Friday, April 11, 2014

Read the Riot Act


To read someone the riot act is to berate that person for unwanted behavior and to threaten him or her with consequences if the behavior doesn’t cease.

The fact is, there was an actual Riot Act, and it was passed into law in Great Britain in 1715. In case you want to read it to someone, here it is:

Our Sovereign Lord the King chargeth and commandeth all persons, being assembled, immediately to disperse themselves, and peaceably to depart to their habitations, or to their lawful business, upon the pains contained in the act made in the first year of King George, for preventing tumults and riotous assemblies. God Save the King!

The idea was that if someone in an official capacity came across agitators in a party of twelve or more, the Riot Act would be read. If they did not disperse within the next 60 minutes, they could be arrested and charged with a capital crime.

The specific reason for the Act was the fear of the new Hanoverian regime that rebellious Jacobite forces would overturn them and restore the old order. It was taken quite seriously, as this quote from Charles James’ A new and enlarged military dictionary of 1802, indicates: “Soldiers are not to fire on rioters until the riot act has been read.”

SIDEBAR: The Riot Act

Available from McFarland & Co.: Word Parts Dictionary, 2nd edition

Nook edition

Check out Mike's other books here:
 Amazon.com

Listen to Mike’s program in real time every Tuesday morning, 9:10 - 10:00 a.m. EST, by going to wtcmradio.com and clicking on Listen Now. You’ll also find about a month’s worth of podcasts there under The Ron Jolly Show.






Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Pore or Pour?


I found this in the Traverse City Record-Eagle (AP) 4/7/14, 6B:  “[As an NBA player] point guard [Kevin Ollie] devoured information, pouring over scouting reports and game film, looking at tendencies and statistics—whatever he could to keep himself out on the floor.”

Unless he was spilling his Gatorade over those reports and films, he was actually poring over them. It seems to me that the once impeccable Associated Press has been slipping in its editing practices in recent years.

As a verb, pore means to examine something with rigorous attention. It’s found in English beginning in the 14th century. The Oxford English Dictionary declares the origin unknown, but speculates that it might be connected to the dialectical pire (to peer closely), but going from a long –i– sound to a long –o– sound poses difficulties.

As a noun, pore means an opening, a duct, on the skin surface. It came from the Greek πόρος (poros), a passage or a channel. It also appeared in English in the 14th century.

The verb pour means to emit in a stream. It may have come from a Middle French word meaning to decant a liquid, and it, too, appeared in English in that hyperactive 14th century.

In sum, you may pour wine into a glass, then pore over its surface to detect sediment. Never, under any circumstances, pore wine into a glass.

Available from McFarland & Co.: Word Parts Dictionary, 2nd edition

Nook edition

Check out Mike's other books here:
 Amazon.com

Listen to Mike’s program in real time every Tuesday morning, 9:10 - 10:00 a.m. EST, by going to wtcmradio.com and clicking on Listen Now. You’ll also find about a month’s worth of podcasts there under The Ron Jolly Show.





Friday, April 04, 2014

Verge


Sonya asked about the word verge. She came across it in an article discussing medical scientists on the verge of discovering a cure for baldness.

It means a border or the point at which something begins, especially as the distinctive line of separation between one subject or phase and another.

It comes from the Latin virga, a rod, and how it got from rod to border is a very interesting—if quirky—journey. The easiest way to describe the transition is to chart its history as found in the Oxford English Dictionary.

·      the male sex organ
·      the male organ of a crustacean
·      the shaft of a column
·      a type of torch or candle
·      a wand carried as a symbol of authority
·      an area subject to the jurisdiction of the Lord High Steward
·      the bounds, limits, or precincts of a particular place

The words converge and diverge use the common point or border imagery.

Available from McFarland & Co.: Word Parts Dictionary, 2nd edition

Nook edition

Check out Mike's other books here:
 Amazon.com

Listen to Mike’s program in real time every Tuesday morning, 9:10 - 10:00 a.m. EST, by going to wtcmradio.comand clicking on Listen Now. You’ll also find about a month’s worth of podcasts there under The Ron Jolly Show.






Saturday, March 29, 2014

Lent


Mike from Cadillac asked about the word Lent. In certain Christian circles, Lent is now the period including 40 weekdays extending from Ash Wednesday to Easter-eve, observed as a time of fasting and penitence.

The early Church did not at first agree upon the date of Easter, much less the amount of fasting that should go on, or even what one should fast from. By the 6th century, ecclesiastical law decreed that Easter should be celebrated on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal equinox. By then, a forty-day Lent had been deemed symbolically significant, no doubt influenced by accounts about Moses (Exodus 34:28), Elias (1 Kings 19:8), and Jesus (Matthew 4:2).

Lent came from an Old English word, lencten, that simply meant spring. The ecclesiastical sense of Lent eventually took over in English, but allied Germanic words retained the seasonal meaning.

Available from McFarland & Co.: Word Parts Dictionary, 2nd edition

Nook edition

Check out Mike's other books here:
 Amazon.com

Listen to Mike’s program in real time every Tuesday morning, 9:10 - 10:00 a.m. EST, by going to wtcmradio.comand clicking on Listen Now. You’ll also find about a month’s worth of podcasts there under The Ron Jolly Show.






Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Stateroom


Pat from Elk Rapids asked about the word stateroom.  

Originally (17th century), the stateroom was the captain’s cabin on board a ship. It was the largest and most desirable one available. Soon thereafter, it was used to designate a large, lavishly decorated hotel room used on formal or ceremonial occasions.

Within a century, a stateroom was a cabin on a passenger ship that provided sleeping accommodations. It no longer was reserved for the superior officer. In 19th century America, it was a private compartment on a railway train.

The words state, estate, and status are connected. One’s social standing was involved, especially where wealth and possessions were concerned. At the core is the Latin verb stare, to stand. The participle form shifted to the spelling form stat-.

Available from McFarland & Co.: Word Parts Dictionary, 2nd edition

Nook edition

Check out Mike's other books here:
 Amazon.com

Listen to Mike’s program in real time every Tuesday morning, 9:10 - 10:00 a.m. EST, by going to wtcmradio.com and clicking on Listen Now. You’ll also find about a month’s worth of podcasts there under The Ron Jolly Show.






Dona Sheehan's prints