catch-22

A catch-22 is frustrating situation in which the attempt to escape makes escape impossible, a situation in which the desired outcome is impossible to attain because of a set of inherently illogical rules or conditions.  You could also describe it as: ‘damned if you do and damned if you don’t.’ Or, perhaps, ‘heads I win, tails you lose.’ Along with…

third degree

This phrase has several meanings. For mystery readers, it means long and intense questioning by police to obtain information or a confession. For the medical profession, it refers to burns of the most severe kind, affecting tissue below the skin. For lawyers, it means the least serious category of a crime, especially murder. The ‘third degree’ is sometimes a euphemism…

jury-rigged

Briefly, jury-rigged means something was assembled or repaired quickly with the materials on hand. Jerry-built means it was cheaply built. Jerry-rigged is a combination of these two words. Jerry-rigged is a relatively new word. Many people consider it to be an incorrect version of jury-rigged, but it’s widely used in everyday speech. Although ‘jury-rigged’ is rooted in the nautical world,…

gild the lily

The Oxford English Dictionary has this definition: “to paint (or to gild) the lily: to embellish excessively, to add ornament where none is needed.” The phrase is a misquotation from Shakespeare’s King John (1595): Therefore, to be possess’d with double pomp, To guard a title that was rich before, To gild refined gold, to paint the lily, To throw a…

Correction on Free Ebooks

I posted the wrong URL for Smashwords’ catalogue of free or reduced-in-price books. Sorry about that. The correct URL is here.  You’ve still got until midnight Sunday to take advantage of discounted books!  

whippersnapper

A young, insignificant, and inexperienced person considered to be presumptuous, impertinent, or overconfident. We don’t often hear the term ‘whippersnapper’ in conversation now, and my memory of it is probably from the movies, where some grumpy old man complained about young whippersnappers who didn’t know how to behave themselves. The word comes originally from idle young men in the habit…

Free Books!

If you haven’t tried ebooks before, now is the time! At one minute past midnight Pacific time on March 4, the special Smashwords Read an Ebook Week promotion catalog goes live on the Smashwords home page. You can browse the catalog and search by coupon code levels as well as categories. After 11:59pm Pacific time on March 10, the catalog…