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amacleod03 commented on the user bilby
Thanks so much for the details on the Milligan cite.
July 28, 2009
amacleod03 commented on the word canaille
This term has fallen out of use in the past century and even in its heyday it appears to have required some explanation. On April 23, 1899, the Galveston Daily News ran a story about conditions in Hawaii, “The Wild Effort to Hooleyize Us.�? It described the missionaries’ sons as “a very ill-bred canille�? and felt compelled to add “rabble�? in parenthesis, just in case you didn’t know the meaning of the word.
July 27, 2009
amacleod03 commented on the word dog's body
Servant, gofer, personal assistant. primarily British
Bilby, you have a great Spike Milligan citation for "dog-end" and I would be deeply appreciative if you could supply just a wee bit more information such as edition and page number. Thanks so much
amacleod03 commented on the word dog leg
In golf this describes a fairway that has an angle in it, rather than being a straight shot from tee to green. It may also be used in driving directions, indicating a bend in the road.
In oil drilling, it is a particularly crooked place in a wellbore where the trajectory changes rapidly in three-dimensions.
dog-leg tobacco. An inferior quality of chewing tobacco, “so called because it is in the shape of a twist.�?
amacleod03 commented on the word a dog's life
The Children’s Hour, published in 1879, contains the following colloquy entitled “A Dog’s Life�?:
“I wonder what people mean by saying that this one or that one leads a dog's life?�? said Ruth Wilbur. “I think dogs have a very easy sort of life indeed; they never have to go to school, or comb their own hair, or wash dishes, or do any of those disagreeable things. Don't you wish you were a dog, Louise?�?
“No,�? said Louise, “I've seen dogs I felt real sorry for; when nobody spoke a kind word to them, but just kicked them about, and made them feel real bad, I know. I like dogs.�?
“So do I,�? said Ruth, “especially Ned. He's a jolly good dog! Some dogs have to work for their living,�? she added thoughtfully. “They churn, they guard sheep, they follow the chase, they watch their masters' houses and goods. A dog's life is a hard one when he is only kicked and cuffed, and never hears a kind word.�?
“Then people must mean that one leads a dog's life when no one is kind to him,�? said Louise. “I don't want to lead such a life.�?
“Nor help any one else to,�? said Ruth.
amacleod03 commented on the word double dog dare
The use of the double dog dare is wonderfully vivid in the film A Christmas Story, based on radio pioneer Jean Shepard’s memoirs. Here the boys up the ante to a triple-dog-dare.
amacleod03 commented on the word dog in the manger
One who selfishly hoards something that he or she does not personally need or use.
The Oxford English Dictionary specifically names such a person as “churlish�? and says it's been in use since the 16th century. This reference plays on the stereotype of dogs being selfish, which is as prominent as the one of their being selfless. The phrase comes from one of Æsop's fables. “A dog lay in a manger, and by his growling and snapping prevented the oxen from eating the hay which had been placed for them. ‘What a selfish dog!’ said one of them to his companions, ‘He cannot eat the hay himself, and yet refuses to allow those to eat who can.’�?
amacleod03 commented on the word horn dog
1. “Someone who is constantly talking and thinking about sex, always finding the sexual meaning in a phrase, someone who is always looking at other people in a sexual way.�?
Webster's Millennium gives us a different definition: 2. “a sexually excited or desirous person.�? Despite the Webster imprimatur I could find no solid examples that supported this definition, which is why it is the second not the primary definition.
amacleod03 commented on the word dog my cats
The most familiar reference for American readers is likely to be in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. On page four, Jim says, “Say — who is you? What is you? Dog my cats ef I didn' hear sumf'n.�? In this context it sounds almost like a curse, as in “damn my soul should I turn out to be wrong.�? But later in the book, Jim uses the turn of phrase again without quite the same implications, at least to my reading.
amacleod03 commented on the word yellow dog
A coward, perhaps redundantly so, as both “yellow�? and “dog�? are associated with cowardice.
In The South Talkin' Dictionary, the term is defined as an “abusive noun. (1) A cowardly person, (2) In Confederate-era slang, a yaller dog was a staff officer or courier in the Confederate army.�? A Civil War era example and citation are provided.
A nickname for the Yazoo Delta, a southern railroad.
amacleod03 commented on the word woof ticket
A threat (either real or a bluff) which is “sold�? to somebody. Selling a woof ticket is a strategy for getting another party to back out of a fight by making him or them believe that the seller has superior power.
amacleod03 commented on the word woof
To threaten, perhaps a bluff, or perhaps not.
amacleod03 commented on the word wonk
A disparaging term for a studious or hardworking person. The Oxford English Dictionary asserts that the word wonk derives from “a term commonly applied by foreigners to the ordinary Chinese dog. From the Ningpo pronunciation wou n kyi, of the above two characters.�?
amacleod03 commented on the word walk the dog
A yo yo trick in which the body of the yo yo rolls forward, as if on a leash like a dog.
