Showing posts with label Wordology. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Wordology. Show all posts

May 17, 2019

Wordology, By The Same Token

Token is a very old word, referring to something that is a symbol or sign of something else. It could be a pat on the back as a token or sign of friendship, or a marked piece of lead that could be exchanged for money. It came to mean a fact or piece of evidence that could be used as proof.


“By the same token” first meant, basically “those things you used to prove that can also be used to prove this.” It was later weakened into the expression that just says “these two things are somehow associated.”

Apr 5, 2019

Wordology, Red Herring

The actual origin of the figurative sense of the phrase can be traced back to the early 1800s. Around this time, English journalist William Cobbett wrote a presumably fictional story about how he had used red herring as a boy to throw hounds off the scent of a hare.

An extended version of this story was printed in 1833, and the idiom spread from there. Although many people are more familiar with red herrings in pop culture, they also crop up in political spheres and debates of all kinds. Robert J. Gula, the author of Nonsense: Red Herrings, Straw Men and Sacred Cows: How We Abuse Logic in Our Everyday Language, defines a red herring as "a detail or remark inserted into a discussion, either intentionally or unintentionally, that sidetracks the discussion."

The goal is to distract the listener or opponent from the original topic and it is considered a type of flawed reasoning or, more fancifully, a logical fallacy.

Jan 25, 2019

Wordology, Tatterdemalion

A tatterdemalion is somebody wearing tattered clothing. It can also be used as an adjective meaning tattered or ragged in appearance.

Jan 18, 2019

Wordology, Minuscule

This is a frequently misspelled word. It is not 'mini-scule'. It bears no linguistic relation to mini or miniature, but actually comes from the Latin minus, meaning “less.” Now that you know the 'minus' origin, it should be easy to remember the spelling of minuscule.

Jan 11, 2019

Wordology, Shoes

From the annals of improbable research, we discover that 'Shoes' is a word which has many synonyms as this kind of outfit has developed in terms of its shape, which is obviously seen.


From the observation done in this research, there are 26 kinds of shoes with 36 distinctive features. The types of shoes found are boots, brogues, cleats, clogs, espadrilles, flip-flops, galoshes, heels, kamiks, loafers, Mary Janes, moccasins, mules, oxfords, pumps, rollerblades, sandals, skates, slides, sling-backs, slippers, sneakers, swim fins, valenki, waders and wedge. The distinctive features of the word “shoes” are based on the heels, heel shape, gender, the types of the toes, the occasions to wear the footwear, the place to wear the footwear, the material, the accessories of the footwear, the model of the back of the shoes and the cut of the shoes. Hmmm, this is no barefoot observation.

Jan 4, 2019

Wordology, Psithurism

The "p" at the beginning of psithurism is silent. It is pronounced sith-err-iz-um. It is the sounds of wind in the trees and the rustling of leaves.

Psithurism comes from the Greek word psithuros, which means whispering. It fits with the sound wind often makes when it blows through trees. On windy fall days, the rustling of the leaves seems almost musical. Your worries disappear for a time as you listen to the melodies of the wind in the trees.

Dec 7, 2018

Wordology

If something is run of the mill, it is average, ordinary, not special. It most likely originally referred to a run from a textile mill. It is material that has been manufactured, before it is decorated or embellished.

The expression you have your work cut out for you comes from tailoring. To do a big sewing job, all the pieces of fabric are cut out before they get sewn together. It seems like if your work has been cut for you, it should make job easier, but we do not use the expression that way. It is more that the task is ready to be tackled, but the difficult part is laying out the pieces in order, and doing the actual sewing.

Dec 1, 2018

Wordology

Push the envelope belongs to the modern era of the airplane. The “flight envelope” is a term from aeronautics meaning the boundary or limit of performance of a flight object. The envelope can be described in terms of mathematical curves based on things like speed, thrust, and atmosphere. You push it as far as you can in order to discover what the limits are.

Go haywire relates to actual haywire. In addition to tying up bundles, haywire was used to fix and hold many things together in a makeshift way, so a patched-up place came to be referred to as 'a hay-wire outfit'. It then became a term for any kind of malfunctioning thing. The fact that the wire itself became easily tangled when unspooled contributed to the use of the phrase.

