© Judi Birnberg My Bigliest Painting
If you were among the 84 million people who watched Monday night’s presidential debate, you might have sat up straighter in your seat when Donald Trump announced, “I’m going to cut taxes bigly.” My posture suddenly improved as I yelped, “BIGLY?” Perhaps, as many now think, he meant to say “big league.” But he didn’t say that.
I then joined the zillions of people googling “bigly” and discovered that it is, according to Kory Stamper, a linguist with Merriam-Webster, a word that dates to approximately 1400, when it was used to mean “with great force” or “boastfully.” Then “bigly” disappeared for a very long time, only to be curiously resurrected this past Monday night.
I started thinking: If we do something “grandly,” “spaciously,” minutely,” or “microscopically,” then we could do something bigly. If we wanted to. I don’t want to. How about you?
This is from my friend Janet. I love it when my readers suggest topics or send me goodies like this one. The English language is so malleable!
1. ARBITRATOR: A cook that leaves Arby’s to work at McDonald’s
2. BERNADETTE: The act of torching a mortgage
3. BURGLARIZE: What a crook sees with
4. AVOIDABLE: What a bullfighter tries to do
5. COUNTERFEITER: Worker who assembles kitchen cabinets
6. LEFT BANK: What the bank robber did when his bag was full of money
7. HEROES: What a man in a boat does
8. PARASITES: What you see from the Eiffel Tower
9. PARADOX: Two physicians
10. PHARMACIST: A helper on a farm
11. RELIEF: What trees do in the spring
12. RUBBERNECK: What you do to relax your wife
13. SELFISH: What the owners of a seafood store do
14. SUDAFED: Brought litigation against a government official
Here is the writing on a T-shirt I bought for my husband, a lawyer. It’s labeled “The Layman’s Glossary of Legal Terms”:
ACQUIT: To wimp out
APPELLATE: Hamster food
ARRAIGN: Stormy weather
ATTORNEY: Major sporting event
BAR ASSOCIATION: Drinking buddies
BONA FIDE: Dog treat
CRIMINAL LAWYER: Redundant
COURT OF APPEALS: Justice for bananas
CRIME OF PASSION: Sloppy kisses
DEBTOR: Less alive
DECEIT: A place to sit down
DISCOVERY: Cable TV channel
EXTRADITION: More math homework
GRACE PERIOD: Just before the meal
HUNG JURY: Overreaction to verdict
IN TOTO: Where Dorothy places trust
INNOCENCE: Fragrant when burned
LEGAL BRIEFS: Always boxers
LEGAL SECRETARY: Old enough to party
LIEN: Not overweight
MIRANDA RULE: Wear fruit on head
ORDER IN THE COURT: A call for takeout
PRO BONO: Cher before the divorce
ROE V. WADE: Tough choice at river
SUPREME COURT: Where Diana Ross plays tennis
TRIAL DATE: More fun than dinner and a movie
Watch this short video and think about editing. Well worth your time.
I nag people about proofreading and editing. If you think editing is merely looking for punctuation errors, you need to watch this video. He makes a lot of sense (and speaking of sense, he has one of those that is humorous).
© Judi Birnberg
Different style books vary in their approach to making plurals of abbreviations and numbers. Some add an apostrophe before the lowercase s— CEO’s —and others prefer to omit the apostrophe— CEOs.
I vote with the latter group because the less punctuation used, in general, the clearer the text. So I recommend writing in the following style:
However, sometimes an apostrophe is necessary to avoid confusion. What if you want to count the number of times the first letter of the alphabet is used in a paragraph? If you write that you saw nine as, your readers are left scratching their heads. Nine a’s clarifies what you meant.