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Dept. of Word Lists

Golf Words

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Next time you're on the green, try not to airmail your shot into the drink, cabbage or kitty litter, okay? To get a handle on golf's rich vocabulary, we called PGA professional and author Mark Blakemore, who runs well-known golf schools in Northern California. Mark takes us down the linguistic fairway:

Airmail. "It means you either hit a shot that flew too far, or a drive that carried in the air farther than anybody else's ball."

Albatross. "A score of three under par on a hole, which doesn't happen very often. The word comes from the fact that an albatross is a rare bird. Naming hierarchy in scoring is like that. A hole in one on a par five, for example, is called a condor, which is an almost extinct bird, of course.

Cabbage. "Slang for long grass off the edges of a fairway. It describes very long rough, like those at the British Open or U.S. Open. The words spinach and lettuce are also used."

Drink. "Refers to a water hazard. 'In the drink' means into the water."

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Topics: Vocabulary Fun Words

Erin McKean is the editor of the The New Oxford American Dictionary, the New World cousin of the authoritative, if bulky, Oxford English Dictionary (20 volumes!). She fell in love with words early -- Erin's wanted to be a lexicographer since she was eight years old. She got her wish, working on the Thorndike-Barnhart children's dictionaries for eight years after getting a BA/MA in Linguistics. She's been at Oxford since 2000. We spoke to Erin about writing dictionaries:

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English has some peculiar ways of spelling words, but happily there is often a method to its madness. This month in the Lounge we explore, with the help of the Visual Thesaurus, some of the least among us, at least in so far as number of letters is concerned. Continue reading...

You know what "booze" means, of course, but what if you asked someone in London for a definition -- say, 500 years ago? Lexicographer Jonathon Green will tell you the word is a lot older than you might think. He's spent the last quarter century studying slang, and its history, in the English language. The respected editor of the authoritative Cassell's Dictionary of Slang, Jonathon's written over a dozen books on the subject and has collected a database of over 100,000 slang words. He's now working on a mammoth multi-volume dictionary, due out in 2008, that will cover a half a millennium's worth of words, phrases and figures of speech -- salty and otherwise -- that have seeped into English as slang. We talked to Jonathon about his passion:

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"American spelling is plainly better than English spelling, and in the long run it seems sure to prevail." Well, that's one man's opinion. But where did all the differences begin? We take a look back this month in the Lounge. Continue reading...

Dept. of Word Lists

Jazz Words

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Stop noodling with your axe and gimme a vamp on your doghouse, can you dig it? To help translate this deliciously jazzed up sentence, drummer Brian Floody, a professional musician active in New York's jazz scene, graciously gave us this list of jazz-related words and their meanings:

Axe Any musical instrument
Box Guitar
Tubs Drums
Doghouse Upright acoustic bass
Licorice Stick Clarinet
Chops A dual meaning: Technique, or for horn players, the spot where the horn meets their lips.
Woodshed Practice (see Shed)
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Topics: Vocabulary Fun Words

Grant Barrett, the author of The Official Dictionary of Unofficial English, is living a word lover's dream: By day he's a lexicographer and project editor at the Oxford University Press's "Historical Dictionary of American Slang," and by night he runs the Double-Tongued Word Wrester's Dictionary, his acclaimed website dedicated to hunting "under-documented words from the fringes of English." After getting hooked on his Double-Tongued discoveries -- from bark mitzvah to whoadie to blow a hoolie -- we had to talk to him. Here's our conversation:

VT: How do you find your Double-Tongued words?

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