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A.Word.A.Day--hors de combat

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hors de combat (awr duh kawn-BA) adverb or adjective

Out of action; disabled.

[From French, literally, out of fight.]

Gotcha! All those who thought today's term meant "combat horse" raise your hands. Yes, this term has nothing to do with this week's theme but I thought a little horseplay was in order at the close of the week. I decided to throw it in as a red-herring, to mix another animal metaphor. A similar, more common word, is hors d'oeuvre, literally outside the main course. -Anu

"To his (Steve Waugh's) acute disappointment he was hors de combat with a hamstring tear when the Australians rallied from behind to win at Bangalore in 1998." Mike Coward; An Indian Summer Beckons; The Australian (Sydney, Australia); Dec 29, 2000.

"Wounded in the latest skirmish, the boss is by no means hors de combat." France's National Front: Who's Boss?; The Economist (London, UK); Sep 5, 1998.

This week's theme: words of horse-related origins.


It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts. -Arthur Conan Doyle, physician and writer (1859-1930)

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