g. of the present King of France). (3) A state of linguistic amnesia, as of one who believes that "this" is a proper name and "Plato" a description.

Blackburn, n. A quasi-real town in England, in which one can have one’s cake and eat it too.

Black Max, the, n. Coveted decoration, annually awarded to the philosopher who stays aloft the longest by flying in circles.

blanshard, v. To turn deathly pale at the sight of an external relation.

block, n. (1) (shortened from mental block) A sort of organic stoprule or safety valve that prevents people from going crazy when they consider thought experiments exploiting combinatorial explosion. "It's a good thing I had a block just then! I was getting a trifle dizzy when he started going on about storing all the possible descriptions of the universe in a book made out of tiny galaxies pretending they're electrons." n. (2) A small but obdurate obstacle preventing the smooth operation of a mechanism, a spanner in the works. Hence, mental block, an objection to functionalism obsessively maintained in the face of all manner of refutations, blandishments and appeals to common cause.

bloom, v. To attribute the existence of a major social, cultural, or intellectual trend to implausible causes. "He blooms Saturday morning television shows for the rise of communism in Western Europe."

boo, n. The length of a mathematical or logical proof; hence, booloss, n., the process of shortening such a proof. "Only after significant booloss could the compactness theorem be explained in fifteen minutes."

bouwsma, n. The sound made by a dogma, hence bouwsmatic, said of one who philosophizes by ear.

boyd, (1) n. According to non-reductionist materialism, one of the basic constituents of the universe. (The term originated with Democritus who said, "by convention grue, by convention bleen; in reality only atoms and the boyd.") (2) adj. said of a philosopher euphorically afloat on a theory. "He was boyd up by his realism."

braithwaite, n. The interval of time between two books. "His second book followed his first after a long braithwaite."

brandt, v. To take a flexible and complex position and stun as by affixing a slogan description, with its own mark attached as a label. "The argument was good for a long run until he brandt it, and then all it could do was look dazed and sorry."

brink, v. To elaborate a position by spelling out all logically possible variations of it; also, n., with filled to, a maximally brinked position. "His discussion of moral realism was filled to the brink".

brodbeck, n. A female expert in a predominantly male field, especially one who can carry the extra load involved.

brouw, n. Intuition. Hence, heybrouw, adj. of refined intuition.

brownian motion, n. A very small oscillation about an almost invisible point, often found in minute philosophical analyses. "His chisholming of that definition was a textbook example of brownian motion."

buber, v. To struggle in a morass of one's own making. "After I defined the self as a relation that relates to itself relatingly, I bubered around for three pages." Hence buber, n. one who bubers. "When my mistake was pointed out to me, I felt like a complete buber."

bunged-up, adj. Full of unnecessary material.

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carnap, n. (1) A formally defined symbol, operator, special bit of notation. "His prose is peppered with carnaps" or "the argument will proceed more efficiently if we introduce a few carnaps." n. (2) Loss of consciousness while being taken for a ride.

cartwright, adj. Characterizing one who takes such pains in constructing the cart that one never gets to see whether the cart is put before or after the horse. Hence, cartwrong, adj. slapdash.

castaneda, n. An elaborate musical instrument, emitting a confused sound when agitated. "The original theme was lost in the sound of the castaneda."

cast a ñeda, v. (Perhaps corruption of ‘cast a net’). To invert the basic principles of theory construction by seeking to explain a small and unproblematic set of data by means of a huge and opaque set of concepts, principles, and distinctions. "After casting a ñeda over a few ordinary moral arguments he spent several years blathering about practitions, noemata, ‘Legitimacy’ as a semantic value, etc."

cavell, v. An exquisitely sensitive distinction of language, hence cavellier, adj. characterizing a writing style common among extraordinary language philosophers.

chihara-kiri, n. The death of aleph-nought cuts. 

chisholm, v. To make repeated small alterations in a definition or example. "He started with definition (d.8) and kept chisholming away at it until he ended up with (d.8'''''''')."

chomsky, adj. Said of a theory that draws extravagant metaphysical implications from scientifically established facts. "Essentially, Hume's criticism of the Argument from Design is that it leads in all its forms to blatantly chomsky conclusions." "The conclusions drawn from Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle are not only on average chomskier than those drawn from Godel's theorem; most of them are downright merleau-ponty."

church, n. A tightly constructed, heavily defended medieval place of worship, now primarily a tourist attraction.

churchland, n., (1) Two-ring traveling circus, a cross between a chautauqua and Disneyland, at which philosophers are given entertaining religious instruction in Science and nothing to eat but "phase space sandwiches". Hence churchlandish, adj. Doubly outlandish. (2) n. A theocracy whose official religion is eliminative materialism.

code, v. To render unintelligible by substituting a literal translation. Hence code, n. the product of coding. "What he says about Aristotle sounds like code to me." (See also kripkography.)

cohen, n. (from cohort and coven) A collection of philosophers.

coplestones, n. pl. What the philosophical path to God is paved with.

copiwrite, v. To come out with a revised edition for some purpose (e.g. to remove inconsistency or cut off the used book market).

cornell, n. The tolling of the bell to mark the end of ordinary language philosophy.

croce, n. A method of knitting spaghetti; thus, an intricate tangle.

curry, n. A work well seasoned with neologism; hence, curried, adj. "His work was an indigestible mass of curried grice."

