SHANE’S EXCELLENT NEW WORDS: An oxymoron about burial rites and enraged toads.


Welcome to another installment of SHANE’S EXCELLENT NEW WORDS, a regular Wednesday feature at NA Confidential.

But why all these newfangled words?

Why not the old, familiar, comforting words, the ones that worked so well during the glory days, before naked greed kicked in like a bond-issue percentage speedball, knocking you back into the turnbuckles but feeling oh so good, and now as the Great Elongated and Exasperated Obfuscator in the comic book series, you teach principles of banking to bankers when not otherwise occupied making deposits into your own account?

Thankfully, even if one is toiling for the Genius of the Flood Plain, a healthy vocabulary isn’t about intimidation through erudition. Rather, it’s about selecting the right word and using it correctly, whatever one’s pay grade or station in life.

Municipal corporate attorneys reaping handsome remuneration to suppress information also can benefit from this enlightening expansion of personal horizons, and really, as we contemplate CPIs, IUDs and IOUs, all we really have is time — and the opportunity to learn something, if we’re so inclined.

As such, what is funereal buffoonery?

I was walking on East Market Street between 11th and 13th when suddenly this oxymoron popped into my head.

An oxymoron is a figure of speech that juxtaposes elements that appear to be contradictory, but which contain a concealed point … The most common form of oxymoron involves an adjective–noun combination of two words.

Let’s take it apart. First, the adjective funereal.


[fyoo-neer-ee-uh l]


1. of or suitable for a funeral

2. mournful; gloomy; dismal: a funereal aloofness that was quite chilling

The origins of funereal are straight Latin, but the word buffoon is a bit more interesting.

buffoonery (from buffoon)



1. a person who amuses others by tricks, jokes, odd gestures and postures, etc

2. a person given to coarse or undignified joking

Origin of buffoon

French Italian … 1540-50; earlier buffon < French < Italian buffone, equivalent to buff- (expressive base; compare buffa puff of breath, buffare to puff, puff up one’s checks) + -one agent suffix ≪ Latin -ō, accusative -ōnem

Related forms

buffoonery [buh-foo-nuh-ree], noun
buffoonish, adjective

Apparently the origins of buffoonery as a puffing of cheeks goes all the way back to the Latin word for toad, and as we know, there is little in nature quite as comical as a toad’s expanding cheeks, as though the creature was bursting from red-faced, self-important flatulence.

Here’s an example in a sentence:

When the commissioner postured about “the will of the people” pertaining to a topic never submitted to popular vote, his funereal buffoonery resulted in giggles among onlookers.


Well, that’s just vocational geography.