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AWADmail Issue 366

July 5, 2009

A Weekly Compendium of Feedback on the Words in A.Word.A.Day and Tidbits about Words and Language

From: Jim Barborak (barborak aol.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--jake
Def: Satisfactory; all right; okay.

A jake is also a young male American Wild Turkey.

From: Janet Carleton (hhdane.mom gmail.com)
Subject: Jake

Wow! Yours is the opposite meaning to the one I am accustomed to. In my region of Appalachia someone described as a jake is a bumbler or rube.

I've often wondered if the derogatory term jake is related to the name of the immature tom wild turkey. Jakes, turkey teenagers, don't quite know which end is up. Wild turkeys are common here as are turkey hunters.

From: Randi Gray (randi.j.gray wv.gov)
Subject: Jake

If my father said that something or someone looked jakey, it wasn't a compliment. It had to do with being unrefined, synonymous with being a hick.

From: Bowie Gilmour (bowiegilmour hotmail.co.uk)
Subject: Jake

Another meaning: money, as in "I didn't have enough jake to pay the bill."

From: Pete Bennett (peteebennett hotmail.co.uk)
Subject: Jake

Jake is also slang for the police in certain parts of urban America.

From: Anne Nawawi (anne_nawawi yahoo.com)
Subject: Jake

This is used cheerfully in Australia all the time as in 'She'll be jake!" Translation: All is okay.

Have also heard the plural 'jakes' to refer to a latrine, possibly a casual derivative of 'john'.

From: Neal Sanders (n_h_sanders yahoo.com)
Subject: Jake Brake

A second meaning of 'jake' is as an adjective attached to brake, which most people know because of signs in communities warning truckers that there is 'NO JAKE BRAKING'. Such a brake makes a distinct, unpleasant chattering sound for anyone within earshot. It is the truncated named for the company (Jacobs) that invented the brake.

From: Leslie E. Reese, M.D. (lereese suddenlink.net)
Subject: jake

"Jake" has another meaning, significant in American medical and cultural history. During Prohibition, one of the popular sources of alcohol was Jamaican Ginger, aka "Jake", which had a lot more alcohol than ginger. Some of the "Jake" was adulterated with an organophosphate which caused permanent damage to the nerves of the extremities, resulting in a high-stepping, foot-slapping gait called "jake leg" or "jake walk". There are a number of blues songs which commemorate the malady.

From: Carolyn E. Brown (heiace verizon.net)
Subject: jake

It's interesting that "jake" means satisfactory. As a fifth grade teacher, I hear a lot of slang, some of which I would not repeat here. A popular one these days is "jack" or "jacked", phonetically very close to "jake". If something seems unfair, as in, your homework is due tomorrow, they would respond, "That's jack!" If they think someone stole something, they would say, "Someone jacked my pencil." (it's almost always on the floor by their feet...)

From: Paul Hamilton (satyr77 worldnet.att.net)
Subject: jake

As a volunteer firefighter in PA, I'd heard the term 'jake' applied to firefighters in New England, but not in other locales. A little bit of research led me to this site which offers a comprehensive answer.

From: Mary Ellen (beaucmary aol.com)
Subject: Jake

I've always know the term Jake to be preceded with Good. Here in Massachusetts, Boston in particularly Fire Houses use the term A Good Jake as the highest praise, mostly in honor of a fallen fireman. A Good Jake is a term given by his peers.

From: Marilyn Smith (mmmaule comcast.net)
Subject: Jake

I grew up in the 40s and 50s. My father often called me Jake and I did not like it. He never explained why he called me this and I never thought to check a dictionary for a word meaning. So, from today's word, I can reason that he was telling me I was OK.

From: Linda Kerby (kerby blitz-it.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--rhubarb
Def: A heated dispute; brawl.

A young newspaper editor from a small town in Kansas told me that he was very proud of a certain headline he had composed. It was in reference to President Bush Sr.'s comment that he would not eat broccoli, and the reaction from the agricultural community. Broccoli rhubarb mushrooms

From: Christian Mondrup (reccmo daimi.au.dk)
Subject: Rhubarb

The word 'rhubarb' reminds me of a related figurative use of the word, 'rhubarb counterpoint', within music theory. 'Rhubarb counterpoint' is slang for counterpoint where too much goes on at once. It is probably an analogy with a drama technique where the effect of an ongoing background dialogue is achieved by having a number of people saying 'rhubarb, rhubarb ...', uncoordinated of course. (see)
The composer Arnold Schoenberg (1874-1951) characterized the composition technique of his contemporary rival, Igor Stravinsky (1882-1971) as 'rhubarb counterpoint'. (see)

From: Garry Geer (garry geerphoto.com)
Subject: rhubarb

It is also a description of a sound produced when one sticks their tongue out to produce a "razzzing" noise, as a sign of disagreement or displeasure.

