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I'll do that for you!

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October 11, 2004, 07:23
I'll do that for you!
How good to have someone else do your job for you! This week we'll see words for such a subsititute person, words which in many cases can also be used for other sorts of substitutes. We'll begin with a word that also fits last week's theme (it was the winning word of the 2001 spelling-bee) and, as it happens, would also have fit another recent theme.

succedaneum – a substitute. (The word can refer to persons or other items, particularly to medications. It often seems to imply a substitute that is acceptable but inferior.)

This word, pronounced suc'-si-DAY'-ne-um, would have fit our theme of "Words that Sound Dirty, but Aren't." Indeed, two fine examples of this term cannot be given on this family site. I can only allude, noting that one in the recent press cites Dr. Kinsey's musings on substitute lubricants., and that the other pictures a woman shopping for produce, commenting, "Hmmmmm, cucumbers ... Hmmmmm, zucchini ... " Let's see some examples more circumspect.
October 12, 2004, 06:36
so are you saying you'll succadaneum for us??? how very interesting

"Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.
~Dalai Lama
October 12, 2004, 08:17
stalking horse – a sham candidate put forward to conceal another's candidacy or to divide the opposition (or, generally, something used to mask a purpose)Etymology: originally a horse trained to walk toward deer (who will not take alarm at a riderless horse), concealing a hunter who walked behind it or at its off shoulder to get close enough for an effective shot. Made obsolete by acurate rifles.

(So says Ciardi. Compact OED says the horse would "allow a fowler to hide behind it," but I suggest this would not be an effective way to hunt fowl. Can anyone comment?)
October 12, 2004, 08:30
Robert Arvanitis
Doubt that auceps used equus...

But in "Jeremiah Johnson," old trapper shows Robert Redford how to sneak up on game behind a horse.

Hero asks "won't they see our legs?" Old trapper replies "Moose can't count."

October 13, 2004, 07:12
ringer – one who, entering a competition, conceals or fraudulently represents his high level of qualification. [from US horseracing: a horse of better class entered fraudulently into a race for those of lower class]

The term of course has other meanings, not discussed here.Have the dictionaries erred on this word? For example, a sprinter who uses banned steroids is dishonest, but would you call him a ringer? I'd think not – and in that case, the typical dictionary-definition errs by including him. [It says, "a contestant entered into a competition dishonestly, or under false representations".] And query whether that definition would allow the word "ringer" to be applied to Mr. Weast, in our second quote above.

*Tida seems to be a remarkable woman. Per that article: [Tiger's father] told a gathering, "Let me introduce a young whippersnapper who's never been spanked." "He's right," Tiger said. "He never had to spank me growing up as a kid. Because Mom beat the hell out of my ass. I've still got the handprints." Mom isn't the sentimentalist Dad is; she doesn't cry. "Old man is soft," she says. "He cry. He forgive people. Not me. I don't forgive anybody."

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October 13, 2004, 16:12
I swear this is coincidental. On the AHD website, their word-of-the-day for today is succedaneum.
October 14, 2004, 09:18
locum; locum tenens(pl. locum tenentes) a doctor or cleric standing in for another who is temporarily away
[Latin locum tenens = 'place holding'. In French, 'place holding' is lieu tenant; from that comes our word lieutenant. It originally meaning a person who acted for another as a deputy, and we still see that usage in the term lieutenant governor.]

The term locum is almost never used in the US, but I gather it is reasonably familiar in the UK. Comments from UK readers? Has it expanded beyond doctors and clerics?
October 14, 2004, 10:24
Has it expanded beyond doctors and clerics?
I wouldn't say so. In fact, I didn't know of its use for clerics before now. That probably has more to do with my ignorance of and indifference to religious matters than the usage frequency in this context.

It is commonly used for a stand-in doctor, though.

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.
October 15, 2004, 08:39
catspaw – a person used by another as a dupe or tool (also, a light breeze that ruffles small areas of a water surface)
[after the fable of the monkey using the cat's paw to draw the roasting chestnuts out of the fire]
October 15, 2004, 19:21
I like the idea of being a light breeze, ruffling the waters. Generally, though, my paws tend to cause more of a cannonball-type splash. Big Grin

"Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.
~Dalai Lama
October 16, 2004, 10:46
Is there any difference between a scapegoat, a whipping boy and a fall guy?

scapegoat – one made to bear the blame for others (verb: to make someone a scapegoat)
whipping boy – 1. a scapegoat (originally, a boy formerly educated with a prince or other young nobleman and punished in his stead – since one may not whip a prince!).
fall guy – a scapegoat, one who is blamed for the actions of others (also, an easy victim, one who is readily duped)

Scapegoat comes from a Bible mistranslation. Hebrew/Aramiac manuscripts specify (Leviticus 16) that goat should be sent alive into the wilderness for the demon Azazel. But Jerome, producing his Latin translation called the Vulgate (382 to 405), misread Azazel as ez zel "goat that departs," and rendered it as caper emissarius. Later European translators worked from the Vulgate and carried the error forward. Tyndale (1530) rendered caper emissarius into English by coining scapegoat, from scape (antique form of escape) + goat. The same method produced German der ledige Bock (Martin Luther), Greek tragos aperkhomenos, and French bouc émissaire.

