from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A hand-held device for swatting flies or other insects, to kill or shoo them.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. an implement with a flat part (of mesh or plastic) and a long handle; used to kill insects


Sorry, no etymologies found.



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  • Excellent point, leather-ears. Very cogently put.

    November 12, 2010

  • Around these parts I would say it is the t and double t that make the distinction, i.e. -water cannot sound the same as -watter as vowels tend to be broader before a single consonant and shorter before a double consonant. Like the difference between hole and holler, or skite and skitter, or halo and hallo, or huge and and hugger, and so on.

    November 10, 2010

  • A jovial chap, drinking icewater,

    Once remarked while regarding a flyswatter,

    "Though a marvelous means

    To smash up insect spleens

    It's terribly bad as a rice-wadder."

    November 10, 2010

  • Maybe it has to do with the "finishing" sound of each word, e.g. "fly" is going to have a long-I sound no matter what follows it, because it's the end of that word. "Ice" wouldn't, because it's the S-sound that finishes that word.

    I bet qroqqa has something better.

    November 9, 2010

  • Okay, that makes sense. The two words are pronounced differently after all. Whew!

    But this raises a new question. Why are the two words pronounced differently? That is, why does the s in flyswatter not shorten the preceding vowel in the same way that the s in icewater does?

    November 9, 2010

  • qroqqa (as always) put it better than I could, but I concur: where you mentally place the S-sound has an effect on the preceding vowel.

    I think I may have posted a similar conundrum re: "writer" vs. "rider" (for Americans who don't pronounce the T as a T but more like a D). But I can't remember where (and it isn't on either writer or rider).

    November 8, 2010

  • The difference is detectable. A voiceless consonant significantly shortens a preceding vowel, so the vowel of aɪs is shorter than that of flaɪ. The difference is retained in compounds.

    November 8, 2010

  • Does this word rhyme with icewater? On paper, , it seems as if it should -- they both end in aɪswɔːɾər -- but I just can't agree. There's something unrhymable about these two words.

    I think it has something to do with the location of the s. In "icewater", the s is the coda of the first syllable. In "flyswatter", the s is part of the onset of the second syllable.

    But should that really make a difference? If I spoke these two words to someone who'd never heard them before, and didn't know what the words mean or how they're spelled, that person would have no idea whether the s belongs to the first syllable or the second syllable.

    This implies, in turn, that rhyming can sometimes depend on the etymology of words, and that conclusion freaks me out.

    November 8, 2010