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Words, Nov. 12



“Later, Smith found a 9mm pistol in the back seat of his car. Police believe as Smith accelerated, the door jam struck the assailant's arm and he dropped the gun.” I never cared for door jam myself. Blackberry is a good jam, and never involved in any shootings that I know of.


“According to a published report in the Baxter Bugle, Slade ran up to Kincaid after the loss and grabbed the head coach, who reportedly pulled Slade's shirt over his head to diffuse the situation.”

Even when you substitute the right word — defuse — this report doesn't make a lot of sense. Somebody pulling my shirt over my head wouldn't have a calming effect on me.

From a review of the book “Game Six” by Mark Frost:

“Luis Tiant, the Cuban-born cigar-chewing Boston pitcher with the corkscrew windup, gives Frost his epithet: ‘You come here with two pockets. One is the winning pocket, and the other is the losing pocket, and you have to carry them both with dignity.' ”

If that's an epithet, it's an awfully long and polite one. I don't think it is an epithet, which most often means “a word or phrase used as a term of abuse or contempt.” The Cuban SOB might be an epithet for Luis Tiant. An epithet can also be used merely to describe a quality attributed to a person, and can be complimentary in this sense, as in Richard the Lion-Hearted. Or it can be a word or phrase used in place of the actual name of a person or thing, as man's best friend for “dog.” The quotation from Tiant might be considered an epigram, that is “Any witty, ingenious, or pointed saying tersely expressed.” I remember Tiant. I don't think he chewed the cigar while he was pitching.


Getting the led out:

“In 1968, he lead a team of surgeons in a groundbreaking multiple transplant surgery.” The past tense of lead didn't used to be a problem.

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