Favorite

“Dallas firm has dibs on stadium’s design.” I thought dibs, as in “Dibs on the front seat!”, had largely faded away, but apparently it’s livelier than I thought. It means “claims, rights.” John Ciardi says it probably comes from dibstones, “an old child’s game involving the distribution and capture of small bones or stones used as counters.” (How old is an old child? I think he means it’s the game that’s old.)

“The Observer was not so copasetic with the sight of Minnijean Brown decked out in a cheap hat with a merry greeting on it.”

Copacetic isn’t used as much as it once was, which may be why the columnist’s spelling was a little off. It means “satisfactory, OK.” According to Random House, it dates from 1915-1920 and its origin is obscure. “Listening to America,” by Stuart Berg Flexner, says copacetic was popularized by the tap dancer Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, “who used it heavily in his vaudeville and stage appearances in the 1920s and ’30s.” Flexner agrees that the origin of copacetic is uncertain.

An editor overheard referring to “a ring-tailed bitch” was asked to explain where the term came from. He responds:

“I think I learned it from my mother, I’m somewhat embarrassed to confess. (And, difficult though my mother could be, I don’t think she fit the category.) I guess the phrase puts me in mind of particularly ferocious cats, the kind that hiss and yowl and claw without provocation. Whether ringed tails are any indicator of cat demeanor, I couldn’t say. I find all cats unpleasant.”

I have no other explanation to offer, although bitch is usually applied to female dogs, not female cats. On the other hand, cats are more likely than dogs to have ringed tails.

Something the whole family can watch:

“Dewey denied that he had hoped to play on gay prejudice and also disagreed with Cheatham’s statement after the trial that the DVD was merely ‘plain old vanilla gay porn.’ ”

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 »

More by Max Brantley

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."
  • 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.

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Conspiracy theorists

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

    • on May 28, 2017
  • Re: Conspiracy theorists

    • .... and having a beer with Gene Lyons, who gave the cutest clumsy curtsy before…

    • on May 27, 2017
  • Re: Conspiracy theorists

    • Are you saying Karl Marx has left the building? The New York Times denies it…

    • on May 27, 2017
 

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