schlimazel or shlimazel (SHLI-mah-zuhl) noun
Someone prone to having extremely bad luck.
[From Yiddish, from shlim (bad, wrong) + mazl (luck). A related term
is Hebrew mazel tov (congratulations or best wishes).]
A schlimazel can be concisely described as a born loser. No discussion
of schlimazel could be complete without mentioning his counterpart:
schlemiel, a habitual bungler. They go together:
A schlemiel is one who always spills his soup, schlimazel is the one
on whom it always lands.
A schlimazel's toast always falls butter-side down. A schlemiel always
butters his toast on both sides.
faire long feu
Certaines locutions ont fait couler beaucoup dencre. Faire, ou
ne pas faire long feu? Là nest plus la question. Maurice
Rat tranchait: "On a tendance aujourdhui, où lorigine
de la locution nest pas comprise, à ajouter à tort
la négation, croyant exprimer la même idée [
Cest proprement dire tout le contraire de ce que lon veut
dire" (16). Faux, ce commentaire! La vérité est sans
doute dans le Nouveau Petit Robert: "Faire long feu se dit dune
cartouche dont lamorce brûle trop lentement, de sorte que
le coup manque son but" et signifie au figuré "ne pas
produire son effet, échouer". Il nest pas vrai que
ne pas faire long feu exprime la même idée; évoquant
limage dune bûche qui "ne tient pas le feu",
lexpression signifie "ne pas sattarder". Ces deux
locutions sont claires dans leurs contextes; lune, plus ancienne,
est surtout littéraire, lautre est plus usuelle dans le
travail (truh-VAYL) noun
Painfully difficult work; agony, anguish; the pain of childbirth.
To work strenuously, toil; be in labor.
[From Old French travailler (to work hard), from Vulgar Latin tripaliare,
(to torture with a tripalium). A tripalium was a three-staked instrument
Travel also derives from travailler, with reference to the hardships
of a journey. The first recorded use of travel (as travelen) was in
the 14th century, when anyone venturing on a journey could expect to
face many hardships, even if not encountering a three-staked torture
Travail and travel derive from Indo-European root *trei-, meaning three.
Less obvious words in this family include trammel, sitar, trivia, trivial,
troika, trivet, testify, testimony, testament, attest, contest, detest,
and protest. These last seven words derive from Latin testis, with reference
to a (third party) witness, also the source of the word for the testicles
that bear witness to male virility. One more word in the *trei- family
is triskaidekaphobia, fear of the number thirteen.
octothorpe (OK-tuh-thorp) noun
The symbol #.
[The symbol # is derived from a shorthand way of writing lb, the abbreviation
for the Latin libra (balance), just as $ is a shorthand way of writing
US. Octothorpe is an alteration, influenced by octo-, of earlier octalthorpe,
probably a humorous blend of octal (an eight-point pin used in electronic
connections) and someone whose last name was or ended in "thorpe",
and whose identity is subject to speculation. It may be James Edward
Oglethorpe, an eighteenth century English philanthropist, but more likely
it is an Olympic athlete, Jim Thorpe. In the early 1960s, Bell Labs
introduced two special keys in its innovative touch-tone telephone keypads,
"#" and "*", for which it needed fresh names. Having
eight points, "octo-" was an obvious first element. Since
the engineer involved in introducing this innovation was active in a
group seeking the return of Jim Thorpe's medals from Sweden, he whimsically
added "-thorpe", creating octothorpe. (Jim Thorpe was disqualified
because of his professional status, but his medals were restored posthumously.)
The "#" is also known as a pound sign, crosshatch, number
sign, sharp, hash, crunch, mesh, hex, flash, grid, pig-pen, gate, hak,
oof, rake, fence, gate, grid, gridlet, square, and widget mark.]
doyenne (doi-EN) noun
A women who is the eldest or senior member of a group or profession.
[From Late Latin decanus (chief of ten), via Old French deien and Middle
French doyenne. Her male counterpart is a doyen.]
Another word derived from decanus is dean, which originally referred
to a chief of ten men, then leader of ten monks and, finally, to the
administrative head of a cathedral or college. A few other non-obvious
ten-based words are decussate, intersected or crossed to form an X;
dicker, probably from Latin decuria, parcel of ten, with reference to
the bundle of ten animal hides Caesar's legions used as a unit of trade;
decimate; decibel; and the names of currencies used in various countries,
including the qindarka (Albania), stotinka (Bulgaria), and dinar (various
Eastern European and Mid-Eastern countries).