Wednesday, April 04, 2012


Noreen came across the phrase hunger pangs, and wondered what the word pang means and where it came from.

Pang is a variant of pain; if you have hunger pangs, the hunger is so acute that you feel distress. Originally, it referred to a shooting pain, especially the kind associated with childbirth. By the 16th century, the meaning had broadened to include mental anguish or emotional pain.

The origin of the word is a bit mysterious. The OED says that perhaps it came from prong, urgent distress or anguish. That form may have come from German/Dutch cognates that referred to distress, hardship, or torture. In turn, prong was related to an instrument with pointed tines. A pitchfork would be a good example.

SIDEBAR: If you live in the GT region and are over 50, get a team of 3 together for this year's Senior Spelling Bee. Practice rounds at TADL Wed. April 25 & Thurs. April 26 at noon. Main event Friday, May 4th, 1 p.m., at the Gilbert Lodge on Twin Lakes. Call the TC Senior Center for details at 231-922-4911.

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

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

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



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