AWADmail Issue 366
July 5, 2009
A Weekly Compendium of Feedback on the Words in A.Word.A.Day and Tidbits about Words and Language
From: Jim Barborak (barborak aol.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--jake
Def: Satisfactory; all right; okay.
A jake is also a young male American Wild Turkey.
From: Janet Carleton (hhdane.mom gmail.com)
Wow! Yours is the opposite meaning to the one I am accustomed to. In my
region of Appalachia someone described as a jake is a bumbler or rube.
I've often wondered if the derogatory term jake is related to the name
of the immature tom wild turkey. Jakes, turkey teenagers, don't quite
know which end is up. Wild turkeys are common here as are turkey hunters.
From: Randi Gray (randi.j.gray wv.gov)
If my father said that something or someone looked jakey, it wasn't a
compliment. It had to do with being unrefined, synonymous with being a hick.
From: Bowie Gilmour (bowiegilmour hotmail.co.uk)
Another meaning: money, as in "I didn't have enough jake to pay the bill."
From: Pete Bennett (peteebennett hotmail.co.uk)
Jake is also slang for the police in certain parts of urban America.
From: Anne Nawawi (anne_nawawi yahoo.com)
This is used cheerfully in Australia all the time as in 'She'll be jake!"
Translation: All is okay.
Have also heard the plural 'jakes' to refer to a latrine, possibly a casual
derivative of 'john'.
From: Neal Sanders (n_h_sanders yahoo.com)
Subject: Jake Brake
A second meaning of 'jake' is as an adjective attached to brake, which
most people know because of signs in communities warning truckers that there
is 'NO JAKE BRAKING'. Such a brake makes a distinct, unpleasant chattering
sound for anyone within earshot. It is the truncated named for the company
(Jacobs) that invented the brake.
From: Leslie E. Reese, M.D. (lereese suddenlink.net)
"Jake" has another meaning, significant in American medical and cultural
history. During Prohibition, one of the popular sources of alcohol was
Jamaican Ginger, aka "Jake", which had a lot more alcohol than ginger. Some
of the "Jake" was adulterated with an organophosphate which caused permanent
damage to the nerves of the extremities, resulting in a high-stepping,
foot-slapping gait called "jake leg" or "jake walk". There are a number
of blues songs which commemorate the malady.
From: Carolyn E. Brown (heiace verizon.net)
It's interesting that "jake" means satisfactory. As a fifth grade
teacher, I hear a lot of slang, some of which I would not repeat here. A
popular one these days is "jack" or "jacked", phonetically very close to
"jake". If something seems unfair, as in, your homework is due tomorrow,
they would respond, "That's jack!" If they think someone stole something,
they would say, "Someone jacked my pencil." (it's almost always on the
floor by their feet...)
From: Paul Hamilton (satyr77 worldnet.att.net)
As a volunteer firefighter in PA, I'd heard the term 'jake' applied to
firefighters in New England, but not in other locales. A little bit of
research led me to this site which offers a comprehensive answer.
From: Mary Ellen (beaucmary aol.com)
I've always know the term Jake to be preceded with Good. Here in Massachusetts,
Boston in particularly Fire Houses use the term A Good Jake as the highest
praise, mostly in honor of a fallen fireman. A Good Jake is a term given by
From: Marilyn Smith (mmmaule comcast.net)
I grew up in the 40s and 50s. My father often called me Jake and I did
not like it. He never explained why he called me this and I never thought
to check a dictionary for a word meaning. So, from today's word, I can
reason that he was telling me I was OK.
From: Linda Kerby (kerby blitz-it.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--rhubarb
Def: A heated dispute; brawl.
A young newspaper editor from a small town in Kansas told me that he was
very proud of a certain headline he had composed. It was in reference to
President Bush Sr.'s comment that he would not eat broccoli, and the reaction
from the agricultural community.
