Words, Words, Words (Again) (2)

The spirit moved me. Here are some more intriguing words:

First, derby. The word come from Derby, a famous horse race at Epsom Downs, England established by Edward Stanley, the twelfth Earl of Derby, who launched the race in 1780. Usually capitalized, the word is applied to any of a number of famous horse races, such as the Kentucky Derby.

Next: effigy. The term means a representation of a person in a statue or dummy. Its origin is the Latin “ex-” (out of) and “fingere,” (to form or shape). The most frequent usage of the term is to “burn in effigy,” meaning to destroy by fire a representation of a disliked person.

That brings us to crony. The word comes from “chrony,” university slang for an old friend—maybe from the Greek “chronos,” meaning “time.” It means a close and especially a longtime friend.

Then there’s loin. The literal meaning is the part of the body on both sides of the spine between the lowest (false) ribs and the hipbones. But the term is often used to refer to the region of the sexual organs, especially when regarded as the source of erotic or procreative power. It is also used to designate a large cut of meat. The word comes from Vulgar Latin “lumbea,” from “lumbea caro” meaning “meat of the loin.” The term is most often used in the expression, “to gird one’s loins,” meaning to prepare oneself for action. This expression comes from the Bible (Proverbs 31:17) and originally alluded to tucking up the traditional long robe into a girdle (that is, a belt) so it will not hamper physical activity.

Now, zilch. It means zero or nil. It first appeared in the 1960s. Its origin is unknown, but one possibility is that it’s from “Mr. Zilch,” a character in the 1930s U.S. humorous magazine Ballyhoo.

That’ll do it for today.

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