Alice in Wonderland. (Image: Wikimedia Commons/John Tenniel)

‘When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean.’  

Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking-Glass

Of the many arguments for the meaning of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland -- aside from a bit of early pill-testing by Lewis Carroll -- is that it marked a reaction to the gradual bureaucratisation and rationalisation of Britain, as it became an industrial empire. The more rational it tried to be, the sillier things got.