A technique used by anglers to make a lure zigzag across the surface of the water. “To ‘walk the dog,’ keep your rod tip down and make short (less than 1 foot) twitches with your rod tip while reeling at the same time. The lure will walk side to side as it moves toward you. Once again, vary the speed of your retrieve until you get bit.�?
1. Have sex. 2. Masturbate. 3. “Well, you drive to the park late at night. You open your car doors and you just lay there. And whoever walks up to the car, it’s on.�? Black, LaDawn, quoted in Simon, Matt. 2008. Meet Baltimore’s Sex and Love Guru. b, Jul 17. Accessed Aug 6 2008 2008 from http:// www.bthesite.com/ archives/ 2008/07/ meeting-baltimores-sex-guru/ #more-950.
amacleod03 commented on the word wag the dog
This phrase entered the legal lexicon in 1986 with McMillan v. Pennsylvania, a significant case regarding sentencing statutes. In the majority opinion then Associate Justice of the Supreme Court WIlliam Rehnquist wrote, “The statute gives no impression of having been tailored to permit the visible possession finding to be a tail which wags the dog of the substantive offense.�?
amacleod03 commented on the word sweater puppies
This term seems to appeal largely to lecherous young men and those who wish to shock their readers. The Double-Tongued Dictionary provides a number of citations. The one I liked best is from the Seattle Post Intelligencer. In discussing the television show Stacked reviewer Melanie McFarland states: “If you don't want to be insulted like that, stop tuning in to watch Anderson's sweater puppies wiggle.�?
amacleod03 commented on the word stacked
Attractively proportioned, said of a woman's figure, usually by a man. The attractiveness of proportion may refer more specifically to a “prominent bosom.�?
In dog show parlance, stacking is “the process of posing the dog's legs and body to create a pleasing profile.�? Translate “profile�? into the fashionistas' preferred term, “silhouette,�? and I think you get the picture.
amacleod03 commented on the word sic
(verb) To urge or incite to hostile action, as in siccing dogs upon someone. In a metaphoric sense, any time someone is ordered to go after another. There is an implication that the purpose is to do harm to the object of siccing, not simply to dissuade or drive off.
amacleod03 commented on the word sea dog
Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island opens with the chapter “The Old Sea-Dog at the Admiral Benbow�? and provides a lengthy description of the main character, Long John Silver, who was indeed an experienced sailor, though hardly a model citizen.
amacleod03 commented on the word runt
figuratively, A short-statured person.
amacleod03 commented on the word red dog
A kind of football defense used by the San Francisco 49ers in the Y.A. Tittle era.
Red Dog is a name used for a variety of card games involving wagers against the dealer.
amacleod03 commented on the word puppy love
Immature love, infatuation.
As you can see, puppy love, or young love, has a bad rap. As dramatized, it typically is a pairing that society—or at least the parents—feel is ill-fated or immoral. Class or race differences are the most commonly depicted as contributing to ruinous relationships between young lovers, though feuds (such as the one between the Montagues and the Capulets) have figured large as well.
amacleod03 commented on the word poodle
figuratively, One eager to take care of someone else's needs—either stated or anticipated—especially in order to maintain a position of privilege or status.
amacleod03 commented on the word pooch
A slang term for a dog, especially a mongrel.
amacleod03 commented on the word pitbull
A tough and relentless fighter. As a metaphor it is most often employed in the political arena.
Pit bulls have a reputation, long held and recently exaggerated, as fighting dogs of “rare courage.�? Despite dog lovers’ and breeders’ protestations that no breed is inherently vicious and that it is individual dogs who are “trained�? to be so, pit bulls are widely considered singularly dangerous dogs.
amacleod03 commented on the word pedigree
Ancestral lineage, professional preparation, life history, criminal record, or provenance, especially in tabular form.
amacleod03 commented on the word pavlov's dog
A reference to a psychological conditioning, typically used as a simile: like Pavlov's dog; even references to salivation are, at times, implicitly Pavlovian.
It was Russian psychologist Ivan Petrovich Pavlov (1849-1936) who discovered a response in animals that is referred to as “conditioned reflex.�? It seems that research scientists can be trained to ring bells at the sight of dogs preparing to salivate.
amacleod03 commented on the word muzzle
(noun) A restraint on free movement or expression, as in: had a muzzle put on their high spirits.
put a muzzle on it. To restrain from expression.
In the verb form, it is even clearer that what is to be muzzled is the barking. This usage appears to be longstanding. In a 1917 New York Times Magazine political cartoon entitled “Trying to muzzle the wrong dog,�?
amacleod03 commented on the word mutt
At his first news conference after his election as President, Barack Obama, referred to himself as a mutt when asked what kind of dog his daughters were getting:
With respect to the dog, this is a major issue. We have…we have two criteria that have to be reconciled. One is that Malia is allergic, so it has to be hypo-allergenic. There are a number of breeds that are hypo-allergenic. On the other hand, our preference would be to get a shelter dog. But obviously, a lot of shelter dogs are mutts, like me.
