30th June 2020: You may find it hard to believe (I certainly do) but it's been 20 whole years since this website was created!
In June 2000, four short months after the release of Two Against Nature, I was inspired by its lyrical content to create this website. It started modestly, as a single page hosted on my AOL account listing a mere 33 definitions. And here we are 20 years later, with the site moving to its own domain in 2004 and receiving a major expansion and upgrade in 2016, the site is now more than quadruple its original size, thanks mainly to the constant and enthusiastic feedback I've received from many, many Dan fans over the past two decades.
To mark this 20-year anniversary, I've added another 10 definitions to the dictionary. Simply scroll down this page to see all the new entries.
Thanks to those who've written to me over the years with input & suggestions. Keep the feedback coming, folks — even without any new albums on the horizon, there's still plenty of uncracked code in the Steely Dan lexicon! Visit the Feedback page to send your suggestions for future dictionary entries.
Also, you can enter your email address below to receive notification when this site is updated in future. (No spam, I promise!)
Listing 10 new entries:
A popular model of 2-door sports car, produced by German carmaker Audi from 1998 to the present day.
The car takes its name from a motor race: the Isle of Man TT (short for "Tourist Trophy"), held annually on the Isle of Man in the Irish Sea. It is one of the oldest races in the motor-racing world — and one of the most dangerous, having caused over 140 fatalities since it was first held in 1907.
Although it's an odd choice of event to name a sports car after: the TT is in fact a motorcycle race!
Link: Official Audi TT website
A good deal or bargain price. Literally translates from French as "good market".
The phrase's occasional use in English probably stems from the name of the famed retailer Le Bon Marché in Paris — originally founded as "Au Bon Marché" in 1838 and considered to be one of the first modern department stores in the world.
Its name in turn also inspired similarly-named retail establishments in the US (defunct Seattle-based department store chain The Bon Marché) and the UK (clothing retailer Bonmarché, founded in the 1980s and still in operation).
Refers to Eden Roc, a luxury resort hotel in Miami Beach, Florida. It was built in the mid-1950s, and was considered one of the most elegant and luxurious hotels of its time.
Even though the official Steely Dan lyrics have always spelled it "Eden Rock", it is actually "Eden Roc" without the K — the unusual spelling comes from its French namesake: the Eden Roc pavilion, part of the Hôtel du Cap-Eden-Roc in Antibes on the French Riviera.
A room within (or adjoining) a house, designed to admit sunlight and/or fresh air.
In warm climates, such rooms provide comfortable outdoor living space on days when being indoors is too warm. Conversely, in colder climates, such rooms are often the warmest part of the house on overcast days.
The term "Florida room" is most commonly used on the East Coast of the US. Elsewhere, the same concept can be referred to by a myriad of names, including sunroom, solarium, garden room, sun lounge, or in British English, a conservatory — so called because it "conserves" the sun's rays, in a similar manner to a greenhouse.
A style of Caribbean music and dance, originating in Haiti and the Dominican Republic in the mid-19th century and considered a national symbol of both countries.
Steely Dan lyric sheets over the years have consistently spelled it "merengue", though that's the spelling used in the Dominican Republic — the Haitian version is spelled "méringue" instead. (Amusingly, neither of them match with Donald Fagen's pronunciation of "mereng-oh" in the song!)
There are differences between the two, primarily tempo: the Dominican merengue is slower and more melodic, while the Haitian méringue is more suited to fast-paced dancing. Both names derive from the French dessert meringue, possibly referring to the light and delicate steps involved in the dance.
A glossy pin-up photo. This term was invented specially for the song by Becker & Fagen, so for the exact context I'll turn it over to Donald Fagen, who explained all in an April 2020 interview with the Wall Street Journal:
'In the second verse, the ex is thinking back on their relationship. The ex kept one of her glossy photos in his drawer with a Dear John letter she sent him. But Walter and I didn’t want to use “pin-up.” It didn’t sing well. So we shortened it to “pin shot,” a neologism that was even seedier than pin-up.'
In opera, a vocal embellishment consisting of a rapid succession of several notes sung to one syllable.
A variant of the more common melisma (also known as a "vocal run"), the difference is that a roulade is done at a varied tempo or during a musical pause.
Examples of roulades in classical music can be found in Handel's oratorios or the operatic works of Bellini and Donizetti.
A small public plaza in Greenwich Village, New York, close to where West 4th Street meets 7th Avenue. Named after General Philip Sheridan, a hero of the Union Army during the American Civil War.
Lends its name to the nearby Christopher Street / Sheridan Square subway station — although, despite the song lyrics, the (now-defunct) AA train didn't stop there. However, it did stop at West 4th Street / Washington Square station, less than half a mile away.
A dated North American slang term for an informal social gathering.
More than one dictionary further clarifies the definition as "an informal social gathering for men", though this gender-specific meaning seems at odds with its use in the song, with the protagonist hoping to get introduced to a Tuesday Weld-esque "big blonde".
The etymology of the term is unconfirmed, but it's not hard to imagine it deriving from the copious amount of smoking that would have happened at such a gathering in the 1950s.
A North American slang term for a celebration or party which is wild, lively, or noisy in nature.
First recorded under its current meaning in 1944, the word itself is older, originally a "hobo slang" term from the 1920s which meant "a fit or seizure, either induced by drugs or feigned to induce sympathy".