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Words, July 23



When somebody says ‘nexus,' I hit 'em in the solar plexus.” — Battling  Bob Fitzsimmons:

“Antonin Scalia, the Supreme Court justice, appearing at the Texas Bar Association's annual meeting in Dallas, said he hates it when lawyers use words like ‘nexus,' adding, ‘Oh, God. It's a Latin word that means “connection.” Say “connection.”  You make it sound scientific.' ”

He's not so bad on language. It's the law he butchers.


“I saw in the paper where some pundit said that Sarah Palin's resignation was ‘gobsmacking'. Does this mean that she kissed a sailor? Or that she slapped a sailor who was trying to kiss her? I don't see that either of these is serious enough to require her to stop being governor of Alaska.” — Mandy Orrs.

What if she were kissing a Russian sailor from next door? That could be a security breach. But gobsmack in this case is unconnected to the gob that's a slang term for a sailor. Gobsmack means “to completely dumbfound, to shock,” and according to an entry in the Urban Dictionary, it's “From the Irish word ‘gob' meaning mouth.” Gobsmack is more common on the other side of the Atlantic, but it seems to be enjoying a wave of popularity in this country at the moment.

“The Gob and the Governor” sounds like an old MGM musical, with Gene Kelly dancing around in a sailor suit. Possibly even with Esther Williams. She did more swimming than dancing, but she got partnered with Kelly once or twice. According to her, he thought she was too tall and she thought he was too short.

I thought of Esther Williams the other day — not that she's ever far from my mind — when I saw that Sen. Blanche Lincoln was being honored for “Outstanding Contributions to Aquaculture.” It means “fish farming,” but to me aquaculture suggests the water ballets that Esther pioneered, and that are now in the Olympic Games under the name of “synchronized swimming.” No movie stars yet.  Girl swimmers don't attract as much attention these days. Not with beach volleyball around.  

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