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Bader Co-author Jenny-Lyn Bader

Definition of the word "guess"

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Bader & Brazell on reconciling differences

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Definition of the word "hairline"

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Bader & Brazell'sHe Meant, She Meant: The Definitive Male-Female Dictionary

busy \'bi-ze\ adj.

He meant:
Utterly swamped, unless someone special DIES.

She meant:
Utterly swamped, unless someone special CALLS.

He Meant, She Meant:

The Definitive Male-Female Dictionary

February 19, 1998
Web posted at: 3:12 p.m. EDT (1512 GMT)

(CNN) -- That men and women view love and romance differently is common knowledge to anyone who's ever been in a serious relationship.

Maybe the reason is organic, with men and women hard-wired differently in the old noggin. Recent scientific studies show that men's brains actually shrink with age at a much faster rate than women. That may help explain why some men are perceived as pinheads in the love department.

More likely, the cause for the breakdown is cultural. Men and women use the same words but mean entirely different things.

A new book -- "He Meant, She Meant: The Definitive Male-Female Dictionary" -- is a humorous translation guide to romantic language. CNN's Bobbie Battista and Miles O'Brien talked with the book's authors, Bill Brazell and Jenny Lyn-Bader.

BATTISTA: Let's read a couple of examples from the book. If you say "Valentine's Day," she means a corny holiday when lovers give each other roses.

O'BRIEN: And he means an expensive way to renew a library book.

BATTISTA: All right. "Relationship."

O'BRIEN: What you assume, after two sexual encounters. Now play along.

BATTISTA: And she means, when he knows your bra size.

O'BRIEN: And the book goes on and on like that. Whose idea was it first of all?

BADER: I got the idea after I gave this big party, and I was expecting a lot more women at the party, because many more women told me they would come, and it turned out there were a lot more men there, and I tried to figure out what had happened. And I realized that when women say yes, they often mean no. And when men say no, they often mean maybe.

This was back in 1992, and the secretary of state had just said that he had no intention of getting involved in a Middle Eastern territorial dispute, and he obviously meant maybe.


I kept finding cultural and historical examples of this. I thought, why stop at yes-no-maybe? Why not define hundreds of words from the male and female perspectives? Then I went on a nationwide search to find a man who was insensitive enough to have male feelings, but sensitive enough to write them down, and I found my friend Bill.

O'BRIEN: Now, Jenny, wait a minute... I just want to straighten this out, most guys think (that) when women say no, they mean yes. Right?

BADER: That's a common misperception.

O'BRIEN: OK. I just want to get that straight...

BATTISTA: Bill, that's like when a guy says, to a single girl, after their first date, I'll call you. And that means he won't. Am I right?


Isn't he?

BRAZELL: Well, he should, if he knows what he's doing, but you're right. I think often the guy means well, but he later sort of thinks better of it and I guess each guy has to get into that for himself.

O'BRIEN: Definition of "busy." He meant, utterly swamped, unless someone special dies.

BATTISTA: She meant, utterly swamped, unless someone special calls.


Now, how did you guys come up with these?

BADER: We were apart for the whole time we were writing the book, which was very important. I was in New York, and Bill was in California. We would make lists of words and agree not to talk to each other for a couple of weeks, until we had defined all of them.

And then we would go through and edit together, and then we had of course a lot of fights.


BRAZELL: And Jenny Lyn managed to get some of the fights printed in the book, so they're in the appendix in the back.

O'BRIEN: Has this started fights among your friends?

BADER: Actually, we've been very surprised at the reaction. We expected the book to be more controversial, but right now, the cultural climate is such that people really do believe that men and women speak different languages. It's not that we deserve different things, or should have different human rights, or anything like that, but we do have different communications styles. And people of all political perspectives have really enjoyed the book and told us they liked it, and my favorite story about the book is my friends, Melissa and Ben, who devised the "He Meant, She Meant" road trip game.

And they read it together on long car rides, guessing which definitions were male, and which were female, and then debating the definitions amongst themselves, and just two days ago, they got engaged.


BATTISTA: So, hey -- it can be a love aid.

BADER: It may be enhancing communication.

BATTISTA: Are you both single?


BATTISTA: So do you tell your dates that you've written this book? Is that intimidating? Just a little?

BRAZELL: It took a while before I told my girlfriend about it, but, you know, it's actually helped me to get along with her in some ways, because sometimes, if we're having a disagreement, I'll wait a little while and ask her what she means by it before I decide I know what she means, because sometimes I'm completely wrong.

BATTISTA: He's in danger of turning into Alan Alda.

BADER: Not for me -- for me it was not a good first date icebreaker. I expect that you can only imagine the reaction when you're sitting there on a first date with someone, and you say -- and they ask you what you're up to -- and you say, Well, actually, what I'm doing professionally right now is writing a male-female dictionary.

O'BRIEN: By the way, the cover (of the book) -- that's a guy cover.

BATTISTA: It is a guy cover.

O'BRIEN: Wouldn't you say it's a guy cover?

BRAZELL: I'm not sure. I think it's a unisex cover. A cover for everybody.

BATTISTA: The book is really... is very cute and very funny.

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