Truculent

One of those words which has a hint of magic for me.  It seems longer than it is, you can rhyme it with succulent (note the double c), and it has the mystery of its meaning not being easy to guess unless you already know it or have looked it up.

For the record, it means hostile, belligerent, aggressive or savage and it is derived from Latin.  I have always summed it up as ‘keen for a fight’.

His grandfather was a truculent sort, always disagreeing with the rest and ready to argue hard to impose his view.

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 Lotte has a very truculent attitude towards her staff.  She doesn’t trust them, criticizes them openly and will treat them harshly if they disobey her.

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Sometimes it can mean fierce.  Truculence is the noun form. Not a word to use every day but fun to drop into conversation and see what reactions you get.

 

 

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In fits and starts

A rather nice expression to describe doing something in an irregular fashion, starting and stopping at various intervals and thereby causing the action to drag out over time.

I asked Jerry to cut the grass but he’s doing it in fits and starts and it’s taking him ages.  The lawn itself looks a mess half mown like that.

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The start part is easy to understand but apparently this idiom came into being when the ´fit´ part was added.  This meaning of fit refers to a seizure or spasm, like an epileptic fit.  So, fits adds this spasmodic quality to the various starts a job is being done with.

The government promised to build a new highway but progress is going in fits and starts. Who knows when they will open it?

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Uplift, upload

These words derived from phrasal verbs are also mutating into new forms and meanings.

uplift

Will Karen Brown please return to the information desk to uplift the small bag she has left behind?

This announcement over the airport loudspeaker may have an element of bureaucratic talk but it is clear what is meant. Why pick up or fetch or collect could not be used I don’t know.

Likewise, I heard the following a little while later:

Passengers for Emirates Flight 123 should head to the gate as the upload has begun

upload

So, we no longer board an aircraft but we upload it? Interesting changes that may not be really necessary.

Pander

No, I haven’t spelt the cute black and white Chinese bear wrongly.  We have another word pronounced the same way.  This is the verb “to pander”.  It basically means acting to please someone and do what they want, even if you don’t necessarily agree.  Some even say it extends to indulging someone’s whims.

The Prime Minister is always pandering to big business and agreeing to their demands.  What about the rest of society?

pander

Jenny knows that her mother refuses to pander to her whims so she tries her father first and he almost always panders to his darling daughter.  His latest gift to her was a new cellphone as she said her old one was already out-of-date.

You can pander to someone’s ego by saying what they want to hear.  As you will have noticed you pander to someone or something.

panda

 

Flick

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Flick is an action performed with the thumb and forefinger in order to get rid of dust, dirt or an insect. The momentum of the “flick” can be rather fierce and propel the unwanted object away at great speed.

I remember flicking spitballs when I was at school and I guess earlier generations flicked marbles and the like.

Now it seems we can flick emails!

We’ll flick you an email when the technician has finished and your machine is ready to pick up.

I heard this use several times in my week in New Zealand so it is obviously gaining in use.