Month: October 2016

Short takes

A few interesting words and phrases that don’t warrant a full column. I wonder if “fisking” will endure as a description. Fisking — A point-by-point refutation of a blog entry or news story. A really stylish fisking is witty, logical, sarcastic and ruthlessly factual, pointing out flawed research, unfounded assertions, and logical fallacies. Named after Robert Fisk, a British journalist…

bugger

bugger The word has several meanings and is used in some very imaginative ways. — a contemptible or pitied person, usually a man — a person who commits buggery (penetrating the anus, sodomy) — used as a term of affection or respect, usually grudgingly — used to express annoyance or anger (bugger! buggeration!) Though regarded as vulgar slang in some…

get one’s goat

To make someone annoyed or angry: “Connie may seem unflappable, but I know several  ways to get her goat.”  A popular theory says this expression comes from a tradition in horse racing. Thought to have a calming effect on high-strung thoroughbreds, a goat was placed in the horse’s stall on the night before the race. Unscrupulous opponents would then steal…

pulling your leg

Deceiving you in a humorous or playful way. “You’re pulling my leg” was a common slang expressions in the 20th century, and means misleading or teasing in a mild and benign way. But, like those other “leg” phrases: — an arm and a leg — shake a leg — break a leg there’s no evidence to show that the leg…

pear-shaped

This term has several meanings, all in reference to the shape of a pear. 1. When applied to people, it means narrow at the shoulders and wide at the hips. This use goes back to at least 1815. 2. When said of someone’s voice, “pear-shaped” means rich and sonorous. The Oxford English Dictionary dates this use to 1925. 3. The…

clodhopper

There are three meanings for this word:  — A rough, clumsy, unsophisticated countryman, or a yokel, a rube  — A large, heavy, clunky shoe or boot  — Big feet In the 17th century, “clodhopper” referred to a farmer who used a horse-drawn plow and therefore had to hop over the clods it churned up. Perhaps it was also an allusion…

peanut gallery

A peanut gallery, in the days of vaudeville, was a nickname for the cheapest seating in the theater. The occupants of these seats were often rowdy and would heckle the actors. The cheapest snack served at the theatre would often be peanuts, which the patrons would sometimes throw at the performers on stage to show their disapproval.  If you’ve seen…