CRUMMY [KRUM-ee]: lousy, miserable

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It’s that time of the year when people are feeling really, really sick.  It may be a simple cold, or they may actually have the flu.    Their heads ache, their bodies ache, their eyes ache, their fingernails ache.   They are sneezing, coughing, hacking, and maybe even vomiting or suffering from diarrhea or worse.  If you […]

HITCH-HIKE: to ask for or get a ride

If you are over fifty and don’t get misty-eyed thinking about the word hitch-hike you didn’t have much of a youth.   In the 50′s it was listed as one of the most popular means of transportation.  There were bicycles, motorcycles,  cars, buses, trains, airplanes, and hitch-hiking.  Those of us who grew up in middle class […]

EITHER: is it [EE-ther] or [AHY-ther] ????

I have no idea when it began.   I grew up pronouncing either almost as if it were that gas that they gave you when you were going to have surgery: ether.   There was never a question in my mind that either was pronounced [EE-ther.]  Why was there a question? But someplace along the way the […]

STYMIE : to hinder, block, or thwart.

In golf, a stymie is created when one player’s ball lands on the green in such a way that the second player’s ball is directly between it and the hole. It is necessary for the first player to “mark” (his) ball and remove it so the second player (who is “away” further from the hole) […]

PERSPICUOUS [per-SPIK-yoo-uhs]: able to be seen through, clear, lucid

To be perspicuous is to be clear as a bell.   It is a word taken from its Latin origins which meant to be able to be seen through.   Over time it has become less practical and more of a metaphor.   I suppose you could say that a piece of glass is perspicuous, but it wouldn’t […]

MOLLIFY : pacify; appease

To mollify is to bring peace, but it isn’t always seen as a positive thing. It is a word that comes from Old French, meaning “to soften,” often referring to such products as leather or dough. In some cases, to mollify means to coddle, or give in to.  If someone mollifies a dispute by abandoning […]