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Feb 18, 2011
This week's theme
Polysemantic words

This week's words
fell
pip
parity
seadog
fluke

fluke
Illustration: Rebekah Potter

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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

fluke

PRONUNCIATION:
(flook)

MEANING:
noun:
1. The flat, triangular piece at the end of an arm of an anchor.
2. A barb or barbed head on a harpoon, arrow, etc.
3. Either of the two lobes of a whale's tail.

ETYMOLOGY:
Of uncertain origin. Earliest documented use: 1561.

USAGE:
"There are very, very sharp indents. They almost look like the fluke of an anchor might have done it."
With Surf and Oil Up, California Closes Beaches; The Washington Post; Feb 11, 1990.

"Ice sculptors carved a throne resembling the fluke of a whale descending into the water."
Bryan Boyhan; HarborFrost a Success; The Sag Harbor Express (New York); Feb 6, 2011.


MEANING:
noun: A chance occurrence, especially a stroke of good luck.

ETYMOLOGY:
Of uncertain origin. Earliest documented use: 1857.

USAGE:
"It wasn't a fluke. We have been working hard on it."
Robert Craddock; Reds Coach Ewen McKenzie; The Courier-Mail (Australia); Feb 2, 2011.


MEANING:
noun:
1. A flatfish, especially a flounder of the genus Paralichthys.
2. A trematode: a type of flatworm.

ETYMOLOGY:
From Old English floc. Ultimately from the Indo-European root plak- (flat), which is also the source of flake, flaw, placenta, and supple. Earliest documented use: Before 700.

USAGE:
"Angler Keith Budd caught this 28", 7-pound fluke."
Dave Monti; Fluke Fishing Tips and Rigs; Warwick Beacon (Rhode Island); May 28, 2010.


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

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
If you want to understand your government, don't begin by reading the Constitution. It conveys precious little of the flavor of today's statecraft. Instead, read selected portions of the Washington Telephone Directory, such as pages 354-58, which contain listings for all the organizations with titles beginning with the word "National". There are, of course, the big ones, like the National Association of Manufacturers, and the National Association of Broadcasters. But the pages teem with others, National Cigar Leaf Tobacco Association, National Association of Mirror Manufacturers, National Association of Miscellaneous Ornamental and Architectural Products Contractors, National Association of Margarine Manufacturers. -George Will, columnist and author (b.1941)

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