Word games.

Boxing is a dying sport (but MMA is thriving, go figure) and there may come a day soon when it will no longer exist, but what will we do with all the language it’s given us?

Throw in the towel, hit the canvas, come out swinging, neutral corner, down for the count — if I had a day to think of all the common expressions that come out of the squared circle, I probably wouldn’t get them all. Sailing is another sport hardly anyone practices, and yet just today I sent a peevish-sounding text to my colleagues, after changing “jive” to “jibe” in a long-published story. To jibe with something is to be in agreement: His story doesn’t jibe with what we already know, etc. And if I had a dollar for every time I saw “tact” where the writer should have used “tack” (it’s a point of sail, and refers to the zigzag pattern you have to make to go into the wind; you “take another tack” when you have to adjust your direction to get closer to where you’re headed), well, I’d be in France right now, not in a few months.

Don’t get me started on fox hunting. There are a few from there, too. I will instead go to ground.

I don’t know why I’m thinking about this. Probably because I saw someone write “here, here” and I snapped.

And another week limps into port. I spent a couple hours this morning listening to Naomi Wolf, D-Crazytown, testify to the Michigan legislature on vaccine passports, which no one’s yet proposed but the leg wants to pass a bill preemptively banning. I’m trying to work out my thoughts on this for a column, but right now all I can come up with is: That chick crazy.

Are you ready for this week to end? I am. So let’s do it.

Posted at 8:13 pm in Same ol' same ol' |

45 responses to “Word games.”

  1. Sherri said on May 6, 2021 at 8:31 pm

    You’d think after her last book had to be pulled from the shelves because the central thesis was based on a complete misreading of the historical record, people would stop listening to Naomi Wolf, but I guess that just makes her more credible to some people.

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  2. basset said on May 6, 2021 at 9:38 pm

    And on this day in 2005, “down for the count” was our headline. Just don’t call it “the sweet science” – as I have said here before, fighting is not a sport.

    Bob Seger’s birthday today, 76 and older than Alice Cooper.

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  3. Julie Robinson said on May 6, 2021 at 9:43 pm

    Here’s my entry for the tone-deaf Olympics; Caitlyn Jenner sitting in her private airplane hangar and telling a down to earth story of the people. Her friend is moving his hangar to Arizona because he can’t walk down the street without seeing homeless people. And that’s why she’s running for governor, see?

    Also, she wants to be a role model to transgender girls, who she says can’t participate in girls’ sports. Even though she has participated in women’s tournaments.

    You can’t make this stuff up.

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  4. Deggjr said on May 6, 2021 at 9:54 pm

    For boxing terms, sometimes ‘no mas’ fits a situation unfortunately.

    There is also ‘below the belt’.

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  5. Deborah said on May 6, 2021 at 9:56 pm

    I don’t know much about sailing verbiage but LB crewed on a sailboat one summer a couple of times a week and she taught me a few terms, I’m sure I misuse them a lot.

    We’re in Scotts Bluff, Nebraska, there are no spectacular buildings to report but there’s a nice rocky landform, obviously the bluff that we can see from our typical Hampton Inn room. Nothing interesting to report except that every pit stop we made (3) there wasn’t a single masked person in site and we were looked at like interplanetary visitors. I did use public restrooms this time but I’m wondering more and more if that was wise. Tomorrow we head into a corner of Wyoming and then drop down into Colorado the most beautiful part of the trip. We stay in Salida, CO tomorrow night.

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  6. Deborah said on May 6, 2021 at 10:50 pm

    I will say one more thing about our crossing 3 states in the Midwest in the last few days is that we only saw one Trump sign, no hats, no flags and the sign was a weathered billboard in Iowa left over from the election. I don’t know if that means anything but I was surprised, I expected to see way more.

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  7. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on May 7, 2021 at 12:27 am

    Making the trip from eastern Ohio to Indy every other week for the last year, there’s a Trump banner tacked to a home brew billboard just west of Dayton that I wish I’d photographed every trip. It’s now nearly white, sun bleached from royal blue to a vague hint of greatness in 2020 now faded to near illegibility. Would have made a nice art installation.

