LONGSHOT: an attempt or undertaking that offers much but in which there is little chance for success.


Probably this word, longshot, is most familiar from the realm of horse racing.  It is a horse that is not believed to be awfully good.  The odds on the horse winning are very low.   The person who bets on this horse is said to be betting on a longshot, who, if he wins, will pay […]

SCUTTLEBUTT: gossip, the latest word on something


When someone whispers in your ear that they have “the scuttlebutt” on someone or something…beware!  It is as if they had said to you, “I have the latest fabrication, lie, exaggeration, or rumor on a person.”    It is information not to be trusted. Now, sometimes  it’s the truth.   But the word scuttlebutt leans toward the […]

NATTERING: chattering, gossiping, talking idly

Casual talk can be fun; it can be interesting.  One can learn a lot from such an experience.  I, for instance, go to Starbucks just about every day, and sit with the same people.  They are very interesting people, and in our coffee klatch we cover a myriad of topics from politics, religion, and the […]

TOXIC: poisonous, capable of bringing on death

You’re probably familiar with the chemical meaning for the word toxic.   It describes chemicals, venoms, mushrooms, or other substances that are poisonous and capable of killing someone. Toxic is a word that comes from Latin and Greek origins, toxicum being the Latin word for “poisonous.”   Interestingly, the Greek word, toxikòn phármakon, means “bow poison,”  […]

PROACTIVE: to prepare for something before it happens


There are clearly two ways to approach a complexity:  by anticipating an issue in advance or by reacting to an issue after it happens.   It is pretty commonly believed that anticipation of issues is more productive and allows for greater participation in the outcome.   That is what is called being proactive.  Etymologically, this is a […]

KICK THE CAN: a game from childhood; a phrase used in politics

kick the can

As a kid in a small, middle class community it was our responsibility to create entertainment.   Sometimes we just sat in the park in the middle of the village and watched the cars go by.  We invented a game about identifying the make, model and year of the car before it was right in front […]