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Mar 1, 2004
This week's theme
Words for body parts used figuratively

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with Anu Garg

Ever met a woman who gave her heart away and yet didn't become heartless? Or a man of short physique who was still big-hearted? Wonder how we may have a change of heart without ever having to go to a heart surgeon? There are people one could call lion-hearted, or those who have a chicken heart, yet they never had heart replacement surgery. There are times when we are warmhearted and on other occasions we might act with a cold heart, without any reference to our body temperature. We may come across a bleeding heart yet never call a cardiologist. Oh, how we use our heart as the metaphor for actions, emotions, intentions, and feelings!

Heart is not the only part of the anatomy we use in this way. This week we'll look at other words for body parts that are used metaphorically. We'll start near the top of the human body and move down as the week progresses.


(JAW-bohn) Pronunciation

1. A bone of either jaw, especially the lower jaw: mandible.
2. Credit; promise.

verb tr.:
3. To try to influence by strong persuasion (as opposed to the use of force). The term is especially used about people in authority dealing in an official capacity.

[Sense 1 is literal. Sense 2 apparently derives from the metaphoric use of jaw (words or talk) + French bon (good). Sense 3 originates with the administration of US President Lyndon Johnson (1963-1969). It implies the use of one's jawbones rather than the muscles of arms. Contrast the term jawboning with strong-arming.]

"Anderson said university officials indicated that they were frustrated, and that informal efforts to jawbone the fans into submission had failed."
Barry Svrluga and Craig Whitlock; Pro-Terps and Profane; The Washington Post; Jan 30, 2004.

"But for oil exporters and shippers in the Caspian, President George Bush's jawboning looks to be as futile as King Canute telling the sea to roll backwards."
John Helmer; Russian Oil Beats Bush to Market; Russia Journal; Feb 4, 2004.


The world is a looking glass, and gives back to every man the reflection of his own face. -William Makepeace Thackeray, novelist (1811-1863)

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