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  8. Dexter Friend said on May 7, 2021 at 1:33 am

    Baseball, basketball, and football people, especially those with a mic, interchange terms to add color and definition. A three run home run becomes a three pointer, “we need points this inning” is another thing I hear. George Carlin detailed the sameness of football and war, so I’ll skip that. “I was thrown a curve ball there” is used in many office and work situations, perhaps when you are “misdirected”, as misdirection is a term used in football but probably is borrowed from the business world.
    We are adults here, but I can’t tell you where “johnson” , for home run, came from. I know, I can’t tell you as it would offend. The great Pedro Martinez (Montreal, Boston, New York teams) calls a home run a “ding dong johnson”. Nice ring to it. I guess the most-used sports term used today, especially in politics, is “slam dunk”. Everybody gets that one.

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  9. Dexter Friend said on May 7, 2021 at 1:40 am

    Hell, Bryan, Ohio must be the trump capital or whatever…now we have a new one appearing: “Impeach Biden”, oversized flags flying from houses. Damn nearly every street still have at least one to five trump flags flying. And what do you think of all these repuggs taking credit for distribution of wealth into their districts, that they voted against? And Stefanik supporting the bamboo re-count of Arizona ballots from November, 2020? And the Florida governor signing the new voting restrictions into law on Fox and Friends and holding up the paperwork like trump did?

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  10. Cathie from Canada said on May 7, 2021 at 2:00 am

    Checking Wikipedia’s Sports Idioms page https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_sports_idioms
    its truly impressive how many terms come from boxing – I am amazed.
    And I finally found out where the term “hat-trick” comes from – I have only ever heard it used in hockey to describe a player scoring three goals in a single game, but apparently it originated in Cricket. Who knew?
    But what I actually came here to comment about is the absolutely nonsensical “should of” – as in “I should of known to get milk at the store” or “he should of prepared better for that test” — which now is being used all the time, apparently, instead of “should have”. I am hearing this phrase all over, and now I’m even seeing it in writing too, from people who should of known better!

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  11. Deborah said on May 7, 2021 at 6:49 am

    Did not see any Impeach Biden flags but my husband told me he heard 2 guys talking about Sleepy Joe at the gas pump. One guy was complaining about what Biden was going to do in two years and the other guy said, “Don’t worry, sleepy Joe will be dead by then”. Kind of makes you think what that could mean.

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  12. Suzanne said on May 7, 2021 at 7:23 am

    I see Trump flags every day on my way to work. A co-worker is all in with the conspiracies. He says that’s not really Joe Biden but a guy in a mask, there are tunnels under the White House where they keep kids that are being sold for sex trafficking purposes, that the country is secretly being run by Trump & the military, and that there is a “fellowship” (or something) of England, the Vatican, and I can’t remember who else that bought the US in the 1800s and run it as a corporation but Trump will eventually bring that to light and be named the legit president because, of course, he really won the election. The Vatican, you know, has billions of dollars in gold in storage and Trump will bring that to light as well, when he is finally declared the victor, and then we go back to the gold standard backing our currency. So, the smart thing is to buy all the gold you can now so you can be ahead of the curve. He also took out a loan to buy Bitcoin.
    He brings his copy of the Epoch Times with him to read at lunch. His kids are homeschooled because they need their lessons to be done with a Christian worldview.

    So, yeah, those people are out there, and they are true believers in the lunacy.

    Also, this thread on the Josh Dugger, child porn arrest is worth reading, written by the woman who broke open the Nassar sex abuse case

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  13. Dorothy said on May 7, 2021 at 7:35 am

    There’s a home on a cross street near mine that has 3 cars in the driveway and/or parked in front of the house. I see it when I drive past or walk Nestle up that way. Their license plates are notable. One says something like ‘AGENTXB”. But another has (had?) 4TRUMP5. But yesterday I think I saw that car’s plate is now changed. The new plate says FAKNEWS. They had lots of political signs during the election season, of course, and I never got a chance to see someone around the outside of the house so I could glare at them and shake my head, and throw in some sardonic sort of laughter in their direction. I’ve said it before and I’ll keep saying it – how is it so many people have gotten brainwashed by him? If you’re the least bit patriotic, didn’t it bother you what he incited on January 6?! I need to come up with some snappy comment to make about how hot they’re all going to be for eternity when they burn in hell beside their feckless leader. Or maybe I should just shut the hell up and forget about it.

