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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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.

WOW #13

Grumpy Old Dude

Okay, I don’t mind when Dictionary.com gives Donald Trump a hard time. He deserves it.  I take strong exception, though, when they start to insult me.  This week, they chose the word:

Cantankerous

Definitions for cantankerous disagreeable to deal with; contentious; peevish: a cantankerous, argumentative man.

Origin of cantankerous

1765-1775

Cantankerous seems as apt in sound and meaning as honk or boom. One earlier spelling of the word is contankerous, which suggests its development from Middle English contak, conteke “quarrel, disagreement,” from which are formed contecker, contekour “one who causes dissension.” An unattested adjective conteckerous, contakerous could have been formed on the models of traitorous or rancorous or contentious. Cantankerous entered English in the 18th century.

* Standards

I don’t feel that it’s nice for them to describe me as difficult to deal with, or contentious. I am easily pleased. I will happily accept perfection. I also think that it was unnecessary to claim that I am peevish. I may have a few (okay, a bunch of) pet peeves. I have raised them from kittens, until now, they can eat raw meat.

The son works a midnight shift, driving to work late in the evening, and coming home early in the morning, on nearly abandoned streets. When he occasionally has to accompany me somewhere during the day, and watches me pilot through volume of traffic, and the vehicular antics of Kitchener’s ‘So, You Think You Can Drive,’ he has been known to declare, “I hate people!”

I don’t hate everybody. I don’t know everybody. I certainly don’t hate anyone who comes to this site and reads my screeds, so you guys are all safe.

Thor

WOW #12

The Word Of this Week is

green-collar

Definitions for green-collar

noting or pertaining to workers, jobs, or businesses that are involved in protecting the environment or solving environmental problems.

a green-collar worker. Also, green collar.

Origin of green-collar

1990-1995

Green-collar entered English in the early 1990s. It’s based on the model of blue-collar and white-collar, with the green element coming from the sense “environmentally sound or beneficial.”

See also; boondoggle, porkbarreling, social engineering, featherbedding,

While most of the words in the English language are hundreds, or thousands of years old, it is interesting to see technology cause the invention of new ones within our lifetimes.

I am all for green energy, and saving the planet – BUT….let the politicians get their hands on it, and we’re all fu….bar-ed.  About 5 years ago, I wrote of having to pay for the privilege of being one of the first users in Ontario to have a time-of-usage, smart electrical meter installed.

Ontario was having brown-outs. We were right at the edge, between generation capacity and usage.  We were told not to do laundry, or run our dishwashers during the day.  Wait till night-time, when industrial usage goes down, pay less per KwH, and Conserve, Conserve, Conserve!

We conserved….and the total income of Ontario Hydro went down, and the big bosses’ pay and bonuses were in jeopardy, so they raised the rates. With higher rates, we learned to use even less….and the total income dropped, so they raised the rates again, and ended the time-of-use difference.

A couple of nuclear stations, and hydro plants like Niagara were being upgraded. With reduced cash flow, soon a large debt built up.  The bosses added a ‘debt reduction charge’ to our bills.  I pay an extra $10/mo.  It was ‘temporary,’ like that 100-year-old temporary Income Tax.  5 years later, the debt is retired, but still we pay.  To cover the costs of their own inefficiency, the bosses added a ‘power distribution charge’ to our bills.  I pay another, extra $30/mo. whether electricity flows, or not, as owners of cottages and cabins which are closed-up for six months have found.

Wind Turbine

Desperate to look like they were solving a problem, the Provincial Government signed 25 year contracts for Green Energy. The wind turbines and fields full of solar panels that I also wrote about 5 years ago, were just the beginning.

Since then, the Government has forced the towers into dozens of locations where they are not wanted – and may be dangerous. Often placed so close to housing subdivisions or farm buildings that, if they fell, they’d just miss houses or barns, they continue to grind on.  They produce ground-conducted sub-sonic vibrations which cause headaches, nausea, and vertigo in many people and animals.

Ignoring the wasteful bureaucratic administration costs, nukes can produce power at about 4 cents/KwH. Water can do it for about 5 cents.  Solar and wind power costs us almost 25 cents/KwH.  The nukes and Niagara are back, running at increased capacity.  We are now awash in a sea of abundant electricity.  Having learned to conserve, we now have so much unused electric power that we sell off the excess, including the expensive green, to Quebec and the US for 3.5 cents/KwH!

In the last ten years, the cost of electricity in Ontario has risen by 50%, bankrupting or closing many small businesses, and causing larger ones to move where power is cheaper. It was a strong deciding factor which caused the closing of my last employer.  Gee, thanks politicians – not!

Going Green may be the way to save the planet, but if it’s happening near you, keep one hand on your wallet, and the other on your ballot. Keep the Pols away from it.  I know that private corporations have to make money, but too many Governments waste, lose or just throw our money away.

