Month: October 2021

crackpot

A “crackpot” is a person with illogical, senseless, or wild ideas; an eccentric, a crank. Some people might assume the word is related to drugs because crack and pot are both slang words for different drugs. However, it is actually is quite old and comes from another source entirely. It developed from the combination of cracked and pot, and their…

dibs

The Oxford English Dictionary lists the following meanings of the word dibs: —A game played by children (also called dibbs, or dibstones) with pebbles or the knucklebones of sheep; also the name of the play pieces (late 1600s) —A children’s word to make first claim on something (1907) —A counter used in card games as a substitute for money —A…

October word herd

Lose face — to be humiliated, to lose one’s reputation, to suffer public disgrace. In this context, “face” means: prestige, dignity, honor, respect, status. It could be also defined as how one appears, or wishes to appear, to friends, family, and business associates. The phrase “lose face” began as a translation of the Chinese phrase tiu lien. To “save face”…

doggerel

“Doggerel” is poetry irregular in rhythm and in rhyme, often deliberately for comic effect. Alternatively, it can mean verse which has a monotonous rhythm, easy rhyme, and trivial meaning. The word is derived from the Middle English dogerel, meaning nonsense and probably related to the idea of something only fit for a dog. In English it has been used as…

chew the scenery

“Chew the scenery” means to overact, or be melodramatic. In other words, “ham it up.” Brewer’s Twentieth Century Phrase and Fable says the phrase was invented by the New York columnist and wit Dorothy Parker in one of her scathing reviews around 1930. But it’s older than that. There is a much earlier example in the Rocky Mountain News of…

chitchat

“Chat” is casual small talk or gossip. “Chitchat” is the same, for it’s simply a reduplication of chat. It’s something humans obviously love to do because it has so many synonyms. Here are a few: cackle, chin music, chin wag, gab, gossip, jangle, jaw, palaver, patter, rap, schmooze, small talk, chatter, natter, and yatter. “Chatter” has been in use as…