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  14. robert said on May 7, 2021 at 8:35 am

    Usage peeve: people using “flaunt” when they mean “flout”.

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  15. Dorothy said on May 7, 2021 at 8:47 am

    Usage peeve: when people say “at this point in time” when all they need to say is “now”

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  16. alex said on May 7, 2021 at 8:59 am

    Just passed a house the other day where the yard was festooned with pro-Trump, anti-Biden flags in a massive display and thanked my lucky stars that I don’t live next to something like that. The widowed gold-digger immediately to my east had an enormous Trump banner last fall, but it disappeared, and I later learned that a group of neighborhood children had confiscated it in broad daylight with their parents’ blessing.

    Agree with all the peeves about word misusage, although I must confess that a lot gets past me these days now that I haven’t been a copy editor in many years and also do most of my reading online where quality control is nonexistent.

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  17. Heather said on May 7, 2021 at 9:52 am

    Oh man, don’t get me started with all the word errors. Rein/reign, lose/loose, and it’s driving me nuts when someone writes “Awe!” on a cute picture. A friend insists on writing “balling” when she means “bawling,” which…ugh.

    Naomi Wolf did a classic self-own on Twitter yesterday:
    “I daily get texts from friends and former friends telling me to ‘stop’. One just messaged ‘you’re doing incalculable harm.’ They don’t offer ANY evidence. They don’t say I’m factually wrong. They just say ‘stop.’ That’s how transparency and journalism die and tyrannies solidify.”

    Yes, because that’s how fact-checking works. You say “the world is controlled by lizard people” and your friends say “it isn’t, please stop saying this,” and then the burden is on them to prove themselves.


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  18. Icarus said on May 7, 2021 at 10:02 am

    As today is my 52nd birthday, I’ll chime in on the word error thing. It appears there is some sort of movement out there to loosen the strictness of grammar rules, particularly spelling and sometimes word choice. I think the arguments are that language is always evolving and as long as you can understand someone, it creates less of a class system (I’m just parroting what I’ve heard).

    I do think word choice is important at times, such as when to use Two/Too/To etc. But I’m not as stringent as Zorn who gets a little bent when a word is not used for its precise meaning but something in the neighborhood (don’t have a handy example unless I’m not using “parroting” correctly above).

    Now I’m not saying an article or post riddled with errors is something to be ignored. It certainly does distract from the message if you have to keep trying to figure out what the message is because you cannot understand what language the writer was using in a piece where every other word is misspelled.

    However, in this Age of auto-correct, auto-complete, ADD and brain farts, you almost have to give a little latitude to someone when they make a minor spelling infraction.

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  19. Colleen said on May 7, 2021 at 10:09 am

    You’re. It means you are. I learned this in third grade. I am sick to death of people writing “your welcome”, “your right/wrong”. It’s not that hard. Really.

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  20. susan said on May 7, 2021 at 10:25 am

    “Me and her….” When I heard that come from the mouth of a PhD student, I so wanted to say something, but didn’t because we weren’t related. It’s wrong on two levels. That was in the ’90s. Then I heard it from an MA candidate with whom I was working. I got to thinking that English teachers probably just gave up.

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  21. Jeff Borden said on May 7, 2021 at 10:56 am

    I generally view columnist David Brooks as kind of a stereotypical conservative weenie, but his column today went straight to the heart of an argument I’ve been making for years: the U.S. would never have rallied to fight the Second World War if we were in the kind of civic shape we’re in today. While I miss my parents every day, I’m glad they never witnessed the rise of tRumpism and the dumbing down of the Republican Party. (Both were lifelong Republicans, though my mom voted for LBJ over Barry Goldwater because she thought he was nuts. They were really more Eisenhower than Reagan Republican but you get the picture.)


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  22. LAMary said on May 7, 2021 at 11:10 am

    The “awe” thing bugs me too. A high school classmate does that daily on Facebook. I know she had the same tough old lady English teacher I had. I know she was in the National Honor Society. What the hell, Pam?

