Word­watch

Gulf Times Community - - LEISURE - — word­smith.org

con­tund

(kuhn-TUHND) MEAN­ING: verb tr.: To thrash or bruise. ETYMOLOGY:

From Latin con­tun­dere, from con(with) + tun­dere (to beat). Ear­li­est doc­u­mented use: 1599. US­AGE:

“The ma­te­rial of this coat, though lib­er­ally scored and con­tunded, es­pe­cially in the rear, was so thick, and so strong, that it re­mained ex­empt from per­fo­ra­tion.”

ap­ple-pol­ish

(AP-uhl pol-ish) MEAN­ING: verb tr., intr.: To in­gra­ti­ate one­self. ETYMOLOGY:

From the for­mer prac­tice of school chil­dren giv­ing ap­ples to their teach­ers. Ear­li­est doc­u­mented use: 1930s. US­AGE:

“He wasn’t try­ing to ap­ple-pol­ish God; he was merely try­ing to get the help he needed.”

fig leaf

(FIG leef)

MEAN­ING: noun: Some­thing used to cover, usu­ally in­ad­e­quately, what may be shame­ful or em­bar­rass­ing. ETYMOLOGY:

When early days peo­ple used to sew fig leaves to cover their naked­ness. Ear­li­est doc­u­mented use: 1535.

US­AGE:

“The aus­ter­ity agenda has been seized by the Tories as the fig leaf be­hind which to pro­gres­sively un­der­fund health and so­cial care, cre­at­ing to­day’s cri­sis.”

grapevine

(GRAYP-vyn)

MEAN­ING: noun: An in­for­mal trans­mis­sion of in­for­ma­tion, ru­mors, gos­sip, etc., by word of mouth. ETYMOLOGY: Short­en­ing of grapevine tele­graph, ap­par­ently from the spread­ing of a vine to the spread of a tele­graph net­work and ten­drils to wire coils. Ear­li­est doc­u­mented use: 1867. US­AGE:

“He heard through the grapevine about those who suc­cess­fully es­caped across the chan­nel.”

top ba­nana

(TOP buh-NAN-uh) MEAN­ING: noun: The leader of a com­pany, group, etc. ETYMOLOGY:

From the use of ba­nanas as a prop in bur­lesque shows. Ear­li­est doc­u­mented use: 1953. A per­son in a secondary role is called a sec­ond ba­nana.

US­AGE:

“‘I’m no longer go­ing to be in charge,’ Mr. Rig­gio said. ‘I’m done with that. I’m done with be­ing top ba­nana.’”

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