You Didn’t Really Mean That

Dictionary

Words and phrases that don’t mean what you think they do

The truth about fireflies

Starting with the insects: Fireflies are not flies but flying beetles with luminous tails, and glow-worms are closely related to them, being the larvae of four different kinds of luminescent beetles (but flightless ones).

Serious sea creatures

Misnomers abound in the ocean too: starfish aren’t fish at all; they’re echinoderms, boneless creatures with a hard outer shell, like sea urchins and sand dollars. And jellyfish aren’t fish either; they’re cnidarians—the perfect otherworldly name for these gelatinous alien forms with drifting tentacles. On the other hand, electric eels apparently really are fish—they’re close relatives of boring old varieties like carp and catfish.

Guinea pigs

I can’t possibly name all the misnamed animals further up the food chain. But here are a few favorites: Neither flying foxes nor flying squirrels fly; they hop and glide instead. Guinea pigs are neither pigs nor from Guinea; they’re rodents that originated in the Andes where they’re considered a delicacy (yep, they’re food in Peru). The cuddly koala bear, symbol of Australia is not only not a bear, it’s a marsupial. Mountain goats are actually antelopes. But sometimes scientists do change their minds about this stuff: until recently the giant panda was considered a relative of the raccoon, but now researchers have placed it back in the bear family.

Faux chocolate

In the man-made category, white chocolate isn’t chocolate at all; it’s mainly flavored cocoa butter and cream. But head cheese has nothing to do with milk products; it’s made of chopped pork or beef scraps in an aspic jelly.

In the international food hall

Then there’s the question of where foods are from. French fries are probably from 17th century Belgium. Recipes for French toast is first recorded in the Middle Ages, well before there was a France, and the French themselves call it ‘pain perdu’ or lost bread—probably because it’s a good way to use up those stale scraps which would otherwise be lost. Jerusalem artichokes are neither artichokes nor from Jerusalem. They proliferate everywhere from Canada to Florida, but nowhere near the Middle East. Some say the name is derived from ‘girasole,’ or sunflower in Italian. German chocolate cake is reportedly from 19th century America, invented by a man with the last name German. And Danish pastries are actually Austrian in origin.

Giving credit where it’s not due

Pythagoras was by no means the first to come up with the theorem that allows us to solve for the sides of a right triangle: the Babylonians, ancient Egyptians, Chinese, and Indians all recorded their own versions of it hundreds of years before him. Chinese checkers are neither checkers nor from China; they were invented in Germany in the late 19th century. Authentic Panama hats are made in Ecuador but were first marketed and sold in Panama. And Arabic numerals were first used in India.

Hitting the right note

Musical misnomers form their own small special category: Both the French horn and the English horn are really variants of the German horn. The name Jews harp is a corruption of ‘jaws harp,’ since the instrument is gripped between the teeth while being played. Violin strings are known as catgut but they’re really made from the intestines of sheep.

Islands in the stream

America has no monopoly on misleading names. For example, London’s Isle of Dogs isn’t really an island; it’s a spit of land jutting out into the Thames and surrounded by water on three sides. The Canary Islands do have lots of canaries but they also once had a lot of wild dogs, so the name is actually a corruption of canis, meaning dog in Latin.

A question of numbers

The Thousand Days’ War in Colombia was 1,130 days long. The Hundred Years’ War between England and France went on for 116 years. And there are 1,864 islands in the Thousand Islands archipelago along the U.S.-Canadian border. But the Thirty Years’ War in central Europe really did only last 30 years.

Close but no cigar

Lastly, I just can’t leave out our favorite misnomer: however hard you may howl when you hit it, your funny bone is the ulnar nerve, not a bone.

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2017 A To Z Challenge – L

Challenge2017

Look out!  This is going to be one

letter-l

of a post.

Now listen, you lot.  Don’t start ladling out blame, and labeling me a lax lout, or a lazy lump, who should have got the lead out, and composed a better post for the letter L.

I have my linguistic limits.  I’ve been lying around on the porch lanai of a little cabin by the lake, and it got too late.  I’ll tell you no lies; I bet you hoped there’d be none of these loopy posts this year.

Well, you’re lucky.  This should be the last.  I wish to leave you laughing, and look forward to seeing you here again, later.   LOL   😆

Smitty’s Loose Change #6

Beer

Hey, Alcohol!
We had a deal where you made me smarter, funnier, and a better dancer.
I’ve seen the video.
We need to talk.

***

MOODY CONTEMPLATION

Between the eyes and ears there lie
The sounds of color
And the light of a sigh
With thoughts of within
To exclude the without
The ghost of a thought
Will exclude all doubt
And to name this thought
Is important to some
So they gave it a word
And the word is
OM’.

***
My boss told me to have a nice day….so I went home.

***

We suffered a home invasion recently. Fortunately, it was a stupid benign one.  After the son came home from his midnight shift, he stayed up a bit later than usual.  He always locks the front door as he comes in.  The wife got up a bit earlier than usual to take a shower, to go out.  Between the water running, and the two of them talking in the hall, I came awake.

