Saturday, May 31, 2008

This Sounds Like Ted Max Amateur Hour

I realize now that calling the day on which I offer my word-of-the-week "Dia de las Palabras Nuevas" was a mistake. It just doesn't roll off the tongue. (Though, now that I think about that expression, it occurs to me that a great many unpleasant things can roll of tongues. Vomit, for example. Or phlegm.) In any case, I think I'll stick with The Saturday Wordiness from here on out.
jehu (JAY-hoo) — noun: a cabbie, or a reckless driver
Yes, I realize those two definitions could be considered synonymous. I think that's the point. Almost doubtlessly a term that's been around a while, judging from the fact that it comes to us from the Bible. Jehu, for you Old Testament illiterate, was one of the kings of Israel, and a military leader known for his chariot attacks, hence his transformation into a common noun. Notably, Jehu's backstory seems to be populated by other people with "J" names that have made their way into common parlance. For starters, he's the son of Jehosaphat — who, to my knowledge, wasn't known for jumping — and he's also the one responsible for ordering that slutty, smutty Jezebel to be thrown out the window, whereupon dogs ate her. (A favorite childhood story, that one.) And if "jezebel" isn't a familiar modern term for you, then you must keep especially good company.

A random note on Jezebel, while I'm on the subject: Wikipedia claims that Jezebel was the aunt of Dido, who, in my opinion, is one of the more interesting mythological ladies and another member of ancient royalty who met a fairly bad end.

2 comments:

  1. I'd say "roll" isn't an accurate verb to place between tongue and phlegm, as phlegm tends to be gooey, preventing a more smooth rolling motion.

    You also pass on two cultural references that make some of the words you wonder about better known--there was the band Drive Like Jehu (1990-95) from San Diego and old folks like the one typing can't help but think of the Bette Davis movie Jezebel.

    Indeed, everything I know I learned from music and movies. Except for phlegm, which I've learned about first-tongue (first-hand seems wrong).

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  2. My tongue, my business. You don't know what my phlegm is like, and for both our sakes, I hope it stays that way.

    Never heard of Drive Like Jehu, but it's a much better Biblical reference band name than Better Than Ezra. My primary pop culture reference for "jezebel" is the movie Switchblade Sisters, which was filmed under the working title The Jezebels. There's this amazing line in the movie where a character says how she came up with that name for a girl gang: "I was reading the dictionary one day and I came across it." Only she says it triumphantly, like having sat down and read the dictionary is like having crossed the Alps on an elephant.

    I guess you'd have to see it.

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