July 11, 2009
amacleod03 commented on the word mongrel
1. Derogatory description of the offspring or result of miscegenation, mixed marriage, etc.; specifically a person of mixed racial heritage. 2. Derogatory term for a person of mixed descent, whose parents are of different nationalities or different social classes. 3. Derogatory term for a person of Jewish descent. 4. A person of mixed or undefined opinions; a person whose political or religious allegiance, etc., changes according to which way the wind is blowing. 5. A person of base, low, or indeterminate status. 6. A cheat or a coward. 7. Worthless. (adjective)
Unreported in the U.S. media, the slur made headlines in Britain during the runup to elections in 2005. The Labour Party leader, Peter Hain, called Conservative leader Michael Howard an “attack mongrel.�? Howard is Jewish. Labour Party MP's seemed determined to paint this as simply a variation on “attack dog politics.�? However, it is hard to believe the denials that this was an intentional slur when campaign posters had already depicted Howard as “a Shylock.�?
amacleod03 commented on the word minx
1. A flirtatious young woman, probably a bit sassy and provocative, perhaps promiscuous. 2. A young woman who is a ruthless social climber, willing to use all her wiles including her sexuality to fulfill her ambition. 3. A prostitute. (OED)
amacleod03 commented on the word mad-dogging
The act of trying to stare someone down, or win a staring contest practiced primarily by young men. The goal is to stare and not to blink; if you blink, it is an acknowledgment of the other's dominance.
The practice—by this name anyway—appears to be most prominent in the Southwest and done as a prelude to violence. The Double-Tongued Dictionary's citation says that states that “In Albuquerque this is called ‘mad-dogging.’ The end result of this ‘mad-dogging’ is that one of the young men pulled a pistol and shot the other man in the chest killing him on the spot.�?
amacleod03 commented on the word mad dog
Someone who is fighting mad, perhaps a crazed fighter who has no thought for his own health and well being.
Dogs engaged in attack can indeed exhibit this kind of no-holds-barred viciousness, so perhaps it is apt. George Orwell classes this term, along with others “peculiar to Marxist writing.�? He included “lackey�? and “petty bourgeois�? in this category. (Orwell, George. 1946. Politics and the English Language. In In Front of Your Nose, 1945-1950, edited by I. S. O. Angus. Boston: David R Godine.)
amacleod03 commented on the word lucky dog
person of good fortune, usually one considered so by others.
This appears to be a propitious dog reference, though it is sometimes used to imply that the good fortune may not have been deserved or acquired through devious means. And, given that a dog's chance is a rather slim one, perhaps a lucky dog is one who really has beaten the odds. In analyzing the 1995 deal for broadcasting Major League Baseball games, Richard Sandomir of the New York Times (Apr 18, 2008) makes this explicit: “If you are Major League Baseball, you are one lucky dog. You have done nothing right on the business side for years, but Fox, CBS, ABC/ESPN and Turner have all been competing for pieces of your future.�?
amacleod03 commented on the word lapdog
One eager to take care of someone else's needs—either stated or anticipated—especially in order to maintain a position of privilege or status.
The metaphor refers to small dogs whose lives are mostly lived in the laps of their owners, such as Bruiser, Reese Witherspoon's canine co-star in the film Legally Blonde. While not always political dogs, lap dogs often are, as in Mike Barnicle's description of political appointees from academia, “a bunch of intellectual lap dogs for anybody who holds a big job in government.�?
amacleod03 commented on the word joe dog
Device with a dead axle that converts a single-axle tractor to a tandem-axle tractor. It hooks over the tractor's fifth wheel, replacing it with another for the semi to be hooked onto.
amacleod03 commented on the word hush puppies
Though the term appears to be relatively recent, there is no particular agreement about its origin or significance. The common assumption is that it arose sometime in the late 19th century and that for one reason or another fried cornmeal was tossed to dogs to keep them quiet. Maybe this was in the aftermath of the Civil War, when food was scarce.reference 1 Or perhaps it was slave women who, being thrifty, saved the cornmeal left over after dredging catfish for frying, and fried it up too. Or it might have been hunters who wanted to quiet their hounds.
The Morris Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins suggests that the puppies were not canines at all, but salamanders known as “water dogs�? or “water puppies.�? Eating such creatures, even when coated in corn batter and fried, was so shameful that nobody wanted their neighbors to know they were doing so. Hence, you were supposed to be quiet about these pups. DARE suggests that hush puppies are also called dog bread.
As for the shoes, Tom Burns Haber, in his exhaustive compilation of canine terms in American Speech, cites several sources for shoes described as “dogs...barkers, puppies, pups...�? He even goes so far as to say that the sportswriter Tad Dorgan (yes, the same one who is erroneously attributed with coining the term “hot dog�? for a sausage sandwich) is credited with calling shoes “dogs.�?
amacleod03 commented on the word horndog
“HARD-NOSED HILL SAVED HORNDOG BILL�? blares the headline for the New York Post's review of Carl Bernstein's biography of Hillary Clinton, A Woman in Charge. Sadly, her husband and our former president, whatever his virtues and contributions, is the poster boy for this term.
amacleod03 commented on the word hair of the dog
Apparently people used to actually believe that if a dog bit you, its hair would cure you of the bite. It certainly wouldn't appeal to me to try to pluck a hair from any animal that had bitten me. On the other hand, if I could get someone else to do it, I might reap a small amount of revenge, though not so very much.