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October 16, 2004, 11:33
From the OED Online:
scapegoat, n.
2. One who is blamed or punished for the sins of others. (So F. bouc émissaire.)

1824 MISS MITFORD Village Ser. I. 204 Country-boys..are patient, too, and bear their fate as scape-goats, (for all sins whatsoever are laid as matters of course to their door,..), with amazing resignation.

fall guy slang (orig. U.S.), one who is easily tricked, an easy victim; one who ‘takes the rap’ for others, a scapegoat;

The Phrase Finder says:
Fall guy Meaning
A stooge or whipping boy.
Originally a stunt double who took the falls for an actor in films

Other sources say the term comes from wrestling and refers to the wrestler who takes the "fall."


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October 16, 2004, 12:17
Robert Arvanitis
There is a sense of the "involuntary" about words like scapegoat, whipping boy, and fall guy.

On a more voluntary basis, there is the professional "sin-eater."
(from http://96.1911encyclopedia.org/S/SI/SIN_EATER.htm)

SIN-EATER, a man who for trifling payment was believed to take upon himself, by means of food and drink, the sins of a deceased person...Usually each village had its official sin-eater...A groat, a crust of bread and a bowl of ale were handed him, and after he had eaten and drunk he rose and pronounced the ease and rest of the dead person, for whom he thus pawned his own soul.

October 17, 2004, 18:32
In Edmond Rostand's Cyrano de Bergerac, Cyrano is a swordsman and poet-lover who loves Roxane but believes himself far too ugly to deserve her. To promote her happiness, he conceals his feelings and forges an agreement with the handsome, dashing Christian, who is hopelessly inept at words of love. Cyrano provides to Christian the love poems, speeches, and letters by which Christian wins Roxane's heart.

Cyrano is a paranymph. That word has two meanings. The first, very rare, is a gender-neutral term for an attendant at a wedding, be it best man, groomsman, or bridesmaid (which of course has nothing to do with this week's theme.) OED gives a second sense, which perfectly fits Cyrano and our theme, but is so rare that I can find no quote more recent than 1693.

paranymph – 1. a best man, or groomsman, or a bridesmaid 2. one who woos or solicits for another; an advocate, spokesman, or orator, who speaks in behalf of another.

There is a paranymph story much like Cyrano's, set in 1621 in the early US settlement at Plymouth, Massachusetts. Gruff soldier Miles Standish lacks the eloquence to properly ask Priscilla for her hand, so he asks John Alden, his scholarly friend, to plead for him. John himself loves Priscilla, but has been too shy to tell her, or Miles, or anyone, so he cannot but accede to his friend's request. The story ends happily when Priscilla, hearing Alden's plea for Standish, take matters into her own hands and responds with the famous words, "Speak for yourself, John."

Longfellow tells the tale with wonderful human details. It is too long to put in this note; you will find it on our site here, under Miscellaneous Writings.
October 18, 2004, 08:37
paranymph. That word has two meanings. The first, very rare, is a gender-neutral term for an attendant at a wedding, be it best man, groomsman, or bridesmaid

Could this term work for a "groomswoman?" We are trying to learn the term for a woman who is a groomsperson (?) in a wedding. Our daughter will be a groomswoman in the wedding of one of her guy friends. Or, is there another term for this?
August 29, 2005, 19:30
reviving a thread
Well, apparently the accepted term is groomswoman, and I don't think some of the men realize what they get themselves into when they choose a "groomswoman!" Wink

The wedding where my daughter was the groomswoman was this weekend. I asked her who planned the bachelor's party, and she said, "Well, of course I did. Men don't plan!" She was the only woman there. I asked her what she did. She said it was a wonderful bachelor's party. They first went to a martini bar (she happens to love martinis!), and then to a small, romantic restaurant, and then to a bar where the guys had beers. She insisted the men had fun. Perhaps bachelor's parties have changed since I got married. Oh...and she also gave the toast at the reception.

Yes, I think future men may want to think a little harder before choosing a groomswoman. Wink