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dagfinn, n. One of the two possible outcomes of crossing a shark with a dolphin (the other is the follesdal). The dagfinn is tough-minded and tenderhearted, while the follesdal is soft-minded and hard-hearted; travelling together in symbiotic pairs, they are the only intelligent creatures at home in deep waters.

davidsonic, adj. Of speed; minimum forward velocity required to keep a research program in the air. Superdavidsonic, of research program for which this speed is zero. Hence, davidsonic boom, the sound made by a research program when it hits Oxford.

deleuzion, n. A false, persistent philosophical belief, unsubstantiated by evidence or argument. "He suffered from the deleuzion that Spinoza could be used to clarify Lacanian psychoanalysis."

dennett, v. (1) To while away the hours defining surnames; hence, dennettation n. (2) The meaning of a surname. "Every surname has both a meinong and a dennettation." n. (3) An artificial enzyme used to curdle the milk of human intentionality.

derek, n. A philosophical skyhook, purportedly capable of transporting one to the "standpoint of the universe". "The only way to raise yourself up to the point where you can understand how it can be good to do bad, and rational to be irrational, is to take a derek."

derrida. A sequence of signs that fails to signify anything beyond itself. From a old French nonsense refrain: "Hey nonny derrida, nonny nonny derrida falala."

desousaphone, n. A musical instrument, descended from the harmanica (q.v.); like the bassoon, it is often used to provide comic effects in program music.

deweyite, adj. Full of vague and impractical but well-intentioned ideas.

donagan, v. To subject a thinker to periodic revival, as in "I thought it was time to discover Collingwood, but I found he had already been donaganed."

donnellan, v. Contraction of "don't know from nothing". "This stuff about reference I donnellan."

dreb(en), n. A function mapping the natural numbers onto the ineffable. Hence, dreb, v. to insist violently that something cannot be said, but to say it anyway. Hence, dreben, n. "He took the recalcitrant philosopher behind the barn and gave him a good dreben."

dretske, n. (usually in the idiom the straight dretske, a Midwestern German-American euphemism) Information with no admixture of misinformation. "Just give me the straight dretske, and none of your tricks!"

dreyfus, n. (from "dry" & "fuss") An arid ad hominem controversy. "What began as an interesting debate soon degenerated into a dreyfus."

duhemous, adj. Of an experiment which does not demonstrate anything in particular, but a lot of things in general. As opposed to "crucial".

dummett, v. Contraction of "thumb through it"; as in "I'm afraid the only index this book has is almost the same as the table of contents, so you'll just have to dummett."

dwork, v. (Perhaps a contraction of hard work?) To drawl through a well prepared talk, making it appear effortless and extemporaneous. "I bin dworkin on de lecture circuit" - old American folk song.

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enc, n. The purported distance between a mechanical device and a mind.

ew, v. To work in an impenetrable medium. "He spent his whole life ewing an idealistic line."

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feigl, v. (with out) To give up a previously held position. "Once the antimony was pointed out to him he feigled out."

feinberg, n. A mountain of finely grained distinctions; hence feinberg, v. To work one's way out of a corner by building and mounting a feinberg. "I was pinned in my argument, but then managed to feinberg my way out."

feyerabend, n. (fr. German "feuer" & "abend") The last brilliant moment of a conceptual framework before death and transfiguration. Every conceptual framework has its feyerabend.

feys, n. An important work (text or reference) in an esoteric subject. "To all who observed him, the graduate student appeared to be going through a feys." Hence, feys, v. To seem on first reading to be an important work. "Quine's latest book did not feys him for a minute."

findlay, n. An implement used in the exploration of caves. It is not known exactly what it is because it is only used in total darkness.

fitch, v. To seek sound arguments for positions no one holds. "In his last article he really went fitching." Hence, fitch, n. Such an argument, and fitchous, adj. describing such arguments (e.g. a fitchous circle), also fitchy, adj. "His argument struck me as fitchy."

flew, (1) n. An old-fashioned device for blowing smoke into church. "He was so annoyed by the fitch that he stuck it up the flew." (2) v. To glide rapidly and superficially over difficult terrain (cf. foot and randall). "We were trying to heidegg the suppesitions in hampshire but he just flew right by."

fodor, n. (1) A jaunty hat worn at a rakish angle, under which one keeps one's katz-kradle (q.v.) (2) n. (short for fodorgraph). A fodorgraph is an explicit representation which is what is left when you take a literal physical image, subtract the spatial array of colored marks, and then throw away the paper.

fogel, v. (with in) (cf. feigl out) To adopt a position just after its futility has been widely acknowledged (e.g. to accept the chairmanship of Yale in the mid-sixties).

foot, v. To work one's way close to the ground, in a descriptive manner, avoiding all flights of construction. (cf. flew, randall)

foster, v. To insist on the importance or existence of something insignificant or unreal. "Qualia should not be quined, but fostered!" - commentary by J. Foster on "Quining Qualia", Oxford, 1979.

foucault, n. A howler, an insane mistake. "I'm afraid I've committed an egregious foucault."

fraassen, n. The incandescent that results when realism collides with experience. In the process electrons disappear and God is reborn.

frege, n. (only in the idiom, to beg the frege) To acknowledge the inconsistency of one's position but maintain it anyway.

