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A.Word.A.Day--acid test

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acid test (AS-id test) noun

A crucial test to establish the worth or genuineness of something.

[From the use of nitric acid for testing gold.]

"The acid test of all performances, in the end, is the audience's attentiveness. For the duration of the two hour-long operas, not one chocolate paper rustled. The only disrupting noise was someone sneezing. Once."
Suzanne Joubert, Production Passes Silence Acid Test, Business Day (Johannesburg, South Africa), Nov 8, 2002.

"Chavez, a former paratrooper who led a failed coup himself in 1992, has spent his time since the April coup placing supporters in key positions in the armed forces, using officers' behavior during the overthrow as an acid test of loyalty to decide whom to expel and whom to promote."
T. Christian Miller, Military Remains on Sidelines, The Seattle Times, Dec 22, 2002.

Guest wordsmith Brad Chase, a former Microsoft executive and creator of word game Derivation writes:

It was a sunny Seattle afternoon (the kind we get once in a blue moon), and friends were over for barbecue. I noticed that the conversation was in English and another language, phrases that we all understood, but whose meaning could not be derived from a dictionary: Get the lead out, bite the bullet, happy as a clam. I remarked that it would be fun to make a game about the origins of words and phrases.

Months later, while idly discussing philanthropy with my wife, the idea of developing the game and giving some of the proceeds to charity emerged. So, work began. For the next nine months, only PhD candidates checked out more books from the library than I did. When I walked past the librarians' desk at our local library and greeted everyone with a big smile, out of the corner of my eye I could see them pointing at me and whispering to each other: What's this guy up to? How many books on etymology can one guy read? Should we alert security, or send him to a psychiatrist?

The first working model of Derivation consisted of a game board, made of drywall, and stacks of index cards I filled out from my research. I ran test games to refine the concept and improve playability. At the end of October, my company Entspire started selling the final games at resellers across the country and on our website. Feedback has been great, with some people saying they had never laughed so hard and others saying "I always wondered why we say that." This week's AWAD brings you a few of the terms featured in the game. I hope you enjoy them.


A man has to live with himself, and he should see to it that he always has good company. -Charles Evans Hughes, jurist (1862-1948)

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