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Words, Oct. 8



One-man gang:

“YANKEES 3, RED SOX 0 — CC Sabathia combined on a two-hitter to become the major leagues' first 19-game winner.”


CC? Si, si:

The use of initials without periods seems to be gaining favor, at least on the sports page. I have no idea why. A cry for attention? You'd think the Yankees' best pitcher would get enough of that without playing with his initials. I'm reminded of another odd practice I've seen a couple of times — putting one's middle initial in quotes, as in John “Q” Public. A fairly prominent Arkansas politician used to do that.


Gin game:

Our Sept. 24 discussion of gin up, as used by President Obama, has drawn a couple of comments, and they're along similar lines.

Sara Garrett: “My grandmother and others of her generation used the expression ‘ginning around' in referring to vigorous activity. Since I was a child in the Deep South, I thought it somehow had its origin in the cotton gin.”

Tom Little: “I've used the term ‘we're really ginning now,' meaning things are going smoothly and fast, all my life. I always thought it came from the cotton gins. They'd say it when things were really going good, with no break-downs to slow things up.”

The cotton gin is indeed cited by authorities as a possible source of “gin up,” among other possible sources. Nobody seems to know for sure.

Wentworth and Flexner's Dictionary of American Slang says that ginned and ginned up meant “drunk” in the early 20th century, but neither is common today. Besides, Obama uses gin up to mean something like “enliven, stimulate.” Which is the way Matt Rothschild used it in The Progressive:

“Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Lou Dobbs, and other rightwing mouthpieces ginning up the Obamaphobia are playing a very dangerous  game.”

He adds that Obama is receiving 30 death threats a day, about four times what his predecessor got.

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