Archive for September, 2008


SYLLABICATION: sock·dol·a·ger

PRONUNCIATION: sŏk-dŏlə-jər

VARIANT FORMS: also sock·dol·o·ger

NOUN: Slang 1. A conclusive blow or remark. 2. Something outstanding.

ETYMOLOGY: Origin unknown.


“I never get things all wrong, though I’ve pulled some sockdolagers in my day.”

“Some what?”

“Nineteenth-century slang. Don’t mind me. The important thing is, I know what I’m talking about.”

Source: Turn of the Cards, Victor Milán.


I know a hawk from a handsaw. Handsaw is a corruption of hernshaw (a heron). I know a hawk from a heron, the bird of prey from the game flown at. The proverb means, I know one thing from another. (See Hamlet, ii. 2.)

Source: – E. Cobham Brewer 1810–1897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.

“And I am a Wild Card, Mark, and I do know a hawk from a hernshaw.”

“What the heck is a hernshaw, anyway, man?”

“Nobody knows. Don’t let the junior-college Hamlet commentators tell you the word is really ‘handsaw,’ though. That’s hooey.”

Source: Turn of the Cards, Victor Milán.


gelt² /gɛlt/
-noun Slang.

[Origin: 1890-95; < Yiddish < MHG geld money; in earlier Brit. dial. uses < G or D; see geld²]


The got plenty of gelt to blow on guns and tanks and warplanes, buppie, J. J. Flash thought.

Source: Turn of the Cards, Victor Milán.


fi·an·chet·to /ˌfiənˈkɛtoʊ, -ˈtʃɛtoʊ/ noun, pluralchet·ti /-ˈkɛti, -ˈtʃɛti/, verb Chess.
1. the development of a bishop, in an opening move, by advancing one or two pawns so as to permit movement along the bishop’s diagonal.
-verb (used without object), verb (used with object)
2. to set up or develop as a fianchetto.

[Origin: 1840-50; < It; see flank, -et]


Mark gave him a thin smile. Once upon a time he had been a middling-hot chess player … All those classical openings committed to memory, all Mark’s fianchettos and his Nimzo-Indian Defences, all his careful strategic analysis, blew right out the door in the face of a player who didn’t know enough to know what he wasn’t supposed to do.

Source: Turn of the Cards, Victor Milán.


ap·o·tro·pa·ic /ˌæpətrəˈpeɪɪk/
intended to ward off evil.

[Origin: 1880-85; < Gk apotrópai(os) averting evil (see apo-, trope) + -ic]

-Related forms
ap·o·tro·pa·i·cal·ly, adverb


“You might call it a superstitious thing: apotropaic, designed to avert evil – a wonderful word, and God bless for giving me the pretext for using it”

Source: Turn of the Cards, Victor Milán.


de·tent /dɪˈtɛnt/
-noun Machinery.
a mechanism that temporarily keeps one part in a certain position relative to that of another, and can be released by applying force to one of the parts.

[Origin: 1680-90; < F détente, OF destente, deriv. of destendre to relax, equiv. to des– dis- + tendre to stretch; see tender]


Mr Singh nodded, one of those extremely precise nods that make you suspect a person has has click-detents in his cervical vertebrae.

Source: Turn of the Cards, Victor Milán.


pa·nache /pəˈnæʃ, -ˈnɑʃ/
1. a grand or flamboyant manner; verve; style; flair: The actor who would play Cyrano must have panache.
2. an ornamental plume of feathers, tassels, or the like, esp. one worn on a helmet or cap.
3. Architecture. the surface of a pendentive.

[Origin: 1545-55; var. (after F) of pennache < MF < early It pennachio < LL pinnāculum, dim. of pinna wing; identical in form with pinnāculum pinnacle]


a black straw cowboy hat with a big feather panache plastered on the that made it look as if a sparrow had run into him in a full-power dive.

Source: Turn of the Cards, Victor Milán.


cat·e·nar·y /ˈkætnˌɛri; especially Brit. kəˈtinəri/ noun, pluralnar·ies, adjective
1. Mathematics. the curve assumed approximately by a heavy uniform cord or chain hanging freely from two points not in the same vertical line. Equation: y = k cosh(x/k).
2. (in electric railroads) the cable, running above the track, from which the trolley wire is suspended.
3. of, pertaining to, or resembling a catenary.
4. of or pertaining to a chain or linked series.

[Origin: 1780-90; < L caténārius relating to a chain, equiv. to catén(a) a chain + –ārius -ary]


A sweat catenary had formed along his hairline.

Source: Turn of the Cards, Victor Milán.


fore·shore /ˈfɔrˌʃɔr, ˈfoʊrˌʃoʊr/
1. the ground between the water’s edge and cultivated land; land along the edge of a body of water.
2. the part of the shore between the high-water mark and low-water mark.

[Origin: 1755-65; fore- + shore]


On the foreshore the woman dances through the stations of her art.

Source: Turn of the Cards, Victor Milán.




NOUN: An aromatic Turkish tobacco.

ETYMOLOGY: Short for Latakia (tobacco), after Latakia, Syrian seaport.


The briefing room still stank of sweat, wool, and latakia.

Source: Turn of the Cards, Victor Milán.