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.

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Het up — angry, agitated, highly excited. “Het” is a short form of “heated” and has been used that way since the 1300s. As odd as it may sound, similar forms are standard with some other verbs, such as “meet” (met), “feed” (fed), and “lead” (led).

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Googol — a number consisting of the digit 1 followed by 100 zeroes. The term was coined in 1920 by 9-year-old Milton Sirotta, nephew of mathematician Edward Kasner. Kasner popularized the concept in his 1940 book Mathematics and the Imagination. It is useful when comparing with other very large quantities such as the number of subatomic particles in the visible universe or the number of hypothetical possibilities in a chess game. The name “Google” is an accidental misspelling of “googol” by the company’s founders, to signify that the search engine was intended to provide large quantities of information.

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Hanky-panky — trickery or double dealing. (1841) More recently, it’s come to mean sexual shenanigans. This is one of those nonsense terms that was just made up with an attractive alliteration or rhyme, like “the bee’s knees.” The words themselves have no inherent meaning.

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  One thought on “the tenth word herd

  1. Wendy
    July 28, 2021 at 9:05 am

    Hi! I enjoy your explanations very much.
    Have you done ” going to hell in a hand basket”?
    If so, i have missed it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • July 28, 2021 at 12:37 pm

      Thank you! Yes, I did “going to hell in a handbasket.” On the blog page, under Archives on the right hand side, click on October, 2017. Hope you enjoy!

      Like

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