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gadam, v. To expound the meaning of abstruse writings, dreams, arcane and necromantic symbols, and the rest of the universe, in ways pleasing to the humanist. Hence, gadamer, n. one who gadams. Hence, also the adjective, gadam, gadamer, gademest, of or pertaining to the activity of gadaming. "I done my gadamest."

gass, v. (1) To write philosophy like a novelist; (2) To write novels like a philosopher.

geach, v. (1) To hold onto a view in the face of difficulties you would be quick to find insuperable in an opponent's position. Particularly in the idiom, "geach to his own taste." (Cf. Fr. "bergson a son goo".) n. (2) Indefinable term, which can be learned only by ostension, having to do with the way one reacts to a philosophic issue or individuals. "It made me want to geach." "They were sitting in the bar, geaching at Whitehead." "It is hard to say whether he is seriously chisholming the definition or just geaching off."

gerasimos santas, interj. Ritual chant of the moravcsiki.

getty, adj. Describing a counterexample that obtains its conclusion. "Your first rule raises some interesting questions, but your second is gettier."

gibbard, n. A cumbersome balance-beam device used by decision theorists for deciding among equally unsavory alternatives. "Such a dilemma! That's one for the gibbard!"

glover, n. One who manufacturers utilitarian articles from materials supplied by a skinner.

glymour, n. An illumination, usually enveloped in darkness; often used metaphorically, as in "I read all the equations, but I just had a glymour of what they meant."

gnoam, n. Homunculus.

godel, adj. Said of a contribution: fundamental. (See Kleene.)

goldfarbrication, n. The alchemical transformation of slapdash investigations into previous philosophical ore. "In this day and age there are still some who believe that goldfarbrication is possible, even to the extent of devoting their careers to the attempt."

goodij, n. An entry in a utility matrix - more specifically, the utility of act in the event of outcome.

goodman, n. An apparent straw man that does not succumb to repeated glancing blows, a riddle that resists solution. "It's hard to keep a goodman down."

grice, n. Conceptual intricacy. "His examination of Hume is distinguished by erudition and grice." Hence, griceful, adj. and griceless, adj. "An obvious and griceless polemic." pl. grouse: A multiplicity of grice, fragmenting into great details, often in reply to an original grice note.

grunbaum, n. (in German folklore) A tree which, when one of its fruits is bruised, produces another of the same shape, taste, and texture but five times as large.

gunderstanding, n. Machine intelligence. Also, gunderstatement, n. a print-out.

gustav, n. Metaphysical abandon. "He conducts the argument with great gustav."

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habermass, (from the Middle High German halber Marx; cf. ganzer Marx) n. A religious ceremony designed to engender an illusion of understanding through chants describing socio-economic conditions. Hence also, habermass, v. "He habermassed Einstein; he attempted to deduce the special theory of relativity from the social structure of the Bern patent office." "Nothing but a gadam habermass" - H. S. Truman.

hack, v. To deal vigorously with. "He spent years hacking his way through the stochastic jungle." See also ew, a gentler variant.

haksar, n. Sharp implement for boring intricately shaped holes.

half nelson, n. A wrestling hold by means of which intensions are partly reduced to extensions. As for a full nelson, it takes a goodman to make the reduction complete.

hampshire, n. A scenic bit of English countryside, providing broad prospects and distant horizons, but one must foot one's way carefully; under the marsh there is a bog.

hanfle, v. To take great pains over solving a philosophical problem, despite one’s belief that the problem is non-existent. "Ludwig was often to be found in Bertrand’s rooms in Great Court, hanfling endlessly about the meaning of life."

hare, n. Standard unit of moral indignation, as felt by Professor Hare when observing a motorist breaking the Highway Code. (Standard, of course, to be specified.)

harmanica, n. A musical instrument played with tongue in cheek. Also, harmaniac, n. One who does not realize a harmanica is played with tongue in cheek.

harnad, n. In the idiom to get a harnad (Obs.) To be seized with an insatiable appetite for academic miscegenation, with voyeuristic, exhibitionistic and sadomasochistic features; usually requiring the possession of an intact, bilaterally symmetric organ of dissemination (the harnads), capable of emitting an unrelenting stream of bbs.

harp, v. To converse at great length and with immense enthusiasm about something totally incomprehensible to one's listener.

heidegger, n. A ponderous device for boring through thick layers of substance. "It's buried so deep we'll have to use a heidegger." Also useful for burying one's own past.

hempel, adj. (only in the idiom hempel-minded) Said of one who insists on recasting the problem in the first order logic.

henk, v. To accuse someone of not having first-hand acquaintance with what he is talking about. (cf. the German daraus werde der Henker klug) The mathematicians held a henk-in at the philosophy colloquium." "I'm henked even if I know."

hessean, n. A kind of sackcloth worn at a habermass (q.v.) by those renouncing hemple mindedness.

