Adjective Order in Pipe Descriptions

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Part of the Furniture Now
May 7, 2022
Lewis has a passage towards the end of Perelandra in which he explores the possibility that this is rooted in something Real. It's one of my favorite passages in all of literature. But this is a pipe forum so I'll leave it lie...
it's bad luck to name a ship after a man though, K I'll see myself out...;)

Chasing Embers

Captain of the Black Frigate
Nov 12, 2014
Careful, CE. That's some treacherous ground yer walkin'...

Inanimate objects have feelings too, you know.

AND preferences when it comes to self-identity.

Questioning that fact---even by implication---risks attracting a swarm of these things:

View attachment 197556
I neither support delusion nor fear imaginary outrage.
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Back before people thought of time as having movement, inanimate objects breathed freely and had lives of their own. Some objects were masculine and others were feminine, and in a few cases, some were feline. In those times, the spirits of those objects breathed through the objects and spoke in stories about some things that never were and other things that always were. But always they spoke their truth. Coyote and Owl helped gather those stories and taught the Romans and others the truth of their wisdom. They in turn made a special tea and infused it into their languages so that this truth would not be lost. Today, we remember that time through the gendered spirit memory that is the truth of those times. A table is feminine and a tree is masculine. And cat people. Well, let's not talk about them.


Mar 30, 2019
In the semi-rural NorthEastern USA
Most native English speakers know subconsciously (and few native English speakers know consciously) that adjectives are ordered as follows:

(1) Opinion
(2) Size
(3/4) Age or Shape (these are interchangeable, on a case by case basis)
(5) Color
(6) Origin
(7) Material
(8) Purpose

This isn't an original observation -- it's a well established norm, and you can read about it elsewhere.

You may not give it any thought, but you'd sense that something were out of whack if I referred to an "American blue old big truck," or to a "wheat golden expansive lovely field."

Just how this norm applies to pipe descriptions is not always obvious, though. For instance:
  • Where does brand fit into this?

  • Should we lump "finish" with "color"?

  • How do we classify such meerschaum descriptions as "lion" or "lattice"?

  • And does "shape" here apply to "pipe shape" (billiard, freehand, bulldog) or to bend (straight, quarter bent, half bent) or to length (nose warmer, long-shanked)?
    Or for that matter, to whether or not the pipe is a "sitter"?
    Or to such additional proportions as "chubby" or "angular"?
We shouldn't equivocate between "shape" and "shape," here -- in pipe culture, we use "billiard" substantively, in a way which is parallel to "pipe," not in a way which is parallel to "oval."

Neither should we just assume that a pipe description follows the English norm: it may turn out that pipe culture has unwittingly cultivated its own norm. And in fact this seems to be the case: for example, it seems that we commonly mention origin (country, brand, and line) after opinion, size, and age, but before further physical description. So, we need not so much a proposal as an observation.

Towards that end, I think that I observe the following order of description in pipe culture:
  1. Opinion (e.g. nice, masculine)
  2. Size (e.g. large, little)
  3. Age (e.g. old, antique)
  4. Country (e.g. Danish, French)
  5. Brand (e.g. Stanwell, Ropp)
  6. Line (e.g. Golden, Vintage)
  7. Color (e.g. dark, red)
  8. Finish (e.g. sandblast, rusticated)
  9. Proportional Comment (e.g. chubby, angular)
  10. Length (e.g. nose-warmer, long-shanked)
  11. Bend (e.g. straight, quarter-bent)
  12. Meerschaum Design (e.g. lion, lattice)
  13. Shape (e.g. billiard, freehand)
  14. Secondary Material (e.g. meerschaum-lined)
  15. Primary Material (e.g. briar, meerschaum)
  16. Mount (e.g. military mount, spigot)
  17. Final Substantive (e.g. sitter, churchwarden)
The stem description should not be included in the above, but rather annexed to the end with a prepositional phrase, e.g. "with bakelite saddle stem." You'll notice that within that phrase, material and shape seem to be out of order, but this is only because we use a term like "saddle stem" substantively rather than adjectivaly in pipe culture.

Obviously, some of these categories are not applicable to some pipes. And even when many categories are applicable, no single pipe description could include all of these parts without sounding extremely awkward. This list is not meant to enumerate everything which should be included in any given pipe description. Rather, it's meant to order whichever parts are included, in any given case.
love this kind of stuff. And it's fun to play around with wrong doing it ways.


Nov 30, 2020
Sydney, Australia
The "Woke Brigade" frown on the use of gender terms like boy/girl and man/woman so what they think of assigning gender to pipes doesn't bear thinking.

Of course I will be accused of stereotyping.
But what the heck !

So to anthromorphosise, these two thick shanked, stout, beefy renditions are what I would consider "masculine"


Whereas these two svelte and lissome ones are quite "feminine" in my eyesimage.jpegimage.jpeg

Briar Lee

Sep 4, 2021
Humansville Missouri
Ozarkian Variant

How and where you purchased the pipe is the first descriptor of the pipe.

Off’n eBay I got me a $25 —-

Then the brand and grade and style

——Lee Two Star Poker —-

Then where and what you first smoked it with

—-that I fired up over South of the Lucas Speedway at Wheatland at Gardner Cemetery with Half and Half—-

Why you were there

—after I’d paid respects at the grave of my grandmother Ma Agee and her kin—

Then finish the bowl

—and that was the sweetest pipe I can remember in years, and lasted all the way to Humansville where I bought me three more pouches of Half and Half so’s I’d never run short.
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