A bit more reaping

Just one day after a particularly fine Rhymes With Orange cartoon combining the Desert Island cartoon meme and the Grim Reaper meme — in my 6/27 posting “The Desert Island Reaper” — came a Wayno/Piraro Bizarro with a groaner Grim Reaper pun:

(#1) (If you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there are 2 in this strip — see this Page.)

The figure of the Grim Reaper — the bringer of death — as a window-washer, removing — destroying — the grime on the windows of a high-rise building, with the blade of his scythe replaced by a window-washer’s squeegee.

Tool note. From NOAD:

(#2) A particularly handsome squeegee for window washing

noun squeegee: a scraping implement with a rubber-edged blade set on a handle, typically used for cleaning windows. … ORIGIN mid 19th century: from archaic squeege ‘to press’, strengthened form of squeeze.

Yes, the appropriate technical term for this tool is squeegee.

Puns on the grim of Grim Reaper. Going past Grime Reaper. My first idea was to look for perfect puns: Grimm Reaper, combining allusions to the figure of the Grim Reaper and to the folk tales collected by the Brothers Grimm: Thumbling (Tom Thumb), The Robber Bridegroom, The Bremen Town Musicians, Hansel and Gretel, Rapunzel, Cinderella, Snow White, Rumpelstiltskin, The Goose Girl, etc. Or combining allusions to the GR and to either the actual Grimm brothers, the title characters of the film The Brothers Grimm, or the tv show Grimm. It would be easy to fold the GR into any of these contexts.

What I found instead was a large eggcornish confounding of grim and Grimm: a fair number of people think that the GR is in fact called the Grimm Reaper, after the Grimm brothers’ often grisly tales. One cite from many:

Anyway, Robert and I collect card decks and really like the gothic and grungy decks.  We received our Bicycle Alchemy 1977 deck and the kings are all grimm reapers.  I thought that it would be so cool to replace the pokemon cards with the reaper kings. (link)

To be fair, the tv show does have main characters called Grimms, guardians devoted to keeping the balance between humanity and mythological creatures; and others called Reapers, bounty hunters devoted to killing Grimms — so that the Reapers are in fact Grímm rèapers, reapers of Grimms. And many references to Grimm Reapers are to these beings. But then many are just to the GR.

(On the tv show, see my 11/12/15 posting “Movies and tv: Grimm”.)

Meanwhile, the actual Grimms and the movie Grimms are still open for reaperish play. A quirky note on the former, from Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips site, by Mignon Fogarty on 11/19/14:

(#3) Honored with a 1985 stamp

The next time you watch Snow White, remember that Grimm’s Fairy Tales may be what made the Grimm name famous in popular culture, but Jacob Grimm was also one of the giants of early linguistics.

(There are plenty of other Grimm-oriented German stamps. They are national culture heroes.)

And the movie, which has Matt Damon, Heath Ledger, and the slightest of connections to history. From Wikipedia:


The Brothers Grimm is a 2005 adventure fantasy film directed by Terry Gilliam. The film stars Matt Damon, Heath Ledger, and Lena Headey in an exaggerated and fictitious portrait of the Brothers Grimm as traveling con-artists in French-occupied Germany, during the early 19th century. However, the brothers eventually encounter a genuine fairy tale curse which requires real courage instead of their usual bogus exorcisms.

So much for perfect puns. #1 has an imperfect pun on the first word of grim reaper: grim /grɪm/ vs. grime /grajm/. All sorts of imperfect puns on the second word, reaper, are available: grim reamer, grim leaper, grim creeper, grim rapper, etc. But here I’ll look at just a few more puns on the first word.

First, a couple of puns varying the onset: Brim Reaper (it’s a beer and a fishing lure) and Trim Reaper (it’s a trimming machine).

From the Untappd site, about the Finnegans Brew Co. IPA – Rye called Brim Reaper:

(#5) “Excellent balance of fruit, citrus, and pine with subtle spice from the rye”; note the GR on the label

Then, Amazon offers Brim Reaper fishing lures by Blue Ribbon Lures. On the item brim here, from the trails.com site, “What Bait Should Be Used for Brim Fishing”:

The brim is a member of the sunfish family Centrarchidae of the order Perciformes. Brim are also referred to as bluegill, bream, perch, and copper nose. It is a freshwater fish native to North America, habitating rivers, lakes, streams, and ponds.

Along with Brim Reaper, another commercial product, the Trim Reaper. From the California Trim Store, which offers a hydoponic wet trimmer: the Trim Reaper trimming machine, specifically for marijuana plants :

(#6) Note the scythe

Then a pun varying the offset of grim: Grin Reaper, a famous piece of street art by Banksy, seen here in a screenprint (2005):


And finally, another pun (besides grime reaper) varying the nucleus of grim: the ridiculously intricate book title Gram Reaper (with /græm/ for /grɪm/). In full:

Gram Reaper: Kill The Gram! How To Gain Followers On Instagram, Work With Brands & Become A Social Media Influencer (Kindle edition) by Lauryn Ellis (2019)


The gram of Gram Reaper is a clipping of Instagram. The reaper is a synonym of killer, as in kill the gram! And that kill is a bit of slang, here conveying something like ‘perform impressively with/on’. From my 6/25/18 posting “Midsummer cartoons”, about a Zits strip with “if [my rock band] slays, we could…”:

intransitive slay is (apparently) a relatively recently innovation, a more colorful version of kill, as when we say that a performer really killed, performed very impressively, by really (metaphorically and hyperbolically) killing his audience. From GDoS on this kill:

verb kill: 1 (orig. US) to affect another person in a non-lethal way. (a) often constr. with dead, to amaze or delight, esp. an audience [1st cite 1770; from 1899 on, all the cites are transitive]

And from OED2 draft addition of June 2015 under the verb kill:

trans. colloq.(orig. U.S.). To do or perform (something) impressively or conclusively. Also: spec. to do extremely well at (an examination subject). Frequently in to kill it. Cf. nail v.6d. [with an assortment of cites from 1899 through 2012]

… Intransitive kill ‘perform very impressively, succeed absolutely’ is just a step past kill it.

Meanwhile, slay has developed senses analogically to kill.

And now we see that at least as a one-off, reap can take on these ‘succeed’ senses as well: a gram reaper is someone who can reap the gram ‘perform impressively with/on Instagram!’ (Look, I said it was intricate.)

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