Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day for May 23, 2020 is:

shaggy-dog • shag-ee-DAWG  • adjective

: of, relating to, or being a long-drawn-out circumstantial story concerning an inconsequential happening that impresses the teller as humorous or interesting but the hearer as boring and pointless; also : of, relating to, or being a similar humorous story whose humor lies in the pointlessness or irrelevance of the plot or punch line


“Like most of Irving’s other books, ‘Owen Meany’ is kind of a shaggy-dog story. It wanders all over the place and there are many seemingly loose ends.” — Neil Gittleman, quoted in The Dayton (Ohio) Daily News, 13 Apr. 2020

“A shaggy-dog tale that treats crisscrossing forklift traffic as a sight worthy of the Blue Danube waltz, the German feature ‘In the Aisles’ mostly takes place in an anonymous, highway-side megastore….” — Ben Kenigsberg, The New York Times, 13 June 2019

Did you know?

The origin of the adjective shaggy-dog isn’t truly known, but lexicographer Eric Partridge rather believably tells us that it originated with a shaggy-dog story of the amusing sort that involves—of course!—a shaggy dog. Today, the word sometimes refers to a rambling story that impresses the teller as humorous or interesting but the hearer as boring and pointless, but it can also refer to a similar story (or movie or TV show) that is actually humorous and whose humor lies in its very pointlessness or irrelevance.

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