Word of the Day

Thursday, April 01, 2004


\PUHK-ish\ , adjective;
Whimsical; mischievous; impish.
Superficially obnoxious, his friendly, puckish manner endeared him to those who relished the intensity of turn-of-the-century bohemian New York.
-- William B. Scott and Peter M. Rutkoff, New York Modern
To his credit he exhibits on occasion a puckish humor. Commenting on elementary reasoning abilities of chimpanzees engaged in experiments, he says they may "be wondering whether people have the capacity for reason, and if so, why they need help from apes to solve such simple problems.
-- Richard Restak, "Rational Explanation", New York Times, November 21, 1999
It happens that I had recently read an article on wordplay in the Smithsonian magazine in which the author asserted that some puckish soul had once sent a letter addressed, with playful ambiguity, to HILL JOHN MASS and it had gotten there after the postal authorities had worked out that it was to be read as "John Underhill, Andover, Mass." (Get it?)
-- Bill Bryson, I'm a Stranger Here Myself
Puckish comes from Puck, the name of a mischievous sprite in English folklore, from Middle English pouke, "goblin," from Old English puca.
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