Archive for words

Video Overnight Thread- How Do You Say...


Totally fascinating. Having spent part of my childhood up in N Indiana and part in S Florida I would see this firsthand all the time. Coke/Soda/Pop would totally mess me up. Via Sullivan.


The Times And Words Have Changed



Etymology -- the study of word origins.  It's interesting how word usages have changed over the years and new phrases, words or expressions have come into colloquial usage out of the old. Cool. Chill. Psyched'. These are words which meant something totally different than when they were initially used.

As quickly as some come in, others go out, Sputnik, bee's knees, cat's meow. Try using those on a Millennial and see how much head scratching goes on.

Technology has added to our vocabularies as well: snail mail, USB, Tweet.We communicate in shorthand too. Who hasn't used TTYL,  NSFW, ROFL? NE1?

I'm working on a screenplay that is a period piece, from the '60s. So, I needed to immerse myself in a bit a research about words and slang of the time. And there were a lot of words used there that if I used them today, Laffy would surely get on my case and caution me to be careful. That word or phrase might offend. And she would be right. But sometimes knowing how something came into being allows you to understand why today they're PI (Politically Incorrect - Thank you Bill Maher) and maybe 50 years ago that term wasn't considered offensive.

So I thought I'd share some basic etymology with you, from my research for the upcoming film. I have to thank Huffpo for bringing some of these to me.


Whether referring to a person or to a lifestyle, using "ghetto" as an adjective is meant to indicate "low class," and along with it, obvious racist origins. Aware or not, the user is essentially implying that minorities are low class.

Peanut Gallery:

A home for hecklers," usually used in a joking manner -- what comedian hasn't asked an unruly audience to keep it down in the peanut gallery?) Formerly though it referred to the upper balconies where African-American people sat in in segregated theaters.

Hip hip hooray:

Boy, I hadn't seen this one coming. It's derived from the German "hep hep," which was originally a shepherds' herding cry, so the origin itself was not racially charged. However, during the Holocaust, German citizens began using it as a rallying cry while hunting for Jewish people in the ghettoes. (see,that word ghetto again, but this time as a noun.)

Call a spade a spade:

It just depends on the era in which you used this. The phrase, essentially meaning "to explicitly call something by its rightful name," entered the English language way back in 1542, (no, I can't remember what day or month) and initially had absolutely no racial connotation whatsoever (that I do remember).

It wasn't until the late 1920s that "spade" changed from referring to the gardening tool to being a slur towards African-Americans (its first public appearance as such was in Claude McKay's 1928 book "Home to Harlem").

He Gypped Me:

The word "gyp" now means "to cheat or swindle." It is essentially a condensing of the word "gypsies," who throughout history have been stereotyped as a group that cheats and swindles people.

And finally one I'm sure I used as a kid and surely would not use the same way now:


A common utterance to indicate someone was light, breezy, fun and exciting. Though it may still mean that to some from older generations, it, like Virginia Slims, has come a long way, baby.


Similar Words, Different Meanings


words have power

I'm looking for two six-letter words, they both start with "I" and end with "T" but what's in the middle couldn't be more different than night and day.

If you guessed any of these, according to similar words, you're good:

idlest, illest, imaret, impart, import, impost, incant,
incent, incept, incest, incult, indent, indict, induct, indult,
infant, infect, infest, ingest, inject, inkjet, inkpot, inmost,
insect, insert, insist, insult, intact, intort, intuit,
invent, invert, invest, irrupt

But the two I'm looking for are Intent vs. Impact. There's a terrific example of the difference in Everyday Feminism.

Frisbee in the park

Imagine for a moment that you’re standing with your friends in a park, enjoying a nice summer day.

You don’t know me, but I walk right up to you holding a Frisbee. I wind up – and throw the disc right into your face.

Understandably, you are indignant. Through a bloody nose, you use a few choice words to ask me what the hell I thought I was doing.

