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May 1, 2013
This week's theme
Words borrowed from other languages

This week's words
mojo
boondocks
gam
mammonism
leviathan

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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

gam

PRONUNCIATION:
(gam)

MEANING:
noun: 1. A leg, especially a woman's attractive leg.
noun: 2. A school of whales. 3. A social visit, especially between whalers or ship crews.
verb tr., intr.: 4. To hold such a visit; to spend time talking.

ETYMOLOGY:
For 1: Probably from Polari, from Italian gamba (leg), from Latin gamba (leg). Polari is a jargon used among actors, circus performers, etc. in the UK. Earliest documented use: 1789.
For 2-4: Perhaps a dialectal variant of game. Earliest documented use: 1850.

USAGE:
"They didn't call her 'The Girl With the Million Dollar Legs' for nothing: the actress Betty Grable insured her gams for $500,000 each."
Celebrities and Their Insured Body Parts; Calgary Sun (Canada); Nov 3, 2009.

"If the captain wanted to turn his vessel around in mid-sea to follow a gam of whales for a few miles, he could do so."
Art Maier; Adventure Afloat; The Washington Post; Feb 6, 1994.

See more usage examples of gam in Vocabulary.com's dictionary.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
In a completely rational society, the best of us would be teachers and the rest of us would have to settle for something less, because passing civilization along from one generation to the next ought to be the highest honor and the highest responsibility anyone could have. -Lee Iacocca, automobile executive (b. 1924)

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