Posts tagged ‘grammar’

The Banana Plant is an Herb

By Kaye Nemec

We’ve learned about the importance of fruits and veggies on the food pyramid since grade school.  We’ve learned that carrots, peas and broccoli are vegetables and apples, pears and strawberries are fruits.

But most of us probably haven’t learned that the banana plant is an herb or that tomatoes, avocadoes, string beans, squash, eggplant, green pepper, okra, green beans, cucumbers and corn kernels are fruits.

Merriam-Webster defines an herb as “a seed-producing annual, biennial, or perennial that does not develop persistent woody tissue but dies down at the end of a growing season.”

Banana plants do not have the typical wood trunk that supports a tree. Its leaves twist and turn around each other to form a stem that can be 12 inches thick and can grow up to 40 feet tall. At the end of each harvest the plants die completely and grow again the next season. The bananas produced by the plant are the fruit of the herb.

A fruit is defined in the botanical world as the part of the plant that bears the seed – therefore putting tomatoes, cucumbers, avocados, green peppers and more in the fruit category.

In the legal world, however, vegetables as we know them remain as is – all fruit classifications thrown aside. In the 19th century the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that fruits and vegetables were to be classified according to how they are commonly consumed.

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Photo: Spacemonster

Sources: Merriam-Webster, OChef, Live Science, MyPyramid.gov

February 9, 2011 at 2:00 am 9 comments

Commonly Misquoted Phrases

By Chad Upton | Editor

Admittedly, I am not an English professor. There are many occasions when readers have corrected me, and I appreciate it, that’s what this site is all about — learning new things.

I’ve noticed a few common phrases that frequently get misquoted in conversations. Even if you know the correct phrase, you might not know it’s meaning or origin. If you’ve got others, share it in comments at the bottom.

Tide over

common misquotes: tie over, tied over

The word “tide” is an obsolete word for time, although it’s still with us in words like “Yuletide” (Christmas Time).

The phrase comes from sailors who had to anchor (or compromise progress) when there was no wind to fill their sails — to prevent the tide from pushing them backwards or off course. The earliest recorded use of the phrase can be found in A Sea Grammar (1627), “To Tide ouer to a place, is to goe ouer with the Tide of ebbe or flood, and stop the contrary by anchoring till the next Tide.”

Down the pike

common misquote: down the pipe

If you’re talking about something in a pipeline, whether it’s literal or metaphorical (like a sales pipeline), then “pipe” does make sense. But, if you’re talking about anything else, then it’s probably “coming down the pike.”

The etymology is pretty straight forward, in this context, “pike” simply refers to “turnpike”, which is a major roadway, usually a toll road. In other words, it just means that something is coming down the road.

Flesh Out

common misquote: flush out

Much like, “coming down the pipe“, “flush out” is a real phrase. But, “flush out” is often used when people actually mean, “flesh out.”

To “flush out”, means to expose or release something, like flushing the toilet. It comes from bird hunting, where one flushes out a flock of birds. To “flesh out” is to bring something to life, to make it real. If you take an idea and make it real, you have put flesh on a skeleton.

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Photos: skipnclick (cc), MuseumWales (cc)

Sources: The Free Dictionary (turnpike), Google (pike), UsingEnglish, phrases.org.uk, Wikipedia (Tide), Paul Brians (Washington State University)

October 22, 2010 at 2:00 am 30 comments


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