Posts tagged ‘language’

Point Blank Range Can Be Over 100 Yards

By Chad Upton | Editor

The phrase, “point blank range” is frequently used in tv shows and news reports to indicate a shot was fired within an short range (usually a few yards or meters).

While that usage is accurate, the phrase is rarely used to describe shots from further away that are still point blank range.

You see, Point Blank Range simply means: a distance at which the shooter does not need to compensate for gravity by adjusting the elevation of their weapon.

Due to the velocity of the projectiles, some weapons and ammunition have a point blank range of over 100 yards (91m). Due to recoil, some cannons can shoot over 1000 yards without elevation compensation; therefore they have a point blank range of over 1000 yards (914m).

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Photo: calflier001 (cc)

Source: point blank range

September 25, 2012 at 2:00 am 4 comments

Shakespeare Coined Hundreds of Words and Phrases In Use Today

By Kyle Kurpinski

Among high schoolers (and even among many adults) William Shakespeare’s writing has a reputation for being horrendously confusing. Consider this quote from The Tempest (IV, i, 51-54):

Look thou be true; do not give dalliance

Too much the rein: the strongest oaths are straw

To th” fire i’th” blood: be more abstemious,

Or else, good night your vow!

I am well out of high school, but passages like that remind me why I majored in Engineering and not English Lit.

Yet, the Bard’s reputation for using baffling and “archaic” language isn’t necessarily well-deserved. Estimates vary as to the exact number of unique words found in Shakespeare’s complete works, but there is a general consensus that his plays and poetry contain approximately 1,700 words never previously seen in print, and not all of them are obscure relics like crant (garland/crown) or rigol (circle). Here is just a small sampling of “everyday” words originally given to us by William Shakespeare:

  • Bloody
  • Bump
  • Critic
  • Eyeball
  • Gloomy
  • Gossip
  • Housekeeping
  • Hurry
  • Laughable
  • Lonely
  • Obscene
  • Road
  • Skim milk

If that wasn’t enough of a contribution, the Bard also created phrases such as:

  • Wear one’s heart upon one’s sleeve
  • Love is blind
  • Good riddance
  • Heart’s content
  • Discretion is the better part of valour
  • A foregone conclusion

Shakespeare didn’t necessarily invent all these bits of language; he wrote at a time when English was rapidly evolving and mass publishing was in its early stages, so in some cases he may have only been the first to print them. But even if he didn’t coin all these terms from scratch, most scholars seem to agree that he was probably responsible for a fair share. Confounding verses and outdated words aside, Shakespeare should be remembered for what he was: one heck of an incredible writer and a pioneer of new language. To see more of Shakespeare’s commonly used words and phrases, click on the sources below.

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Source: No Sweat Shakespeare, Shakespeare-Online, WordSpin, The Phrase Finder, Wikipedia

Image: Wikipedia

May 23, 2011 at 2:00 am 2 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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