Definitions

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Spinning or rotary motion given to a ball around the vertical axis, as in billiards or bowling.

Etymologies

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  • What if languages were people? Also, see sammich.

    May 14, 2010

  • "Prediction #16: There will be No C, X or Q in our every-day alphabet. They will be abandoned because unnecessary. Spelling by sound will have been adopted, first by the newspapers. English will be a language of condensed words expressing condensed ideas, and will be more extensively spoken than any other. Russian will rank second."
    - 'What May Happen in the Next Hundred Years', Ladies Home Journal, Dec 1900.

    November 16, 2008

  • Whew! Telofy, you've got an intriguingly eccentric facility with English. Press on, amigo!

    October 3, 2008

  • @plethora & chained_bear: Yes, I totally agree. I really like German, yet there are various aspects that cause me to love English. Most of them are certainly utterly unconscious, a few others I think I have identified: In English there are so many words. The OED contains about 600,000 words, while the Duden holds about 130,000 to 145,000 words including common examples of those German compound nouns, by the help of which you can theoretically build infinitely many "correct" words. Of course there are also quite a lot foreign words, but while the wikipedia article on the English language says "the excessive use of Latinate words is considered at times to be either pretentious or an attempt to obfuscate an issue." in German it suffices to use just one of those foreign words and 80% of the population will be utterly discombobulated, will think you an arrogant pretentious spado (nothing against spados, it's a word Gene Wolfe used so I had to recycle it) and henceforth eschew you. With the remaining 20% it's real fun. Sometimes I could talk German with a friend of mine and in the course of this we used so many foreign and old words that save for us no one around us understood what we were talking about. In English even the most synonymous synonyms, of which there is such a variety, have each distinctly different connotations. I imagine, with what precision I could limn my thoughts once I acquired the necessary expertise. Also I yearn to read (and understand to some degree^^) works by Shakespeare and Joyce. Much similarly there is this fluency: I've read German texts by Novalis, which are gorgeous and convey a sense of flow that is marvelous, but almost anything else I've read and I'm reading sounds rather harsh and angular... In English it's but onerous for me to come about some text whose fluency, accuracy and elegance is such that—in a very positive sense—it gave me the creeps (looking for a better depiction).
    Also there seems to be a much greater potential for puns in English than in German (very important point for me). And last but not, well, last of course it is much easier to learn more. In German I have to really strain all my serendipity to come across a new word that is not too specific as to be used in some situation and anyway, almost no one will understand me (ok, that's not the point). In English on the contrary I usually just have to visit a random website to find a few useful words I didn't know. That's much more convenient. Oh, and the dubbers always have so discongruous voices and the lips move all differently. And English slang tends to sound prettier I think.^^
    Hmpf, now I feel bad for all the things I haven't listed...
    Edit: Oh, and wikipedia says: "(...) there is no Academy to define officially accepted words and spellings." which in my view preserves a sense of purity. While within axiomatic systems or quasi-axiomatic ones there is this mathematical and logical purity which is maximized by beautiful precise unambiguous univocal definite definitions, language being a so diametrically opposite and complementary concept seems only to be harmed by such endeavors...

    October 2, 2008

  • Sympathy here, too, plethora. But I love these quirkinesses (not the same as quirks). English is so awesome; so much history of so many peoples is contained within its words and spellings and bizarre usages and homonyms... Makes it hard to learn, but to me it feels more organic or something. I'm at a loss for words. Me loves dat English.

    October 2, 2008

  • All those paradoxes are why I have a love/hate relationship with this language. It's fascinating, but it can be a pain in the proverbial.

    A friend who was in Germany on exchange recently told us that in her host sister's English class they were learning about homonyms and such. She was asked to read a poem similar to that list and she was completely lost.

    I have the greatest sympathy with anyone learning English as a second language. Kudos.

    October 1, 2008

  • From an e-mail, author unknown. It's been around awhile but always fun to see again:


    You think English is easy???

    Read to the end . . . a new twist

    1) The bandage was wound around the wound.

    2) The farm was used to produce produce .

    3) The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.

