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almanac

Almanac is an infection that results from rubbing up against a low-lying shrub known as alman. Almanac results in an intensely itchy ruby-red rash that is usually accompanied by several unsightly pustules.

Alman is a low-lying bush that grows mainly in the valleys of shady forested areas. It sports clusters of bluish-green leaves on short, stalky branches. The infection results from a mild poison that is excreted from its leaves as part of the plant’s unique photosynthesis process.

It is estimated that alman became extinct on Earth, and likely in the universe, more than seven million years ago.

Because the last alman bush disappeared before modern humans evolved, botanists are only guessing as to its colouration and the effect of its poison. They are probably wrong about that.

This raises the question as to why we have a word to describe an infection that may or not be caused by contact with alman when no human has ever had that infection (because humans didn’t evolve until after the alman bush became extinct) and there is a strong possibility that botanists are wrong about whether alman would indeed have infected humans even if the existence of alman and humans coincided.

The answer is quite simple. Almanac was added to the English language at a time when dictionary publishers set quotas for the lexicographers in their employ. A rather lazy lexicographer named Rebecca Motecrire was given a large quota for words starting with “al.” Rather than looking for real words, she made up totally irrelevant ones.

In all likelihood, she also made up alman bushes. However, because the names of uncommon plant-life were relegated to biology-specific dictionaries and she was a contributor only to common English dictionaries, she wouldn’t have been allowed to count alman toward her al quota and, therefore, it didn’t make it into the dictionary.

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