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A.Word.A.Day--hustings

Pronunciation RealAudio

hustings (HUS-tingz) noun

1. Political campaign trail.

2. A place where campaign speeches are made.

3. A local court formerly held in some localities in Britain and still occasionally held in London.

4. A local court in some parts of Virginia.

[From Middle English, from Old English husting, from Old Norse husthing, from hus (house) + thing (assembly).]

Hustings is the British equivalent of the US word stump. Originally, campaigning politicians conveniently used the stump of a large tree to stand on and to speak from. Today, it's metaphorically used in expressions such as stump speech (campaign speech) or on the stump (on the campaign trail). Until 1872 Hustings was the raised platform from which candidates were nominated for the British Parliament, and where they addressed electors.

"By this time next Monday, after all the hurly-burly of the hustings is done, Malaysians would have cast their ballots in the country's 11th general election and the results will be known." Warren Fernandez; Election Numbers to Watch; The Straits Times (Singapore); Mar 15, 2004.

"A lot can be learned about candidates from their speeches on the hustings: not what they say, but how they say it." The Way He Talks; Economist (London, UK); Mar 4 2004.

Democracy, government of the people, by the people, and for the people, is only as good as the governed demand. It's not perfect, as elections around the globe have illustrated. However, until someone invents a better system, it's the best available.

The presidential race in the US is heating up, closely watched by the world's citizens. For better or worse, the results of this contest will have repercussions everywhere. Later this year we'll learn whether Kerry carries the election or Bush bushes his opponent. In the meanwhile, enjoy this week's words about elections, all of them selected by a single vote. :-)

-Anu Garg garg AT wordsmith.org

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