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.
Wyndman regarded Bolingbroke with a deference which was not unmixed with pity and took care to cater to the old man's continuing desire for political involvement. He was never Bolingbroke's colourless parliamentary succedaneum and ignored or modified his mentor's advice if it conflicted with his own more informed perception of tory backbench sentiment. – Linda Colley, In Defiance of Oligarchy: The Tory Party 1714-60
The Novel demonstates that people can and should get out of their cocoons. Novels validate meeting people who do not belong to some originating or "natural" unit like the family. In saying as much, I am quite close to Mario Vargas Llosa, [who] explains, "Fiction is a temporary succedaneum for life." – Margaret Anne Doody, The True Story of the Novel
It [televisiion] is like the potato, which is only a succedaneum for something decent to eat but which, once introduced into Ireland, proved so cheap that the peasants gave up their grain-and-meat diet in favor of it. – A.J. Liebling, in The Sweet Science by (1956), which deals with boxing and may be the best-selling sports book of all time.
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)
The atmosphere indeed is reminiscent of the late 1980s, right down to the whispers that the Prime Minister has gone slightly mad. Is it time for a Labour version of Sir Anthony Meyer, the "stalking horse" who first stood against Lady Thatcher to test the extent of serious opposition to her? – New Statesman, The future of Tony Blair - Labour Party leadership challenge considered, March 25, 2002
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
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.
Once she [Tiger Woods' mother] was the only member of his gallery. She is the single foot soldier who has made the whole campaign. When Tiger seemed too good for his age, and the other parents took him for a ringer, Tida was his one rooter on the course.* – Tom Callahan, 'My heart is Thai': a window to Tiger's soul through his mother, Golf Digest, April, 2003
Kathryn Lofquist, principal of Lindley Elementary School, challenged Superintendent Jerry Weast to a cowmilking contest after students at her school surpassed a book reading goal. But Weast turned out to be a ringer--after all, he grew up on a Kansas dairy farm. So Lofquist lost and had to accept her prize, a kiss from the cow. – Holy Cow! Stupefying Stunts to Motivate Students, School Administrator, Sept. 1998
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."This message has been edited. Last edited by: wordcrafter,
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?
A shortage of psychiatrists in Merseyside ... currently spending £2m a year on locum cover. The problem means patients are attending appointments only to find the psychiatrist has to learn their complex medical history all over again in minutes. Yesterday Alan Yates, chief executive of Merseycare said work had begun to tackle it. He also said using locums was better than providing no service at all. – Liverpool Daily Post, Sept. 28, 2004
Despite the best efforts of current locum, the Rev Bill Izett, in recent months the Sunday services have attracted as little as 40 members combined, despite an overall membership of 400. – Trinity Mirror, Sept. 9, 2004
October 14, 2004, 10:24
quote: 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]
... Judge Lewis Kaplan's decision prohibiting distributing a DVD de-scrambling program ... seems ideally designed to prevent anyone from playing DVDs on anything not sanctioned by Hollywood's catspaw, the DVD Copy Control Association. – Matthew Friedman, Computing Canada, Sept. 15, 2000
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.
******* "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.
The Chicago Cubs needed just five more outs against the Florida Marlins to get to the World Series. When a foul ball was hit down the left-field line, Steven Bartman, a lifelong Cubs fan, instinctively reached for the ball and deflected it, depriving the Cubs left fielder of the chance to catch it. That was the beginning of a disastrous turn of events in which the Marlins scored eight runs and went on to win the game--and eventually the series. Bartman quickly became a scapegoat for Cubs [fans?]. Some cursed Bartman, throwing beer and peanuts at him. Security personnel escorted him out of the ballpark for his own safety. The Chicago media obsessed. Bartman went into hiding, and issued a statement of apology. Governor Jeb Bush of Florida offered him asylum in that state. – Christian Century, Nov. 1, 2003
... the second November of any presidential administration is when ... old hands start to cycle out--or get forced out. So who among the Bush administration might be heading back to the private sector this fall? Among cabinet secretaries, everyone's favorite whipping boy is gaffe-prone Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill. – Susan Threadgill, Washington Monthly, Sept. 1, 2002
Although television violence has never been shown to cause hostile behavior, its sinister reputation lives on. This is because the issue masks a variety of other struggles ... [that] may pose a threat to social order or are considered unseemly topics for public discussion. Television violence is a whipping boy, a stand-in for other clashes, real or imagined. – Jib Fowles, The Whipping Boy, Reason, March 1, 2001
This message has been edited. Last edited by: wordcrafter,
October 16, 2004, 11:33
From the OED Online:
quote: 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;
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!"
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.