13 Poke-Easy Regional Idioms to Describe Lazy People

Those lazy, hazy days of summer aren't too far off, and hopefully you’ll be lolling like a slug at the pool, on the beach, or wherever warm days might take you. But even if you’re feeling lazy, your vocabulary doesn’t have to be. We’ve worked with the editors at the Dictionary of American Regional English (DARE) to come up with 13 regional idioms to describe the idle, indifferent, and lackadaisical.

1. MOLOWA

In Hawaii and pretending to be sick to get out of work? You might get called molowa, moloa, or moloha from the Hawaiian word moloā.

2. DON’T-CARE-ISH

In Louisiana and Alabama African-American vernacular, the lazy and indifferent are don’t-care-ish and don’t-care-ified: “She’s so don’t-care-ish about work lately. She’s just phoning it in.”

3. SLOWCOME

A slowcome is slow to come: a lethargic person or someone who’s always late. Found in Massachusetts, Kentucky, and Pennsylvania, variations include slowcome-pokum and slocum-pocum. Pokum comes from poke, meaning “to dawdle.”

4. POKE-EASY

A poke-easy is a South Midland term that means a slow or lazy person or animal, or someone who’s easygoing. From a response to an article in Smithsonian magazine: “A man who was ‘poke-easy’ might be essentially competent, but took so long to do his work that he was a thorn in the flesh to the more brisk workers.”

5. BONE LOAFER

“You bone loafer!” you might say to someone sleeping on the job. This term is found in the Ozarks, which is made up of northwestern Arkansas, northeastern Oklahoma, and southwestern Missouri. Bone idle and bone lazy are South Midland sayings. All come from the idea, says an 1825 quote in the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), of being so lazy or idle that the laziness or idleness seems "to have penetrated the very bones."

6. DO-LESS

A do-less does little. He lacks energy and is shiftless and lethargic. Common in the South Midland states, the word might simply be a combination of "do" and "less," but in some instances might be influenced by the Scots dowless, without strength or energy, feeble.

7. SPRAWLLESS

In New England, if you’ve got sprawl, you’ve got energy, initiative, and spunk. Therefore, those without sprawl or who are sprawlless are lazy. A quote from Cape Cod, Massachusetts: “He ain’t got no more sprawl to him ’n day-old kitten!” Why does sprawl mean energy? The word comes sproil, an English dialectical meaning “strength, energy; power of quick motion, spring, activity, agility.”

8. WORK-BRITTLE

In the Midland states, especially Indiana, work-brittle means eager to work or industrious. However, in the Appalachian region, the term was reinterpreted to mean the opposite: disinclined to work or lazy. How brittle figures into the former meaning is uncertain. As for the latter, to rephrase a quote from DARE, someone who’s work-brittle might be broken by even a little work.

9. SOONER

Sooner is another word with opposite meanings. In Wisconsin, Kentucky, and South Carolina, a sooner or sooner man is someone who’s quick, clever, and enterprising—in other words, someone who gets things done sooner rather than later. The term can also be used ironically in Wisconsin, as well as North Carolina, referring to a lazy, good-for-nothing person.

10. BOTTOM CHAIRS

In Maine it’s said that someone who bottoms chairs for a living is lazy, presumably because one’s bottom is perpetually in the chair.

11. SOZZLE

To sozzle means to laze around or perform a task in a sloppy way. By extension, to be sozzling means to be lazy or shiftless. The word is mainly found in New England. A quote from 1848 describes the term as “used by housekeepers in certain parts of Connecticut," as in the phrase, "This woman sozzles up her work.”

An earlier meaning of sozzle, according to the OED, is “a sloppy spoon-meat or medicine.” What the heck is spoon-meat? It’s a liquidy food meant to be eaten with a spoon, as for babies or invalids. The lazy sense of sozzle might have to do with the perceived idleness of the ill.

12. THE BIG LAZIES

If you're in Alabama and have a strong inclination to idleness, you can say you’ve got the big lazies. This term has a sole quote in DARE from 1898, but we say it should be brought back right quick.

13. LAWRENCE

Now you can add Lawrence or lazy Lawrence to your repertoire of slacker nicknames. Found in scattered regions including West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and the Ozarks, Lawrence is also used as a personification of laziness and sometimes in reference to “the shimmering of the air observed on hot days,” according to DARE.

According to the OED, the origin of Lawrence meaning lazy might simply come from the alliteration of the two words. Another theory is that it has to do with St. Lawrence Day on August 10, typically the throes of the dog days of summer and presumably when people are feeling especially snoozy.

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Zach Hyman, HBO
10 Bizarre Sesame Street Fan Theories
Zach Hyman, HBO
Zach Hyman, HBO

Sesame Street has been on the air for almost 50 years, but there’s still so much we don’t know about this beloved children’s show. What kind of bird is Big Bird? What’s the deal with Mr. Noodle? And how do you actually get to Sesame Street? Fans have filled in these gaps with frequently amusing—and sometimes bizarre—theories about how the cheerful neighborhood ticks. Read them at your own risk, because they’ll probably ruin the Count for you.

1. THE THEME SONG CONTAINS SECRET INSTRUCTIONS.

According to a Reddit theory, the Sesame Street theme song isn’t just catchy—it’s code. The lyrics spell out how to get to Sesame Street quite literally, giving listeners clues on how to access this fantasy land. It must be a sunny day (as the repeated line goes), you must bring a broom (“sweeping the clouds away”), and you have to give Oscar the Grouch the password (“everything’s a-ok”) to gain entrance. Make sure to memorize all the steps before you attempt.

