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