hilary, n. (from hilary term) A very brief but significant period in the intellectual career of a distinguished philosopher. "Oh, that's what I thought three or four hilaries ago."

hintikka, n. A measure of belief, the smallest logically discernible difference between beliefs. "He argued with me all night, but did not alter my beliefs one hintikka."

honderich, interj. (contraction of "Hound the rich!") The battle cry of those who subscribe to the violent overthrow of inequality. "The toast at the dinner party in Hempstead was 'honderich!'"

hosper, v. To publish philosophical textbooks and anthologies with great frequency; hence, hosperous, adj. said of one who hospers.

hughmellorate, v. To humiliate at a seminar.

hull, n. An entity (often an individual) that is typically mistaken for a collection of its parts.

hume, pron. (1) Indefinite personal and relative pronoun, presupposing no referent. Useful esp. in writing solipsistic treatises, sc. "to hume it may concern." v. (2) To commit to the flames, bury, or otherwise destroy a philosophical position, as in "That theory was humed in the 1920s." Hence, exhume, v. to revive a position generally believed to humed.

husserl, v. To surround a simple phenomenon with darkness to create the illusion of seeing it more clearly afterwards; if it fails, one probably has to use a Heidegger (q.v.).

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immanuel, n. (from im-, not, + manual, guide or rulebook) A set of instructions for doing something that kant (q.v.) be done.

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jacks, n. (plural only, often with 'Jills') The folk, as in “Putting the jacks on” - appealing to the authority of the folk. “I was arguing for the Axiom of Choice when they put the jacks on, discussing folk mathematics.”

jaegwon, n. (from oriental mythology) A small cat-like dragon patrolling the maze of metaphysics. Hence, to be on a jaeg: to engage in a relentless exploration of metaphysical avenues and byways.

jaspers, n. The hours when darkness returns; a time for self-examination, and meditation upon the human condition.

jerry-mander, v. To tailor one's metaphysics so as to produce results convenient for the philosophy of mind. E.g. "Paramecia don't have mental representations; therefore the properties they react to are nomic." Hence jerry-rigged, adj. said of an argument proceeding from jerry-mandered premises. "Paramecia only react to nomic properties; therefore, they don't have mental representations."

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kant, n. The modal status of knowing things an sich.

kaplan, n. Ecclesiastical spokesman appointed by the A.P.A. to deliver a lengthy impromptu benediction after every paper at a recognized colloquium.

katz, n. (shortened from katz-kradle) A device of wires and pulleys for determining meanings.

kemp, n. (of Scottish origin) An instrument for the careful dissection and reconstruction of a philosopher. "Thomas, a kemp is necessary in dealing with De Imitatione Christi." - Mersenne, correspondence with Hobbes. Hence, kemp, v. to reconstruct a philosopher by using a kemp. Also unkempt, adj., ungroomed, unreconstructed. "Hume was quite unkempt until about 1905." Also kemp smith, n. maker of kemps.

kenny, adj. Clever.

kitch, n.Popular and pretentious academic nonsense, such as creationism or pop sociobiology. Hence kitcher, n. a kitch critic. "If only we had a kitcher around to tackle the anthropic principle!"

kleene, adj. Exhaustive, complete; "Kleeneness is next to gödelness."

korsgaard, v.  To apply a patina of subtle distinctions so that troublesome objections no longer adhere.  "I always thought Hume was in trouble over that matter but then I korsgaarded his argument and the objections came right out." 


körner, n. Quasi-quotation. Also, korner, v. To paraphrase. "He kornered my ideas with great accuracy, but his criticisms were wide of the mark." Hence also körner corn, v. To dennett.

kreisel, n. An imperfect crystal. Hence, kreisel-clear, adj. obscure.

kripke, adj. Not understood, but considered brilliant. "I hate to admit it, but I found his remarks quite kripke."

kripkography, n. The opposite of cryptography: the art of translating a meaningless message (about, e.g., de re necessity) into expressions that an uninitiated observer would take to be straightforwardly meaningful (e.g., "Look, it's not so hard. All he's saying is that since the term is a rigid designator, it refers to the same thing in all possible worlds"). "He used to claim he just 'couldn't understand' essentialism, but now, thanks to kripkography, he just sits there nodding and smiling."

kuhn, n. A fox often mistaken for a hedgehog; it is usually attended by such a commotion that it appears more than twice as heavy as it really is.

kyborg, n An intimidating fusion of natural with artificial language “I knew the thesis would be sprinkled with carnaps (q.v.) but I had not anticipated its turning into a kyborg.”

kybosh, n. Only used on the phrase “put the kybosh on”. Commonly supposed to derive from Gaelic for the cap worn by a judge giving the death sentence; more likely a contraction of kyborg (q.v.) and wash. “ Treating both probabilities and utilities as intervals really puts the kybosh on decision theory”.

