Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year


The Death of the Old Year  gif Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1842) clr gif

Full knee-deep lies the winter snow,
And the winter winds are wearily sighing:
Toll ye the church bell sad and slow,
And tread softly and speak low,
For the old year lies a-dying.
Old year you must not die;
You came to us so readily,
You lived with us so steadily,
Old year you shall not die.

He lieth still: he doth not move:
He will not see the dawn of day.
He hath no other life above.
He gave me a friend and a true truelove
And the New-year will take ’em away.
Old year you must not go;
So long you have been with us,
Such joy as you have seen with us,
Old year, you shall not go.

He froth’d his bumpers to the brim;
A jollier year we shall not see.
But tho’ his eyes are waxing dim,
And tho’ his foes speak ill of him,
He was a friend to me.
Old year, you shall not die;
We did so laugh and cry with you,
I’ve half a mind to die with you,
Old year, if you must die.

He was full of joke and jest,
But all his merry quips are o’er.
To see him die across the waste
His son and heir doth ride post-haste,
But he’ll be dead before.
Every one for his own.
The night is starry and cold, my friend,
And the New-year blithe and bold, my friend,
Comes up to take his own.

How hard he breathes! over the snow
I heard just now the crowing cock.
The shadows flicker to and fro:
The cricket chirps: the light burns low:
’Tis nearly twelve o’clock.
Shake hands, before you die.
Old year, we’ll dearly rue for you:
What is it we can do for you?
Speak out before you die.

His face is growing sharp and thin.
Alack! our friend is gone,
Close up his eyes: tie up his chin:
Step from the corpse, and let him in
That standeth there alone,
And waiteth at the door.
There’s a new foot on the floor, my friend,
And a new face at the door, my friend,
A new face at the door.



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


Check out Mike's program-based books here:
Arbutus Press
or at Amazon.com


Listen to Mike’s program in real time every Tuesday morning, 9:00 - 10:00 a.m. EST, by going to wtcmradio.com and clicking on Listen Now.

There is a collection of podcasts. Go to wtcmradio.com and click on Podcasts. Scroll down The Ron Jolly Show to find the Words to the Wise audio button.


Visit The Senior Corner at seniors.tcnet.org


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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Faux Foe


I saw a header on CNBC yesterday that read, “ETFs: Friend or Faux?” How clever, thought I, wondering whether some inventive writer on that channel had coined the term. Curious, I used Google to check, and discovered 297,000 hits. Where have I been hiding?


Since faux is pronounced foe, it’s a neat play on words. It was used

  • as the title of a book by Heather Wagner (Friend or Faux: A Guide to Fussy Vegans, Crazy Cat Ladies, Creepy Clingers, Undercover Sluts, and Other Girls Who Will Quietly Destroy Your Life),
  • as the name of a pop punk band located in San Diego,
  • as the name of a 2009-2010 exhibit at the Rosenbach Museum (Friend or Faux: Imitation and Invention, from Innocent to Fraudulent),
  • as the title of a 2006 article in Acupuncture Today (Candida Allergy: Friend or Faux? by Kaleb Montgomery, DTCM),
  • as the theme of MTV’s season 5 of The Hills,
  • as the name of at least three custom painters who specialize in trompe l’oeil,
  • as the title of a 2003 article in Time Magazine and a 2002 article in The Los Angeles Times, and on and on.

The word faux shows up in a number of set phrases from the French:

  • faux bonhomme: a sly, shifty person who assumes an open and good-natured manner;
  • faux-bourdon: the undersong or refrain in a song;
  • faux-naïf: a person who pretends to be simple or unaffected and adopts a childish or naïve manner;
  • faux pas: a false step or slip;
  • faux-prude: a man who simulates prudishness.


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


Check out Mike's program-based books here:
Arbutus Press
or at Amazon.com


Listen to Mike’s program in real time every Tuesday morning, 9:00 - 10:00 a.m. EST, by going to wtcmradio.com and clicking on Listen Now.

There is a collection of podcasts. Go to wtcmradio.com and click on Podcasts. Scroll down The Ron Jolly Show to find the Words to the Wise audio button.


Visit The Senior Corner at seniors.tcnet.org


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Thursday, December 23, 2010

Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Chip Off the Old Block


Fergus asked whether a wood chip and a computer chip are related. They are, obviously not in their function, but in their etymological source.

The original chip came from a verb that meant to cut or chop. The OED speculates that chip relates to chop much the same as drip relates to drop. In other words, chip and drip express slighter and more delicate actions than chop and drop.

