REPORTAGE [rep-awr-TAHZH]: a written report of an act, based upon actual witnessing or research

It is possible to pronounce reportage as [ri-PAWR-tij], but I love the way the more French pronunciation sounds, so I prefer [rep-awr-TAHZH], with the accent on last syllable.   It is a 19th century word, obviously from the French language.   Its meaning is simple:  it means to report something, usually in writing. I mention this word […]

TAX: an amount of money required of citizens and companies for the running of a government

The hot topic in Washington these days is taxes.  It should be a surprise to no one.  President Obama made it clear in his campaigns that when he was elected to his second term it was his intention to renew the tax breaks initiated by the Bush administration for Middle Class citizens and the poor.  […]

PELL-MELL: to move in haste, chaotic

Watching the clips of Black Friday shoppers charging into stores, trampling over other people, and out of control, I was reminded of the term pell-mell.  It’s kind of an old-fashioned word which means to charge forward in a chaotic, out of control manner. As a kid I heard the term more than I do now.   […]

OMNIBUS: combining a variety of subjects into one

It is a fairly common practice of both houses of Congress to stuff a number of related pending bills into one in order to get them passed in a timely fashion.  This is what is meant by an omnibus bill. For instance, if there is a pending military funding bill waiting to be acted upon […]

CONSPICUOUS CONSUMPTION: the act of spending money in a dramatic way

It is strange to discover that the drive for conspicuous consumption has not suffered from the current economic crisis.  Ben Steveman, in a  Bloomberg article in 2011, says that there is almost a ferociousness in the need to make extravagant purchases by wealthy consumers. Rich Americans are not only shopping again. They’re showing off their […]

TRIFLE: depends upon whether you are evaluating it or eating it

It isn’t all that unusual to hear someone say, “It was a trifle on the tart side for me.”  Or, you might overhear someone saying “I can’t stand spending time on such trifling issues.” In these cases, and comments similar to them, the word trifle is used to mean a small quantity, or something of […]