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lacanthropy, n. The transformation, under the influence of the full moon, of a dubious psychological theory into a dubious social theory via a dubious linguistic theory.

lakoff, v. To rub the deep structure of a sentence until it expresses its logical form. "Too much laking off can cause insanity."

lambert, n. The whinny of a non-existent horse. "Pegasus lamberted plaintively: 'E!E!E!E!' "

leblanc, n. A place-holder symbol. "When a variable isn't available use leblanc."

lehr, n. Den, especially containing a stockpile, stash, or hoard, usually of acceptances or preferences.  Hence, lehrer, n. one who maintains that these acceptances or preferences are justified based their relationship to other items in the lehr. Also to lehr, v. - to proceed in a fashion exhibiting great confidence or trust in the contents of one's lehr.

levi, n. A betting rate or tax.

levi strauss, (trade mark) Manufacturer of coveralls to which symbols, emblems and patches are usually applied. Originally levi strauss products were working hypotheses, then in the nineteen-sixties flaunting them in conventional settings acquired political significance. They are now accepted almost everywhere.

lewis, adj. (said of an argument) Having premises and conclusions unrelated in content (e.g., The entailment of "Russell is the Pope" by "2+2=5"). If the argument is valid, the relation between premises and conclusion is that of lewis implication

loar, n. (shortened from folkloar) Twin-earthian folk psychology, which differs from our sort of folk psychology in ways that can be discerned only by an expert folkloarist.

locke, v. To mistake a contemporary philosopher with an earlier philosopher of the same name. "I'm afraid you have David and C. I. Lewis locked"; hence, to unlocke, to become otherwise (q.v.).

lucas-pocus, interjection, an incantation, ritualistically uttered by users of the abracadabracus, an organic, non-mechanistic calculating device for producing Godel sentences.

ludwig, n. A small beetle that looks exactly like an earwig, but is invisible.

lycan, n. An automated trash sorter containing a powerful solvent; one deposits a jumble of theories in it, pushes a button, and the mess is dissolved into its components, neatly packaged and ready to discard.

lyotard, n. The new clothes of the present King of France.

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mach, n. A measure of speed; mach one, the speed at which a research program (e.g. phenomenalism) becomes superdavidsonic (q.v.).

macintyre, n. An inflated wheel with a slick, impervious coating; hence, derivatively, an all-terrain vehicle equipped with macintyres. "If you want to cover that much territory that fast, you'd best use the macintyre."

malcolm, n. Measure of resistance to the encroachment of scientific results on a philosophic position; hence malcontent, n. one who so resists. (Malcontents have been said to rely heavily on a certain text known as the vade malcolm.)

marcuse, v. To criticize vehemently from a Marxist perspective. "Je marcuse!" - J. P. Sartre.

martin, v. To overwhelm with carnaps. "If he was martinned by the book, he should not have agreed to review it."

massey, adj. Describing the work of someone who is hemple-minded.

mcdowell, n. An invisible, immaterial pin used to hold two objects together (or more ambitiously two logical realms). “He tried tethering the balloon to the ground with a mcdowell, but could gain no purchase and off it flew, frictionless, spinning into the void”

mctaggart, n. A black hole which not only sheds no light but in which time stands still. "Some mctaggarts are rather broad."

meinong, n. The intension of a meaningless term.

mellor, v. To give up a position held in extreme youth; to become less radical with the passing years. "His philosophy is showing definite signs of melloring recently."

merleau-ponty, adj. In the wrong order, with confused foundations, said of a theory; figurative synonyms are upside-down, topsy-turvy, front-to-back. "The sense-datum approach to certainty was all merleau-ponty in the first place."

michiganer, adj. Insane (a derogatory term typically, but not exclusively, applied to ethical doctrines). "Well, I wouldn't say it is michiganer, but it's certainly off the wall."

millikan, n. Smallest unit of natural teleology; accrues to any reproduced biological trait in its second generation.

moore, v. To try to win an argument by taking something out of your pocket. "I couldn't think of anything to say so I hauled off and moored him."

mooring, n. A common-sense belief, attitude, etc. "In his youth he was so overcome by Hegelian rhetoric that he lost his moorings."

moravcsiki, n. pl. Subversive mystery cultists who worship Plato and Aristotle.

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nagel, v. To sense, vaguely, that something crucial but ineffable has been left out of account. "No sooner had I completed my proof that the robot was conscious than I was beset by a swarm of nageling doubts."

neander, v. To create by destruction. Occurs in the laws of certain special sciences. "Ceteris paribus, a neandering river erodes, and so creates, its own course."

nerlich, adj. (often mistranslated into English as knee-like) Characterizing the unimaginable shape of the most inclusive space-time worm.

neurotto, adj. Obsessed with protocol.

nicknack, n. An interesting oddity of no real importance. "He devoted his time to such nicknacks as the Cartesian Circle, the Naturalistic Fallacy, and the Ontological Argument." Hence, nicknackian, n. One preoccupied with nicknacks, and nacknickian, a merleau-ponty nicknackian.

noam, n. Unit of Resistance. "Hilary is a popper noam."

nozick, n. (from nostrum + physick) Political snake oil, a patent medicine, esp. a cathartic or purgative. "Waste not logick, not yet strong physick, on the Leviathan; serve it nozick, and stand back." - Hobbes.