Suddenly, I could hear the wife talking to someone else, and got out of bed to see what was going on. Halfway down the stairs in her nightie, suddenly she heard some woman’s voice shouting out, “Adeline!  Adeline, are you here?  I’ve come to visit.  Adeline, can you hear me?”

The wife shouted, “There’s no Adeline here! Get out!  Get Out!” and the son came roaring out of his bedroom.  Later, he bitched, “The one morning I forget to lock the door…!” The woman responded, “Isn’t this number 238?”  Does Adeline drive a new Kia Sorento with custom ‘ARCHON’ plates?  Does she live in a house with 4-inch brass numbers, 232, on the corner of the garage that you just passed?

I’d almost suspect an all-you-can-quickly-lift-and-walk out-with burglary buffet if she hadn’t been challenged. It’s difficult to imagine anyone that dumb, but then, the only infinite things are the Universe, and stupidity….and I’m not sure about the Universe.

***

America – a pre-existing condition in need of constant reassurance.
Belief – The idea that feelings equate to reality.  (See Truth)
God – Head of a US based Multinational Corporation which invests in social networking applications, web based communications technology, and merit based wish fulfillment.  (See Mark Zuckerberg).
Truth – Any knowledge, information, or ideas not yet deemed as “fake”.
Zuckerberg, Mark – Senior Pastor, First Church of Facebook (see God).

***

All writers have a little voice inside their head, one that doesn’t say, write a bestseller, or, sell lots of books.  It simply whispers to them to write every day.  If listened to, the voice will go silent.  If ignored, the urge will never relent.  Writing frees your soul, and allows your imagination to wander.

***

I took the daughter shopping the other day. We went to the refrigerated section of a major supermarket chain, looking for OJ and chocolate milk. As I walked past the big, chilled display of eggs, I realized that it was clucking at me. Apparently the store has hidden a speaker behind the display, and trip-switches on the glass doors has it burbling, “Bock-bock-bock-bock, bock-bock-bock.” I was afraid to go near the milk aisle. Moo, moo, moo???….or the ground pork.   🙄

 

WOW #16

Beer Can

The Word Of the Week, if you can remember it when you sober up, is

Cannikin

Definitions for cannikin

a small can or drinking cup.
a small wooden bucket.

Origin of cannikin

Cannikin comes from Middle Dutch cannekijn, Dutch kanneken “small can.” The cann-, kann- element comes Middle Dutch kanne, Dutch kan, and is closely related to German Kanne, Old Norse kanna, Old English canne, and English can, all from Germanic kanna meaning “tankard, container, can.” It is possible that this Germanic word is a borrowing from Latin canna “reed, reed pipe, flute, cane,” which itself has a very long history going back through Greek kánna “reed, cane” to Semitic, e.g. Assyrian qanū “reed.” Nouns ending in the diminutive suffix -kin are not common in English, and most of those (e.g., catkin, gherkin, firkin, manikin) are of Dutch origin and date from the mid-16th and mid-17th centuries. Dutch -kin is related to German -chen, as in Liebchen “sweetheart” or Häuschen “little house, cottage.” Cannikin entered English in the mid-16th century.

Now that you’ve learned more English word-history than you really wanted, this post is about the different ways that Americans and Canadians buy beer, and go about getting drunk, soused, high, pissed, lit….etc., etc. English has a seeming infinity of words to describe intoxication,

If a Canadian, or at least one from Ontario, wants to buy beer, he buys a case – 24 beer at a time, and usually in bottles. Based on very limited personal research, mostly in New York State, Florida, Ohio and Michigan, I find that most Americans don’t buy beer by the case.  Even when they purchase 24 at a time, they get them in 4 sissysix-packs.  Damned amateurs, no real commitment.  At least most of them don’t drink it with a straw.

Canned beer generally outsells bottled. They don’t break when you drunkenly accidently drop one at a tail-gate party or Barbecue, and they won’t flatten your ATV’s tires later, when you fling them out your pickup’s windows.  When you’re fishing and drinking, be kind to the environment.  Don’t just toss the empties out of the boat.  Fill them with water, and sink them to the bottom.

Mind your Ps and Qs.  The British still drink beer by the 20 oz. pints and 40 oz.quarts.  It’s getting better, but quarts don’t get warm while you drink them, because much of the beer they serve is still unrefrigerated.  If any of you Americans want to see how beer is really drunk (and the patrons are really drunk, too) c’mon up to Kitchener during our Oktoberfest, and watch it guzzled from one-liter (wimpy 32 oz.American quart) steins.  The beer has a head tonight.  You’ll have a head tomorrow.

Hans Haus

WOW #18

Fog

Just as the Gerry Seinfeld TV series was a show about nothing, so too, here is a word which is really also about nothing. The Word Of the Week is

ANOESIS

Definition for anoesis
a state of mind consisting of pure sensation or emotion without cognitive content.

And so, we have a word to describe the newly elected President of the United States, the all-powerful, Commander in Chief, Humpty-Dumpty Donald Trump….and most of the fools people who voted the fool into office.

