BELOW THE SALT: a mark of demarcation on the dining room table

below the salt

One of the people in my writing group used the term below the salt the other day and I had to admit to her that I didn’t know what it meant.   She explained that in days of heraldry the table would be set for people according to their “class.”    The line of demarcation between the […]

QUOTIDIAN [kwoh-TID-ee-uhn]: ordinary, commonplace, daily, customary


I have to keep remembering that this is an adjective.  Quotidian is not an “it”;  quotidian is a descriptive word that is used to modify a noun.   As in: Her quotidian article about the Iraq situation could have been any one of a dozen published in the newspaper that day.  It was boring.” I first […]

FOREIGN POLICY: a policy pursued by a nation in its dealings with other nations, designed to achieve national objectives.


More than enough has been said in recent weeks about some peoples’ perspective on President Obama and his foreign policy.  It has been interesting to me to notice that some of those making the most dramatic (and the most reported) statements are people for whom the American people have no patience…i.e., Dick Cheney. It’s awfully […]

BASH: to criticize; to join in the destructive criticism of someone or something.


There are many meanings for the term bash, but the one I want to focus upon is the act of criticizing someone unmercifully.   It usually includes the idea that the bashing doesn’t necessarily include the truth.  The accusations being leveled toward someone or something are fabricated or exaggerations upon a menial infraction.   A friend […]

SOUTHPAW: a left-handed pitcher in baseball


While watching John Lester pitch the Red Sox  to a victory over the Tampa Bay Rays I must have heard the term southpaw used a dozen times.   Everybody who follows baseball (or boxing)  knows what the term means.  It is a person who pitches with the left hand.   There was a time when I don’t […]

CLERISY [KLER-uh-see]: a privileged class of people who are well-educated


  The artist, the scholar, and, in general, the clerisy wins its way up into these places, and gets represented here, somewhat on this footing of conquest.” [Ralph Waldo Emerson; Manners; 1844.] There’s a malicious side to education that nobody wants to talk about.  It has to do with the concept that most people don’t […]