Favorite

Words 

Their eyes cleaved to her cleavage:

“ ‘And then, cleavage!' The CNN news anchor couldn't have sounded more excited as a white arrow blinked on the screen, pointing down the New York senator's chest toward the point where her V-necked shirt gave way to slightly more skin — we're talking millimeters — than Hillary Clinton usually reveals.” A couple of paragraphs later in the same column, we find “From John Edwards' $400 haircuts to Barack Obama's swimming trunks, the line between political journalism and the gossip pages appears to have broken down. Not all of this is the media's fault: Part of it is a result of our new cultural politics. Whereas politicians used to appeal to voters on a mix of interests and issues, Republican political strategists today believe voters cleave to presidential candidates based foremost on cultural affiliation.”

Some words have two meanings that contradict each other. Cleave is one of them. It can mean “to separate,” and what it produces in that case is cleavage. It can also mean “to cling to.” To avoid confusing the reader, most writers don't employ the conflicting meanings as close together as the columnist quoted here did.

Sanction is another two-faced word. It can mean “to permit” or “to penalize.” The Word Detective says there's a name for such words. They're contranyms.

It gives you fever:

Dickson's Baseball Dictionary has no listing for pigtail, a word we discussed last week, but it does have the intriguing Peggy Lee fastball. According to Dickson, this is “A fastball that travels more slowly than expected, or has nothing on it. The term is used in connection with batters who see the pitch and are reminded of Lee's 1969 sad song, ‘Is That All There Is' (words by Jenny Leiber and music by Mike Stoller).” I'm doubtful that Peggy Lee fastball was ever used by anyone other than the sportswriter who created it. But I'm certain that the Lieber of Lieber and Stoller is Jerry, not Jenny.

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

  • Conspiracy theorists

    Back in 2000, I interviewed Rev. Jerry Falwell on camera in connection with a documentary film of "The Hunting of the President," which Joe Conason and I wrote.
  • The health of a hospital

    The Medicaid expansion helped Baxter County Regional Medical Center survive and thrive, but a federal repeal bill threatens to imperil it and its patients.
  • Virgil, quick come see

    There goes the Robert E. Lee. But the sentiment that built the monument? It's far from gone.
  • Real reform

    Arkansas voters, once perversely skeptical of complicated ballot issues like constitutional amendments, have become almost comical Pollyannas, ratifying the most shocking laws.
  • That modern mercantile: The bARn

    The bARn Mercantile — "the general store for the not so general," its slogan says — will open in the space formerly occupied by Ten Thousand Villages at 301A President Clinton Ave.

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 »

Visit Arkansas

Paddling the Fourche Creek Urban Water Trail

Paddling the Fourche Creek Urban Water Trail

Underutilized waterway is a hidden gem in urban Little Rock

Event Calendar

« »

May

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 29 30 31  

Most Viewed

  • Not leaders

    As soon as I saw the Notre Dame graduates walking out of their own commencement ceremony as Vice President Mike Pence began to speak, I thought, "Oh no, here we go again."

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Conspiracy theorists

    • Did anyone read Gene's column this week? So far no one has commented on it.

    • on May 28, 2017
  • Re: Not leaders

    • Cotton is the most dangerous person in politics.

    • on May 28, 2017
  • Re: Conspiracy theorists

    • To bow or not to bow? Is that it? Has the Island of Misfit Toys…

    • on May 28, 2017
 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation