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Jun 1, 2009
This week's theme
Words having many unrelated meanings

This week's words
purlicue
trammel
grig
growler
gaff

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  • A.Word.A.Day
    with Anu Garg

    "That's a great deal to make one word mean," Alice said in a thoughtful tone.
    "When I make a word do a lot of work like that," said Humpty Dumpty, "I always pay it extra."

    Alice and Humpty Dumpty in Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking Glass might as well have been talking about this week's words. While the word "set" has the largest number of meanings -- the Oxford English Dictionary has 26 pages devoted to this little three-letter word -- each of this week's hard-working words has many unrelated meanings that are interesting.

    Come to think of it, Alice's one word mean can mean more than one mean word. With this week's words in AWAD Humpty Dumpty is going to have to pay a lot. Let's get our money's worth.

    purlicue

    PRONUNCIATION:
    (PUHR-li-kyu)

    MEANING:
    noun:
    1. The space between the extended forefinger and thumb.
    2. A flourish or curl at the end of a handwritten word. Also known as curlicue.
    3. A discourse, especially its summarizing part.

    ETYMOLOGY:
    Of uncertain origin, probably from Scots pirlie (curly).

    USAGE:
    "Won Li's attentions moved to the weblike purlicue between my thumb and forefinger."
    Suzann Ledbetter; A Lady Never Trifles with Thieves; Pocket; 2003.

    A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
    Perfect valor is to behave, without witnesses, as one would act were all the world watching. -Francois, duc de La Rochefoucauld, moralist (1613-1680)

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