The concept is one that is widely held, across cultures--not just in Vodou. Perhaps it appears in its most explicit forms in the fundamental principle of homeopathy: similia similibus, curantur or “likes are cured by likes.�?
amacleod03 commented on the word freight dog
In his March 2008 article for Men's Vogue, Michael Walker describes a cargo pilot as someone who is “proudly and defiantly, a ‘freight dog,’ a nom de guerre freighted, so to speak, with many connotations, not all of them positive.�? Walker paints a picture of these dogs as devil-may-care rough-hewn characters who eschew the more prissy life of an airline pilot. In one of his typical long-winded, run-on, hyphen-laden sentences he tells us that, “Freight dogs famously fly decrepit, ‘clapped-out,’ analog-only hand-me-downs from the passenger airlines, and brushes with the reaper, duly embellished, make for great table rants over pitchers of Watney's at dog hangouts like the Petroleum Club in Alamaty, Kazakhstan; the Cyclone in Dubai; Sticky Fingers in Hong Kong; and the legendary Four Floors of Whores in Singapore, which, according to the dogs who frequent it, is a model of truth in advertising.�?
amacleod03 commented on the word feist
A person or animal that is irascible, touchy, thin-skinned, or bad-tempered. Alternatively, a person of little worth.
When you look at the etymology of the term, the story takes a twist. Feist or fice or fyst originates from the Anglo-Saxon word fistan, which means to fart. Despite one suggestion that the name was applied to the hunting dogs because they “run as if breaking the wind�? (whatever that might mean) there is a much more likely possibility. The small dogs were originally referred to as a fysting curres or “stinking curs.�?
Davis, Donald, and Jeffrey Stotik. 1992. Feist or Fiction? The Squirrel Dog of the Southern Mountains. Journal of Popular Culture 26 (3):193-301.
amacleod03 commented on the word dog-whistle politics
The communication of a political message intended to affirm solidarity with a particular constituency without catching the attention of other constituencies, especially those that might be offended.
In reviewing President-elect Barack Obama's past stands on education policy as an indicator of whom he would choose as Secretary of Education, columnist David Brooks used the term in its hyphenated form. “Sometimes, he flirted with the union positions. At other times, he practiced dog-whistle politics, sending out reassuring signals that only the reformers could hear.�? (Brooks, David. 2008. Who Will He Choose? New York Times, Dec 5. Accessed from http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/05/opinion/05brooks.html
amacleod03 commented on the word dogtags
Metal identification tags worn on a chain around the neck by members of the armed forces.
Identification tags for the armed forces of the U.S. came into prominence in the Civil War. The first metal “identity discs�? were issued in 1906, and by 1913 the Army made ID tags mandatory. In 1916, a second tag was added, and by 1917 all combat troops had aluminum ID tags hanging from their necks on either a rope or chain. Still used today, they come in twos so that one can be buried with the soldier and one can be sent home to the family. By World War II, the circular disc was replaced by the oblong shape familiar to us now, generally referred to as “dog tags.�? (Wooley, Richard W. . 1988. A Short History of Identification Tags. Quartermaster Professional Bulletin. Accessed May 30 2006 from http:// www.qmfound.com/ short_history_of_ identification_tags.htm.)
amacleod03 commented on the word dog's life
In its 2005 annual plea for charity, the New York Times describes the circumstances of Rita Pulsoni, 54, who was born premature, has been blind since birth, and requires the services of a guide dog: “Ms. Pulsoni is the first to tell you that this is no easy dog's life.�? The life of her service dog, Aida, is apparently much easier.
amacleod03 commented on the word dog's dinner
One's finest clothing; Sunday best.
Eric Partridge is succinct in his description: “Done up like a dog's dinner means all dressed up.�?
Alternatively, it seems to be synonymous with dog's breakfast, that is, a mess. Despite the well-deserved deference that is typically paid to Partridge in the lexicographic community, it is my guess that the meaning he ascribes to this phrase is out-of-date. Search as I might, I could not find a recent instance of this usage in a U.S. source.
amacleod03 commented on the word dog's chance
A very slim chance, indeed.
Dogs' relationships with fortune—good and ill—are mixed. A lucky dog is genuinely lucky, but a dog's chance is a poor one. Why would a dog's chances be poor? Perhaps this is related to living a dog's life, which, despite the relative pamperedness of pets, is considered miserable. Or maybe it is simply that dogs, as the subordinate species, will always come out on the bottom: subordinate, never really the top dog in human society.
amacleod03 commented on the word dog's bollocks
The very best, like the bee's knees.
This is hardly an American expression, but attentive viewers of the 77th Academy Awards had some exposure when Andrea Arnold won an Oscar in the short film category for Wasp, the story of a single mother living on relief. She used the phrase effusively to describe her feelings of pleasure at the moment.
