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Words, Nov. 19

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Wring out the old, wring in the new:

“The judge reminded jurors of their oath not to discuss the case, suggesting they focus more on the prospects of the University of Arkansas Razorbacks over the weekend. ‘We've all been through the ringer,' he said. ‘You've had a long week.' ”

Fearing a contempt citation, I won't even hint that His Honor was at fault here. Rather, let's blame it on the reporter. Reporters are accustomed to blame. And it is in fact more likely that a comparatively young reporter or copy editor was unfamiliar with the wringer that was used in washing clothes way back.

The wringer was a couple of rollers that you fed wet clothing through to squeeze out water. Women were often cautioned against getting part of their own body caught in the wringer. This literal wringer gave rise to the figurative “been through the wringer” to describe any painful or difficult experience.

Somebody said that people of my own generation wouldn't have known what an anvil was if not for movie cartoons that showed anvils falling on heads. Today's young people don't have that sort of assistance. There are no more cartoons at the movies, let alone cartoons showing a washerwoman caught in a wringer.

 

This sounds like something that should be addressed by the Game and Fish Commission:

“The partisan rift in the Environment and Public Works Committee laid bear the sharp divisions in the Senate over how to address global warming … ”

 

Bick Satterfield writes:

“Is it better to say ‘in regard to' or ‘in regards to'? The plural never has sounded correct to me.” Nor to Random House. The dictionary says, “In regards to and with regards to are widely rejected as errors.”

 

The report that Sarah Palin is coming to Fayetteville reminded me that her husband, Todd, was credited with coining the phrase “first dude” when she was governor of Alaska. Let's hope he never gets to take that title to Washington. We'll all be for the wringer.

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