Columns » Words

Fazed by tase

by

comment

Don't taste me, bro:

"Norwood stated that when he opened the gates, he ordered the inmates to 'catch the wall.' Story did not obey the command ... Norwood threatened Story with a taster."

The reader who submitted this newspaper item suggests that a computer spell-checker, unfamiliar with " taser," changed it to "taster." A criminal defense lawyer, he writes "In my blog I've used 'taser' enough that my word processing program recognizes it." The corporate law firms in town, on the other hand, hardly ever encounter the word. Their clients don't get tased, which may be part of this country's current problems. We've spared the taser and spoiled the financier.

The on-line Merriam-Webster says that Taser is a trademark for "a gun that fires electrified darts to stun and immobilize a person." M-W also lists the verb tase ("often capitalized") — "to shoot with a Taser gun."

The verb became semi-famous a few years back, when national media reported on a college student, pursued by campus police for disrupting a political gathering, who pled with an officer, "Don't tase me, bro." Not feeling brotherly, the cop went ahead and tased.

Hanging noodles, pulled legs:

It sounds like banana oil to me, but according to Jag Bhalla, "thighs shaped like banana trees" is a Bengali compliment to an attractive woman. This is one of the "intriguing idioms from around the world" included in Bhalla's book "I'm Not Hanging Noodles On Your Ears" ($12.95, paper). The title is a Russian idiom for "I'm not pulling your leg," itself an English idiom. Bengali is a language spoken in East India and Bangladesh.

Will Taylor submits what he says is the true story of Google's name, somewhat different from the one I quoted last week. In this version too, the name is derived from the mathematical term googol, which is a number equal to 1 followed by 100 zeroes. But rather than being an accidental misspelling, the version I quoted, the company's founders discovered that the domain name "googol.com" was already taken. So they picked Google instead, figuring that some people, at least, would catch on to the wordplay.

Add a comment

Clicky