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  23. JodiP said on May 7, 2021 at 12:06 pm

    Ok, I have to admit I find Heather’s example “A friend insists on writing “balling” when she means “bawling,” which…ugh.” a teensy bit funny.

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  24. David C said on May 7, 2021 at 12:44 pm

    I’ve been reading engineers’ writing for over 30 years so nothing surprises me anymore. My first and favorite was trying to get engineers to stop singularizing indices into index instead of indice.

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  25. Sherri said on May 7, 2021 at 2:55 pm

    A fascinating look into a recent topic of discussion, the high cost of lumber: https://slate.com/business/2021/05/wood-prices-expensive-explained-sawmill-maine.html

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  26. Bruce Fields said on May 7, 2021 at 3:17 pm

    I don’t know if I’m getting worse with age, or if it’s just that more of my communication is in writing lately, or if I’m just noticing more now for some reason, but: I see a lot of mistakes in my own writing these days, and most of it is homophone substitutions. (I noticed a their/they’re after I’d already sent some email just this morning.)

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  27. beb said on May 7, 2021 at 9:05 pm

    The word that’s driving my crazy is when someone begins a blog comment with “This.” Just the one word as if it were a complete sentence in itself. I went for most of my life seeing “here, here” for “hear, hear” that it doesn’t trigger me.

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  28. Deborah said on May 7, 2021 at 11:18 pm

    Extremely tired tonight in Salida, CO. I started taking my altitude sickness meds this morning and they cause drowsiness. Colorado was stunning today after driving through a corner of Wyoming this morning where we saw lots of antelope. The Rockies have lots of snow on them which make them even more gorgeous. Salida is in the southern part of the state, you pass quite a few fourteeners before you get here, for those unfamiliar it means mountains over 14,000 ft in elevation. For some reason three of them are called Mt. Harvard, Mt Yale and Mt Princeton. Salida is a cute little town on the Arkansas River surrounded by mountains. We walked around the town and down along the river and saw three deer munching in the flower garden of a home, they were completely engrossed in their own activity and didn’t mind my stopping to take their picture. Tomorrow afternoon we arrive in Santa Fe, it’s a short driving day, thank goodness.

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  29. Dexter Friend said on May 8, 2021 at 1:45 am

    I learned something just an hour ago from Matt Vasgersian who was telecasting the Angels v. Dodgers game. In baseball or softball, you have a hitter, and the next hitter is “on deck”. The 3rd hitter was always referred to, all my life, as being “in the hole.” Everybody I ever played baseball or softball said “in the hole”. It’s “in the hold”. Which makes sense, but is kept a secret.

    Still, a mistake nance pointed out here years ago, people keep saying “literally” the same way salt freaks shake salt on every food item. Ya don’t have to say “I literally braked for the deer in the road.” You just braked, that is all ya did.

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  30. ROGirl said on May 8, 2021 at 4:56 am

    One that bothers me is incorrect usage of “unique.” There are no degrees of uniqueness. Something is either unique or it isn’t, it can’t be kind of unique.

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  31. alex said on May 8, 2021 at 8:03 am

    ROGirl, that one’s sorta like sorta pregnant, which doesn’t mean you’re not pregnant, just reticent about announcing it. I think sorta unique would be acceptable if, say, you’re an antiques dealer skirting the issue of whether an item was mass produced.

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  32. Julie Robinson said on May 8, 2021 at 9:55 am

    In the obituaries this morning: “Her passing will leave a whole in everyone’s lives”. Our paper has paid obits, submitted through the funeral homes, so such errors are all too common. Pretty soon everything printed will be in text style; mistakes not fixed, R and 2 for words, no punctuation, and emojis. Whew, I sound cranky!

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  33. ROGirl said on May 8, 2021 at 10:07 am

    That wouldn’t be a ringing endorsement for an antique dealer in my book. But it could also depend on how you define mass production.

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  34. Deborah said on May 8, 2021 at 10:48 am

    I can’t imagine people taking meds for altitude sickness and then going out immediately hiking or climbing. Drowsiness and dizziness are definitely a side effect I’m experiencing. This is the first time I’ve taken meds for this. Every time I travel to NM I have headaches and slight nausea the first week I’m there, I know it’s from altitude adjustment but I never thought to do anything about it until I went for my routine physical and my dr mentioned it. I don’t know if the cure is worth it though.