And my response? “Oh, I didn’t mean to hit you! That was never my intent! I was simply trying to throw the Frisbee to my friend over there!”

Visibly upset, you demand an apology. But I refuse. Or worse, I offer an apology that sounds like “I’m sorry your face got in the way of my Frisbee! I never intended to hit you.”

Now think Paula Dean. Think Michael Richards. Think Alec Baldwin. After they went on their unthinkable tirades or rants, they said they were  really sorry. Of were they really saying, they were sorry... "your face got in the way?"

Micheal Richards "N" word rant, Paula Dean's similar utterances and comments, and even Alec Baldwin's anti-gay slurs were most likely not uttered with the intent to hurt. But their impact was felt by many.

From Paula Deen to Alec Baldwin to your annoying, bigoted uncle or friend, we hear it over and over again: “I never meant any harm…” “It was never my intent…” “I am not a racist…” “I am not a homophobe…” “I’m not a sexist…”

I cannot tell you how often I’ve seen people attempt to deflect criticism about their oppressive language or actions by making the conversation about their intent.

At what point does the “intent” conversation stop mattering so that we can step back and look at impact?

After all, in the end, what does the intent of our action really matter if our actions have the impact of furthering the marginalization or oppression of those around us?

We have an obligation to be more careful in how we treat and reflect upon others. It's not okay to just say something and then apologize. You have to mean it. Paula Dean found that out. Sponsors dropped her. Michael Richards all but disappeared from the comedy scene. And over time they will be forgiven.

But it doesn't hurt to think before you speak, and pay attention to what you say. Sexist. Racist. Homophobic. It doesn't matter. They are all grave ills and we would be better served to start thinking accordingly. I'm sorry at some point just isn't going to cut it. So cut it out.


Republican Talk Dictionary


Sunday talk show hosts

For those of you who watched today's talkers and were left bit confused about some of the terms and how this blather was applied in the hard-line, outreageous Republican discourse, here's another installment of your Republican Talk Dictionary (RTD)

Job Creators – Modern day heroes, generally well-to-do, sophisticated though tongue-tied people who deserve our praise and tax relief protection at all cost.  Repeatedly over-taxed and ridiculed for their sole desire to eliminate the pesky middle class.  Arrogant and superior yet most often uncaring, unsympathetic and unemotional - they perpetuate the perfect personality.  A person to be emulated or position to aspire to.  A hero. Generally they have a II, III, or Jr. after their last name to designate inherited wealth.  Examples: Mitt Romney, Thurston Howell III, The Koch Brothers, Sheldon Adelson.  Synonym: The good ol’ boys, Off-shore hidden bank account holders, top 2 per centers club, Pally, GOP role models, the Scare Club for Men.

Food stamps – handouts,  favors given out by President Obama used to buy votes. Freeloader food. Lazy folks lunch program.  SNAP, Crackle and pop (the budget).  Overfeed the poor program, Immigrants and minorities subsidy bill. A handout which should be avoided at all costs -- generally tacked onto Farm Bill so Republicans can cut the amount spent while making Democrats look bad if they fail to approve these cuts. Synonym: Junk Food program,  the ISMOOLTTYGTSFAWW ("I-spend-more-on-one-lunchtime tip-than-you-get-to-spend-for-a-whole-week") legislation.  Synonym: Belly fillers, poor kid relief, illegal drug subsidies, beer ballots, lazy man's way to  dinner, the plague, dumpster diver's supplement.

Immigration Reform – passing legislation for increased competition among low income workers who were scofflaws and came here univited.  Reform should allow them to pay fees, be punished and then kept here, with no status.  Examples: Gardners, fast food workers, janitorial staff, box car packers.  the bill does allow for huge border patrol subsidies which, though not needed, make the GOP look like they are protecting everyone else. Good selling point to spend more money, increase national debt, and blame it on the Democrats. Synonym: wetbacks, beaners, Manuel laborers, Paki's, scroungers, Hebs, and Ching-Chongs .