Nov 4 2016

Zerk

When I was growing up I remember hearing the term ‘grease zert,’ and I just assumed it was a made-up word. While my dad was skilled at a lot of things (drawing, aviation, mechanics,welding), he was not always known to handle the English language in a manner consistent with the generally agreed upon principles of usage (he once wrote the word ‘paided’ as a past tense for ‘pay’).

But it turns out that in this case he was pretty darn close:

images

See more of the etymology here at Merriam-Webster.

Pic borrowed from Currie Enterprises.

 

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Jan 30 2016

Twee

A British pejorative meaning overly quaint, dainty, cute or nice. The word comes from a childish pronunciation of ‘sweet.’

“Those Beatrix Potter animals are a little twee for my taste.”

See more at wiktionary.

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May 12 2015

Fremdschämen

fremdschämen (German). “This is what occurs when you are embarrassed for someone who ought to be embarrassed for himself, but isn’t.”

From Douglas Wilson, Whose Ox Is Being Sued

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Mar 27 2015

Literally literally does not mean literally

“Update: Graham’s spokesperson has clarified to Bloomberg that when Graham said “I would literally use the military to keep them in if I had to,” that statement was “not to be taken literally.” Glad that’s been cleared up.”

–from Vox.com’s article about Lindsey Graham. They don’t say it, but people who don’t understand what literally literally means literally should not be in public office. Literally.

via One Foot Tsunami

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Feb 23 2015

Boobam

“The name boobam was coined in Mill Valley, California in 1954 and was described as “bamboo spelled sideways”.”

–from the Wikipedia article on the awesomely named instrument.

Update: I was reviewing my blog posts and figured I ought to clarify the pronunciation of this instrument. It should be pronounced like too separate words, with the stress on the first: Boo Bam.

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Feb 15 2015

The MadMania Podcast: Episode 1

In this, our no-doubt awesome inaugural episode my daughter, Elsa, and I discuss words: the good, the bad, and the German. Also our favorite diseases, and why you should definitely go into heavy metal.

 

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Jan 21 2015

Supercalawhatever

“Supercalafragilisticexpialidocious, even though the sound of it is something quite atrocious”

It takes a bold lyricist to admit when his song is obnoxious in the very lyrics of said song.

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May 7 2014

ultima Thule

“The term ultima Thule in medieval geographies denotes any distant place located beyond the ‘borders of the known world’.”

Link to the Wikipedia article.

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Jan 13 2014

Rozzers

n., British slang term for the police. If you watch Top Gear U.K., you have likely heard James May use this term several times, as in ‘The rozzers are behind me.’

“From ‘Robert’, after Sir Robert Peel (1788–1850), commonly considered the father of modern policing, and who established the Metropolitan Police Force in London (1829). More commonly used in comedy TV and Film.”

Definition taken from this surprisingly thorough list of Wikipedia’s List of Police Related Slang Terms.

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Dec 22 2013

Profound

I had never heard this word used as a verb until recently. I was in a small group discussing Facebook. Most of us mentioned that we tended to read posts from people who posted very little. One woman, whom I admire, said she skips posts where the same user is just reposting all of the stuff they had been surfing.

“I’m not going to take the time to read 12 things you’re gonna profound my day with.”

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