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AWADmail Issue 576

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

From: Ro Blake (rhobee comcast.net)
Subject: poker-faced

My parents loved to play poker with their friends. Mama was very talkative and vivacious. But when she had a good hand she would immediately close up ranks and put on a poker-face, so everyone knew it. And she never could understand how they knew it.

Ro Blake, Sonoma, California

From: Phillip Schopper (philopper aol.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--four-flush

The point of it is that you lay your cards down on the table in such a way that the cards obscure the fact that one of your flush cards is actually not of the same suit. This is bold and dastardly. It is far beyond simply bluffing that you have a flush when you don't.. This means you are intent on cheating. You are a cheater. A bluffer is just playing the game. But a four-flusher is actually trying (with something that is close to sleight of hand) to cheat his fellow players.

Phillip Schopper, New York, New York

From: Nick Blitz (nick.blitz york-england.eclipse.co.uk)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--penny-ante

Consider a more recognisable equivalent in UK English of 'small beer' -- which is really a reference dating back to sailing ships ...and when the Royal Navy gloriously ruled the waves.

When not only did the crew enjoy the RIGHT to a daily tot of rum but to a small beer -- weak, watered-down beer. (Far safer than drinking plain water at the time)

Sad to say, there is no such room for similar tradition in the current ruler of the waves: the US Navy ... whose ships are dry!


'Small beer' though is said with an effective derisive sneer in a more general sense, not merely small stakes bets, but to express near-contempt for any form of investment where the commitment made is small and both risk and reward are of no significance ... so the possibility of adverse consequences is, effectively, nil.

Nick Blitz, York, UK

From: Marvin Berkson (bingo1939 sbcglobal.net)
Subject: standpat

My wife Patricia and I sometimes argue. When she feels she's won the discussion, she will stand pat.

Marvin Berkson, Foster City, California

From: Mary Knapp (mary.knapp gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--standpat

The word standpat reminds me of a gentleman we knew who hosted Richard Nixon at his home in Coconut Grove, Florida. During the conversation, Nixon intoned "we can't stand pat." to which his host replied heartily, "Neither can I!" Nixon's wife was named Pat.

Mary Knapp, Miami, Florida

From: Merilyn Thomas (thomas.merilyn bigpond.com)
Subject: Standpat

I have heard of 'sitpat' for the last 50 years and at least as long as I have been playing Monopoly and other games where one sits pat on one position and doesn't move one way or the other, purchase more properties or sell properties.

Merilyn Thomas, Townsville, Australia

From: Thomas Meek (orngtbby frontier.com)
Subject: Stand pat

In this usage, the dying gambler is not expressing stubbornness, but wants his friends to know that he did not die broke.. Pride, but not necessarily stubbornness.

from: "I Went Down to St. James Infirmary..."
by Robert W. Harwood

"...When I die I want you to dress me
in straight-laced shoes,
A box-back coat and a Stetson hat;
Put a twenty-dollar gold piece on my watch chain
So the boys'll know I died standing pat."

Nobody knows who first sang the song or when. In 1929, Joe Primrose (otherwise known as Irving Mills) copyrighted this version.

Thomas Meek, Fort Wayne Indiana

The great enemy of clear language is insincerity. -George Orwell, writer (1903-1950)

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