Today’s Zippy has our pinhead hero looking for a clue:

A play on the ambiguity of clue and clueless. And an allusion to the board game Clue.

Zippy goes back and forth between the older meaning of clue (as in crime detection, and the board game) and a newer slangy meaning, as in these entries from NOAD2:

PHRASES   not have a clue informal   know nothing about something or about how to do something.

clueless   adjective informal  having no knowledge, understanding, or ability: you’re clueless about how to deal with the world.

Now, the board game:

Cluedo …, or Clue in North America, is a popular murder-mystery themed deduction board game originally published by Waddingtons in Leeds, England in 1949. It was devised by Anthony E. Pratt, a solicitor’s clerk and children’s entertainer from Birmingham, England. It is now published by the United States game and toy company Hasbro, which acquired its U.S. publisher Parker Brothers, and Waddingtons.

The object of the game is for players to strategically move around the game board (representing the rooms of a mansion), in the guise of one of the game’s six characters, collecting clues from which to deduce which suspect murdered the game’s perpetual victim, Dr. Black (Mr. Boddy in North American versions), and with which weapon and in what room. (link)

(The board game spawned a v ideo game, a musical, a book series, a film, and a  tv series, all called Clue.)

A solution to the mystery is of the form:


(as in Zippy’s “It’s Mrs. Peacock in th’ library with a candlestick.”)

There are six suspects: Miss Scarlett (spelled Miss Scarlet in North American versions after 1963 – a red piece), Colonel Mustard (a yellow piece), Mrs. White (a white piece), Reverend Green (named Mr. Green in pre-2002 North American versions – a green piece), Mrs. Peacock (a blue piece), Professor Plum (a purple piece).

And nine rooms (excluding the “cellar” on this diagram):

And six weapons: candlestick, dagger (knife in North American editions, each represented by a respective depiction), lead pipe (called lead piping in earlier UK editions; the early tokens were made out of actual lead and therefore pose a risk of lead poisoning), revolver (first depicted in the UK as a Dreyse M1907 semi-automatic pistol, and in North America as a Colt M1911 pistol; all current editions typically represent an Allan & Thurber Pepper-box revolver first depicted in the 1972 Clue edition), rope, wrench/spanner in North American editions and depicted as a monkey wrench (it may also be shown as an open-ended spanner in some traditional UK versions).


One Response to “clueless”

  1. Code 404 | Arnold Zwicky's Blog Says:

    […] “404″ had become a slang synonym for “clueless” [itself a slang usage; see here] in the United Kingdom. Slang lexicographer Jonathon Green said that “404″ as a slang […]

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