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AWADmail Issue 65

Jaunary 13, 2002

A Weekly Compendium of Feedback on the Words in A.Word.A.Day and Other Interesting Tidbits about Words and Languages


From: Paul Klenck (klenckpATattbi.com)
Subject: Sport theme - Hat trick

This week's theme of words with sports origins fits hand in (baseball) glove here in Chicago, but today's stock market columnist went a little overboard. Chicago Tribune writer Bill Barnhart had six phrases with sport origins in the first few sentences of his column. This included his describing modest returns on stocks, safety and profits in bonds and a recovery in the overall economy as "the hat trick" for investors.

Barnhart also wrote of "the tough balancing act"--gymnastics; "up, up and away"--hot air ballooning; "in their pocket"--billiards; "the tables have turned"--chess; and "the dominoes are beginning to line up."


From: John Merriam (john.merriamATharveybrockless.co.uk)
Subject: Re: words from sports

Great word, thanks. Did you know that the cricketing word "duck" (meaning zero) relates to the tennis word "love"? One is short for "duck egg" which looks like a 0 and the other comes from the French "l'oeuf".


From: Robert Tolmach (rtolmachATnyc-expo.com)
Subject: idioms

I once looked at a book of French idioms, and noted that whereas ours are mostly sports-related, there are invariably about food.

"Je suis tomb? aux pommes" (I fell in the apples), for I fainted.


From: Lawrence Chalmer (chalmerlATndu.edu)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--sticky wicket

Ref your comments today on sports metaphors. I discuss this frequently in my classes on multinational adaptation / acculturation. E.g. rolled a perfect 300, batted a ...., threw him out, your work was a line drive, be the fullback on this issue, and the often used comment from basketball - you'll miss 100% of the shots you don't take.


From: Gene Boyd (geneboydATdsplus.com)
Subject: Not born with the sports gene

I can relate to your comment about not being born with the "sports gene". I stopped at my brother's house one day and noticed that he was watching football, so I asked: "Who's playing?" He looked surprised and said: "It's the Superbowl!". "Oh", I replied..."Who's playing?"


From: Siddharth Suri (suriATesuri.com)
Subject: Re:: A.Word.A.Day--sticky wicket

One way to respond to all sports-related questions or comments is to simply say "darn defence!". These two words will make you seem very knowledgeable about any sport and any game. Except maybe fishing.


From: Howard Germain (germATwebtv.net)
Subject: real world of sports

You have contrasted the "real" world with the world of sports. Alas, sports are all too real. We have become a nation (if not a world) of gladiators... one of the leading indicators of a declining civilization! (see Edward Gibbon.)


From: Michele Boddewyn (mboddewynATgaynordesign.com)
Subject: Absence of sports gene

I love your self-description of being born w/o the sports gene. I like your reply to the supermarket check out question. My reply is usually and the Yankees are ... basketball?


From: Jim Jardine (jimATjardine-engineering.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--sticky wicket

On being sports challenged: When guys (hardly ever a woman) ask, "So, what did you think of that game last night?" My usual reply is, "What were they playing?"


From: Michael Eby (mebyATspecialdata.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--sticky wicket

I loved the comment about the sports talk.

My friend: "So, yeah... did you see when Trent Dilfer made that awesome touchdown last night?"
Me: "Yeah... and then when he ran to second base... that was like, so cool."
My friend: " ... "
My friend: "Oooookaaay... anyways."


From: Douglas D. Connah, Jr. (ddconnahATvenable.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--dipsy doodle

In 1937, the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra recorded a tune that became a hit, "The Dipsy Doodle," by Larry Clinton. The melody "was sort of a wacky-sounding thing, and it it needed a wacky-sounding title," said Clinton, quoted in George T. Simon's "The Big Band Songbook" (1975). "Then I remembered Carl Hubbell of the Giants and the screwball pitch he used to throw. They called it the dipsy doodle pitch, so that's what I called my new tune."


From: Byron Douglass (bjdouglassATuhs.com)
Subject: dipsy doodle

Dipsy Doodle was a popular song of years past. Who can remember what movie it was featured in? I found the words on the Internet. Here they are:

The Dipsy Doodle
Tommy Dorsey

The dipsy doodle is the thing to beware
The dipsy doodle will get in your hair
And if it gets you, it couldn't be worse
The things you say will come out in reverse
Like "You love I and me love you!"
That's the way the dipsy doodle works.
You can't eat, you can't sleep. You go crazy.
You're just a victim of the dipsy doodle
And it's not your mind that's hazy
It's your heart that's at fault - not your noodle.
You better listen and try to be good
And try to do all the things that you should
The dipsy doodle will get you some day
And when it gets you the things you will say
Like the moon jumped over the cow - hey diddle!
That's the way the dipsy doodle works.


From: Charlie O'Reilly (charlieZebATaol.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--dipsy doodle

The Dickson Baseball Dictionary (Paul Dickson, 1989) describes it thusly:

1. n. A slow, tantalizing curveball.
2. n. Term for any odd-breaking pitch, including a suspected spitball.

Dickson notes about five different spellings and then quotes Edward J. Nichols: "The uncertainty as to spelling is typical of terms invented by the players rather than the sports reporters."


From: Allan LeBaron (allan_lebaronAThotmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--hat trick

"Hat trick" as used in ice hockey refers to, where scoring three goals in a game is a tremendous achievement for a single player, and which results in the spectators throwing their hats onto the ice with the scorer skating around picking them up to general acclaim. The game can't continue until all the hats are taken off the ice, so the more hats the longer the cheering lasts.


From: Ellison Goodall (brideyrevisitedATaol.com)
Subject: playing cricket

What about the euphemism, "to play cricket" usually in the negative. "That's not playing cricket" - not being fair, with an implication to unsportsmanlike behavior; I admonish my children with this phrase if they have done something not completely sportsmanlike or seemingly unfair, whether or not sports is involved in the matter. Especially odd since we are definite Americans and while my children have seen cricket played, they really know very little about the game.

    Good idiom you mention here. Usually it goes as, "That's not cricket." -Anu


A word is not the same with one writer as with another. One tears it from his guts. The other pulls it out of his overcoat pocket. -Charles Peguy, poet and essayist (1873-1914)

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