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May 6, 2010
This week's theme
Verbally speaking

This week's words
asseverate
scarper
imbricate
batten
vellicate

battened hatch
A battened-down hatch on an old boat

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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

batten

PRONUNCIATION:
(BAT-n)

MEANING:
1. verb: To fatten or to grow fat; to thrive and prosper at another's expense.
2. noun: A long strip of wood, metal, or plastic used for strengthening something.
3. verb: To fasten or secure using battens.

ETYMOLOGY:
For 1: From Old Norse batna (to improve). Ultimately from the Indo-European root bhad- (good), which is also the source of the words better and best.
For 2, 3: From Old French batre (to beat), from Latin battuere (to beat).

NOTES:
The term is often heard in the idiom "to batten down the hatches" meaning to prepare for a difficult situation or an impending disaster. It is nautical in origin. Literally speaking, to batten down is to cover a ship's hatch (an opening in the deck) with a tarpaulin and strips of wood in preparation for an imminent storm.

USAGE:
"Once-promising migrant visa plan shelved as U.S. battens down the hatches."
James Blears; Stuck in Limbo; Business Mexico (Mexico City); 2003.

"You've battened on me for a bitter-long day;
But I'm driving you forth, and forever and aye,
Hunger and Thirst and Cold."
Robert William Service; The Bohemian; 1914.

See more usage examples of batten in Vocabulary.com's dictionary.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
The ultimate sense of security will be when we come to recognize that we are all part of one human race. Our primary allegiance is to the human race and not to one particular color or border. -Mohamed ElBaradei, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (b. 1942)

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