Monthly Archives: September 2013

Acronym — common product names

acronyms_for-productsAcronyms are words that are formed from the initial letters of a name, such as WAC for Women’s Army Corps or by combining initial letters or parts of a series of words, such as scuba for self-contained underwater breathing apparatus.

The Reader’s Digest recently shared some common product names that are acronyms.   (I get interesting emails from Reader’s Digest.)

Here is the link to the site so you can see how the products such as WD-40, CVS,  M &Ms, Yahoo and others came to be.

PRODUCT NAMES THAT ARE ACRONYMS

See more at the Reader’s Digest website.

 

Landlubber may not mean what you think

landlubber_definition

WordsByBob is amazed when each day the site analytics show that people from many countries read this blog about words

The statistics for the site since February show that people from more than 170 countries have viewed this blog on the use, misuse and humor in words.

As you might expect, the United States is first, followed by the U. K, Canada and Australia.

My guess is that some readers in other countries are using this as part of their tools to learn the English language.

So, with that in mind, today’s word is landlubber.  The word is also spelled land lubber.

I had forgotten about this word until I heard it spoken on a radio talk show recently.

A landlubber is someone who is no good at sea. This person may be an inexperienced seaman or a person unfamiliar with the sea.

Contrary to popular belief, many people think that the word landlubber is simply a mispronunciation of land-love.  This is not true.

The lubber part of the works refers to butterfingered, lumbering nincompoops. Rookie sailors may be given the label landlubber.

The word landlubber, first recorded in the late 1690s, is formed from land and the earlier lubber. This lubber dates from the fourteenth century

In the mid-1400th century it meant a big, clumsy, stupid fellow who lives in idleness.  It comes from lobre, or lobi. This word meant a plump, lazy lout, and is of Scandinavian origin.

Bistro — what is it?

bistro_definition

Bistro was the word that I recently encountered.

Of course, I have heard the term and been to eateries that bill themselves as bistros.

In my other blog about businesses in Loveland, Colorado, I recently wrote about a restaurant that was called a bistro.

In this case, Sofia’s Bistro has recently changed its name and menu. It is now La Casa, a Mexican bar and grill.

In chatting with the owner (the place did not change hands) he gave a couple of reasons for the switch.

He felt that many people stayed away from his eating establishment because they perceived a bistro as being an expensive place.

This perception is held locally in part because there is a place in a nearby town that is called Jay’s Bistro.  It is in fact high-end.  I call places like this “anniversary restaurants” because I only frequent them on special occasions.

If people did their word research on the term bistro, here is what they would find.

A bistro is a small, modest, European-style restaurant or café.  It can also be a small nightclub, bar or tavern.

Another definition I found says a bistro is a small or unpretentious restaurant.

Wikipedia gives this etymology of the word bistro

The origins of the word bistro are uncertain. Some say that it may derive from the Russian bistro, “quickly.”

According to an urban legend, it entered the French language during the Russian occupation of Paris in 1815.  Russian officers or cossacks who wanted to be served quickly would shout “bystro.”

However, this etymology is not accepted by several French linguists as there is, notably, no occurrence of this word until the end of the 19th century.[3] Others say the name comes from a type of aperitif, called a bistrouille  (or liqueur coffee), served in some reasonably priced restaurants.

Wary or leery — which is it?

wary-vs-leery

Words that are close in definition or meaning sometimes confuse me. This is true  of wary and leery.   They seem very similar.   An internet search was not much help.

WARY

When you feel or show caution about a possible danger or problem.

Relate words (synonyms) are alert, cautious, careful, chary, circumspect, on your guard or on your toes.

LEERY

This word usually means cautious or wary (see, it gets tangled here) due to realistic suspicions.

Related words are careful, chary, cautious, distrustful, guarded and suspicious

Both words are adjectives.  Usually wary and leery are followed by the word of.

For example, one is leery of strangers.

Amazing Sentence in English

I don’t know the origin of this piece of writing.  I saw it  the English Whirled Wide Facebook page.  

Someone had a great mind and spent a lot of time on this.

Photo: Not whirled wide English but an amazing sentence worth sharing!!

Gaffe — what is it?

gaffe_definition

On public radio the other day, they were discussing someone making a gaffe or social blunder.

Here is some info on this word

Gaffe means a social blunder or faux pas.  It usually entails the use of a tactless remark.

This remark, although usually unintentional, causes embarrassment to the originator of said comment.

Secondarily, a gaffe can be a blatant mistake or misjudgment.

The word is French in origin (from Old French word gaff), and means hook.  Maybe you should get the hook if you commit a gaffe.

Clean bill of health

clean_bill_of_health

In the last two, weeks, I have had an annual visit to my family doctor and my cardiologist.  Funny how that works, as you get older.

In both visits, I was told everything is fine.  I remember when this used to happen, someone would say, “I got a clean bill of health.”

The term means exactly that — an assurance that someone is healthy. It can also apply a business after they are checked out.

Long ago, the clean bill of health was a taken more literally.  It meant a certificate from the proper authority that a ship is free from infection.  All the crew of the ship were in good health , in other words.

Wikipedia describes a clean bill of health as:

A bill of health is a document issued by the consul or the public authorities of the port which a ship sails from, descriptive of the health of the port at the time of the vessel’s clearance. A clean bill of health certifies that at the date of its issue no infectious disease was known to exist either in the port or its neighborhood. A suspected or touched bill of health reports that rumors were in circulation that an infectious disease had appeared but that the rumor had not been confirmed by any known cases. A foul bill of health or the absence of a clean bill of health implies that the place the vessel cleared from was infected with a contagious disease. The two latter cases would render the vessel liable to quarantine.