Chip has evolved in meaning over the centuries:

  • a small, thin piece of wood, stone, or other material, separated by hewing, cutting, or breaking;
  • in gem-cutting, a cleavage which weighs less than three-fourths of a carat;
  • a paring of bread-crust;
  • a thin irregular slice of fruit; pl. fried pieces of potato, usually oblong in shape;
  • a counter used in games of chance;
  • anything worthless or trifling;
  • a piece of dried buffalo or cattle dung;
  • something derived from a larger or more important thing, which it still resembles;
  • a nickname for a ship’s carpenter;
  • a crack or slight fracture caused by chipping;
  • a chip-shot in golf.


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


Check out Mike's program-based books here:
Arbutus Press
or at Amazon.com


Listen to Mike’s program in real time every Tuesday morning, 9:00 - 10:00 a.m. EST, by going to wtcmradio.com and clicking on Listen Now.

There is a collection of podcasts. Go to wtcmradio.com and click on Podcasts. Scroll down The Ron Jolly Show to find the Words to the Wise audio button.


Visit The Senior Corner at seniors.tcnet.org


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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Pinch


Kelly from Traverse City called in to discuss the flexibility of the word pinch(ed). As examples, he mentioned “he got pinched when he broke the law,” “use just a pinch of salt,” and “she was pinched by her boyfriend.” Ron Jolly threw in “pinch hitter,” as used in baseball.

It came from an Old French word meaning to nip with the fingers, and that’s still one of the principal meanings, but as Kelly pointed out, it has developed multiple meanings over the centuries. As a verb, these are some of the meanings for pinch found in the Oxford English Dictionary:

  • to squeeze or nip between thumb and finger [1230]
  • to be mean or parsimonious [1325]
  • to pleat or flute a garment [1387]
  • to crimp or coil hair [1398]
  • to put stress upon [1400]
  • to bring into position by squeezing [1425]
  • to inflict bodily pain on [1425]
  • to compress the edge of (a piece of pastry) between the fingers [1425]
  • to trap or pin down (a person) in an argument [1450]
  • to cause (a face, person, etc.) to appear pinched or drawn [1548]
  • to be impoverished or in financial straits [1549]
  • of an item of clothing: to constrict (the body or a part of the body) painfully [1574]
  • to steal (a thing); to rob (a person) [1632]
  • to remove with the fingers to encourage growth or flowering [1669]
  • to be jammed, crushed, or trapped between two objects [1700]
  • to arrest, catch, apprehend, take into custody [1789]
  • figuratively, to take a moment to convince oneself that something (usually good or pleasurable) is real [1833]


Pinch- as a combining form led to many words. Among them are pinchbar, a crowbar; pinchbelly, a person miserly about food; pinch bottle, a bottle with indented sides; pinch-eyed, having squinting eyes; pinchfart, a miser; pinch-spotted, covered with marks made by pinches; and pinch wheel, a roulette wheel that has been illegally altered so that the operator may stop it at will.


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


Check out Mike's program-based books here:
Arbutus Press
or at Amazon.com


Listen to Mike’s program in real time every Tuesday morning, 9:00 - 10:00 a.m. EST, by going to wtcmradio.com and clicking on Listen Now.

There is a collection of podcasts. Go to wtcmradio.com and click on Podcasts. Scroll down The Ron Jolly Show to find the Words to the Wise audio button.


Visit the Senior Corner at seniors.tcnet.org



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Monday, December 13, 2010

Lead Pipe Cinch


Pat asked about the phrase, lead pipe cinch. The original cinch was a saddle-girth, a leather strap with a buckle used to secure the saddle. If it was done correctly, you were guaranteed that the saddle would not start slipping, thereby dumping you to the ground. From a physical object, it developed into a metaphor, and a cinch became anything that was certain.

Lead pipe was added in the late 1890s as an intensifier, along with dead certain cinch and airtight cinch. It added certainty to certainty, much like screwing down a piece of wood that had already been nailed to a surface.

Why lead pipe? No one knows, but suggestions abound. Some say that a lead pipe has it all over a leather strap for strength and durability. Others say that it is a certainty that you can bend a lead pipe, which is ductile, as opposed to something like a steel bar. Another theory says that if you are securing something with a loop of rope, inserting a length of lead pipe and twisting it will add incredible leverage and result in an extremely tight cinch.

A note in The Word Detective quotes one J. R. Latimer as writing, "I lived for many years in Africa where often one found an older, low-tech form of plumbing. Lead piping was/is used to make critical junctures, and it is "cinched" to the pieces it connects, i.e., the faucet/tap and the incoming pipe. This makes for a very sure, no-leak joint, and to my understanding, the technique has been used since Roman times. Thus the expression ‘lead pipe cinch’ meaning a sure thing or absolutely.”

