dictionary words, or maybe not

Grant Barrett gbarrett at AMERICANDIALECT.ORG
Fri Jan 21 03:07:57 UTC 2000

I know these were meant for laughs, but here're my thoughts.

On Thursday, January 20, 2000, Bob Fitzke <fitzke at VOYAGER.NET> wrote:

>6. Why does "slow down" and "slow up" mean the same thing?

Not for me. "Slow down" means go slower. "Slow up" means slow in anticipation of
some other event happening, such as stopping, speeding up again or a person catching up
to you on the sidewalk.

>7. Why do "fat chance" and "slim chance" mean the same thing?

Not for me. "Fat chance" is scornful, maybe sarcastic, and expresses doubt in a
sense having to do with personal views and skepticism, that is, more subjective than
objective. "Slim chance" is a fuzzy estimate of probability usually without a personal
value judgment attached, more likely to be objective.

>8. Why do 'tug' boats push their barges?

They used to tug, they don't now, the name stuck. Or so I remember it. For a great
book with bonus but non-professional river terminology, see the newly-released
"River-Horse" by William Least Heat Moon (aka Bill Trogdon). The guy lives down by the river
in Donald's neck of the woods.

>21. Why do you press harder on the buttons of a remote control when you
>know the batteries are dead?

Due to capacitance of various components, pressing longer (the result of pressing
harder) may actually send a signal whereas a normal short button press would not.

>24. Why do we wash bath towels?  Aren't we clean when we use them?

No. Your body continuously sloughs off skin, even after a shower, and the resulting
mishmash of sloughed skin, naturally occurring bacteria and a damp towel make a
decent petri cloth.

>25. Why doesn't glue stick to the inside of the bottle?

No air to dry it out.

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