TENTERHOOKS: in a state of uneasy suspense or painful anxiety


Tenterhooks is a term that is usually preceded  by the word “on.”  It is a 16th century English word, again a portmanteau, which is a combination of the two words tenter and hooks.    Hooks, of course simply means what it says.  Small metal spikes upon which something can be hung. Tenter, however, calls for more […]

NOTABLE: prominent, highly respected


The photo to the right is of Marian Wright Edelman, founder of the Chldren’s Defense Fund, and one of the most respected voices in the arena of children’s rights and education in the United States.   You may know of her, and may even have recognized her.  But for many Americans her name is familiar and […]

HUE AND CRY: a phrase that means “an uproar” over an issue

hue and cry

How many times have we heard it in a news broadcast? “The hue and cry raised by the Senator’s announcement could be heard all the way to Washington.” The meaning is clear.   There was an uproar.  People were upset.  The protests were about to begin. I heard the comment on the news and thought to […]

SULLY: to stain or tarnish


The word sully is usually used in connection with the words “one’s reputation.”   It refers to the intentional act of defaming someone, of saying or doing something that stains their reputation and destroys their integrity in the public’s eyes.  It is a word that comes to us in English from the French  word souiller  which means […]

DEADPAN: displaying no emotional or personal involvement


There is a cardiac physician at one of our local hospitals who has been featured in advertisements for the hospital for a couple of years now.   He looks straight into the camera as he speaks.   His voice is flat, and so is his face.  He’s not a particularly handsome man, and he knows it.   His […]

REALITY: the world or the state of things as they actually exist, as opposed to an idealistic or notional idea of them.


The entertainment industry understands the difference between fantasy and reality. It is the difference between “The Big Bang Theory”  and  “The Taste.”   One is a piece of fiction and the other is real people doing real things and experiencing real emotions.    If, in “The Big Bang Theory” a mistake is made in the filming they can […]