Nov 2, 2018

Wordology, Break the Ice

It means to do or say something to relieve tension or get conversation going in a strained situation.

In the old days, commercial ships would often get stuck in frozen rivers during winter, so smaller ships called icebreakers would come to clear a path to shore by breaking the ice. During the 17th century, people began to use the phrase to mean "to reduce tension in a social situation."

Wordology, Put a Sock In It

This means stop talking. It comes from the late 19th century when people would use woolen socks to stuff the horns of their gramophones or record players to lower the sound, because these machines had no volume controllers.

Oct 27, 2018

Wordology, Don't Look a Gift Horse in the Mouth

It means to find fault with something that has been received as a gift or favor.

Long ago when buying a horse, people would determine the horse’s age and condition based on its teeth, and then decide whether they want to buy it or not. This is the reason why people use this idiom to say it is rude to look for flaws in a thing that was given to you as a gift.

Aug 3, 2018

Wordology, Pipe Dream

A 'pipe dream' is an unrealistic hope or fantasy. It is a reference to the strange dreams people have when smoking opium pipes. The term was used as early as the 1800s in America.

Wordology, Onychophagia

This is the technical term for biting your nails. It ranges from 20 to 33% during childhood and approximately 45% of teenagers are nail biters. By the age of 18 years the frequency of nail biting decreases; however it does persist in some adults

Jun 8, 2018

Wordology, Cherophobia

It is the fear of being happy, stemming from the Greek word chairo, which means 'I rejoice'. Some people are afraid of happiness and joy. They avoid activities and social events they think will be fun. It is usually a defense mechanism that stems from trauma or conflict. According to Healthline, some medical experts classify cherophobia as a form of anxiety.

Wordology, Whopping

This is an interesting word and not as popular as it used to be. It has many definitions, but Whopping and Wopping are two different words, often misused. Wopping is a bit more slang and I will skip that definition.
Whopping is the act of physically beating a person until they can no longer stand. It is also a heavy blow or the sound made by such a blow.
Examples: Planned spending amounts to a whopping fifty billion dollars,
Footballers in whopping studded boots approach the field,
A 100g portion gives a whopping ten teaspoons of sugar.

Incidentally, I enjoy spending a whopping amount of time putting this stuff together for your reading pleasure.

Jul 28, 2016

Wordology, On Accident, By Accident

A survey by Indiana State University indicates that people born after 1990 almost always say 'on accident', and are not aware that 'by accident' is proper usage. Those born before 1970 almost always say 'by accident'. 

Jun 3, 2016

Wordology, Whet One’s Appetite

This means to arouse interest in something, usually food. The whet in 'whet one’s appetite' refers to a sharpening, as in sharpening one’s interest in something. Someone may whet your appetite by providing a small taste, an example or enticing description that makes you want more of the item in question or to know more about a subject. Whet one’s appetite dates back to the early 1600s to describe stimulating an appetite for food. Whet is a verb, to sharpen, as on a whetstone, or to make more aware.

Feb 5, 2016

Wordology

Disinterested means unbiased and does not mean uninterested.
Correct: "The dispute should be resolved by a disinterested judge." / Why are you so uninterested in my story?

Enervate means to sap or to weaken and does not mean to energize.
Correct: That was an enervating rush hour commute. / That was an energizing cappuccino.

Hung means suspended and does not mean suspended from the neck until dead.
Correct: I hung the picture on my wall. / The prisoner was hanged.

Interesting word thought - If womb is pronounced woom and tomb is pronounced toom, why isn't bomb pronounced boom?

Sep 11, 2015

Wordology, Justiciable, Moot, and Unripe

Justiciability is one of several criteria that the United States Supreme Court use to make a judgment. In order for an issue to be justiciable (liable to be tried in court) by a United States federal court, all of the following conditions must be met.
The parties must not be seeking an advisory opinion.

There must be an actual controversy between the parties, meaning that the parties cannot agree to a lawsuit where all parties seek the same particular judgment from the court (known as a friendly suit); the parties must each be seeking a different outcome.

The question must be neither unripe nor moot.
   An unripe question is one for which there is not yet at least a threatened injury to the plaintiff, or where all available judicial alternatives have not been exhausted.
   A moot question is one for which the potential for an injury to occur has ceased to exist, or where the injury has been removed.