Tuesday, October 23, 2007


FUNCTIONARY, n.  A person entrusted with certain official duties.  That great and good man, the late President Buchanan, once unluckily mentioned himself with commendable satisfaction as "an old public functionary."  The description fitted him like a skin and he wore it to his grave.  When he appeared at the Judgement Seat, and his case was called, the Recording Angel ran his finger down the index to the Book of Doom and read off the name: "James Buchanan, O.P.F."  "What does that mean?"  inquired the Court.  And with that readiness of resource which in life had distinguished it from a garden-slug, that truthful immortal part replied: "Oncommonly phaultless filanthropist."  Mister Buchanan was admitted to a seat in the Upper House.

2007 Update:  A mechanic general, charged with oiling certain gears of the civic machinery with ink.


Minka said...

Ambrose made me laugh this morning!

Why do you want us to be typewriters?

Ariel the Thief said...

Functionary, in socialism, the dog that licks the hand leashes it.

Minka said...

functionary,n. somebody familiar with the process of greasing, with an emphasis on the rear

TLP said...

First off: why is the "F" in the FUNCTIONARY right before the definition smaller than the rest of the word. It's bothering me.

Functionary: Person in charge of small details.

Unknown said...

Onourary Phutile Fantom

aaqsupl: ah, quick and supple

Nessa said...

I'm not having fun with this word today.

Minka said...

nessa, why so censored?

Minka said...

The Appropriate Memorial

A HIGH Public Functionary having died, the citizens of his town held a meeting to consider how to honour his memory, and an Other High Public Functionary rose and addressed the meeting.

"Mr. Chairman and Gintlemen," said the Other, "it sames to me, and I'm hopin' yez wull approve the suggistion, that an appropriet way to honour the mimory of the decaised would be to erect an emolument sootably inscribed wid his vartues."

The soul of the great man looked down from Heaven and wept.

-Ambrose Bierce-

Anonymous said...

Are you telling me (via Bierce) that James Buchanan, besides starting the Confederate Revolutionary W ... ok, American Civil War, dangit! - with his incompetence, also was the discoverer of Internet spelling and grammar?!? Was that the Upper House of the ninth circle of Hell?

FUNCTIONARY, n. Cog in the bureaucratic machine. Commonly seized up. The stickiest ones are disassembled and shipped to the Central Pacific, where they're inserted into the Government of the State of Hawai`i.

Doug The Una said...

Minka, because I wish people would stick to a key.

Ariel, when I see Willie Thursday I'll congratulate him on his promotion to socialist functionary.

Minka...I want to say something but just can't.

TLP, it's slightly larger on my screen and in the HTML. Functionary, n. A blind editor.

Karma, that almost sounds dirty when you say it.

Nessa, then try a funk pun instead.

Minka, where did you find that?

Amoeba, according to Dante, the ninth circle (as far as I recall) has no upper house, but Buchanan can enjoy the company of his favorite generals there. And in Georgia, it's the war of Northern Agression.

Minka said...

I purchased an second hand book teh other day down at the flee market...ok ok ok:


that's where :)

Anonymous said...

Let's look at the parts of this word:

FUNCTION to work

NARY never

Enuf said?

Jamie Dawn said...

A functionary is a duty doer.
Politicians do their duty daily, and often they are not house trained. They cause mess after mess and then expect us to thank them for it.
Office workers do their duty daily too. They cause mess after mess also, in addition, as well. My mom recently hired a guy who failed to tell her that he suffers from narcalepsy (sp?). This man falls asleep in the middle of phone calls and face to face conversations. My mom has no idea how to handle it. I probably shouldn't have laughed when she was telling me about him, but I couldn't help it. It's too bad he didn't nod off during his job interview. At least my mom would have had a clue. It IS kinda funny, isn't it??

Anonymous said...

Title emphasizing the activity of the bureaucrat, especially his or her proclivity for unrolling and affixing red tape.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Minka. Here's another place to read it:


I couldn't help posting "The Good Government" ...

TLP said...

Young whipper snapper: One who needs to have a little respect for a functionary.

It's your function to be FUN.

dddragon said...

Offically speaking: how close are you to any of the fires? CalArts has cancelled classes...

tsduff said...

Functionary: freeze dried coffee instead of none.

Functionary: the garden hose, when there is no firehose at hand.

tsduff said...

Funtionary: the human in charge of safekeeping.

Lila said...

cute, actonbell! a pun worthy of Niks Brainy Smurf Pez.

"Conjuction Junction, what's your function?" thanks for the earworm...

Jim said...

Functionary: I have never heard of this word before. I like your two definitions, they are very functional.

Functionary: It's a good thing this word is too long for the Jumbo puzzle.

Functionary: What did you mean, "mean to my (your) wife" yesterday in your comment answer to me. Those might be fighting words (except I don't fight).


Anonymous said...

yeah but who cleans the dogs "mess"?

A functionary no?

In my house that was my brother. I was the youngest and not fit for functionary-ity.

"Big Wheel Keep on Turnin
Proud Mary Keep on Burnin"

Doug The Una said...

Ah, ha, Minka! I had the fables but not that site. Nice.

'Nuf said, Quilly. Happily, they don't call teachers attendnevers.

Jamie Dawn, don't tell mom I laughed too. I don't want to offend my almond connection.

Weirsdo, when cutting red tape it's best to start with the stuff binding your hands. I wonder if "red tape" is a metaphor for the tongue.

Amoeba, aren't his fables grand?

TLP, I does my best.

Dddragon, my house was never immediately threatened. Sunday night to Monday morning it was kind of unclear if it would be but I'm safe now and in Sacramento. The dogs are safe at my dad's. When I left town yesterday, the fires seems to have passed Cal Arts, too. All the smoke was coming from west of I-5.

Terry, not to break character but have you had news of your father's place in Malibu?

Actonbell, in truth I'm a dysfunctionary. By the way, that's a pun that carries its own evidence.

AP# that's one of the best earworms ever. "Sortin' out words and phrases and clauses...

Jim, nothing to fight over, I promise. I was goofing on "when the party runs out of fickles it's time to go home" ...to your wife. Does that clarify?

Cooper, you've pointed to a better definition. Functionary, n. Dog's best friend. Great song, too.

Yeah, sorry Actonbell if I worried you. I'm late this morning because I drove to Sacramento last night after a conference in LA, ashy but unbranded.

tsduff said...

Doug - thanks for asking. The tail end of the fire is still burning in the canyon 2 miles from Dad's house, but the wind has died down. Most likely they will return home tomorrow or Friday. House and critters are safe :) Glad yours are too.