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A.Word.A.Day--airy-fairy

Pronunciation RealAudio

airy-fairy (AIR-ee FAIR-ee) adjective

1. Light, delicate, fragile.

2. Fanciful, impractical, unrealistic.

[From Alfred, Lord Tennyson's 1830 poem Lilian whose opening lines are:
Airy, Fairy Lilian,
Flitting, fairy Lilian,
When I ask her if she love me,
Claps her tiny hands above me,
Laughing all she can.]

"The slated Indian tour in Pakistan, one must remember, is not an airy-fairy attempt to bridge the subcontinental divide."
Pad Up And Play; Hindustan Times (New Delhi, India); Feb 11, 2004.

"Rita is no airy-fairy artistic pipe-dreamer."
Liz Kennedy; Wouldn't It Be Cool to Have An Iceberg?; The Belfast News Letter (Northern Ireland); Aug 10, 2004.

It's time for The Reduplicatives. That could be the name of a rock band - the one known for razzle-dazzle and their hoity-toity demeanor. They come in pairs, make a little chit-chat, and then hurry-scurry off to their next go-go gig.

Reduplicatives are words formed when a term is either repeated exactly (as in bonbon), or with a slight variation in the vowel (as in ping-pong), or consonant (as in higgledy-piggledy). This process of compound word formation is known as reduplication.

So let's not shilly-shally or be wishy-washy but look at the mish-mash of such super-duper terms, sometimes also called ricochet words, this week.

-Anu Garg

X-Bonus

In the absence of touching and being touched, people of all ages can sicken and grow touch-starved. -Diane Ackerman, writer (1948- )

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