The phrase turned up again in US television in 2007, again delivered with a distinct British accent. In the Boston Legal episode, “The Chicken and the Leg,�? character Katie Lloyd (Tara Summers) says to her fellow attorney, “You’re the dog’s bollocks, that’s what you are. Fantastic!�?
amacleod03 commented on the word dog's age
A comparatively long time,reference 1 though long compared to what is less clear.
Dogs who live into their teens are considered old dogs; almost none make it to 20 years. So perhaps a “dog's age�? is a length of time of less than 20 years. Or it may simply be an interval of time between events that is longer than the expected interval.
In an Oct 24, 1993 New York Times Book Review article discussing crime novels, Marilyn Stasio complained that “Peter Lovesey hasn't written a Sergeant Cribb mystery in a dog's age;�? actually it had been about fifteen years.
amacleod03 commented on the word dogpile
To leap on top of someone, of groups of people, or individuals.
amacleod03 commented on the word dogpatch
he proverbial Appalachian community—and by association any rural or agricultural community—inhabited by White people who are perceived or presumed to be ignorant and impoverished.
The reference is to the hamlet in the comic strip, Li'l Abner, which ran from 1934—1977. The creator and artist, Al Capp, was one of the best satirical cartoonists of his time.
amacleod03 commented on the word doggie-style
Sex in the manner of dogs, that is, with both partners facing the same direction and on their knees.
If David Chase is to be believed, mobsters use this terminology, or at least Tony Soprano used it.
amacleod03 commented on the word dogger
A voyeur. More specifically, someone (almost always male) who stands around in the bushes on lover's lane to watch other people have sex in their cars.reference 1
The Oxford English Dictionary suggests that those being watched are well aware of the activity and may even encourage doggers to participate. As yet outside of the gay community this is an almost exclusively British term.
amacleod03 commented on the word dogfall
1. In wrestling when both opponents hit the ground together. This makes the fall a draw and neither wrestler makes any points. One thesaurus offers it as a synonym for deadlock, stalemate, standoff...
2. a. A throw by a wrangler or cowboy in which the steer falls with all four legs under him. b. A throw by a cowboy in competition where the steer lands “on the opposite side of where the cowboy intends it to fall.�?
amacleod03 commented on the word dogface
A U.S. Army foot soldier, especially in World War II.
The term gained a high profile when it was used in the Hollywood film, To Hell and Back, based on the best-selling autobiography of Audie Murphy, and starring the same. The film included a song, “The Dogface Soldier.�?
amacleod03 commented on the word dogcessory
1. An accessory related to pets, such as collars, hair trimmers, etc.
2. A dog used as a fashion accessory, akin to putting on the dog.
amacleod03 commented on the word dogcatcher
1. A synonym for or reference to the lowest possible and least respected elected office.
2 A policeman who eats in a restaurant without paying.
amacleod03 commented on the word dogbone
1.The small Mylar or holographic seal placed over the edge of a music or data CD as increased protection against its ever being opened.
2. Telephone, especially the handset, in British and Australian slang.
amacleod03 commented on the word doga
Julia Kamysz Lane reports in The Bark that “Doing gentle doga stretches with my Dalmatian, Darby, helped her overcome a fear of nail clipping. It also came in handy with our young mixed breed, Ginger Peach, who has an impatient and pushy personality. She not only learned to tolerate the stretches, she now offers her legs in anticipation!�?
amacleod03 commented on the word dog watch
The common conclusion is that in this case “dog�? is an elision of “dodge.�? The presumption is that this watch was divided in two (as noted above), so as to create seven watches in the day and therefore create some variety for watch-standers. “As a result, sailors dodge the same daily routine, hence they are dodging the watch or standing the dodge watch.�? (Navy Terms and Trivia. 1998. The Goatlocker. Accessed August 26 2001 from http:// goatlocker. exis.net/ trivia.htm and United States. Navy. Pacific Fleet. 2000. Naval Traditions, Customs, & Etiquette. Accessed Aug 26 2001 from http:// www.cpf.navy.mil/ cpffacts/ customs.htm# dogwatch.)
Later it was corrupted to dog.
amacleod03 commented on the word dog wagon
A diner or a restaurant on wheels.reference 1
You don’t hear this one much any more. Its use begins at the same time that Yale students start calling sausages “hot dogs�? and appears to have spread rapidly. In their history of Cornell University, Morris Bishop and Alison M. Kingsbury document the origins of a campus eatery, the Silbey Dog.
amacleod03 commented on the word dog trot
A slow easy trot “like that of a dog�? says the Century Dictionary, rather tautologically.
amacleod03 commented on the word dogtown
1. A town or city where a theatrical production is tried out before it appears in New York.
2. A mining camp, so termed by miners because the hovels were “good enough for dogs to live in.�? (Gudde, Erwin Gustav. 1969. California Place Names; the Origin and Etymology of Current Geographical Names. Rev. and enl. 3d ed. Berkeley: University of California Press.
amacleod03 commented on the word dog tired
In the Taming of the Shrew, Shakespeare’s character Biondello pronounces himself to be “dog-weary.�? In his commentary, editor R. Warwick Boyd defines this as “utterly weary cf. ‘dog tired’ … the comparison in these cases being to a dog after a day’s hunting.�?
amacleod03 commented on the word dog star
The nickname of Sirius, the brightest star in the sky, save Sol (the one which the Earth orbits). It is found in the constellation Canis Majoris (the Big Dog) and has an apparent magnitude of -1.46. Sometimes referred to as Orion's Hound, drawn from the Illiad.
amacleod03 commented on the word dog latin
Some sources simply define dog Latin as barbarous or mangled and others make it akin to a kind of pidgin Latin.