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otherwise, adj. Knowing the difference between two philosophers with identical interests and the same name, hence otherwisdom, n. Also, v. (with "up"). "I got otherwised up about the Smullyans."

outsmart, v. To embrace the conclusion of one's opponent's reductio ad absurdum argument. "They thought they had me, but I outsmarted them. I agreed that it was sometimes just to hang an innocent man."

owen, v. To be indebted to the entire Greek corpus for one's view. "I owened winning the argument to 1094b 12-14."

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Papineau, v. (pap-in-eau) To water down a fashionable philosophical doctrine until easily digestible. Hence Papineau n. the watered-down version. "I couldn’t swallow Millikan’s teleological semantics until Dretske papineaued it."

parfit, n. (1) (often pl.) Metaphysical gain. Hence parfit, v., to make a parfit. "What parfit a man that he gain immortality and lose his own identify?" adj. (2) Generally used in poetic and fanciful fiction, to describe a medieval knight on a single-minded but learned quest for an invisible and impossible goal. Cf. "He was a gentel, parfit knight." - Chaucer.

partee, n. (in the idiom, to be a partee to) To become an enthusiastic spokesperson for someone else's theory. Hence, repartee, n. repeated championing.

pastin, n. A statement (ordered triple of sentence, proposition and condition of assertion) with an infinitely convoluted warrant profile. (Acronym from p is accepted by s at t even though intelligible only after n readings.)

passmore, n. A larger, antipodal version of the lycan (q.v.), capable of digesting a century of philosophy in a single pass.

pcock, n. Writing profusely sprinkled with carnaps.

peirce, n. A type of small bag in which the cash value of a philosophical position may be carried. "The contest among the Hegelians was spirited, though the peirce was small."

perry, n. A sparkling and apparently light alcoholic beverage which is deceptively strong; in even moderate quantities it can lead the drinker to wonder who he is.

peter song, n. Related to the patter song (e.g., "Birds do it, bees do it, even educated fleas do it.") a popular ditty exhorting one to love all creatures great and small, except those born deformed. Hence peter singer, n. a singer of peter songs.

pettitio philipi, n. Arguing from moral platitudes. "I think we should stick with the counterfactual social contract so as to avoid pettitio philipi."

phippogriff, n. (also phillippogriff) A legendary creature, now almost inaccessible to either knowledge or belief.

pitcher, n. A perceptually caused, non-imagistic belief. "I'm having this mental pitcher of Mary" - "What?" - "I'm causally-receiving in the standard visual way a perceptual belief about Mary" - "Oh".

planting, v. To use twentieth-century fertilizer to encourage new shoots from eleventh -century ideas which everyone thought had gone to seed; hence, plantinger, n. one who plantings.

popkin, n. An expletive indicating great doubt.

popper, adj. Exhibiting great moral seriousness; impopper, frivolous.

prior, n. What one must know if one is to know anything about a subject. "When it come to tense logic he doesn't know his prior from his posterior."

propylyshyn, n. A proposition of a thousand words (worth one mental picture). Cf. fodorgraph.

puccetto, n. A small vociferous sub-personal center of consciousness residing in a single cerebral hemisphere. "The first sign of the breakdown of a bicameral mind is a cacophony of puccetti." - J. Jaynes.

putname, n. A presumed expert authorized by a society to name a natural kind and determine its members.

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quine, v. (1) To deny resolutely the existence or importance of something real or significant. "Some philosophers have quined classes, and some have even quined physical objects." Occasionally used intr., e.g., "You think I quine, sir. I assure you I do not!" (2) n. The total aggregate sensory surface of the world; hence quinitis, irritation of the quine.

quintify, v. To give a popular and oversimplifying account of a philosophical problem. (a) quintifying in opaque contexts: writing an article on Wittgenstein for the Sunday papers; (b) existential quintifier: Walter Kaufmann; (c) universal quintifier: Mortimer Adler.

quinton, n. (from quintal, a measure of grain). A large amount of chaff.

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ramsey sentence, n. The sack. Hence, To receive a ramsey sentence: to be made redundant.

ramsify, v. To simplify, e.g. ramsified theory of types.

rand, n. An angry tirade occasioned by mistaking philosophical disagreement for a personal attack and/or evidence of unspeakable moral corruption. "When I questioned his second premise, he flew into a rand." Also, to attack or stigmatise through a rand. "When I defended socialised medicine, I was randed as a communist."

randall, n. A brisk entertaining stroll through a philosophical subject, footing none too carefully and proceeding too fast to allow for thorough acquaintance with the terrain. Hence randall, v. with on. "His book randalls on about Plato, but it is far too long."

rawl, n. A fishing line, baited with a few apparently innocent intuitions about fairness, but capable of bringing in such big fish as Pareto optimality and God knows what else. "But some who use a rawl are only fitching." Hence rawl, v. "When he rawled that slender line in, I could hardly believe my eyes."

resch, (1) v. To evince an extravagant or pathological degree of intellectual energy in many directions. "He is always resching into print - one can't keep up with his stuff." (2) rescher, n. A unit for measuring the volume of printed pages, equal to the collected works of Francis Bacon (hence, a rescher of Bacon). 1 rescher = 10,000 sheffers. "The new wing will increase the library capacity by over a thousand reschers."

richmond, n. The capital of the possible U.S. in which the Confederates won.

ricoeur, v. To interpret all philosophical questions by means of a limited range of insights and themes. Hence ricoeursive procedure, a recipe for generating infinite philosophical insights from a very limited subset thereof. "The Tractatus proceeds ricoeursively."

