Columns » Words




Not losing his grip:

Bill Kramer of North Little Rock rejects our June 7 conclusion that only fogies call a small traveling bag a grip. “To me, the word grip denotes firmness, like in a handshake, and strength, like in the feel of strong, quality leather,” he writes. “Harry Truman used grip a few times when he was president, saying he carried his grip himself. In my language, grip remains an effective word.”

A columnist wrote that “the new school board majority, feeling its oats and showing unhappiness at being defined in racial terms, must demonstrate that their leadership is indeed not about race.” An offended reader responded that “your comment that the new majority is ‘feeling its oats’ is one of the more racially insensitive remarks I’ve ever read in the Arkansas Times. We are not animals.”

To feel one’s oats is “to be aware of and use one’s importance or power.” It can also mean “to feel frisky or lively.” There’s nothing racial about it, sensitive or insensitive.

Left over from the Razorbacks’ baseball season: “Dave Jorn almost blushed when a reporter informed him Thursday that the mission that day was to illicit player quotes on him for this space. ‘Ah, why did you have to go and do that,’ Jorn said.”

Jim Harris wonders if the Hogs have been using illicit players.

For some time now, funeral homes have been adding advertising copy to obituaries, as in “Arrangements by Acme Funeral Parlor. When we put ’em under, they stay under.” Just the other day, I saw what may be the latest trend in the fast-paced world of obits – a byline. The obit began in routine fashion with the name of the deceased – “Mrs. Jack Road.” The next line was “Authored by Jack Road.” Everybody wants credit these days. Why should Mrs. Road get all the attention?

Firestormy weather:

Storm is still a perfectly good word, but you’d never know it from reading the newspapers, where every storm has been elevated to a firestorm. “The leak touched off a political firestorm and an FBI investigation that Libby is accused of obstructing.”

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