Broccoli rhubarb mushrooms
From: Christian Mondrup (reccmo daimi.au.dk)
The word 'rhubarb' reminds me of a related figurative use of the word,
'rhubarb counterpoint', within music theory. 'Rhubarb counterpoint' is slang
for counterpoint where too much goes on at once. It is probably an analogy
with a drama technique where the effect of an ongoing background dialogue is
achieved by having a number of people saying 'rhubarb, rhubarb ...',
uncoordinated of course. (see)
The composer Arnold Schoenberg (1874-1951) characterized the composition
technique of his contemporary rival, Igor Stravinsky (1882-1971) as
'rhubarb counterpoint'. (see)
From: Garry Geer (garry geerphoto.com)
It is also a description of a sound produced when one sticks their tongue
out to produce a "razzzing" noise, as a sign of disagreement or displeasure.
From: Noel Burn (noelxburn yahoo.com)
In the UK, "rhubarb!" meaning "poppycock", "nonsense", or "rubbish" has been
used for many decades in response to a comment or a dubious statement of
From: Gillian Sweetland (gilliansweetland bigpond.com)
In Australia, we use the term rhubarb as slang for rubbish.
From: Christine Welsh (cwelsh district96.k12.il.us)
I love the argumentative connotation of the word, "rhubarb"! I grow it in my
backyard and occasionally make a pie in which the juices of the tart rhubarb
bubble up through a sweet crumb topping. We like to call this delightfully
tangy dessert, "Rhubarb & Hubbub".
From: Harriet Williams (harrietaz aol.com)
Subject: word similarities
Did you notice how similar the word "rhubarb" is to the name "Anu Garg"? As
well as three letters being in exactly the same positions, if you put the
"g"s in "Garg" into lower case ("garg") and turned them upside down and
backwards they'd become b's as in "barb". Finally, the only difference
between an "h" and an "n" is the little upwards spike on the "h".
Just a little thought.
From: Dave Evans (davee dbsa.org)
You've missed a well-known other use of rhubarb, by the RAF in World
War 2 -- it was the name of a low-level strike operation mounted against
enemy targets in the Occupied Countries - i.e. mainland Europe, usually
by ground attack type fighters, e.g. Typhoons, Thunderbolts, in cloudy
conditions. Very unpopular with the pilots, as the low level nature
resulted in high casualties.
From: Richard Alexander (alexander triton.net)
Subject: jive, jive, and jive
"Jive" also is a slang term for marijuana, as in the song "Hit That Jive
Jack", recorded by Nat King Cole, Diana Krall, and others. ("Hit that jive
Jack. Put it in your pocket till I get back.")
From: Alan Gasser (argasser gmail.com)
Subject: Jive with -- jibe with
I see you've given your seal of approval to the "agrees with" or
"complements" meaning of "jive with". I had always figured that that meaning
was just a mis-pronunciation of jibe with. I'm sure my mom would never
have let that one slip through, and she was the grammar police in our home.
Perhaps this could stimulate you/us to an interesting meditation on how
words change their meaning, even when the original impetus was (or was not)
a mistake that took root in actual cultural speech.
Please note that I did not mistake one "complements" for another, nor make
the "discrete" mistake of a spelling/meaning confusion. Also to mom's credit.
From: Jack Eakins (jackeakins hotmail.com)
Subject: "jive" doesn't jibe
The "origin unknown" of this week's "jive" definition is likely because it's
a Murrican mistake - the word for that definition being "jibe". Common usage
may have, sadly, brought it into Murrican dictionaries. Anyone who says
otherwise may be talkin' jive. Does my speculation jibe with your research?
The word jive in the sense "to go together, to fit in", as a variant
spelling of "jibe", is listed in the Oxford English Dictionary. Though
the OED does add the label US indicating that this usage is popular in
the US. It lists the first citation for this sense from 1943.
In general, how soon a dictionary admits a sense or not is a function
of whether it's a descriptive or a prescriptive dictionary. Eventually
even a prescriptive dictionary has to bow to the relentless flow of
language and revise its entries to reflect the current state of language.
After all, a lexicographer is a reporter of the language, not a judge.
From: David A. Van Baak (dvanbaak calvin.edu)
While living in Ireland, I learned that the local version of 'dibs' was
'bags I', as in, 'bags I those crisps'; more interestingly still, there
was a sort of 'negative dibs' which went as 'fains I', as in 'fains I
the back seat' for expressing a preference _against_ an item.
A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
Words are like money ... it is the stamp of custom alone that gives them
circulation or value. -William Hazlitt, essayist (1778-1830)