Friday, October 30, 2015

Punter



A listener who is a fan of the British novelist Dick Francis (a former jockey who writes about horse racing and crime) asked about the word punter, a common term in Francis’ novels.  Jim from Suttons Bay called in to share that it means a bettor. It probably came from a French word that meant a card player who lays a stake against the bank in an attempt to gain points.

A review on goodreads.com comments, “Even Money is again about the racing environment, delving into the world of the bookies and the punters on the racetrack.”

The noun punt has several meanings.

  a long narrow flat-bottomed boat with square ends usually propelled with a pole;
  the monetary pound of Ireland before the Euro;
  an ancient Egyptian name designating a part of Africa not clearly identified but probably Somaliland;
  the indentation on the bottom of a wine bottle.

There are at least two verb meanings of punt.

 √  in cards, to play at a gambling game against the banker;
  to kick a football or soccer ball with the top of the foot before the ball hits the ground, having been dropped from the hands.


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.





Monday, October 26, 2015

Disused


Ron from Traverse City was surprised when he came across the word disused in a novel, since he can’t remember seeing it before in print. It’s part of a cluster: disused, unused, and misused. Let’s take each in turn.

Disused: For the most part, this word is now considered obsolete. Originally, it meant out of the habit (Living in Florida, I am disused to cold weather). It is sometimes used in place of unused or empty (The rave was held in a disused warehouse), but that’s not quite standard usage.

Unused:  Empty or not made use of (The unused portion of the loaf of bread was tossed when it developed mold). It can also mean unaccustomed (Unused as I am to public speaking, I get very nervous in front of an audience).

Misused: Used improperly (He misused books as doorstops) or abused (Animal Control stepped in when he misused his horses).

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.





Thursday, October 08, 2015

Shingle


Mike from Cadillac asked about the word shingles. Specifically, he wanted to know how the painful rash connects to a roof tile.

Even though the current spelling of both words is identical, it is an accident of history. The overlapping shingles used to protect a roof are thin pieces of wood with parallel sides, one end thicker than the other. It comes from the Latin word scindula, a split piece of wood.

The viral rash comes from the Latin cingulum, a girdle or belt. While the rash may appear anywhere on the body, it often shows up at the beltline. As insistent ads warn us, if you ever had chickenpox, you are a candidate for shingles. The virus that causes chickenpox lurks for years in an inactive state. If it becomes active, it can cause the painful rash.

Shingle is also used to signify the start of one’s professional life, as in to hang out your shingle, a reference to a sign board advertising a business. Shingle is also a women’s hair style in which the hair is worn short. It’s also used as a humorous putdown, as in that guy’s a shingle short.

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.







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