From Anson Young:
You seem to have the word origins for bazooka, but the picture is all wrong. A bazooka doesn't recoil because the tub is open at both ends, and the forces balance each other. The picture shows a grenade launcher, which is sealed at the breech, and does recoil.
Thanks for keeping us honest,
From Morgiana P. Halley, Ph.D.:
Comment re: leeward
- It is interesting to note that, in a past issue
of the journal Lore and Language, published by the Centre for English
Cultural Tradition and Language (now the National Centre for English Cultural
Tradition) at the University of Sheffield in England, a most
ingenious possibility was posited for the derivation of the term loo for
a toilet. The author considered that, as early sailing vessels had no toilets, and the crew must, therefore, relieve themselves over the side of
the ship (and would not do so on the windward side for obvious reasons), the term
loo might well have derived from the standard pronunciation of the word
leeward as "looward".
Fascinating, especially since
the explanations currently rattling around out there for loo are a
little difficult to swallow.
I enjoyed reading your history on the word
leeward. Is there any
explanation for the odd pronunciation of this word? Although you'd think it
was pronounced to rhyme with "He - word," it actually rhymes with "toured."
As a sailor (well, former sailor, but don't tell my wife I'm looking to buy
a new sailboat in the next year or two) I've always puzzled over this. Thanks for a great resource. I've been a subscriber and reader for a long
When words are said often
enough, their pronunciation can change, for various reasons. In the
case of leeward, when saying it quickly, it is easier to say looward
(almost eliding the first vowel sound so that it is l'ward)
than to widen the mouth in pronouncing leeward. Another
nautical example of this phenomenon is boatswain, which is pronounced
bo'sun. Listen to the next government official who says social
security and note that it is often pronounced soass-scuri-dee
From Bill Allin:
When the stunningly beautiful Jacuzzi sisters arrived in our high school class in the Toronto area in 1960, the Jacuzzi brand name was well known in the affluent area south of where we lived. The girls came with California beach tan and naturally sun-bleached hair, along with daddy, the company founder, who was making a serious invasion into the Canadian market. At that time, any outdoor bath with jets was known as a Jacuzzi, with the capital J. The California company was well established and known widely by that time in North America, though brand
trade-marking did not seem to be a major consideration among the family as competitors were few and of minor significance in 1960.
I enjoy TOWFI very much. Thanks.
From Carol Cool:
I enjoy your newsletter so much, and now I know I've learned something
that I actually remember—to question word origins that sound too good to
be true. I receive Word a Day e-mails from Centrum vitamins (don't ask), which usually just include definitions. Today's, however, included this
word origin for the word brouhaha:
Brouhaha \BREW-ha-ha\, n. An uproar; a tumultuous situation; a hubbub.
This fun word is said to be derived from the Hebrew
phrase barukh habba, or "blessed be he who
enters," which was used at
Of course, I searched on your site and found your discussion of brouhaha
in issue 73, but no discussion of this spurious (I assume) etymology. I thought you might enjoy it.
That derivation is cited by
some sources, but most etymologists avoid it, as there is no evidence to
From J. Barua:
An update: the OED has accepted this from my brother on the word
Word or phrase: nob
Reference: The Pocket Oxford Dictionary page 601 OUP India 1993
[origin]derived from English slang Nabob
from Urdu/Hindi Nawab
Cool! We'll have to update Issue
2, written at a time when nob's origins were still obscure.
PREVIOUS | NEXT
read last week's issue to see what all
of these people are talking about!