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May 19, 2011
This week's theme
Words derived from circus

This week's words
three-ring circus
desultory
dog-and-pony show
hey rube
jumbo

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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

hey rube

PRONUNCIATION:
(hay roob)

MEANING:
noun:
1. A fight between members of a circus and the general public.
2. A call to rally circus members in a fight.

ETYMOLOGY:
The term originated in the 19th century when circuses were rowdy affairs and "Hey Rube" was the rallying cry to call all circus people to help in a fight with townspeople. It's not clear whether Rube in this term was someone specific or simply a use of the informal term rube (shortened form of Reuben) for an unsophisticated person from a rural area. Earliest documented use: 1882.

USAGE:
"I said 'Shut it, Camel! I'm dealing with a situation here.' Walter says.
'What kind of situation?' says Camel.
'Jacob's messed up.'
'What? How? Was there a hey rube?"
Sara Gruen; Water for Elephants; Algonquin Books; 2006.

"'Hey, Rube,' they would yell. Roustabouts would soon be beating on the trouble-maker."
Bill Conlin; Phillies GM Amaro is Master of the Shell Game; The Inquirer (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania); Dec 17, 2009.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
The measure of a man's real character is what he would do if he knew he would never be found out. -Thomas Babington Macaulay, author and statesman (1800-1859)

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