From: Noel Burn (noelxburn yahoo.com)
Subject: rhubarb

In the UK, "rhubarb!" meaning "poppycock", "nonsense", or "rubbish" has been used for many decades in response to a comment or a dubious statement of supposed fact.

From: Gillian Sweetland (gilliansweetland bigpond.com)
Subject: rhubarb

In Australia, we use the term rhubarb as slang for rubbish.

From: Christine Welsh (cwelsh district96.k12.il.us)
Subject: Rhubarb

I love the argumentative connotation of the word, "rhubarb"! I grow it in my backyard and occasionally make a pie in which the juices of the tart rhubarb bubble up through a sweet crumb topping. We like to call this delightfully tangy dessert, "Rhubarb & Hubbub".

From: Harriet Williams (harrietaz aol.com)
Subject: word similarities

Did you notice how similar the word "rhubarb" is to the name "Anu Garg"? As well as three letters being in exactly the same positions, if you put the "g"s in "Garg" into lower case ("garg") and turned them upside down and backwards they'd become b's as in "barb". Finally, the only difference between an "h" and an "n" is the little upwards spike on the "h". Just a little thought.

From: Dave Evans (davee dbsa.org)
Subject: Rhubarb

You've missed a well-known other use of rhubarb, by the RAF in World War 2 -- it was the name of a low-level strike operation mounted against enemy targets in the Occupied Countries - i.e. mainland Europe, usually by ground attack type fighters, e.g. Typhoons, Thunderbolts, in cloudy conditions. Very unpopular with the pilots, as the low level nature resulted in high casualties.

From: Richard Alexander (alexander triton.net)
Subject: jive, jive, and jive

"Jive" also is a slang term for marijuana, as in the song "Hit That Jive Jack", recorded by Nat King Cole, Diana Krall, and others. ("Hit that jive Jack. Put it in your pocket till I get back.")

From: Alan Gasser (argasser gmail.com)
Subject: Jive with -- jibe with

I see you've given your seal of approval to the "agrees with" or "complements" meaning of "jive with". I had always figured that that meaning was just a mis-pronunciation of jibe with. I'm sure my mom would never have let that one slip through, and she was the grammar police in our home.

Perhaps this could stimulate you/us to an interesting meditation on how words change their meaning, even when the original impetus was (or was not) a mistake that took root in actual cultural speech.

Please note that I did not mistake one "complements" for another, nor make the "discrete" mistake of a spelling/meaning confusion. Also to mom's credit.

From: Jack Eakins (jackeakins hotmail.com)
Subject: "jive" doesn't jibe

The "origin unknown" of this week's "jive" definition is likely because it's a Murrican mistake - the word for that definition being "jibe". Common usage may have, sadly, brought it into Murrican dictionaries. Anyone who says otherwise may be talkin' jive. Does my speculation jibe with your research?

The word jive in the sense "to go together, to fit in", as a variant spelling of "jibe", is listed in the Oxford English Dictionary. Though the OED does add the label US indicating that this usage is popular in the US. It lists the first citation for this sense from 1943. In general, how soon a dictionary admits a sense or not is a function of whether it's a descriptive or a prescriptive dictionary. Eventually even a prescriptive dictionary has to bow to the relentless flow of language and revise its entries to reflect the current state of language. After all, a lexicographer is a reporter of the language, not a judge.
-Anu Garg

From: David A. Van Baak (dvanbaak calvin.edu)
Subject: dibs

While living in Ireland, I learned that the local version of 'dibs' was 'bags I', as in, 'bags I those crisps'; more interestingly still, there was a sort of 'negative dibs' which went as 'fains I', as in 'fains I the back seat' for expressing a preference _against_ an item.

Words are like money ... it is the stamp of custom alone that gives them circulation or value. -William Hazlitt, essayist (1778-1830)

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