Tag Archive | word whoop

30-Second Word Whoop: “Swipe”

Cashier carefully watches to make sure I swipe correctly, as opposed to swiping something from the store.

In the Eighties in my Detroit ‘hood, “swipe” meant only to steal. That was before possessions, like cars, were “jacked” — and we’re not talking the kind of jacking done to change a tire.

The most common “swipe” these days is what you do at the cashier on cue: Swipe your card NOW! Still often involves highway robbery, but we give authorization.

Interesting how the first dictionary definition of “swipe” involves physical violence:

1. a strong, sweeping blow, as with a cricket bat or golf club.

2. Informal: a swing of the arm in order to strike somebody; punch.

It also informally refers to “a critical or cutting remark.” Or, arcanely, to “a leverlike device for raising or lowering a weight, especially a bucket in a well; sweep.”

No doubt habitual swiping will lead to some sort of repetitive motion injury among consumers, as swiping machines are continually redesigned.

What pains me is the variety of machines out there, and the impatient checkout clerks who bark instructions at you a beat too soon when you are merely straining to read the screen.

Sometimes makes me want to take a swipe at someone.

30-second Word Whoop: “Mulligan”

Caricatures: GOP Presidential Debate Participa...

Politics is not so much a war of ideas as a war of words. Monday night’s battlefield: the Republican presidential debate in Tampa.

I tuned in, and there’s that word again: “mulligan.” I heard it volleyed by Mitt Romney at last Wednesday’s debate in Simi Valley, Calif. (though I think Rick Perry started it …). Romney was being defensive, saying every candidate deserved to take “a mulligan” or two on bad decisions from the past.

This time, Michele Bachmann lobbed it repeatedly at Rick Perry as one of her talking points — saying that in the case of government-mandated inoculations against a virus that causes cervical cancer, “little girls don’t get a mulligan … they don’t get a do-over.”

I’ll leave it to the pundits to keep score; I just want to know what, exactly, it means.

I’ve heard of mulligan stew — a hodgepodge. It’s Irish, right? Maybe goes well with a swig of something?

The “Mulligan Man” pops to mind, like the Roto-Rooter guy. Oh, wait. It was “Hey, Culligan Man!” Thanks, YouTube:

Turns out, a “mulligan” relates to scorekeeping in golf. Its etymology is debatable. Could be Scottish; I lose track of who kicked whom out of whose country. First popularized in the 1940s, mulligan refers to a second shot allowed by an opponent after a player hacks his swing.

I thought candidates aimed to be folksy and speak to the American people, not use lexicon straight from the country club.

A pile of golf balls, not goofballs. 🙂

Maybe the term will come in handy as the 2012 presidential field tries to navigate the obstacle course in the remaining SWING states. (Maybe the mulligan stew even will start thinning out.)