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BLACK SWAN

PRONUNCIATION: (BLAK swan)

MEANING: noun:
1. An unpredictable occurrence that has major consequences.
2. Something extremely rare.

ETYMOLOGY: From the former belief that all swans were white until black swans were discovered in Australia in 1697.
Earliest documented use: 1570.
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BRACK SWAN - a graceful bird which swims in salty water

BACK SWAN - a retrograde popular dive

A-LACK SWAN - "SWN"

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GOWK

PRONUNCIATION:
(gouk, gohk)

MEANING:
noun: 1. A foolish person.
2. A cuckoo.
verb tr.: To make a fool of or to stupefy.
verb intr.: To stare foolishly.

ETYMOLOGY:
From Old Norse gaukr (cuckoo). Earliest documented use: 1325.
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HOWK - erstwhile Yankees and Red Sox manager

GROW K - you can raise aquamephyton in your own back yard by planting Kale (though that's not the origin of the name)

AGO WK - seven days in the past

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LAME DUCK

PRONUNCIATION: (LAYM duhk, laym DUHK)

MEANING: noun:
1. An elected official soon going to be out of office due to losing a re-election bid, not running again, or being ineligible to run again.
2. Something or someone weak, unsuccessful, ineffectual, disabled, helpless, etc.
3. Someone who cannot fulfill their contracts, especially one who has lost a great deal of money in stocks or other speculations.

ETYMOLOGY: The term originated in the London Stock Exchange where a stockbroker who lost a lot of money and defaulted on his debts was called a lame duck. Other animal metaphors used in the financial world are bull and bear. Earliest documented use: 1761. The term came to be applied to politics about 100 years later.
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LIME DUCK - a sturdy, green, tightly woven canvas-like material, with two yarns in the warp and a single yarn in the weft

LAMA DUCK - the Dalai Donald

FLAME DUCK - Icarus Drake

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HENPECK

PRONUNCIATION: (HEN-pek)

MEANING: verb tr.: To criticize, nag, pester, etc. in a persistent manner.

ETYMOLOGY: The word hen has been used for a woman or a girl for a long time (1555). So has the verb peck for nagging (1641). Earliest documented use for the verb henpeck: 1677.

NOTES: The word is often used in reference to a wife nagging her husband. A henpecked husband is one considered subservient to his wife and a chickenpecked parent is one nagged, harassed, or bullied by a child.
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THENPECK - what you do at a typewriter after youhunt

HANPECK - a Solo air-kiss

HENDECK - where Noah stowed the egg-layers on the ark

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OSTRICHISM

PRONUNCIATION: (OS-tri-chiz-uhm)

MEANING: noun: The act or policy of refusing to face reality or unpleasant facts.

ETYMOLOGY: From the erroneous popular belief that ostriches bury their heads in the sand when facing danger. From Old French ostrusce/ostriche, from Latin struthio (ostrich), from Greek strouthos. Earliest documented use: 1834.
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OSTRI-SCHISM - fragmentation in the bird colony

POST-RICH-ISM - life after bankruptcy

MOST-RICH-ISM - Potlatch-participants' credo

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MITZVAH

PRONUNCIATION: (MITS-vuh)

MEANING: noun:
1. A good deed.
2. A duty, obligation, or commandment.

ETYMOLOGY: From Hebrew mitzvah (commandment), from tziwwah (to command). Earliest documented use: 1723. Plural: mitzvahs or mitzvoth.
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MIT ZE V.A.H. - ...along with the Veterans' Administration Hospital

MIT, ZVI? AH! - Zvi just got into his first-choice college

M.I.? TZVI? AH... - No, Tzvi just had a heart attack

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CHERUB

PRONUNCIATION: (CHER-uhb)

MEANING: noun: A person, especially a child, with a sweet innocent appearance.

ETYMOLOGY: From Latin cherubim, from Greek kheroubin, from Hebrew kerubim. Ultimately from the Semitic root krb (to praise). Earliest documented use: 825.
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CHERUT- a cigar with a heavenly aroma

CHE TUB - this bath was used during the Cuban Revolution

CHER B - body double for Cherilyn Sarkisian

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TZEDAKAH or ZEDAKAH

PRONUNCIATION: (tsuh-DAH-kuh, -dah-KAH)

MEANING: noun: Charitable giving or charity, especially when seen as a moral obligation.

ETYMOLOGY: From Hebrew tzedaqah (righteousness). Earliest documented use: 1959. Plural: tzedakahs or tzedakot.
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ZEDAKIAH - the book of the Bible between Zephaniah and Habakkuk

TED A.K.A. "H" - Ted adopted a nom-de-plume for his blog

"THE DAK" - AH! - Quarterback Prescott has lived up to his advance billing

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SHEKEL or SHEQEL

PRONUNCIATION: (SHEK-uhl)

MEANING: noun:
1. Money; wealth; cash.
2. A monetary unit of Israel.

ETYMOLOGY: From Hebrew sheqel, from shaqal (to weigh). Ultimately from the Semitic root tql (to weigh), which also gave us scallion and shallot. Earliest documented use: 1560.

NOTES: A shekel was an ancient unit of weight of the Babylonians. From there the term came to be applied to a coin of this weight. In 1980, Israel replaced the pound as its monetary unit with the shekel. Hyperinflation forced the replacement of shekel with the new shekel in 1986. Today, the new shekel is simply called a shekel. Three shekels equal approx. one US dollar.
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SHECKEL - what the Lower East Side bartender gave to the martini he was mixing for James Bond

SHEQUEL - 1. followup tale as related by a drunken storyteller; 2. with a female main character

SHEIKEL - a minor middle-Eastern potentate

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SABBATH

PRONUNCIATION: (SAB-uhth)

MEANING: noun:
1. A day of the week observed as a day of rest.
2. A period of rest.
3. A meeting of witches and sorcerers (typically spelled as sabbat).

ETYMOLOGY: From Old English sabat, from French sabbat, from Latin sabbatum, from Greek sabbaton, from Hebrew sabbat, from sabat (rest). Earliest documented use: 950.

NOTES: Typically, Friday is considered a day of Sabbath by Muslims, Saturday by Jews (and some Christians), and Sunday by Christians. Why not convert to Islam, Judaism, and Christianity and take a three-day weekend off?
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SAAB BATH - what you give to your Swedish car when it gets filthy

AB BATH - ritual dip when you get your college degree

SAMBATH - Brazilian dances, with a lisp

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