Favorite

Words, May 8 

“Both Democrats insisted on Wednesday they had the best credentials to go head to head — or as Clinton put it ‘toe to toe' — against McCain.”

The quotation marks around toe to toe suggest that the reporter found it unfamiliar, less common than head to head, and he wanted to be sure it was attributed to someone else. But I've heard toe to toe all my life, and Random House says it dates from the 1920s. Granted, head to head is older, going back to the late 18th century, and I've heard it too. Both expressions mean “in direct confrontation.” I've always thought that toe to toe is related to toe the line (“to conform strictly to a rule” and “to do one's duty”) but the dictionary doesn't expressly say so. Toe the line sometimes appears, incorrectly, as “tow the line,” and that reminds me of a long-ago television show on which the host announced that his next guest would be a tow-headed boy. That's what the audience thought he'd announced, anyway, but when the guest came out, it was a young man with a giant toe where his head should have been. (The toe was fake, I believe.) The guest and the host engaged in comic conversation, and when the guest left, the host warned him not to get in a jam.

 

From The Onion, an online satirical newspaper:

“Commas, Turning Up, Everywhere”

“In the midst of a crisis that may have reached a breaking, point Tuesday afternoon, linguists are baffled, by the sudden and seemingly random, appearance of commas, in our nation's sentences. The epidemic, has spread like wildfire, since signs of the epidemic first, appeared in a Washington Post article, on Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke. … Columnist William Sa,fire, told reporters ‘We're seeing a collapse of the grammatical rules that have, lasted for centuries.' ”

Sounds like this could be a Saturday night movie on the Sci-Fi Channel. If so, one of those linguists will be a young woman, extremely attractive.  

 

Favorite

From the ArkTimes store

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Doug Smith

  • The L word and the C word

    I was excited to see the newspaper headline "Bielema liberal." "After all those neo-Nazis, we've finally got a coach who thinks right," I told friends. "I wonder if he belongs to the ADA."
    • May 1, 2014
  • Who's exasperated?

    Jim Newell was gripped by exasperation himself after reading this item in the business section. "Exacerbated" is the word the writer wanted, he sagely suggests.
    • Apr 24, 2014
  • We will run no race before it's ripe

    "What year would Oaklawn recognize as its 100th anniversary? After all, Oaklawn's advertising material is ripe with 'Since 1904,' but it's widely reported the first race wasn't run until 1905."
    • Apr 17, 2014
  • More »

Most Shared

Latest in Words

  • The L word and the C word

    I was excited to see the newspaper headline "Bielema liberal." "After all those neo-Nazis, we've finally got a coach who thinks right," I told friends. "I wonder if he belongs to the ADA."
    • May 1, 2014
  • Who's exasperated?

    Jim Newell was gripped by exasperation himself after reading this item in the business section. "Exacerbated" is the word the writer wanted, he sagely suggests.
    • Apr 24, 2014
  • We will run no race before it's ripe

    "What year would Oaklawn recognize as its 100th anniversary? After all, Oaklawn's advertising material is ripe with 'Since 1904,' but it's widely reported the first race wasn't run until 1905."
    • Apr 17, 2014
  • More »

Event Calendar

« »

February

S M T W T F S
  1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28  

Most Viewed

  • Enough

    On March 24, 1998, I listened to an answering machine message from my sister that simply said, "Mom is OK. Turn on CNN." I ran to the television and immediately knew my mom was fine because it was her voice coming out of the speaker. There had been a school shooting in Arkansas. In my hometown.
  • Unqualified

    Amid the shock and horror accompanying yet another mass shooting of schoolchildren in Florida, an anonymous White House official exhibited the sheer moral squalor of Trumpism.
  • Meanwhile, back in Arkansas

    Arkansas Secretary of State Mark Martin got some glowing coverage in Sunday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for arranging an award from the national association of secretaries of state for the Little Rock Nine and their brave desegregation of Central High School 60 years ago.
  • Russian trump

    Read the Russian indictments. It is a civic duty. Likewise, Donald Trump's tweets on the matter.

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Unqualified

    • Gee, runner, here it was I thought it was the conservatives/Republicans who failed to provide…

    • on February 22, 2018
  • Re: Enough

    • Very well said Autumn. I think what disturbs me is the indifference a lot of…

    • on February 22, 2018
  • Re: Unqualified

    • The Gene Lyons types made fun and ridiculed a most decent man that ran for…

    • on February 21, 2018
 

© 2018 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation