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Words, Oct. 30



Wear a raincoat to the polls:

Carlton Saffa received a letter from the Democratic Party of Arkansas:

“THE DYE IS BEING CAST … Early voting began yesterday, and absentee ballots are being returned to county courthouses. We are 14 days from Election Day, and already the dye is being cast in this election.”

Saffa writes, “Julius Caesar must be rolling in his grave. Or are they throwing food coloring around at the DPA? Perhaps we can color some Easter Eggs as we cross the Rubicon.”

Caesar quoted the proverb “The die is cast” (that is, there's no turning back) as he crossed the Rubicon, beginning a triumphal progress to Rome.


“Eighteen-wheelers often rumbled non-stop past their gate, carving out chugholes in the road and sometimes stacking-up bumper to bumper from the drilling site to the main highway a quarter mile away.”

“New one on me,” John Wesley Hall writes. “Always was ‘chuckhole.' ”

I agreed until I looked up “chughole” in my Random House.  There it was. “Chughole” means “chuckhole,” the dictionary says, and it's used chiefly in the South Midland U.S.


Restaurant reviewer: “Now, we're too plebian for the salsas that came with the chips … We'll add here that an acquaintance thought they were great, but she's more of a gourmand than we are.”

Restaurant-reviewer reviewer: “I love reading reviews in well-respected statewide magazines that refer to the writer's unrefined palate, and otherwise ‘plebian' tastes … I'm not advocating that everyone who writes for your column be some gourmand, but I do think that a columnist should investigate things …”

What interests me here is that both writers seemingly used gourmand to mean “a connoisseur of fine food and drink.” In the old days, when I was a boy, such a person was called a gourmet. A gourmand was simply someone who loved to eat, “often indiscriminatingly and to excess.” Random House now gives as the second definition of gourmand, “a gourmet,” but that's not allowed at my table. We have two perfectly good words, easily distinguishable. Why deliberately confuse them?  


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