Monday, January 08, 2018


A recurrent theme that both amuses and confuses listeners to Words to the Wise is the existence of multiple meanings for words. Often, words spelled precisely the same in our day have totally different etymologies, accounting for some wildly diverse definitions attached to what appears to be the same word.

Mike from Traverse City, Michigan, contributed another one last week when he commented on the word bob. That three-letter combination tracks back to many differerent sources and languages: Irish, Scottish, Old French, Middle English, an abbreviation for Robert, and onomatopoeia representing the sound of a blow or a repetitive action. Let’s just luxuriate in the following multiple meanings.

·      a cluster of flowers
·      the weight at the end of a pendulum or plumb line
·      a short  sleigh-runner
·      earrings
·      a knot of hair at the back of the head
·      a horse’s tail docked short
·      a woman’s hair style—short and even all around
·      the weight on the tail of a kite
·      lob worms connected together like a small mop to catch eels
·      a lump of clay used by potters
·      the larva of a beetle
·      the refrain of a song
·      a trick or deception
·      a blow with the fist
·      a sharp rebuke
·      a sudden jerking up and down
·      a curtsy
·      a bell-ringing style
·      an apparatus for polishing metal surfaces
·      a shilling
·      a euphemistic substitute for the word God
·      to deceive or mock
·      to strike with the fist
·      to move up and down buoyantly in water
·      to snatch with the mouth at floating apples
·      to move evasively
·      to fish for eels
·      to cut short a horse’s tail
·      to cut a woman’s hair short and even all around
·      to polish metal with a bob
·      to ride on a sleigh

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


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