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The Oxford English Dictionary is continuously being updated. Four times a year the publishers announce the words, phrases and sentences they have added to the one-line version.

We'll look at some of the additions that were announced last week, and perhaps get a sense of the creativity and liveliness of our language. By coincidence, the current list includes a fair number of "animal" phrases," on which we'll focus our attention.

puppy-dog eyes – a person's eyes (or general expression or appearance), likened to a puppy's, in appearing mournful, beseeching, or winsome, or in seeking to elicit sympathy or compassion
    But Mommy always looked sad, even when she was smiling. She worried all the time -- about how she was going to pay the rent, the light bill, the grocery bill. … When I'd see her looking so sad and scared, I would climb onto her lap. "Please don't worry, Mommy," I'd say. She would look at me with those sad puppy dog eyes and say, "I'm not worried, Pickle Puss. Someday our ship will come in."
    . . .One time I asked how much longer it would be before the ship came in, and she said, "I guess it sunk."
    – Wally Lamb, Couldn't Keep It to Myself [etc.]
 
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It surprises me a little that this phrase has only just been added to the OED. It's in moderately common usage here. If asked, off the top of my head I'd say that it was at least fifty years old.


Build a man a fire and he's warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he's warm for the rest of his life.
 
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First OED cite is 1946 (!), arnie.
 
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bunny slopeskiing: a gentle slope considered suitable for beginners (also used figuratively on rare occasion)
First OED cite: 1954.
    No skiing at all, the doc had told him firmly. Not for at least a week, and then he'd confine himself to the bunny slopes. It wouldn’t look that bad, would it? He’d pretend to be teaching his kids . . . damn!
    –Tom Clancy, Debt of Honor

    I serve four young women … They order … the “wings of mass destruction.” … I warn them away from it, pronouncing it too hot to handle. They press on and survive.
    . . .One of them later wonders aloud whether to have the superhot “martini from hell,” made with peppered Absolut. “Why worry?” I say. “With those wings, you climbed Everest. The martini's like a bunny slope.”
    – Frank Bruni, A Critic at Every Table, in Best Food Writing 2006 (Holly Hughes, editor)
 
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Today, a health food -- NOT!

chili dog – a hot dog topped with a serving of chili con carne. 1948
[chili – chili con carne (that is, a Mexican stew of minced beef flavored with chili peppers)]

Though these terms go back to at least 1948 and 1886(!) respectively, OED is just now getting around to including them. (OED also spells it chilli with a double-l, but the single-l spelling I give is far more common.)
    I convinced my better half to split a chili dog with me …. It doesn't get much better than this. The hot dog itself was smothered in chili and cheese. Many vendors make the mistake of thinking a chili dog is health food …
    – Pittsburg (KS) Morning Sun, Sept. 10, 2007

    In this day of health-consciousness, the chili dog has repeatedly been kicked in the buns. Full of fat, cry the nutritionists. Minimal food value. Laced with sodium nitrite. Loaded with salt. No redeeming social value. But nutritionists don't care about tradition … And, to most of us, the chili dog is a Southern tradition …
    – Atlanta Journal and Constitution, Oct. 25, 1986
 
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In the UK, the only spelling of chilli I've ever seen is, indeed, chilli.
 
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hamster wheel – a small treadwheel on which a hamster can run endlessly to get exercise; also fig., connoting pointless activity
    When your life turned into one big disappointment, a frantic hamster wheel blur of work and baby with no one to love you or tell you that you were doing it well, bourbon and Tab did start to take on a certain allure.
    – Jennifer Weiner, Little Earthquakes

    We get too busy to take time for ourselves--we become caught up in life. We go through the motions of existence, spinning wildly on the hamster wheel of obligations and daily tasks, forgetting what we started out hoping for, burying ourselves in routine and work.
    – Roger Gould, Shrink Yourself: Break Free from Emotional Eating Forever
 
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The trouble with the rat race is that even if you win, you're still a rat. -- Lily Tomlin
 
