Month: July 2021

the tenth word herd

Guff — trivial, worthless, or insolent talk or ideas, nonsense. The word was once used in English and Scots to mean a puff or a whiff of bad smell. A Canadianism I’m familiar with is “no guff ” which is (1) a declaration of truthfulness or  (2) an expression of mock surprise at a statement. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Het up — angry,…

neither fish, nor flesh, nor good red herring

This phrase refers to a person or an object that does not belong to a definite class or category. The original meaning, now obsolete, was that such a person or object was unfit for any purpose. I heard my parents use this phrase in its obsolete sense, but it was worded as, “neither fish, nor fowl, nor good red herring.”…

diddly-squat

“Diddly-squat” is a small or worthless amount, or nothing. Example: “She didn’t care diddly-squat about Darryl.” The word “diddly” itself means “a thing of little or no value, or a flaw, a malfunction.” The word “squat” is “used as a euphemism for ‘shit,’ which comes from the act of squatting in order to defecate. In more direct but less polite…

lexophile

“Lexophile” is not found in the Oxford English Dictionary nor in several other standard dictionaries. So, is it a “real” word, or about to become one? Wiktionary does list it as, “a lover of words especially in word games, puzzles, anagrams, palindromes, etc.” (From Greek lex for word, and phile for loving.) The current standard word for a lover of…

fight fire with fire

If you “fight fire with fire,” you respond to an attack by using similar methods to those of the attacker. In other words, match aggression with aggression. Meet violence with violence. Take an eye for an eye. But the phrase is normally used for the controlled burns and backfires that wildlife managers use to burn fuel that could potentially feed…

abracadabra

“Abracadabra” is a word used in stage magic tricks, the implication being that a mysterious power is being summoned to perform the magic. Now that we can look up how to perform almost any magic stunt, we don’t seriously believe in magic. However, that was not the case in ages past. The origin of the word is not known. One…

Short Stack Five

Chicanery — deception, trickery, sharp practice Fine fettle — in good order or condition, healthy Johnny on the spot — someone ready and available when needed (1896) Klutz — clumsy person, blockhead, from Yiddish klots “wooden block”  (1930s) Lardy-dardy — excessively elegant, langidly and affectedly dandyish (UK slang) Monkey business — frivolous or mischievous behavior, trickery Much of a muchness…

jumping the shark

“Jumping the shark” is the moment when a significant change occurs in an established long-running TV series. This can range from something as small as a new gimmick to something that totally changes the show, like a shift in the genre itself. This usually happens because the writers feel that the show must be updated in order to stay fresh.…