    4) We must polish the Polish furniture.

    5) He could lead if he would get the lead out.

    6) The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.

    7) Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present .

    8) A bass was painted on the head of the bass drum.

    9) When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes.

    10) I did not object to the object.

    11) The insurance was invalid for the invalid.

    12) There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row ..

    13) They were too close to the door to close it.

    14) The buck does funny things when the does are present.

    15) A seamstress and a sewer fell down into a sewer line.

    16) To help with planting, the farmer taught his sow to sow.

    17) The wind was too strong to wind the sail.

    18) Upon seeing the tear in the painting I shed a tear.

    19) I had to subject the subject to a series of tests.

    20) How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend?

    Let's face it - English is a crazy language. There is no egg in eggplant, nor ham in hamburger; neither apple nor pine in pineapple. English muffins weren't invented in England or French fries in France . Sweetmeats are candies while sweetbreads, which aren't sweet, are meat. We take English for granted.. But if we explore its paradoxes, we find that quicksand can work slowly, boxing rings are square and a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig.

    And why is it that writers write but fingers don't fing, grocers don't groce and hammers don't ham? If the plural of tooth is teeth, why isn't the plural of booth, beeth? One goose, 2 geese. So one moose, 2 meese? One index, 2 indices? Doesn't it seem crazy that you can make amends but not one amend? If you have a bunch of odds and ends and get rid of all but one of them, what do you call it?

    If teachers taught, why didn't preachers praught? If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat? Sometimes I think all the English speakers should be committed to an asylum for the verbally insane. In what language do people recite at a play and play at a recital? Ship by truck and send cargo by ship? Have noses that run and feet that smell?

    How can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same, while a wise man and a wise guy are opposites? You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language in which your house can burn up as it burns down, in which you fill in a form by filling it out and in which, an alarm goes off by going on.

    English was invented by people, not computers, and it reflects the creativity of the human race, which, of course, is not a race at all. That is why, when the stars are out, they are visible, but when the lights are out, they are invisible.

    PS. - Why doesn't 'Buick' rhyme with 'quick' ?


    You lovers of the English language might enjoy this .

    There is a two-letter word that perhaps has more meanings than any other two-letter word, and that is 'UP.'

    It's easy to understand UP, meaning toward the sky or at the top of the list, but when we awaken in the morning, why do we wake UP ? At a meeting, why does a topic come UP ? Why do we speak UP and why are the officers UP for election and why is it UP to the secretary to write UP a report ?

    We call UP our friends. And we use it to brighten UP a room, polish UP the silver; we warm UP the leftovers and clean UP the kitchen. We lock UP the house and some guys fix UP the old car. At other times the little word has real special meaning. People stir UP trouble, line UP for tickets, work UP an appetite, and think UP excuses. To be dressed is one thing, but to be dressed UP is special.
    And this UP is confusing: A drain must be opened UP because it is stopped UP. We open UP a store in the morning but we close it UP at night.

    We seem to be pretty mixed UP about UP ! To be knowledgeable about the proper uses of UP, look the word UP in the dictionary. In a desk-sized dictionary, it takes UP almost 1/4th of the page and can add UP to about thirty definitions. If you are UP to it, you might try building UP a list of the many wa ys UP is used. It will take UP a lot of your time, but if you don't give UP, you may wind UP with a hundred or more. When it threatens to rain, we say it is clouding UP . When the sun comes out we say it is clearing UP...

    When it rains, it wets the earth and often messes things UP.

    When it doesn't rain for awhile, things dry UP.

    One could go on and on, but I'll wrap it UP, for now my time is UP, so........it is time to shut UP!

    Oh . . . one more thing:


    What is the first thing you do in the morning & the last thing you do at night? U-P!


    October 1, 2008

  • Love it. Thanks, u.

    June 11, 2007

  • As heard on MetaFilter:
    I love the Frankenstein's monster that is English. Sewn together out of dead languages and living ones that it kills and uses for spare parts. If the human race were exterminated, English would find a new host or wait for one to evolve. English does not sleep. It waits.

    June 11, 2007