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  35. Sherri said on May 8, 2021 at 12:31 pm

    You can be sort of pregnant. Or at least ambiguously pregnant. You can have a clump of cells growing in you that are producing a weakly positive beta HCG, but not doubling every couple of days like a real pregnancy. It might mean an ectopic pregnancy, or just one headed to miscarriage. But yeah, sort of pregnant.

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  36. LAMary said on May 8, 2021 at 12:37 pm

    When I moved to Denver I was short of breath at times, headaches at times. I started swimming laps and pushing myself to go faster, increase the number of laps. It worked. Of course I was 19 years old which made things easier.

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  37. brian stouder said on May 8, 2021 at 1:23 pm

    Well, irregardless what one believes, people will exhibit their beliefs one way or another (and indeed, sometimes despite themselves). So today, my lovely wife attached the pc to the tv, and we watched the live-stream of our daughter’s graduation ceremony from Indiana University…such an odd mix of pride/love/relief in the moment, and hope/apprehension and great expectation for the future….all from our living room(!). If you’d told me 4 years ago we would not attend her commencement, I’d have smiled politely and thought you were bonkers (or that I was dead)… but here we are, and I’m exceedingly proud of her achievements (and her road ahead).

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  38. Sherri said on May 8, 2021 at 1:42 pm

    Congratulations, Brian!

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  39. LAMary said on May 8, 2021 at 3:09 pm

    Wonderful, Brian. Watching my son Tom’s commencement a few years ago was a lovely experience. He went to California State University, Los Angeles. Graduated high in his class and I was so proud. I was also moved to tears when the president of the university asked the parents of all the grads who were first in their families to get a college degree o stand and nearly everyone around us stood up. Lots and lots of immigrant families there. We all cheered very loudly for that group and hugs all around. Sometimes I just fucking love LA so much.

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  40. brian stouder said on May 8, 2021 at 4:32 pm

    Mary – absolutely! Transcends my poor power to elucidate – but indeed, here we are hours later, and I’m still a bit choked up (proud, impressed, not surprised, thankful, and ready for whatever comes next!), and with a smile upon my face! (Thank heavens she has her mom’s brains and tenacity)

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  41. brian stouder said on May 8, 2021 at 4:38 pm

    (btw, the use of the ‘word’ “irregardless” was a weak swing at Hoosier humor, and not a genuine example of ignorance on my part)

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  42. Julie Robinson said on May 8, 2021 at 8:52 pm

    Brian, many congratulations to your daughter, and to Mom & Dad too. This may be an unpopular opinion but I think you did better watching at home. You didn’t have to fight for parking, stand in long lines, freeze/boil/get rained on, had easy bathroom access, and could easily tune out the boring speakers. You got to focus on the pride and fulfillment instead.

    We’ve been invited to a high school graduation party for a nephew. Still waiting to hear if everyone in attendance will be fully vaccinated or if we’ll be staying home.

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  43. Deborah said on May 8, 2021 at 9:34 pm

    No way Brian, is your daughter already graduating from University. Holy cow time flies. Congrats to her and to her parents and family. Good going.

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  44. Deborah said on May 8, 2021 at 9:52 pm

    This road trip we took across a broad swath of middle America has me feeling all sorts of ways. It’s been so amazing crossing so many vast, diverse land forms, from Grant Wood rolling agricultural fields of Iowa to bumpy Sandhills of Nebraska to broad plains of Wyoming to spectacular mountainous Colorado, then the more austere, desert landscapes of New Mexico. All of it so majestic, so beautiful . All of the creatures, winged and four legged, How can we be so casual about it all, so neglectful, taking it for granted, expecting it to always be there for us in the ways we want it to be. We here, have an awesome gift, we really do. For some reason this hit me between the eyes this time after all of the roadtrips we’ve taken during the pandemic, not sure why.

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  45. LAMary said on May 8, 2021 at 10:39 pm

    Deborah, I think the pandemic has made us more aware of the errors of our ways.Whether it’s squandering our national treasures or addressing a pandemic from a political frame of mind, we’ve got to use this as a time to work out what the priorities are going to be.

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