Our Feb. 15 discussion of out of whack prompted a note from Dr. Jim Robnolt of Sherwood:
"I could not help but think about the basic meaning of whack — 'to strike sharply.' It seems to me that the meaning of 'out of whack' is self-evident. A carpenter, a mason, or an iron worker knows the feel of the hammer or sledge hitting the head of a nail or spike properly. There is a resonance in the head of the hammer. When, by chance, the peen hits the object at an angle, there is a notably different and dangerous feel. The 'out of whack' is when the peen is hitting the surface of the pin incorrectly. When the hammer does that, the chance for a bent nail or even a shard from a spike are increased. What every heavy work artisan strives for, I think, is to make certain every strike is dead center and completely in whack. When your strike is centered and solid, there is a harmonic resonance; when the strike is off, there is dissonance and danger."
We've mentioned Lake Superior State University's annual list of overused and misused words. Matt Groening, creator of "The Simpsons," also compiles a list of forbidden words, published annually in his other creation, the comic strip "Life in Hell." For 2012, he forbids, among others, adorkable, bromance, game-changer, meme and OMG. I'd put webinar on there.
The liberal magazine The American Prospect published a list of old words given new meanings by conservatives. That list includes "Free Speech: Money" and "Family Values: A hierarchial system based on patriarchy and property."
"A friend of mine from Mississippi related to me a saying often used by an older friend of his, now deceased. She would say, 'Nothing goes across the devil's back that hasn't gone under his belly first.' He liked the saying (as do I) but never knew what it meant. Do you?" No, but I'd like to.