It would appear to be not as much fun as ig-Pay atin-Lay and more like Pierre Escargot's fractured French. The Reader's Encyclopedia provides a wonderful example of the pretend or “mongrel�? version of dog Latin in Wallace Stevens' definition of a kitchen:
As the law classically expresses it, a kitchen is “camera necessaria pro usus cookare; cum saucepannis, stewpannis, scullero, dressero, coalholo stovis, smoakjacko; pro rostandum, boilandum, fryandum et plum-pudding-mixandum…
—A Law Report (Daniel v. Dishclout)
amacleod03 commented on the word dogear
(verb) To turn the corners of the page of a book.
Dog-eared (adjective) Though the OED does not mention it, other things can be dog-eared besides books. At first I inferred that the adjective can be applied to any well worn and (ab)used item. In referring to the shopping cart of an elderly Dubliner, AP writer, Shawn Pogatchnik, described it as “her dog-eared blue-leather trolley.�? However, I discovered that dog-earing can also be a characteristic of fabric. Tom Burns Haber refers to George Linton's Modern Textile Dictionary, which states that dog-earing refers to “A defect in cloth that tends to roll or curl up at the corners.�?
amacleod03 commented on the word dish dog
A person who washes dishes. Sometimes the term is used derogatorily, others as a compliment.
In Pete Jordan's memoir called Dishwasher: One Man's Quest to Wash Dishes in All Fifty States he repeatedly refers to himself and other dishwashers as “dish dogs.�?
amacleod03 commented on the word celebudog
The dog of a famous owner or a dog with her/his own celebrity status.
In 2007 The New York Post referred to Leona Helmsley's $12 million heir, Trouble, as a celebudog. With Helmsley deceased, is Trouble's celebrity derivative or her own?
amacleod03 commented on the word bootlick
To gain favor by flattery, fawning, or obsequious behavior.
Dogs are notoriously obsequious, as is repeatedly stated throughout these entries. They are constantly seeking favor and social recognition. Dogs are also notorious lickers, and often known for licking less than luscious items, so we are not much surprised to find boots among them. Boot licking as a description seems to have fallen out of favor: perhaps this is because the licking of boots is increasingly associated with foot fetishes and bondage and discipline fantasies.
amacleod03 commented on the word sisyphian
When I was growing up, the last thing any self-respecting boy or tomboy wanted to be called was "sissy." Now you can't say that Sisyphus, the historical figure from whom we get this term, is a sissy in any sense, so forget about any associations along those lines. The guy spends all his time pushing a large boulder up a hill and chasing it back down to the bottom. That has to be even better exercise than you can get on a stairmaster, much less with an abdominizer. On the other hand, you have to wonder about someone who would keep at it, for eternity no less. After a while, you would think he would realize that he is never going to get the stupid stone to stay at the top. Why not head for a bar or some other venue where he can show off his muscles?
The truth is that he can't. One reason the concept of sisyphian tasks sticks with us is that it is not so uncommon to find ourselves in such situations. Even when we can see what is happening, we cannot seem to extricate ourselves from the situation, or, perhaps more commonly, the responsibility is one we cannot seem to put aside. If you ever find yourself in such circumstances, you might want to reflect on old Sisyphus's story, because it may offer a solution as well as solace.
You see, most people forget why it is that he got stuck with this job, that is, if you ever knew in the first place. Usually, you hear that he tried to cheat Zeus. Well, yes, that is true, but the one he really cheated was Death. Zeus sent Death out to get Sisyphus, who was, by all accounts, quite a trickster in his time, and Sisyphus first captured Death and then hid from him. Believe me, such acts did not go unpunished back in those days. So king or not, and rumor has it that Sisyphus was a king (and father of Odysseus to boot, which should account for something) Sisyphus got stuck with the stone. Since the task was to be eternal, we can assume that he is pushing it still. My point is, however, that this punishment came becase he was unwilling to accept death.
Is there a lesson here? One might speculate that when one seems to be caught up in a sisyphian task, that it is because one is unwilling to let go of some sense of identity, some "life" as it were. In order to live, we must accept death, or we will be bound in an eternal circle without purpose.
amacleod03 commented on the word rashomon
It seems fitting to use, or rather "mis-use," the term Rashomon as a reference to the postmodernist deconstruction of truth. When filmmaker, Kurosawa, produced the 1950's film of the same title, he obscured the literary genius of Ryunosuke Akutagawa while making his works available to a wider non-Japanese audience. Akutagawa's (1892-1927) short story collection, Rashomon and Other Stories, was first translated into English in 1952. In it, there were included two stories, one titled, "Rashomon" and the other, "In a Grove." It was the latter that created the narrative framework for the film.
