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Dec 11, 2020
This week’s theme
Words derived from metals

This week’s words
brazen
auricomous
philargyry
tinpot
lead balloon

lead balloon
Cartoon: Adam Zyglis / Buffalo News

This week’s comments
AWADmail 963

Next week’s theme
One thing leads to another ...
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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

lead balloon

PRONUNCIATION:
(led buh-LOON)

MEANING:
noun: A complete failure.

ETYMOLOGY:
From lead (a heavy metal), from Old English lead + balloon, from Italian dialectal ballone (large ball), augmentative of balla (ball). Ultimately from the Indo-European root bhel- (to blow or swell), which also gave us ball, boll, bole, bulk, bowl, boulevard, boulder, ballot, folly, and fool. Earliest documented use: 1924.

NOTES:
If something fails, in British English it goes down like a lead balloon, in American English it goes over like a lead balloon. Either way, it’s a flop.

USAGE:
“The band’s name was pinched from Keith Moon, The Who’s drummer, who had suggested in 1966 that a potential group involving him and Mr Page, without a quality singer, would go down like a lead balloon. Mr Page kept a note of “Led Zeppelin”, and thought it was perfect for a new band that would combine music heavy and light.”
Fifty Years on, Led Zeppelin Are Still Idols for Aspiring Rock Stars; The Economist (London); Aug 9, 2018.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
Let us not forget that violence does not live alone and is not capable of living alone: it is necessarily interwoven with falsehood. Between them lies the most intimate, the deepest of natural bonds. Violence finds its only refuge in falsehood, falsehood its only support in violence. Any man who has once acclaimed violence as his method must inexorably choose falsehood as his principle. -Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, novelist, Nobel laureate (11 Dec 1918-2008)

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