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Mar 29, 2004
This week's theme
Unusual words

This week's words
bushwa
resistentialism
cock-a-hoop
gadzookery
petrichor
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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

From time to time I receive letters asking about a word featured in this newsletter: "Didn't you just make that one up?" No, I didn't. All words featured in AWAD are listed in at least one general-purpose dictionary. However, someone did use these words for the first time. So someone did coin them, though it's not always clear who that person was. On the other hand, many words have clear lineages that tell us who fathered them. This week we'll see examples of both kinds, all of them rather unusual words that make us wonder "Did someone just make them up?"

bushwa

Pronunciation RealAudio

bushwa (BUSH-wa) noun, also bushwah

Nonsense; bull.

[Of uncertain origin. Perhaps a mispronunciation of bourgeois.]

"The tone of his (Antonin Scalia's) remarks suggested that the court had never before moved social policy along by taking into account changing social mores. Which is, alas, bushwa."
Jon Carroll; His Kingdom For Two More Votes; San Francisco Chronicle; Jun 25, 2002.

"I should've said that his good buddy's fury might be rooted in his own insecurity; that beneath the bushwah about cool, chemistry and leadership is another thin-skinned kid."
Scott Raab; Rodriguez and Jeter Let 7 Sentences Shake Their World; The New York Times; Feb 22, 2004.

X-Bonus

The one thing that doesn't abide by majority rule is a person's conscience. -Harper Lee, writer (b. 1926)

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