"In a Grove" contains the story of a death—at least that much can be agreed upon. A man and his wife, traveling through a forest grove, encounter a bandit. This encounter ultimately leaves the man dead, either by his own hand, his wife's or the bandit's. Akutagawa presents this core narrative through seven voices, each offering a different and conflicting first person account of the event. These multiple voices are never resolved and the reader is left questioning which account is "true."
In the same collection of stories, Akutagawa reveals in the story "Rashomon," much about life in feudal Japan. Rashomon was a gate in Kyoto, once grand and majestic, now dilapidated and a place frequented by beggars and other misfortunates, some who breathe their last breath at that site. Once such soul finds himself at the gate during a torrential rainstorm having just been released from his position as a servant. Jobless, homeless, he seeks refuge at Rashomon and contemplates his dismal future. As he considers turning to a life of crime, he encounters a wretch of a woman. Poor, filthy, ugly—she frequents this place seeking dead bodies from whose heads she cuts hair to be sold and made into wigs. He watches her begin to cut the hair of a dead woman. Disgusted by this, the servant is made to see that his decision to become a thief would reduce him to that same level or worse—a revelation that allows him to experience a moment of grace. But this grace is fleeting when the woman attempts to justify her act by sharing how despicable her victim was. With this, she creates a mirrored invitation for the servant, for he uses her justification as an imperative for him to steal, in turn, from her.
The film conflates these two tales (and hints of the other stories) into one. Its acclaim at international film festivals upon its release was seen, in part, due to its non-linear, non-rational challenge to American/Western sensibilities. In the film version, the story of the murder in the forest is discussed by a priest and a key witness who recount the multiple versions that were retold at the trial. This meta-level retelling occurs as a sort of rapprochement where Kurosawa's witness is brought together from two figures, one from each of these tales (the servant and the woodcutter). The Gate becomes the site for telling of the tales of the murder and trial as well as the Woodcutter/Servant's confrontation with questions of truth and moral choice.
Those unfamiliar with the movie's origins are left with what appears to be a single story. Thus, the term Rashomon has come to mean that truth has many voices, all relative, subjective and open to deconstruction. A full reading of Akutagawa's works, however, provides a thicker description, where Rashomon reveals, not only the subjectivity of truth, but also the effects of its epistemic nature.
amacleod03 commented on the word non-fiction
A category in the Dewey Decimal system defined solely by what it is not. Interestingly "Literature" was also included in the non-fiction section, suggesting perhaps that Dewey's notions of truth and fiction were quite complex. However, I suspect that class bias was at work here, since literature appears to reflect what the literatti thought of as being of value and fiction appears to be popular or mass consumption works. While it seems that it is unlikely that Melvil Dewey gave much thought to the question of truth and fictive truth, the insinuation of this concept into our society is an interesting one. It implies that all we can know is what is fictive, but everything else is simply not fictive. A tenative and perhaps temporary categorization at best. This definition by exclusion is echoed in the current phrase "non-white," apparenlty implying non-dominant, and if we account for cultural imperialism, by inference, non-normative. Certainly, there is something in the term "Non-Fiction" which implies that fiction is the norm and all else the variant.
amacleod03 commented on the word lodestone
All of my reference works say that this word refers to rock that contains magnetite or that it refers to something that attracts with a magnetic or magnet-like force. Even The Dictionary of Cultural Literacy gives a very dry scientific treatment. I had expected a cultural twist from Hirsch. What interests me is that my intuitive definition (i.e., the way I use the word) is not quite as described. Certainly magnetic attraction is an element, but it is not just any attraction, rather it is more of a directional attraction. In my mind, it is an orienting attraction, like the north pole. You might thing of guiding stars, the end of the rainbow, a road less traveled, or the beat of a different drum. It also refers to guiding values and guiding goals. My lodestone is made up of some combination of my path, my values, my goals, my desires, my needs, my companions on the journey, my teachers, my ......
Further, Lodestone carries a kind of scientific mysticism, almost an element of magic. Magnets are magical in their actions, having properties not visible in their composition or structure. That is you could have a horseshoe shaped piece of metal that is or is not a magnet. You cannot tell by looking at it. Lodestone looks like many non magnetic rocks. Gold can be seen, magnetism cannot. Only the actions of magnetism are visible We cannot even feel it. Hold a magnet and it is not perceptibly different from another piece of non-magnetized metal. And yet we know it is a force through its apparent effects. In this, magnetism provides a glimpse into a universe which is invisible to our senses, one that is not directly perceivable. Other forces, such as gravity, do exert perceptible force on us. Gravity’s very ubiquity makes it harder to be aware of. Something like lodestone, occurring naturally, must have been one of humanity’s earliest indications that there were forces invisible to the senses. It suggests a range of forces; it leaves open the door that there are as yet forces that we cannot detect and, which, nonetheless, effect us.
