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Jun 28, 2021
This week’s theme
Words with many meanings

This week’s words
dobber
bruit
cameo
pillbox
plight

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Previous week’s theme
Rodents
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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

The shorter the word, the more meanings it has. The Oxford English Dictionary lists more than 500 senses of the 3-letter word set.

The 45-letter long pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis on the other hand, has one meaning and will forever have that one meaning. Don’t expect it to evolve into having multiple senses in unrelated fields. Little potential for metaphors. Don’t even think about turning it into a verb.

As they say, it’s not how long it is, but what you can do with it. This week we give you words, short and nimble, that have multiple meanings.

dobber

PRONUNCIATION:
(DOB-uhr)

MEANING:
noun:
1. An informer.
2. In cricket, a bowler, especially a slow bowler.
3. A float for a fishing line.
4. A large marble.

ETYMOLOGY:
For 1, 2: From dob (to inform, to put down, to throw).
For 3: From Dutch dobber (float, cork).
For 4: From dob, a variant of dab (lump).
Earliest documented use: 1836.

USAGE:
“Members of the public regularly reported breaches of regulations to authorities. They identified those who made ‘disloyal’ utterances or had Germanic-sounding surnames, and denounced those who displayed unpatriotic behaviour. To be a dobber was to assert one’s patriotism.”
Philip Deery; How Our Government Clamped Down on Civil Liberties During the First World War; Sydney Morning Herald (Australia); May 23, 2020.

“I am wiser now and sincerely hope one day to see the emergence of a dobber to rival the great Derek Shackleton, of Hampshire, who took 100 wickets in a season 20 times despite, or possibly because of, a pre-match warm-up that consisted of smoking a cigarette while combing his hair.”
Harry Pearson; How We Miss Alderman and the Trusty Trundlers; The Daily Telegraph (London, UK); May 14, 2013.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
What wisdom can you find that is greater than kindness? -Jean Jacques Rousseau, philosopher and author (28 Jun 1712-1778)

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