A matter of excess avoirdupois



I thought I should share this one (see below),  because I am so enchanted with it. I wonder if one can have “mental avoirdupois”, or “spiritual avoirdupois”? Would it be, if one could, the same as “gravitas”?

What a wonderful term to use when you want to call people fat without appearing to be insensitive. Or culturally boorish. One could say…

If there is anything about JZ that I do manage to admire it is the ease with which he grooves to the rhythm, seemingly unencumbered by his considerable avoirdupois.


My friend Katrien, though constantly bemoaning her avoirdupois, refuses nonetheless to take advice from her more ectomorphic friends, choosing instead to pursue the most  hare-brained of fad diets the bookstore or Cosmopolitan can offer.

                        Or simply…

“Hurry up and get your avoirdupois out of the fucking road!”

If you can manage that in a moment of extreme irritation, no-one will even notice the use of the expletive… which MUST be more fun than calling someone a fat-ass. (Right?) Make a sentence. Everybody should have a go, I think.

It is already the 28th, so on Saturday I am choosing a winner for the bottle of whisky. At this stage it is Hardspear, being one of two entries. No other great wordsmiths were moved to conjure some interesting prose with “climpy”, “duntish” and “swanibost”. But as I said, there is still time.  Really, if you are Douglas Adams fan, you should at least try.

Save me the trouble of getting a bottle of whisky to Vereeniging.

Word of the Day for Thursday, May 28, 2009

avoirdupois \av-uhr-duh-POIZ; AV-uhr-duh-poiz\, noun:

1. Avoirdupois weight, a system of weights based on a pound containing 16 ounces or 7,000 grains (453.59 grams).
2. Weight; heaviness; as, a person of much avoirdupois.

                Claydon . . . was happy to admit that he has shed some avoirdupois.– Mel Webb, “Claydon’s loss leads to net gain”, Times (London), February 18, 2000

                Yet until middle age and avoirdupois overtook her, Mary was no slouch. — John Updike, “How to Milk a Millionaire”, New York Times, March 29, 1987

                Tired of putting on and taking off the same five pounds? Don’t delay, buy this book today – and watch yourself shed both respectability and surplus avoirdupois! — David Galef, “J. Faust’s Guide to Power’ And Other Self-Help Classics”, New York Times, December 18, 1994

Avoirdupois is from Middle English avoir de pois, “goods sold by weight,” from Old French aveir de peis, literally “goods of weight,” from aveir, “property, goods” (from aveir, “to have,” from Latin habere, “to have, to hold, to possess property”) + de, “from” (from the Latin) + peis, “weight,” from Latin pensum, “weight”.


4 thoughts on “A matter of excess avoirdupois

  1. filblanc 28 May 2009 / 16:04

    No comment on that one, although one should write “avoir du poids” witch means literally in French ” to have weight” A “pois”(without “d”)translates for “pea”. The lady in the photo has definitively no peas (melons would be more of an accurate description),but weight!

    • Betty Noire 29 May 2009 / 09:49

      Fil Blanc, you may be right, but your expectations are TOO HIGH! (We are talking English here, famously, a language that makes absolutely no sense.) More than that, I really like the notion of “having peas”. It’s the next best thing to having peace, unless you are a fatass, in which case having dropped two dress sizes would be just groovy.


  2. hardspear 29 May 2009 / 08:29

    Strange, I also made the ‘peas’ connection first. I knew I heard the word avoirdupois before, but I couldn’t place it. I considered the word a bit before I actually read the post – I first saw it in the ‘following’ screen on my blogger dashboard, so I didn’t know you have put the definition in. So considering the word, I thought it was a cooking term. Something like mirepoix but with green vegetables, or some garnish with a roast. So, then I googled the word and got the definition. I then went to your blog and saw the picture. Is the way mens’ minds work, because as filblanc above, I thought ‘melons’ the moment I saw the picture.

    I think mental or spiritual avoirdupois is a good term. It describes a feeling one sometimes get and it is a different feeling from cognitive dissonance or depression or the old black dog as Churchill called it.

  3. bensonofzaphod 31 May 2009 / 16:51

    Hey. Noire, I’m fond of whiskey (and the propsect of winning some), Adams, and your blog. My entries are in the mail.

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