Here’s one for you.  I bet it is not a household word:

A zeugma is a literary term for using one word to modify two other words, in two different ways. An example of a zeugma is, “She broke his car and his heart.”

I want to thank my friend Carol Halstead for confounding me.  Cheers

Make an ass of you and me (assume)


I was thinking about the root word “sume” as in assume, consume, presume, resume, subsume and even, perhaps, exhume.  Here is what it means:

sump, sume & sum
These ROOT-WORDS are SUME, SUMP & SUM meaning TAKE, USE & WASTE. They come from the Latin sumere & sumptus. It is interesting to notice how the idea of taking and using began to mean expensive, burdensome, and wasteful. The layman’s name for tuberculosis is conSUMPtion, a disease that causes the patient to WASTE away. In ancient Greece and Rome there was a SUMPtuary law which forbade lavish spending.

1. Assume : as SUME (a sume’) v. 

To take; to use; to suppose; as, I assume it is so

2. Assumption : as SUMP tion (a sump’ shun) n. 

The act of taking for granted; as, on the assumption that it is so

3. Assuming : as SUM ing (a sume’ ing) adj. 

Taking for granted; arrogant

4. Assumed : as SUM ed (a sumed’) adj. 

Taken; as, under an assumed name

5. Assumptive : as SUMP tive (a sump’ tiv) adj. 

Assuming; supposing

6. Consume : con SUME (kon sume’) v. 

To use up; as, Americans consume millions of cigarettes

7. Consumer : con SUME r (kon sue’ mer) n. 

One who consumes goods of some kind

8. Consumption : con SUMP tion (kon sump’ shun) n. 

Act of using up; wasting away

9. Consumptive : con SUMP tive (kon sump’ tiv) adj. 

Affected by consumption; a wasting away of the body

10. Consumable : con SUM able (kon sue’ ma b’l) adj. 

Can be used up

11. Consumedly : con SUME dly (kon sue’ med lee) adv. 

Excessively; as, he is consumedly proud of himself

12. Presume : pre SUME (pre zume’) v. 

To take upon oneself without leave; as, do not presume too much

13. Presumably : pre SUM ably (pre zue’ ma blee) adv. 


14. Presumption : pre SUMP tion (pre zump’ shun) n. 

Arrogance; audacity

15. Presumptuously : pre SUMP tuously (pre zump’ chu us lee) adv. 

Arrogantly; audaciously

16. Resume : re SUME (re zume’) v. 

Take up again; as, after intermission the play will resume

17. Sumpter : SUMP ter (sump’ ter) n. 

A beast of burden

18. Sumption : SUMP tion (sump’ shun) n. 

A major premise; an assumption

19. Sumptuosity : SUMP tuosity (sump tue os’ i ti) n. 

Lavish display

20. Sumptuously : SUMP tuously (sump’ chu us lee) adv 

Lavishly; expensively

Square Meal


Have you ever had a square meal?  Here’s why:

Most origin stories of the phrase claim it came from British and American naval ships of the 1700 or 1800’s. There are two versions of this story. The most common claims that sailors aboard ship had their meals served to them on square wooden trays or plates, that they either carried back to their bunks, where the plates could be stored easily, or that were stored elsewhere. Since they only used these squares when they were getting a full meal, probably dinner, the phrase ‘a square meal’ came to be associated with a full and satisfying dinner.

Which or That

When to use “which” and when to use “that” hound me.  And maybe you too.  Here is the rule.  Good luck.grammar
The rule of thumb, then, is that which clauses are nonrestrictive (nonessential)while that clauses are restrictive (essential). Nonrestrictive clauses and phrases are set off from the rest of a sentence by a pair of commas (as in our examples above) or by a single comma if they come at the end of the sentence. (Example: “I took a vacation day on my birthday, which happened to fall on a Monday this year.”)
Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary (10th edition), regarded by most writers as the authority on such matters, tells us that it is now common for which to be used with either kind of clause, while that must be used only for restrictive clauses. In fact, though, careful writers continue to make the distinction we describe above. Attorneys are taught to use which for nonrestrictive clauses and that for restrictive clauses so as not to cause a misreading in legal documents. It seems just as important that we work to avoid misreadings in all writing, not only in situations when a legal ruling might be at stake.

The Presidency


Journalist H. L. Mencken observed in 1920:

“As democracy is perfected, the office represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. We move toward a lofty ideal. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their hearts desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.”



Are you gruntled today?

Obviously dislike is the opposite of like and disrespect is lack of respect.  So when is this prefix not the negative and why?  I didn’t know, so I researched it.  The result was interesting.

From John Carlson: I have, for some time, been fascinated by the word disgruntled. How may you be disgruntled if you are not already gruntled? I do not know what gruntled is and I have not been able to find that word in the dictionaries that I have examined. Any thoughts about gruntled and disgruntled?
Years ago I wrote a piece about such unpaired opposites, whose first example was this word. It quoted P G Wodehouse’s The Code of the Woosters, published in 1938: “He spoke with a certain what-is-it in his voice, and I could see that, if not actually disgruntled, he was far from being gruntled.” So, if you were the opposite of disgruntled you would be pleased, satisfied, and contented.
Wodehouse invented this sense and has been quoted or flatteringly imitated many times since (as in Men at Arms by Terry Pratchett: “‘No, that man,’ said Angua, ‘[with a] face like someone very disgruntled.’ ‘Oh, that was Captain Vimes. But he’s never been gruntled, I think.’”)
The assumption behind it is that putting dis- on the front of a word makes it negative in meaning in some way, as in disappear, discontent, disconnect, dishonest, and dozens of others. That’s still an active way of making new words — it has been used in recent decades to create disinformation, disambiguate and many others. Sometimes, however — very rarely and only in old words — dis- is what the grammarians call an intensifier: it makes an existing sense stronger. For example, the unusual word disannul was used in the sense “to make null and void, bring to nothing, abolish” and dissever means “to divide, separate, disjoin.” A third example is disgruntle, which at root suggests somebody is more than merely gruntled. But gruntled here doesn’t have its Wodehousian sense, quite the reverse.