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Found 6 results

  1. "Glitch" now means "a bug in a computer program," but when I was growing up, it was the onomatopoeia that Don Martin, a cartoonist for Mad Magazine used when someone stepped in a pile of dog doo. Does anyone know if this is the actual etymology of the word "glitch?"
  2. There are many words that are problematic for me, some of which I've developed my own system (a very useful system) of remembering. For example: breeches vs. breaches - potentially a very embarrassing mistake. Breeches = trousers (notice how the word "looks" almost Shakespearean - it's also the same spelling as "leeches," another old-looking word). "Leeches in my breeches! Ahhhhh!!!!" Breaches = breaking a law, a rule, or even a dam (I remember this by "Broken Reaches," as in "breaking the long arm of the law"). "Breaches" also has the same first-four letters as "Break." If anyone has developed their own rules for remembering things, I encourage you to share them with us - I have numerous ones, but wouldn't be able to think of them all at once. Though there is the Wilson-Kathkart Scandal which is *amazingly* useful in day-to-day living - I probably use it once a month for various reasons.
  3. Ericandblueboy

    Ethnic Slurs in the English Lexicon

    It's spelled honkie. Now you have to say white trash.
  4. Everyone knows about "'Scuse me, while I kiss this guy" in Jimi Hendrix's "Purple Haze," but very few people know what this type of mistake is called. Believe it or not, it's called a "Mondegreen," and was coined in 1954 by American Writer Sylvia Wright, when she misunderstood the lyrics to the medieval Scottish Ballad, "The Bonnie Earl o' Moray." This is where it gets really funny. Quoting from Wikipedia: --- In the essay, Wright described how, as a young girl, she misheard the last line of the first stanza from the 17th-century ballad "The Bonnie Earl o' Moray". She wrote: The actual fourth line is "And laid him on the green." Wright explained the need for a new term: Her essay had already described the bonny Earl holding the beautiful Lady Mondegreen's hand, both bleeding profusely but faithful unto death. She disputed: There's something wonderfully Wollstonecraftian about Wright's romantically defiant refusal to accept the actual line as The Actual Line, and I don't blame her a bit - her interpretation is better!
  5. Kibbee Nayee

    "Southpaw" - Where Did the Term Come From?

    Does anyone know how the term "Southpaw" was coined to describe a left-handed pitcher? Traditionally, baseball parks -- in the days before night baseball games -- were laid out so the batter faced east. After all, the sun rises in the east, and by early afternoon when a game starts, the sun would be well overhead and heading to the western side of the stadium behind the batter. The batter would therefore never have the sun in his eyes. That would mean the pitcher faced west, and imposing an imaginary compass on the pitcher's head, the left arm would be on his south side. Thus, "southpaw" was the natural nickname. (Of course, you might wonder why "northpaw" for the righthander never caught on, but who really cares?)
  6. I've always been curious about the etymology of collective nouns ("a murder of crows," etc.). From "Ten Of The Best Collective Nouns" by Chloe Rhodes on theguardian.com This one is just great, and so very fitting for this website: A promise of tapsters "Tapster" is now obsolete but can be translated as barman or barmaid "“ whoever is in charge of the "tap". The tapster's "promise" is something we're all familiar with: that slight inclination of the chin, subtle nod or lift of the eyebrow that says: "You're next". But can it be trusted? There's never been a better embodiment of a false promise than the tapster's. In As You Like It, Celia and Rosalind make the point perfectly in their discussion about the promises of love with the damning line: ""¦ the oath of a lover is no stronger than the word of a tapster." You should reference that wonderful little article, and please feel free to add some of your own favorites.
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