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This week we’ll present words that sound just like more familiar words.

pawl [pronounced like pall] – a hinged bar whose free end engages the teeth of a ratchet wheel, allowing it to turn in one direction only

For example, a spring-loaded mechanism, held in place by a pawl, will release when the pawl is released. The pawl serves to ‘store’ the energy of the spring. Here’s one application:
    No man alive could haul a crossbow’s string by arm-power alone and so a mechanism had to be employed. … The archer would place a cranked handle on the screw’s end and wind the cord back, inch by creaking inch, until the pawl above the trigger engaged the string.
    – Bernard Cornwell, The Archer's Tale
 
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One toke over the line, sweet Jesus, one toke over the line.

Readers from the marijuana era may recall this 1970 song by Brewer and Shipley. Today’s word, pronounced like toke, can mean either of two types of hats. Complicating matters, a third hat has the same spelling but is (I believe) pronounced tukue.

toque (rhymes with poke) – 1. the chef's hat, tall and white (more fully, toque blanche) 2. a certain small woman's hat, brimless and close-fitting

tuque or toque (Canadian; rhymes with duke) – a knitted cap in the form of a closed bag: one end is tucked into the other to form the cap
 
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The marijuana era? When did it end?
 
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Readers from the marijuana era

I'm glad to hear that I'm not the only reader from different era. Welcome, fellow Time-Travelers!
 
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marijuana era

Is this a geological or a cultural age? Perhaps we're just in a new phase, e.g., the neo-cannabic era.


Ceci n'est pas un seing.
 
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The myths ......
DARE smokes a reefer (1953)

The facts ......
Drug Library
 
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DARE

I didn't know the Dictionary of American Regional English inhaled ...


Ceci n'est pas un seing.
 
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wight [pronounced like the color] – a living being; a creature (obsolete)

For the first time, a woman has a serious chance to become President of the United States. So it is perhaps appropriate to quote an early women’s-liberationist, mocking those who deride the new as being “unnatural,” contrary to “Human Nature”. From Similar Cases, by Charlotte Perkins Stetson Gilman [1860-1935].
    There was once a Neolithic Man,
    . . .An enterprising wight,
    Who made his chopping implements
    . . .Unusually bright.
    Unusually clever he,
    . . .Unusually brave,
    And he drew delightful Mammoths
    . . .On the borders of his cave.
    To his Neolithic neighbors,
    . . .Who were startled and surprised,
    Said he, "My friends, in course of time,
    . . .We shall be civilized!
    We are going to live in cities!
    . . .We are going to fight in wars!
    We are going to eat three times a day
    . . .Without the natural cause!
    We are going to turn life upside down
    . . .About a thing called gold!
    We are going to want the earth, and take
    . . .As much as we can hold!
    We are going to wear great piles of stuff
    . . .Outside our proper skins!
    We are going to have diseases!
    . . .And Accomplishments!! And Sins!!!"

    Then they all rose up in fury
    . . .Against their boastful friend,
    For prehistoric patience
    . . .Cometh quickly to an end.
    Said one, "This is chimerical!
    . . .Utopian! Absurd!"
    Said another, "What a stupid life!
    . . .Too dull, upon my word!"
    Cried all, "Before such things can come,
    . . .You idiotic child,
    You must alter Human Nature!"
    . . .And they all sat back and smiled.
    Thought they, "An answer to that last
    . . .It will be hard to find!"
    It was a clinching argument
    . . .To the Neolithic Mind!
 
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Today’s word, from Old English for "bend, etc.", was first related to a bend in a rope, then to coastline. (It is related to bow.)

bight [pronounced like bite] – 1. a loop in a rope; also, the middle, slack part of an extended rope 2. a bend or curve in a shoreline (or other); also, a wide bay formed by such a bend or curve
    coastline: "The coast is everywhere scalloped with wide, sweeping bights separated from each other by capes," an Allied terrain study noted.
    – Rick Atkinson, The Day of Battle: The War in Sicily and Italy, 1943-1944

    ropes: I could just drift, he thought, and sleep and put a bight of line around my toe to wake me.
    – Ernest Hemingway, The Old Man and The Sea

    Lopsang abruptly pulled her aside and girth-hitched a bight of rope to the front of her climbing harness.
    – Jon Krakauer, Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster
 
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Bight is related to German Bucht. My handle on eBay (not used to much, I'm afraid) is Ostbucht, i.e., East Bay (where I live in the San Francisco Bay Area.


Ceci n'est pas un seing.
 
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There is an island off the south coast of England, quite near to me, called The Isle of Wight - although I don't think it has any connection with the "living being" meaning. The origin is disputed but most seem to think that the name came via Anglo-Saxon Wiht from Romano-Celtic Vectis. (The Romans called it Vectis - and this name is still used for some island enterprises)


Richard English
 
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