Roar T, n. Loud conversational alternative to Convention T; also known as "the disputational theory of truth."

roderick, n. The art of writing purely decorative scholarly footnotes. "The first principle of roderick is to quote authors whose names are known widely but whose works are read seldom." - John Venn. (The trivium, or lower division of the seven liberal arts, consists of transformational grammar, modal logic, and roderick.)

rort, n. m. (1) an incorrigible report; hence, rorty, adj. incorrigible. n. (2) Fashionable but confused discourse. "Don't talk rort."

routle, n. An implement for probing the fragile substructure of rain forests; esp. in the phrase routle-rattling, referring to environmentalist rhetoric.

Once the sylvan dell was routley,

In the land where men speak stoutly,

Jungle routles then were legion

Poking relevantly round the region.

royce, v. To involve the topic "in such adamantine cobwebs of voluminous rolling speculation that no one could regain his senses thereafter." - John Jay Chapman, Memories and Milestones, 1915.

rush rhees, n. A type of plaited prayer-mat used by pietist sect founded by the spiritual leader, Ludwig II.

ryle, v. to give examples. "He ryles on and on without ever daring a conclusion." Hence, n. An example. "His argument was elucidated by a variety of apt ryles." "The original ryle has been chisholmed beyond recognition." (2) A variety of smooth, lucid, thin ice that forms on bogs.

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salmon, n. an inductive fitch.

santayana, n. A hot exhausting wind originating in the desert areas of Spain.

sart, adj. Smart, but with something important missing.  Generally, smart only inasmuch as not-smart, and apparently smart to those with severe vision problems.  Hence the comparative "sartre" (Brit. sp.) meaning "more sart," i.e. more intelligible to exactly the extent that a thing is less intelligible.

schanksmare, n. A recurrent, obsessive dream of walking into restaurant after restaurant, ordering a meal, and leaving a small tip.

scheffle, v. To try to gain one's footing between two jointly exhaustive and mutually exclusive positions such as consequentialism and agent centered moral theory. Hence, scheffler, one who scheffles.

schell, n. An impermeable protective covering made entirely of German technical jargon, on the premise that what cannot be understood cannot be refuted; a useful hiding place for Ideas (though it may hold only one).  Hence schell, v. to hide within a schell, e.g. "In the Phenomenology you can really see Hegel schelling his theory from any possible empiricist criticisms."

schiffer, n. (from Neurath, "Wie Schiffer send wir.") One who uses great ingenuity in repairing a sinking ship. "There's no griceful way of saving this theory; even the rats have abandoned ship. There's no one aboard but the schiffer."

schilpp, n. A high level of distinction, hence on the schilpp, adj. said of someone who has nowhere to go.

schlick, adj. Characterizing a theory of position close-shaven by Occam's razor. "Push, pull, schlick, schlick."

scrive, v. To write in tongues, the orthographic equivalent of glossolalia. "What can't be said, can't be said, and it can't be whistled either - but it can be scriven." - attributed to F. P. Ramsey.

scrutonize, v. "To conflate two disciplines at a superficial level so that dinner party conversations could continue in the spurious belief that matters of moment were being discussed while the port was passed." - David Dunster, Architectural Design, December 1979, p. 327.

searley, adj. Contemptuous of leftist political thought, because of presumed lack of rigor. "When the demonstrators asked whether 'academic freedom' meant freedom to pursue war research, the Dean turned quite searley." 

sellar, n. A deep, dark place beneath a weighty edifice that lacks foundations.

shoemaker, n. A cobbler's body that has been entered and informed by the soul of a prince.

skin, v. To ignore the inside of something. "There is more than one way to skin a katz." Hence, skinner, n. one who skins.

sklar, adj. (contraction of German sehr klar) Balanced and comprehensive, as in "His article was sklar - every conceivable position was explained and none adopted."

sleigh, v. To kill with a chisholm. (Cf. chihara-kiri.)

slote, v. To swallow something large or cumbersome (e.g. a sword, a horse, an epistemic principle). "She just opened her throat and sloted the goat." "If you can slote that you must be pretty ungry."

smart, v. To argue against someone until what is going on in him is like what would be going on in him had he sat on a tack. "That smarts." See also outsmart.

smithereens, n. pl. (from Smith Verein) Pluralists. In the jargon of analytic philosophers, demonstrating the incoherence of a position is sometimes called blowing it to smithereens.

stalnaker, n. An idée fixe that brings a theory or theorist to a halt. "He was going great until he got the idea that there was just one mathematical truth, and that stalnaker hung him up for years." "Einstein's stalnaker was that God does not play dice."

stein, v. (from the Biblical stoning.) To be overawed by the Talmudic insight of a question.  "She was steined into silence."

stew shapiro, n. Culinary term. A dish made of microwaved chips wrapped in semantic netting, designed for consumption by intelligent non-human agents.

