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Feb 15, 2011
This week's theme
Polysemantic words

This week's words
fell
pip
parity
seadog
fluke

pip
Illustration: Rebekah Potter

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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

pip

PRONUNCIATION:
(pip)

MEANING:
noun:
1. The small seed of a fruit, such as an apple or an orange.
2. Something or someone wonderful.

ETYMOLOGY:
Short for pippin, from Anglo-French pepin. Earliest documented use: c. 1450.

USAGE:
"Chairman Ian Palmer is spitting pips."
Jon Morgan; Apple Growers Get the Pip as the Bite Goes on Prices; The Dominion Post (Wellington, New Zealand); Nov 5, 2010.


MEANING:
noun:
1. One of the dots or symbols on a die, playing card, or domino.
2. Any of the diamond-shaped segments on the surface of a pineapple.
3. An insignia on the shoulder indicating an officer's rank.

ETYMOLOGY:
Origin unknown. Earliest documented use: 1604.

USAGE:
"Today the politician gambles with a die so rough-used that none of the pips on its six faces can be read."
Gopalkrishna Gandhi; We, the People; The Hindu (Chennai, India); Dec 26, 2010.


MEANING:
noun:
1. A disease of birds marked by mucus in the mouth.
2. Any minor, nonspecific ailment in a person.

ETYMOLOGY:
From Middle Dutch pippe, from Vulgar Latin pipita, from Latin pituita (phlegm).

USAGE:
"Wash those cups again. And this time, sterilize them. Want everybody around here to come down with the pip?"
Robert A. Heinlein; Red Planet; Scribner; 1949.


MEANING:
noun: The smallest change in the exchange rate for a given currency pair. Most major currencies (except yen) are priced to the fourth decimal place, so a pip is 1/100 of one percent (.0001).

ETYMOLOGY:
Acronym, from Percentage in Point.

USAGE:
"The euro fell around 35 pips versus the dollar to trade at $1.3672."
Euro Falls as Ireland Denies Bailout; Reuters (New York); Nov 12, 2010.


MEANING:
verb tr.:
1. To defeat, especially by a narrow margin or at the last moment.
2. To hit with a gunshot.
3. To blackball.

ETYMOLOGY:
Perhaps from pip, from pippin. Earliest documented use: 1838.

USAGE:
"Grant Skinner of Glencorse pipped former Scottish international Mike Thomson to the top spot."
Martin Dempster; Golf: Skinner Pips Thomson; Scotsman (Edinburgh, Scotland); Nov 12, 2010.


MEANING:
verb intr.: To peep or chirp.
verb tr.: To break through the shell of an egg when hatching.

ETYMOLOGY:
Origin unknown. Earliest documented use: 1846.

USAGE:
"The author's photos of all the life stages of eagles -- from a chick pipping from an egg ... to the final pure white head and tail of adulthood -- are one of the strengths of the book."
Nancy Bent; The Majesty of Flight; Booklist (Chicago); Dec 1, 1999.


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

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. -Carl Sagan, astronomer and writer (1934-1996)

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