Month: July 2017

grass widow

A woman whose husband is away often or for a prolonged period, usually applied to those parted from their husbands by golf (played on grass) or similar obsessional activities. It has long been used in the USA in the sense of “a woman who is separated, divorced, or lives apart from her husband,” perhaps because her husband is still above…

neologism two

More neologisms equals more smiles! Another competition run by the Washington Post asks readers to take any word from the dictionary, alter it by adding, subtracting, or changing one letter and supply a new definition. These are absolutely my favorites: Intaxication — Euphoria at getting a tax refund, which lasts until you realize it was your money to start with.…

neologism

Let me say up front that I love neologisms. Sometimes they are so apt and so funny that I laugh no matter how many times I’ve seen them. A neologism is relatively recent word or phrase that may be in the process of entering common use. The term ‘neologism’ is first attested in English in 1772, borrowed from French ‘néologisme’…

Short stuff

Larger than life — exceedingly imposing, impressive, or memorable Take a fancy to — take a shine to, become fond of Rare as hen’s teeth — exceptionally rare or nonexistent [Mid-1800s] Snap to it! — hurry up! Knee-high to a grasshopper — very small or young [USA 1814] That’ll put hair on your chest — make you stronger Give the…

spoonerism

A spoonerism is an accidental transposition of the initial sounds, or other parts, of two or more words. For example, ‘you have hissed the mystery lectures,’ rather than ‘you have missed the history lectures.’ This type of error is named after the Reverend Spooner (1844–1930), Warden of New College, Oxford, who was notoriously prone to this mistake. The term “Spoonerism”…

eggcorn

An eggcorn is a particular kind of language error. Once described as a “slip of the ear,” an eggcorn is the written version of a plausible mishearing of a usual phrase or word. The new phrase introduces a meaning that is different from the original, but plausible in the same context, such as “old-timers’ disease” for “Alzheimer’s disease.” And, for…

dressed to the nines

“To the nines” is an idiom meaning “to perfection” or “to the highest degree,” thus, “dressed to the nines” means to dress flamboyantly or smartly. Several theories link the origin of the phrase to clothing. One has it that tailors used nine yards of material to make a suit. But, however many yards of material might be used, that says…