Pay your money and take your choice.


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


Check out Mike's program-based books here:
Arbutus Press
or at Amazon.com


Listen to Mike’s program in real time every Tuesday morning, 9:00 - 10:00 a.m. EST, by going to wtcmradio.com and clicking on Listen Now.

There is a collection of podcasts. Go to wtcmradio.com and click on Podcasts. Scroll down The Ron Jolly Show to find the Words to the Wise audio button.


Visit The Senior Corner at seniors.tcnet.org


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Thursday, December 09, 2010

Clutch


A recent program on Animal Planet spoke of the krait, a sea snake that deposits its clutch of eggs on the dry ledges of underwater caves, as opposed to most other sea snakes, which bear live young underwater. For some reason, the word clutch jumped out at me.

Clutch came from cletch—a brood or hatching—which came from the Old Norse klekja, to hatch. There is a lateral connection to verbs signifying baking, roasting, or cooking. The childbearing image lives on with, “there’s a bun in the oven.”

There is a second word spelled clutch, no connection, meaning to clench the fingers or to grasp. Originally, it was a claw or talon. A car’s clutch and a clutch bag fit here.


SIDEBAR: Krait http://divegallery.com/sea_krait.htm


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


Check out Mike's program-based books here:
Arbutus Press
or at Amazon.com


Listen to Mike’s program in real time every Tuesday morning, 9:00 - 10:00 a.m. EST, by going to wtcmradio.com and clicking on Listen Now.

There is a collection of podcasts. Go to wtcmradio.com and click on Podcasts. Scroll down The Ron Jolly Show to find the Words to the Wise audio button.

Visit The Senior Corner at seniors.tcnet.org


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Sunday, December 05, 2010

Culpa


Denise encountered the phrase “exculpatory evidence” in a Law and Order episode and wondered about its origin. At its core is the Latin word culpa, translated as liability, fault, or blame.

The ex- prefix signifies out of or away from, thus rendering exculpatory as a vindication, a relief from blame, proof of innocence. The culpa base shows up in legal terminology, but originally it was theological.

St. Augustine was famous for his exclamation, O felix culpa! It meant “Oh, happy fault,” and it was a reference to original sin, which, damning in itself, still led to the coming of a redeemer. That phrase has worked its way into the Easter Liturgy of the Catholic Church. Another prayer, the Confiteor, a public declaration of sin, contains the line mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa: “through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault.”

Many of the words carved out of culpa are obsolete, but they remain interesting.

  • culpable: deserving of punishment or condemnation
  • culpation: a blaming or finding fault with
  • culpatory: tending to express blame
  • culpose: characterized by criminal negligence
  • culprit: the accused
  • disculpation: clearing from blame
  • exculpation: the clearing from blame
  • inculpable: free from blame
  • inculpatory: tending to incriminate


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


Check out Mike's program-based books here:
Arbutus Press
or at Amazon.com

Listen to Mike’s program in real time every Tuesday morning, 9:00 - 10:00 a.m. EST, by going to wtcmradio.com and clicking on Listen Now.

There is a collection of podcasts. Go to wtcmradio.com and click on Podcasts. Scroll down The Ron Jolly Show to find the Words to the Wise audio button.

Visit The Senior Corner at seniors.tcnet.org


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Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Ablation


While tuned in to the Weather Channel, Marianne heard the word ablation used, and she passed it on as an interesting term. Ablation came from a Latin word meaning removal or carrying away, and it has a wide range of uses.


In Marianne’s context, it refers to the gradual removal of snow or ice by wind erosion. It is used when speaking of glaciers or a snow pack. Of course, ablation can also happen more quickly when direct sunlight or higher temperatures melt the snow or ice.


Other uses of the word betray its dependence on the original Latin word that meant removal.

  • surgical removal of an organ or tissue (e.g., cardiac, endometrial, dermabrasion)
  • removal of material from a surface, whether by wind (e.g., sand in a desert) or heat (an electrode)
  • the loss of surface material from a body as a result of frictional heating as it passes through an atmosphere (e.g., spacecraft heat shield)


SIDEBAR: laser ablation


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


Check out Mike's program-based books here:
Arbutus Press
or at Amazon.com


Listen to Mike’s program in real time every Tuesday morning, 9:00 - 10:00 a.m. EST, by going to wtcmradio.com and clicking on Listen Now.

There is a collection of podcasts. Go to wtcmradio.com and click on Podcasts. Scroll down The Ron Jolly Show to find the Words to the Wise audio button.


Visit The Senior Corner at seniors.tcnet.org


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