Thursday, November 30, 2006


Words, Words, Words!

I have a love/hate relationship with words and phrases. Some are beautiful and communicate meanings exactly. Others are horrible and sound stupid. Here are some words and phrases that I either love or hate. See what you think.

“Ratched Up (Down)." - Stop it! Just stop it! This expression is so silly that even the damned broadcasters who use it often trip over it. “He needs to rachetetet up the pressure…” Just say increase. H

"Goes deep." - This is a terrible expression used by current baseball announcers. They use it to mean “He hit a home run!” It is absolutely misplaced. Hitters don’t go deep. Dr. Bob Ballard goes deep! H

Conundrum - There are three meanings to this word in Webster’s. There are actually just two, but Webster subdivided number 2 into a and b. That surely looks like a politician’s way of confusing the hell out of people by saying “I have two things to offer.” And then the pol actually subdivides his things and comes up with three. How does the pol justify doing that? Can he get away with it? I’m troubled by this. In fact, it’s a conundrum to me. L

Sesquipedalian - If you like to use big words to impress others, then you are a sesquiped (that’s “ses – qui - ped” you simpleton!). L

Payola - May it rest in peace. This word is never used anymore (or hardly ever). It is a contraction of the words “pay” and “Victrola.” The Victrola was a type of record player (what’s that?). Top disc jockeys were accused of accepting cash from record companies to promote certain records on the radio. It led to the downfall of the top DJ in the country in 1960, Alan Freed. L

Galoot - You got to love a word that describes such a person, a clumsy, awkward and/or uncouth type. Ya big galoot! L

Amok - It means a person on a murderous rampage. The word seems to have come home with European explorers in Malaysia. The native word was amouco, and the English gave it a twist resulting in “run amok.” L

Plethora - Have you ever had one? This is for us sophisticated folk who cannot just say “a whole bunch of…” We want to say, “There was a plethora of ideas.” It’s an excess or overabundance of something. Does this book contain a plethora of fun words? Or, maybe a whole bunch! L

"Happy as a clam." - Will it help to tell you that the entire phrase is “happy as a clam at high tide?” You see, nobody can dig up clams at high tide. Why else would a clam be happy? How would you know? Don’t worry. Be happy. L

"Over the top." - I’m somewhat ambivalent about this expression but I just cannot bring myself to use it. It’s so much easier to say “exaggerate” which means to distort through overstatement. Another meaning is “To increase or enlarge to an abnormal degree.” Isn’t that what people mean when they use the phrase “over the top?” It seems to me that “over the top” is a bit over the top. ?

"24-7" - There’s no charm to reciting a couple of numbers and assuming everyone knows what it means (they don’t). I prefer words to numbers. “Round the clock” is a phrase that makes me to conjure up an image of a large, circular (analog) clock with hands sweeping around in a continuous motion. Much better! H

"Wreak havok." - What else can we do with havok? We don’t make havok. We don’t do havok. We don’t have havok. We WREAK havok. I’m not sure exactly how one wreaks (I wreak. You wreak. He, she or it wreaks.). But when I do wreak I want it to be havok. L

I agree with your sentiments about some words and phrases. I have a great phrase and I just love the look on folks' faces when I use it...which isn't that often, but sometimes it really does have its place in life. Unfortunately, I can't say it here as you would kick me out! ;)

But it's something like this...."We're not here to #@$# spiders!" It always fits when no one is getting on with the job or situation at hand! Crazy, I know!
uh-oh! a man after my own heart, I love words and language too, and cringe at how it's used.

I've just finished doing a professional editing and proof-reading course, so now I can be a 'professional' pain in the neck.

I was pointing out a bad (grammatical) error in an email at work to one of my colleagues, and his response:

"Does it matter?"

sadly, no, not really!

Thanks for the expressions, good stuff!
Hi Steve, just popped in to say:

hope you are having a wonderful day, filled with peace and love ..

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