2. SESAME STREET IS A REHAB CENTER FOR MONSTERS.

Sesame Street is populated with the stuff of nightmares. There’s a gigantic bird, a mean green guy who hides in the trash, and an actual vampire. These things should be scary, and some fans contend that they used to be. But then the creatures moved to Sesame Street, a rehabilitation area for formerly frightening monsters. In this community, monsters can’t roam outside the perimeters (“neighborhood”) as they recover. They must learn to educate children instead of eating them—and find a more harmless snack to fuel their hunger. Hence Cookie Monster’s fixation with baked goods.

3. BIG BIRD IS AN EXTINCT MOA.

Big Bird is a rare breed. He’s eight feet tall and while he can’t really fly, he can rollerskate. So what kind of bird is he? Big Bird’s species has been a matter of contention since Sesame Street began: Big Bird insists he’s a lark, while Oscar thinks he’s more of a homing pigeon. But there’s convincing evidence that Big Bird is an extinct moa. The moa were 10 species of flightless birds who lived in New Zealand. They had long necks and stout torsos, and reached up to 12 feet in height. Scientists claim they died off hundreds of years ago, but could one be living on Sesame Street? It makes sense, especially considering his best friend looks a lot like a woolly mammoth.

4. OSCAR’S TRASH CAN IS A TARDIS.

Oscar’s home doesn’t seem very big. But as The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland revealed, his trash can holds much more than moldy banana peels. The Grouch has chandeliers and even an interdimensional portal down there! There’s only one logical explanation for this outrageously spacious trash can: It’s a Doctor Who-style TARDIS.

5. IT’S ALL A RIFF ON PLATO.

Dust off your copy of The Republic, because this is about to get philosophical. Plato has a famous allegory about a cave, one that explains enlightenment through actual sunlight. He describes a prisoner who steps out of the cave and into the sun, realizing his entire understanding of the world is wrong. When he returns to the cave to educate his fellow prisoners, they don’t believe him, because the information is too overwhelming and contradictory to what they know. The lesson is that education is a gradual learning process, one where pupils must move through the cave themselves, putting pieces together along the way. And what better guide is there than a merry kids’ show?

According to one Reddit theory, Sesame Street builds on Plato’s teachings by presenting a utopia where all kinds of creatures live together in harmony. There’s no racism or suffocating gender roles, just another sunny (see what they did there?) day in the neighborhood. Sesame Street shows the audience what an enlightened society looks like through simple songs and silly jokes, spoon-feeding Plato’s “cave dwellers” knowledge at an early age.

6. MR. NOODLE IS IN HELL.

Can a grown man really enjoy taking orders from a squeaky red puppet? And why does Mr. Noodle live outside a window in Elmo’s house anyway? According to this hilariously bleak theory, no, Mr. Noodle does not like dancing for Elmo, but he has to, because he’s in hell. Think about it: He’s seemingly trapped in a surreal place where he can’t talk, but he has to do whatever a fuzzy monster named Elmo says. Definitely sounds like hell.

7. ELMO IS ANIMAL’S SON.

Okay, so remember when Animal chases a shrieking woman out of the college auditorium in The Muppets Take Manhattan? (If you don't, see above.) One fan thinks Animal had a fling with this lady, which produced Elmo. While the two might have similar coloring, this theory completely ignores Elmo’s dad Louie, who appears in many Sesame Street episodes. But maybe Animal is a distant cousin.

8. COOKIE MONSTER HAS AN EATING DISORDER.

Cookie Monster loves to cram chocolate chip treats into his mouth. But as eagle-eyed viewers have observed, he doesn’t really eat the cookies so much as chew them into messy crumbs that fly in every direction. This could indicate Cookie Monster has a chewing and spitting eating disorder, meaning he doesn’t actually consume food—he just chews and spits it out. There’s a more detailed (and dark) diagnosis of Cookie Monster’s symptoms here.

9. THE COUNT EATS CHILDREN.

Can a vampire really get his kicks from counting to five? One of the craziest Sesame Street fan theories posits that the Count lures kids to their death with his number games. That’s why the cast of children on Sesame Street changes so frequently—the Count eats them all after teaching them to add. The adult cast, meanwhile, stays pretty much the same, implying the grown-ups are either under a vampiric spell or looking the other way as the Count does his thing.

10. THE COUNT IS ALSO A PIMP.

Alright, this is just a Dave Chappelle joke. But the Count does have a cape.

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iStock
A New App Interprets Sign Language for the Amazon Echo
iStock
iStock

The convenience of the Amazon Echo smart speaker only goes so far. Without any sort of visual interface, the voice-activated home assistant isn't very useful for deaf people—Alexa only understands three languages, none of which are American Sign Language. But Fast Company reports that one programmer has invented an ingenious system that allows the Echo to communicate visually.

Abhishek Singh's new artificial intelligence app acts as an interpreter between deaf people and Alexa. For it to work, users must sign at a web cam that's connected to a computer. The app translates the ASL signs from the webcam into text and reads it aloud for Alexa to hear. When Alexa talks back, the app generates a text version of the response for the user to read.

Singh had to teach his system ASL himself by signing various words at his web cam repeatedly. Working within the machine-learning platform Tensorflow, the AI program eventually collected enough data to recognize the meaning of certain gestures automatically.

While Amazon does have two smart home devices with screens—the Echo Show and Echo Spot—for now, Singh's app is one of the best options out there for signers using voice assistants that don't have visual components. He plans to make the code open-source and share his full methodology in order to make it accessible to as many people as possible.

Watch his demo in the video below.

[h/t Fast Company]

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