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A.Word.A.Day--New York minute

Pronunciation RealAudio

New York minute (NOO york MIN-it, NYOO -) noun

A very short period of time; an instant.

[From the allusion to the frenzied pace of life in New York City.]

See more usage examples of new york+minute in Vocabulary.com's dictionary.

"Sometimes in New Orleans, the weather can change in a New York minute."
Janet Angelico; 2nd-graders Invent a Way to Win Contest; Times Picayune (Louisiana); Mar 28, 2004.

"Jambalaya, a spicy Louisiana rice dish, usually takes an hour or more to prepare, but this version's ready in a New York minute."
Meghan Pembleton; Jambalaya's Ready in Minutes When You Use Precooked Rice; The Arizona Republic (Phoenix); Apr 21, 2004.

Once upon a time, a person's name was his complete identification and address. It could comprise his given name, profession, father/mother's name, a personal trait, and even the name of his village. That was because where one lived defined a person as much as anything else. The place of origin often turned into a generic term for some personal characteristic.

The English language is replete with such expressions where the name of a place has become associated with a particular quality, such as laconic (using few words) from Laconia in ancient Greece, bohemian (unconventional) from Bohemia in the Czech Republic, and Siamese (connected twin) from Siam, the former name of Thailand. There are many others.

New Yorkers are stereotyped as people always in a hurry and often rude, although there are many polite and generous New Yorkers. The term New York Minute has been facetiously defined as the time between a New York City traffic light turning green and the driver of the car behind you honking his or her horn.

This week we visit places with names that have become part of the English language.

-Anu Garg

PS: Besides being derived from place names, all five terms this week have something else in common. Can you find out what it is?

X-Bonus

The wise are instructed by reason, average minds by experience, the stupid by necessity and the brute by instinct. -Marcus Tullius Cicero, statesman, orator and writer (106-43 BCE)

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