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Their eyes cleaved to her cleavage:

“ ‘And then, cleavage!' The CNN news anchor couldn't have sounded more excited as a white arrow blinked on the screen, pointing down the New York senator's chest toward the point where her V-necked shirt gave way to slightly more skin — we're talking millimeters — than Hillary Clinton usually reveals.” A couple of paragraphs later in the same column, we find “From John Edwards' $400 haircuts to Barack Obama's swimming trunks, the line between political journalism and the gossip pages appears to have broken down. Not all of this is the media's fault: Part of it is a result of our new cultural politics. Whereas politicians used to appeal to voters on a mix of interests and issues, Republican political strategists today believe voters cleave to presidential candidates based foremost on cultural affiliation.”

Some words have two meanings that contradict each other. Cleave is one of them. It can mean “to separate,” and what it produces in that case is cleavage. It can also mean “to cling to.” To avoid confusing the reader, most writers don't employ the conflicting meanings as close together as the columnist quoted here did.

Sanction is another two-faced word. It can mean “to permit” or “to penalize.” The Word Detective says there's a name for such words. They're contranyms.

It gives you fever:

Dickson's Baseball Dictionary has no listing for pigtail, a word we discussed last week, but it does have the intriguing Peggy Lee fastball. According to Dickson, this is “A fastball that travels more slowly than expected, or has nothing on it. The term is used in connection with batters who see the pitch and are reminded of Lee's 1969 sad song, ‘Is That All There Is' (words by Jenny Leiber and music by Mike Stoller).” I'm doubtful that Peggy Lee fastball was ever used by anyone other than the sportswriter who created it. But I'm certain that the Lieber of Lieber and Stoller is Jerry, not Jenny.

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