Posted by: episystechpubs | December 17, 2015

Editor’s Corner: On the lam, lazy-fare, and more

Hello there and happy Thursday!

I have a few more selected malapropisms for you from Going to Hell in a Hen Basket: An Illustrated Dictionary of Modern Malapropisms, by Robert Alden Rubin. And tomorrow? I will have the final few and the opportunity for you to enter yet another drawing for a free book!

· on the lamb
Lambs gambol [KC – run or jump playfully], so you might imagine that running joyfully to escape capture could refer to them. But on the lam literally means to beat it—to run away. It derives from Germanic words meaning to beat or to lame a person or animal.

· lazy-fare
The English lazy (to dislike work) and the French laissez-faire (leave it alone) both suggest inaction. Yet laissez-faire economic policies would work hard at keeping business un-impeded, whereas lazy policies just wouldn’t bother. The words have different origins, too: Lazy apparently derives from lay and lie, while laissez comes from let or allow.

· new leaf on life, new leash on life
Combines turn over a new leaf and get a new lease on life. Both figures of speech have to do with paper—the first the pages of a book, the second a contract. The variant may confuse the lease idiom with on a tight (or short) leash, which, like a lease, is binding.

· mind-bottling
The adjective mind-boggling and the verb boggle probably come from old words for ghosts and spirits (such as a bogey). This linkage isn’t intuitive when you want to describe amazement. The idea of capturing a mind in a bottle actually seems far more amazing.

· welcome rest bite
A rest bite might be a brief taste of rest. [KC – Or something a vampire gets while stopping along the highway in the United States.] Respite derives from the Latin for refuge, or consideration, and a welcome respite is a period of relief.

· rye expression
A rye expression might be something such as “I adore pumpernickel”—which might prompt wry expressions on the face of those who do not. Rye is an ancient word for grain that hasn’t changed much for thousands of years. Wry (meaning twisted, as with an expression that might be twisted with disgust), is almost as old.

· fairy tail, old wives’ tail, tell-tail, tattle-tail, etc.
May confuse fairies with mermaids who have tails, but this is usually just a homophone mistake. Some variants, however, are more plausible. For instance, a telltale on a sailboat is often a string of yarn that shows wind direction, and it can resemble a tail.

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

619-542-6773 | Ext: 766773

Symitar Documentation Services

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