December 2006 Archives


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Apparently "double-gaited" means "bisexual," according to Chapman's American Slang.

I encountered it in a 1981 Elmore Leonard novel:

"[...] Yeah, I think he's fucking her. I think he'd be out of his fucking mind if he wasn't. Robbie Daniels doesn't strike me as being double-gaited or having any abnormal ideas what his dick is for," the detective said. "I mean outside the popular abnormal ideas that're getting more normal all the time."

--Elmore Leonard, Split Images, p. 15

The quote's a little odd; I would've assumed from that line that "double-gaited" meant gay, rather than bi. But apparently not.

Various online sources corroborate Chapman: Sexual Identity and Gender Identity Dictionary; Probert Encyclopaedia; Sex-Lexis Dictionary of Sexual Terms (though the database on that last one seems to have, um, gone down).

It derives from the term's use in horse-racing, of course. It's not clear to me whether the Polish/English dictionary that provides the term "dziwny" is referring to horse racing or sexual orientation.

filibuster, freebooter, buccaneer, etc


This is the best etymology I've seen in months. Wikipedia on "filibuster":

The term comes from the early 17th century, where buccaneers were known in England as filibusters. This term had evolved from the Spanish "filibustero" which had come from the French word "flibustier," which itself evolved from the Dutch "vrijbuiter" (freebooter).

That brings up all sorts of other interesting words, of course. I had heard "vrijbuiter" before, but I don't think I had ever previously looked up what it meant; turns out it essentially refers to "free booty." (Note that English "booty" in the sense of "plunder" comes ultimately from Middle Low German "bute," meaning "exchange"; while "booty" in the sense of "ass" comes from Early Modern English "bottie," meaning "buttocks." I think of the latter "booty" as a very modern word, but it dates back in printed English to at least 1928.)

I could have sworn I had talked about "buccaneer" before, but apparently not. It's from French "boucanier," "woodsman"; Wikipedia's entry on buccaneer says that "Boucaniers originally were hunters who were poaching cattle and pigs. They would smoke the meat on wooden frames, 'boucans', so that it could be saved for a later time." (It also notes that the Boucaniers learned to do this from local Arawak, who called it "barbicoa," whence "barbecue.")

"Corsair," another word for pirate, derives eventually from Latin "cursus," meaning "course"; someone who travels along a course? Not sure. And another pirate word, "picaroon"--don't think I've encountered that one before--derives from Spanish "pícaro," meaning "rogue."

And I almost forgot to mention that "pirate" itself comes eventually from Greek "peira," to attempt; interestingly, it's distantly cognate with "fear."


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A "junglist" is someone who listens to jungle, of course.

Turns out that "jungle" is "a style of electronic music that incorporates influences from genres including breakbeat hardcore, techno, rare groove and reggae/dub/dancehall." Also, "[t]here is significant debate as to whether Jungle is a separate genre from drum and bass as some use the terms interchangeably."


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A recent Doonesbury strip used the phrase "hit the hustings." Turns out that (says Wikipedia) a "husting" is "the platform from which a candidate speaks before a parliamentary or other election, or, by metonymy, the occasion of the debate or the entire campaign."


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I'm cheating a little, 'cause I may have heard the word "flâneur" before; but it came up twice in unrelated contexts on the same day, a month or so back, so I figured I'd mention it here.

To quote Wikipedia: "A flâneur is a detached pedestrian observer of a metropolis, a 'gentleman stroller of city streets', first identified by Charles Baudelaire."

The two occurrences I recently encountered:

Mr. Rose knew that something unusual was going on, he said, when the very first ad he received, after starting the column in 1998, began: "67-year-old disaffiliated flâneur picking my toothless way through the urban sprawl, self-destructive, sliding towards pathos, jacked up on Viagra and on the lookout for a contortionist who plays the trumpet."

--"Book Lovers Seek Lovers, Buttered or Plain," by Sarah Lyall, an article about the London Review of Books personals column.

And, from a Wikipedia article on a Degas painting called " Viscount Lepic and his Daughters Crossing the Place de la Concorde," this: "The Vicomte Lepic was an aristocrat, artist, and flâneur."


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A "flokati rug," also known as a "flokati," is a particular kind of Greek rug, according to MW11.


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I recently encountered the word "agida," though I'm no longer sure where. Turns out MW11 spells it "agita," and defines it as a feeling of anxiety. One might assume that it derives from "agitation," but MW11 says it's a "South Italian dialect pronunciation of Italian 'acido,'" meaning "acid" or "heartburn."

Word Detective noted, back in 2000, that "agita" is "more or less the Italian-American equivalent of the Yiddish 'tsuris,'" and that nobody's sure of its origin; he mentioned "acido" as a possible source, but also Italian "agitare."

(Later in that same column, btw, he discusses cock a snook, which we also discussed a few months back.)

pump and bomb

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Kam tells me that in Spanish, firefighters are "los bomberos"; turns out that "bomba" means both "bomb" and "pump."

The similarity of the two words made me wonder if they might be related in English, even though I know that etymology by sound is not sound etymology. So I looked them up.

It turns out that English "pump" may actually derive, distantly, from Spanish "bomba," but my dictionaries are unclear on whether that's related to the Italian "bomba" that's the root for English "bomb." So it's possible that Spanish "bomba" is actually two etymologically distinct words--a Spanish homomorph.

Interestingly, both Spanish "bomba" meaning "pump" and Greek "bombos" (the source of Italian "bomba" meaning "bomb") are, according to MW3, "of imitative origin"; I guess bombs and pumps both can sound a little like the word "bomba."

Uncle Mary

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An "Uncle Mary" is, I gather, a gay man who works against the cause of gay rights, or who's seen as kowtowing to an anti-gay agenda. Wayne Besen's column/blog entry "Out This 'Uncle Mary'" (from June, 2005) defines an "Uncle Mary" as "the gay version of an Uncle Tom."

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