stich, n. (cf. croce) The art of eliminative embroidery. In the art of stich, one delicately strips the semantics off the rich tapestry of folk psychology revealing the bare warp and wood of pure syntax. "A stich in time saves Quine."

stove, v. (1) Taking the preposition ‘into’. To introduce some reasonable suggestion only to have it treated as dangerously reactionary. n. (2) An incineration device for huming.

strawson, n. The descendant of a strawman, a position obscurely descended from a position never occupied.

suppes, n. A suppes-an ordered quadruple consisting of a philosopher, a problem, axiomatic set theory, and a Federal grant.

suppesition, n. Any assumption equivalent to the axiom of choice.

swin, v. To construct convoluted theories about the rationality of belief, with the aim of ultimately seducing one’s audience into theism. Hence swinburne, n. The condition of one who has been subjected to swinning. "If you expose yourself to the swin, you may get a bad swinburne."

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tarsk, v. To quote, in particular to quote meterological trivialities, e.g., "Snow is white." Hence tarskation, n. "He has filled his paper with thousands of boring tarskations."

taylor, v. (in the idiom, to taylor the argument) To defend an absurd position or conclusion by inventing equally absurd premises or inferences; as in. "It's easy to get a proof of fatalism if you know how to taylor the argument." Also, taylor's dummy, an absurd principle on which to hang bits of metaphysical nonsense.

thomson gun, n. A double-barreled sniping weapon developed at M.I.T.

tooley, adv. Used to imply that a modifier is both true-at-a-time and true simpliciter. ‘The thesis that infanticide was justified tooley outsmarted the opponent of abortion.’

turing, v. To travel from one point to another in simple, discrete steps, without actually knowing where one is going, or why. Hence, turing machine, n. A form of transportation that became popular with adventurous but aimless souls without motorcycles in the 1960s. Also tur, n. Such a travel; used especially metaphorically, “Searle’s lecture comprised a grand tur of every inconceivable position in the literature”, and ironically “The latest book on connectionism is a real tur de feys”.

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unamuno, v.  To become pathologically transfixed on one's own death from puberty until its realization. 

unger, n. Extreme epistemic undernourishment, often developing into a sceptic ulcer. "The suggestion that no one knows what he had for breakfast this morning is strictly from unger."

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van inwagen, n. A small, well-built imported car whose direction of travel is unpredictable in principle.

vendle, v. To attempt to sell a philosopher a linguistic bill of goods; hence, vendler, n. one who vendles.

vlast, v.i. To bounce back from terrific (q.v.) blows. Vlastic, adj. characterizing a tendency to vlast off things.

vlastos, n. Ceremonial denunciation by the moravcsiki of anyone doubting the contemporary relevance of Plato or Aristotle. Hence, vlast, v. with off, to issue a vlastos.

voltaire, n. A unit of enlightenment. Hence voltairage, as in the warning to would-be purveyors of superstition and tyranny: "Danger: high voltairage in this vicinity."

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wang, n. (not in pole usage) The organ of ramification.

warnock, n. A bruise, sustained in fencing. "I was lucky to get away from Oxford with nothing more than a couple of warnocks."

weiss, adj. Said of one who royces. "He's a weiss guy."

wej, n. The sign of disjohnson.

whitehead, adj. (follows the noun) The absence of carnaps (q.v.). Useful in pronouncing mathematical statements. "Therefore, x double overbar prime equals x whitehead."

wiggins, n. pl. A series of small jumps, inserting missing premises between any two others. "As we proceeded along with our wiggins, the conclusion seemed to get farther and farther away." 

wilfrid, adj. Said of a theory one presumes to be true but finds incomprehensible; "You physicists all seem to agree, but it's wilfrid to me." "I'm sorry, your Holiness, but every time you explain the Trinity to me it goes all wilfrid in my mind." Also, said of a person, bewilfrid.

williams, n. pl. The dream-sensation of running for one's life while wearing diving boots. "His comments on my paper gave me the williams."

winch, n. A delicate shudder of incomprehension. "Give him a winch and he'll take a ryle." Hence, winchcraft, an incomprehensible social institution.

winograd, n. The degree of intoxication occasioned by moving to the West Coast.

wisdom, n. A state of clarity and understanding so complete and exhaustive, yet also so detailed and complex, as to be totally incommunicable.

wittgenstein, v. To enumerate. "Don't bother to wittgenstein all these pages; the fax machine will do it automatically."

wittgenstone (from Old High Anglo-Austrian, witty and Stein) (1) v. To deny resolutely the existence or importance of something real or significant, on the ground that the grammatical pre-conditions for such a denial do not obtain. “Some think qualia should be quined or fostered – but I think they should be wittgenstoned.” (2) n. Clever but utterly unrelated metaphor used as an argumentative move to silence the opponent. “He argued that on my view I don’t know that I’m in pain; but since he’s not a good kripkographer, I managed to outsmart him with a wittgenstone.”

wollheim, n. A leisurely investigation, with well-intentioned desires to return home to the point, but always wandering off again.

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ziff, n. A nasty philosophical dispute. "I had a ziff with him once in the journals."

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