Well Said – Poorly Written

Grammar Nazi

Another list of things that went into people’s ears, but not through their brains, before they fell back out onto paper, or the computer screen.

PROS

the power of the social medias medium is singular, media is plural, medias is illiterate, stupid, and lazy

the ship was healing over – It needed a bandage, because Clive Cussler’s ghost writer doesn’t know about ships heeling

thats also okey – That’s not okay, how did they manage to screw that one up -twice?

Causal Elegance Sheets – with a casual name misspelling

The ‘author of several books’, wouldn’t hard a fly – but I am hurt

all and all, it seems – all in all, it seems as if you don’t know English very well.

Served up by my friend Ted, at SightsNBytes, a big slice of lemon morang pie – from the moron who printed the local diner’s menu.

From a teacher, seeking a position to teach other teachers how to teach English as a first language to elementary school students – My withdrawl of the application …  I gibed her that, unless she lives in the Deep South, she should teach it as ‘withdrawal.’  She laughingly replied, “I’m from Georgia, but thanks, I’ll fix that.”

and nary the twain shall meet – Don’t misquote, and never use nary, (none) to mean never.

in which six men were shot and killed in the back while they prayed – What an awkward construction. ‘Killed in the back’, of what, a van? their mosque? How about, ‘shot in the back and killed?’

Francis Bacon, Thomas Sprat and Isaac Newton were one of the first most influential leaders of the Royal Society; – Oh!!?  That’s just painful!

The muezzin’s call to workshop – I don’t worship autocorrect, but I do, proofreading.

‘Ambassador’ Sarah Palin would sure livin’ up Canada’s capital – And I could liven up an editorial meeting by swatting this headline writer with a copy of his own rolled-up newspaper.

wants to put the Genie back in the bottle, and he wishes he had left the bottle uncorked – Janus actually probably wishes that he had left the bottle either corked, or unopened

This plane was an enemies worst – No, an enemy’s worst fear was the single possessive.

Marine commandment condemns nude photosharing – and I’ll bet that the Commandant was pissed, too.

salads galore (greek, ceaser, garden mix) – Render unto Caesar, his salads – and capitalize them!

SNARK – Used as a verb, Dictionary.com cites the word ‘snark’ as a mysterious, imaginary animal.  (Who knew?)  Use it as a noun to refer to rude or sarcastic criticism.
Snark – a mysterious, imaginary animal (a person, place or thing), is a noun.
To use it to rudely or sarcastically criticize, is an action – a verb.  And the people who are supposed to know everything about words, get it exactly upside-down.   😳

AMATEURS

our marry little band of outlaws – If they’re married, our merry little band are in-laws, not outlaws.

beyond the soller system – Somewhere in the solar system, Gene Roddenberry’s ashes are rolling over in orbit.

Canada is the world’s number one air polluter. I could go on and on ad nozium – I could go on and on, ad nauseam, about ‘alternative facts.’  Canada isn’t even in the top ten polluters, oil sands or not!

don’t feel any embracement – You should feel embarrassment that you can’t spell it.

bury the whole sorted mess – This lack of dictionaries is a sordid mess.

in the time of the ancient pharos – Did the word pharaohs look like that when (if) you read it?

a little store bot deli meat – Ya coulda bought a dictionary.

(Poem title) The Word’s He Spoken – The words (s)he got wrong….2 out of 4

milk, eggs, lard, bannans – I go bananas when I see monkeys people who can’t even spell the food they eat.

Some days will just stay in the house – where we’ll study a grammar text

though the exterior belays this – belay that garbage! The word is belies! be lies!

a guy side swapped my Excursion – Single word! Sideswiped

I’ll pay your way once and awhile once in a while, know what you’re talking about

Trump has put a band on immigration – It was the one that played at his inauguration.

I hung around with a cliché of my friends – high school cliques are so cliché.

death from potato salid – Must be homemade. Store-bought salad has properly-spelled labels.

Just bud in front of people – Well, little flower, you’ve discovered another way to hide your butt.

a final preface – for a pre-recorded, live program? For those who wonder, I believe he meant ‘presentation.’ A preface is at the beginning, not item number 5 of an extended-rant blog-post.

from time immortal – The phrase is ‘time immemorial,’ so far back that no-one can remember. Of course ‘time’ is immortal, although a lot of people try to kill time.

Equivalent awareness is actually being shown to your garden to boost becoming up to they typically do with the indoor areas in their home. W! T! F! I know the meaning of every word, but haven’t a clue what this guy was writing about.

CROSSWORDS

Shadowbox = spar This is like sex. It’s the difference between masturbation and intercourse.  It depends on how many people are present.  Shadowbox is one.  Spar is two.