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bird-dog (verb)
1. to pursue with dogged determination; to pester relentlessly
2. to scout or search for (noun, N. Amer. colloq. – a scout, esp. (Sport) a talent scout)
    sense 1:
    You're just a young guy! You oughta be out running around in a convertible, bird-dogging girls.
    – Ken Kesey, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

    sense 2:
    … young associates brought in to bird-dogging deals and pursue their own entrepreneurial ideas.
    – David A. Kaplan, Mine's Bigger: Tom Perkins and the Making of the Greatest Sailing Machine Ever Built

    [baseball:] Tramping highways and byways, wandering everywhere bird dogging the sandlots for months without spotting so much as a fifth-rater he could telegraph about to the head scout …
    – Bernard Malamud, The Natural
 
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puffin crossing – a pedestrian crossing with traffic lights partly controlled by sensors which detect the presence of pedestrians
[Pedestrian User Friendly INtelligent crossing]

This is a British term. Research reveals that you Brits apparently also have zebra crossings, pelican crossings, and toucan crossings. I'm afraid to ask.
    The proposed traffic calming is expected to benefit school children in the area as the existing pelican crossing will be changed to a puffin crossing … . [The] proposal said, "Puffin crossings aim to improve safety and reduce delays as detectors watch the crossing and control the light signals. The advantages being the lights will stay red until the pedestrians have safely crossed the road and drivers will no longer be stopped if there are no pedestrians waiting to cross."
    – Bexhill Observer, Sept. 4, 2007
 
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The Zebra crossing is the original and has changed little since it was invented before WW2. Essentially it is a black and white-striped section of road on which pedestrians have right of way. Over the years they have become less common as traffic-light controlled crossing are replacing them.

It was Ernest Marples who, in the 1960s, started messing around with the simple concept and introduced Pelicans and other complexities. Few understood them back then and few understand them now; as always politicians like to take the advice of highly-paid advisers who do love to come up with complex solutions to simple problems. Of course, this does mean that their successors can change things again in order to make their own mark.

Sadly Marples's real crime was in arranging the closure of so many of our railways (on the spurious grounds of cost) - many of which we now desperately need and a few of which we are trying to re-open at huge expense.


Richard English
 
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It occurred to me that I had no idea what the difference is between a pelican, a puffin and a toucan crossing.

So I looked it up.


Imagine my surprise to discover that we also have panda, tiger and pegasus crossings - none of which I'd ever heard of.

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Imagine my surprise to discover that we also have panda, tiger and pegasus crossings - none of which I'd ever heard of.

My point precisely!


Richard English
 
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sick puppyorig. and chiefly U.S. 1. colloq.: a very ill person 2. slang: an abnormal, deviant, or deranged person
    . . .Then Phil asked, "In your other life, Nate, did you ever have a problem with adultery?"
    . . ."None whatsoever, It wasn't a problem, it was a way of life. Every semiattractive woman was nothing but a potential quickie. I was married, but I never thought that I was committing adultery. It wasn't sin; it was a game. I was a sick puppy, Phil."
    – John Grisham, The Testament
 
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Every semiattractive woman was nothing but a potential quickie.

Doesn't sound particularly sick to me - quite normal for most red-blooded men, I'd have thoughtWink


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quite normal ... I'd have thought
To have thought, but not action. Aye, there's the rub. Wink
 
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To have thought, but not action. Aye, there's the rub. Wink

Columbus, May 2008. OK? Wink


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Aye, there's the rub

This has nothing whatsoever with the subject at hand (if you'll pardon the phrase), but that has not usually stopped us in the past...

I read somewhere that the Japanese for male masturbation translates as "a hundred rubs", but that for the female equivalent means "a thousand rubs". Ummm ...


Build a man a fire and he's warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he's warm for the rest of his life.
 
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the Japanese for male masturbation translates as "a hundred rubs", but that for the female equivalent means "a thousand rubs

No surprises there, then...


Richard English
 
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Arnie, WC'r, you're absolutely right, I'm appalled how long it takes OED to recognize a word that has been in common use here for decades

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