It’s like Cassius Clay….uh, Mohammed Ali is back – “I am the Greatest!”  All feeling, all the time – no thinking.  No tact – no diplomacy – no restraint – no social graces – no executive ability – no plans, except that foggy, feel-good ‘Make America Great.’

It’s a shame that the Barnum and Bailey Circus has disbanded. As a Chief Executive….he’d make a great clown.  I just hope that, when I hear him say, “You’re fired.” he’s talking to Anthony Scaramucci, not the red ICBM launch button that he’s going to use, to teach Russia or North Korea a lesson.

Maybe I should use some anoesis, and just sit back and feel good, without thinking or worrying about what’s going wrong. Maybe not though.  There’s another ‘A’ word to describe people like that.  It’s ‘Asshole!’ 😯

***

And just to flesh out an otherwise anorexic little post – I’d like to mention that this one is another small milestone.  It is my 800th published blog.  My many thanks to all of you who have made it possible.   😀   😎   🌯

WOW #15

Leftovers

MMM, leftovers

I recently encountered a very strange word (don’t ask how) that had me scratching my head. It is as awesome as it is mystifying. The word I’m talking about is, wait for it…

Tittynope.

Yes, you read that correctly. Tittynope. It is defined on the Merriam-Webster website as: a small amount of anything that is left over. From what I’ve gathered, it’s mostly just applicable to food, similar to the word ‘Ort’. So that leftover chicken from last night, that’s sitting in your refrigerator? That’s tittynope. You have tittynope in your fridge. Don’t you just hate when your mom serves tittynope for dinner? As you can tell, it’s really fun to use in context, especially when your 11-year-old male mind runs free.

“Excuse me, waiter, may I have a box for my tittynope?” Next time you’re at a restaurant, try that and watch your waiter or waitress’s facial expression. If they are dedicated enough to their job and too polite to ask what that is, they may just go looking around the restaurant for some kind of nipple container, probably not though. They will likely just call you a pig, but still, it’s worth a try.

My biggest question about this word is, where the Hell did it originate from? M-W doesn’t give word history, and Dictionary.com hasn’t heard of it. What was the situation that created this word?

I can just imagine some guy eating a pizza, and after he finishes, there is a little piece of leftover pepperoni on his plate.
His friend then walks up, out of the blue, and asks:  “Hey, is that a titty?”
And then the guy who ate the pizza goes:  “Nope.”
Then the other friend thinks to himself:  Hmm, Tittynope.

Then, boom, leftover food regularly starts getting called tittynope, and somehow this word makes it all the way into the dictionary. Although, I’ve never met anyone who actually knew the meaning of it, or has even heard of it for that matter. So, I am going to try to change that, one use of the word at a time.

All this writing has made me hungry for a little snack, and I can see that my friend has some tittynope on his plate. Anyway, you should be ashamed of what you’ve been thinking.   😉

 

The Queen’s English

Queen

The Queen’s English.
Yes, I’ve heard that about her!  😆

If only more of the English people would speak the English language. Some of them think that, if a word is good enough to be said once, it should be slightly changed and said twice.  Sometimes this doubling-up is done to emphasize the meaning, but I am sure that sometimes it is done just to confuse those who don’t speak the local dialect.

It has brought us a bunch of word-pairs like; holus-bolus, okie-dokie, hurdy-gurdy, hunky-dory, hurly-burly, lovey-dovey, argy-bargy, hinky-dinky, rinky-dinky, hanky-panky, razzle-dazzle, willy-nilly, fuzzy-wuzzy, namby-pamby, itsy-bitsy, (t)eensy-weensy, (t)eeny-weeny, higgledy-piggledy, mumbo-jumbo, roly-poly, and tittle-tattle.

Cuckoo Clock

Why ‘Tock-Tick’ does not sound right, to your ear

Have you ever wondered why we say tick-tock, not tock-tick, or ding-dong, not dong-ding; King Kong, not Kong King?  It turns out that it is one of the unwritten rules of English that native speakers know, without even knowing.

The rule, explains a BBC article, is; “If there are three words, then the order has to go I, A, O. If there are two words, then the first is I, and the second is either A or O.”  Mish-mash, chit-chat, dilly-dally, shilly-shally, tip top, hip-hop, flip-flop, Tic Tac, sing-song, ding-dong, King Kong, ping-pong.

There’s another unwritten rule at work in the name Little Red Riding Hood, says the article. Articles in English absolutely have to be in this order: opinion, size, age, color, origin, material, purpose, noun.  So, you can have a lovely, little, old, rectangular, green, French, silver, whittling knife.  If you tamper with that word order in the slightest, you sound like a maniac.

That explains why we say “little green men”, and not “green little men,” but “Big Bad Wolf” sounds like a gross violation of the “opinion (bad)- size (big)- noun (wolf) order. It isn’t though, if you recall the first rule about the I-A-O order.

That rule seems inviolable. “All four of a horse’s feet make exactly the same sound, but we always say clip-clop, never clop-clip.”  This rule even has a technical name, if you care to know about it – the rule of ablaut reduplication – but then life is simpler knowing that we know the rule, without knowing it.

Play it by ear.
If a word sequence sounds wrong, it probably is wrong.