And so lodestone speaks to me of forces which I may not fully comprehend or be able to perceive directly which, nonetheless, shape my life and, most particularly, my life path. Lodestone speaks of Destiny.
amacleod03 commented on the word ostranenie
This Russian term of literary analysis refers to the experience of having the familiar and commonplace made strange or alien. Such a process of estranging those experiences which are ordinarily taken for granted, challenges the perceiver to re-engage their significance and perhaps discover new or unexpected meanings. As an aesthetic device, the process of ostranenie permeates the fine arts of the West in the course of this century. Otherwise ordinary and unexamined experience are made strange or unfamiliar in a variety of ways, most blatantly through changing the context of the familiar experience, though it may be accomplished quite subtly, simply through the use of a new and vivid metaphor. What is most striking about the use of ostranenie in this era is its application to the aesthetic processes themselves, as artists challenge our familiar ways of relating to paintings, plays or novels.
The first use of this term is attributed to literary critic and Russian formalist, Viktor Sklovskii, in his 1916 essay, "Art as Procedure," in which he describes a process of "defamiliarization." Underlying this concept is an assumption that "normal" perception is familiar and can be described as a "process of `algebrazation. Either objects are assigned only one proper feature ... or else they function as though by formula and do not appear in cognition." Shklovskii differentiates this commonplace perception from aesthetic perception using speech as his example. Ordinary speech is "economical, easy, proper ... the `direct' expression of a child." The purpose of such speech, in Shklovskii's mind, is to communicate with as much transparency as possible. This is in contrast to "poetic" speech, which defamiliarizes and disorients: "The technique of art is to make objects `unfamiliar,' to make forms difficult."
Even though Shklovskii refers to "normal" perception, he is not so much saying that there are different kinds of perceptions, as that perceptual experiences can be distinguished as congruent (and therefore unattended) or dissonant (and therefore challenging and requiring attention). Experience and expectation determine which is familiar and which not. The implicit role for the artist is to estrange the familiar, to challenge our expectations in such a way as to get us to pay attention, to see anew. One of the interesting corollaries of Shklovskii's idea is that of the invisibility of the commonplace: "they do not appear in cognition." Familiarity breeds a particular form of contempt in his mind. It is the contempt of not seeing. It is not even a process of ignoring, since that suggests some action on the part of the viewer. Common perception, it might be inferred, is a kind of blindness. It is the poet's or the artist's role to open eyes.
A commitment to a similar role for the artist is vivid in the Western visual art movements of the 19th and 20th centuries, beginning blatantly with Dada and Surrealism and visible earlier in the aesthetics of the Impressionists, who, after all, were interested in challenging the familiar ways in which we see things. Harold Rosenburg spoke of a form of ostranenie in his book, "The Anxious Object," in which he discussed those works of art in which the process of representation challenges our perception of that which is represented. This may happen in the appropriation of the familiar to be placed in a new and dissonant context, as Marcel Duchamp does with his readymades. Or it may be changing some perceptual aspect of a familiar object, such as scale, texture, material, color, etc., as in the art of Claes Oldenburg. Or it may be in the form of subverting our expectations of paintings themselves, as in the work of the Action Painters or Frank Stella's concentric squares. Ostranenie is equally evident in the Western theater of this century, where conventions, such as the "fourth wall," have been subverted and used to create unexpected experiences for theater-goers.
While the use of this device can be merely clever and the resultant disorientations little more than shallow thrills, Shklovskii, and many artists who have followed in this vein, certainly saw a more serious purpose. It would be well to recall the historical context in which Shklovskii put this idea forward. In the revolutionary Russia of his time, there was a fervent belief in the power of art to conduct social change. More contemporarily, Deanne Bogdan, in a recent book, claims a moral purpose in the experience of ostranenie. She describes it as that which "clarifies values by destabilizing ordinary existence - the making strange of reality," art which opens eyes through a process of decentering consciousness. Though it is not clear that Shklovskii would share Bogdan's view of ostranenie as a tool for values clarification, there can be little doubt that he saw it as a political, and potentially revolutionary, process.
Bogdan, Deanne. Re-Educating the Imagination: Toward a Poetics, Politics, and Pedagogy of Literary Engagement. Portsmouth, N.H.: Boynton/Cook, 1992.
Shklovsky, Viktor 2007. Art as Technique. V. Ñ. Â. ßeik, ed. Literature, Criticism, and Works of Art on Vahid's Webs1te. Accessed Jul 10, 2009 from http://www.vahidnab.com/defam.htm.
amacleod03 commented on the user amacleod03
a deep subject, or so "they" say
July 8, 2009
amacleod03 commented on the word dog
Please see my web site, The Canine in Conversation: Dogs in Metaphor and Idiom, Illustrated. www.metaphordogs.org
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bilby commented on the user amacleod03
Re Milligan quote, the copy I have is 1980 reprint of 1978 first Great Britain edition. The quote appears on page 68.
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