Sunday, May 26, 2013

Flap




David from Traverse City asked about the word flap, used to mean an agitated situation. It’s a favorite of headline writers, as a few random examples will illustrate.

  • NPR: “Decades Of History Behind IRS Flap”
  • Honolulu Star Advertiser: “Osaka mayor: Lack of sensitivity caused flap”
  • CBS Eye On Sports: “Fuzzy Zoeller: Flap over Sergio Garcia comment will 'blow over.'”
  • The Times of London: “RBS customers in a flap over bank’s mobile app.”
  • The Australian: “In a flap over the Great Subsidy”
  • billboardbiz:  “A Flap Over 'The Lion Sleeps Tonight'”
  • ABC News: Mexico Fires Official in Flap Over Influence Abuse
  • TimesLive: “Russia in flap over song contest 'rigging'”
  • The Washington Times: “A month after U.S.-Russia flap over Boston Marathon bombing, American ‘spy’ detained in Moscow”

 Originally (14th c.), it meant a slap—probably in imitation of the sound of hand against cheek. Around the same time, it meant a contemptuous rebuke. By the 18th century, it meant the noise produced by motion. A century later, it referred to a disturbance or tumult. So there’s a fairly clear thread that involves sound, motion, disturbance, and agitation or conflict.

Like many words, it also acquired accretions over the centuries—other applications of the spelling. The idea of a projecting part was applied to zipper or button coverings on clothing, the part of a book jacket that folds under the book’s cover, human tissue used in surgical grafting, and the part of an envelope or a box or a tent used to close it.

Airplane wings have moveable surfaces called flaps, and in phonetics, a flap is a consonant sound produced by a single quick flip of the tongue against the upper part of the mouth.

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

Nook edition

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The Top 100 Language Lovers 2013 competition hosted by the bab.la language portal and the Lexiophiles language blog is under way, and this blog has been nominated.

The voting period extends from May 22nd to June 9th, and I would appreciate your vote.

Entries are arranged alphabetically. PLEASE VOTE HERE





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