Well, "slithy" means "litho and slimy." . . . You see it's like a portmanteau--there are two meanings packed up into one word. --Through the Looking Glass
. . . and readers of the Congressional Record Appendix must feel almost as bewildered as Alice these days. The Appendix has always been good to chuckle over with its collection of oddments from rural newspapers, speeches delivered before ophthalmologists' conventions, and poems written by constituents from the Congressmen's home districts. But lately the contributions have been weighted rather heavily toward the subject of the "welfare state."
Now "welfare" has always been a nice sounding word suggestive of kindly old ladies with baskets on their arms--and "state" has remained more or less neutral. But as Humpty Dumpty scornfully said, "When I use a word it means just what I choose it to mean--neither more nor less." And some Congressmen, and some weekly picture magazines, and some candidates for the Senate in the New York special election have been putting these two words together and packing into the result just what meanings they would choose it to mean.
It seems that the "welfare state" would "control every human action from the womb to the tomb." Alice would doubtless remark in a thoughtful tone, "That's a great deal to make two words mean." And Alice being an unusually logical girl would think it odd that the people so alarmed about the government getting all mixed up in other people's business could at the same time be heartily in favor of high tariffs, and subsidies of farm prices, and subsidies of railroads, and subsidies of merchant shipping. Alice, having stayed too long in Wonderland, might not know that the party that had no issue in last year's election might easily create one for 1950 and 1952 by talking, talking, talking about the "welfare state" as if the words really have a grim, solid meaning.
"The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean so many different things."
"The question is," said Humpty Dumpty, "which is to be master--that's all."