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AWADmail Issue 296

March 2, 2008

A Weekly Compendium of Feedback on the Words in A.Word.A.Day and Other Interesting Tidbits about Words and Languages


From: John Buckley (jbuckley csqtc.qld.edu.au)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--Buckley's chance

As a "Buckley" I have lived with this one all my life. Thanks for including it.


From: Steve Garland (stevegarland bellsouth.net)
Subject: William F's own Buckley's Chance

When I saw the phrase "Buckley's chance" meaning no or slim chance, I was surprised that it was a common phrase since it would have cropped up so recently. Then when I read more carefully I found that the William Buckley was not William F. Buckley, the famous conservative writer who died this week, but another William Buckley. I had thought the phrase might be referencing Mr. Buckley's famous line when he ran a quixotic campaign for New York City mayor in 1965 (in which he stood at best a Buckley's chance). When asked what he would do if he won, he responded, "Demand a recount!" Thanks for the memory of a man with whom I may not have often agreed, but always respected.


From: Sherry Spence (slspence spiritone.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--Pandora's box

What wonderful fun today's word occasioned. Remembering something about Hope being the last thing in the jar, and thinking incorrectly that Hope got out also, I looked the myth up in Wikipedia. Seems that Pandora closed the lid before Hope got out, but that's not all. Seems the Greek word for hope could also mean expectation of something negative as well as positive, and there's a whole debate over what the myth really means.


From: Bryce Babcock (bandz commspeed.com)
Subject: Pandora's Box

Another Pandora's Box deriving its name from the same tale of Greek mythology, was a crude "cage" built on the quarter deck of the frigate Pandora, sent out to find and return to England the Bounty mutineers. On Tahiti, the Pandora found and took on board 14 former Bounty crewmen, including five mutineers and nine others, innocent of the mutiny. All were treated as guilty, shackled, and confined in the makeshift prison on the Pandora which the prisoners quickly dubbed "Pandora's Box". On its voyage back to England the Pandora struck a reef and sank costing the lives of four of the Bounty men and 33 of the Pandora's crew. The other Bounty prisoners eventually were returned to England and tried by court-martial. Three were hanged for mutiny and the others were eventually freed.


From: Jill Arend (jarend chartermi.net)
Subject: Feedback: Pandora's box

On the television show Bewitched the character of Serena (Samantha's clever cousin) was credited as "Pandora Spocks", even though the two characters were played by the same person (Elizabeth Montgomery). When said aloud, it was Pandora's Box -- interesting, none the less, since whenever Serena was there, a Pandora's Box was definitely opened.


From: Geoff Bonney (gbonney jonathanball.co.za)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--Buggin's turn

In 1951, when I started in the first form of an English public school, a chap had been kept back after his first year, so automatically was called 'Buggins', which nickname stayed with him throughout his next seven years at the school. I've since learnt that this is common in those circumstances in a lot of other public schools in Britain.


From: Michael Bedward (michael.bedward gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--Buggin's turn

I'm familiar with another use of Buggins. In card games there it is sometimes the convention for the loser of the last game to go first in the next game, announced as "Buggins to go" or "Buggins to deal".


From: Dan Stalker (alba100 quik.net.au)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--Buggin's turn

When I grew up in Scotland in the 50s, if I said it was Muggins turn, it meant it was my turn, This was a self deprecating term.

If I was referring to another individual and said "Look at what Muggins is doing", it generally meant that individual was inept in some way. Muggins related to being a bit of a fool, inept, inexperienced etc.


From: Sonya Lenzi (fastdiscgirl hotmail.com)
Subject: Buggins's turn

While listening to NPR Weekend Edition, Scott Simon was speaking with British diplomat Lord Paddy Ashdown. The discussion was about the international reconstruction mission in Afghanistan. Lord Ashdown stated that the Afghan leadership was assigned by Buggins's turn. How wonderful it was to hear a word of the day in current discussion.


From: Emily Bott (palaka hawaii.rr.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--Pele's Hair

Sometimes you find Pele's tears at the end of a strand of Pele's hair. These are tear-shaped globules of the same lava.


From: Terry Stone (cgs7952 bellsouth.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--Pele's Hair

Pele's hair (scientific name: Tillandsia usneoides) is also an epiphytic, or air-growing, plant in the bromeliad family. It was brought to Hawai'i' over 50 years ago as a plant for domestic gardens and, in a dried form, as air conditioner filters. Pele's hair has now spread so widely it is considered an invasive species on the islands, whose inhabitants ironically gave it this revered name.

We in the Southern continental US know it as the endemic plant "Spanish moss", though it is neither Spanish in origin nor a moss, but a close relative of the pineapple.


Words are loaded pistols. -Jean-Paul Sartre, writer and philosopher (1905-1980)

This week's theme Whose what?

This week's words
buckley's chance
pandora's box
job's comforter
buggin's turn
pele's hair

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