Friday, March 26, 2010

Your Bison Now Are Dust!

My friend jules will appreciate Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for today:

shibboleth \SHIB-uh-luth\ noun
1 : catchword, slogan
*2 : a widely held belief or truism
3 : a custom or usage regarded as distinctive of a particular group

Example sentence:
"Taxpayers beware: Don't buy into the shibboleth that more money automatically translates into better schools." (Press Journal [Vero Beach, FL], July 27, 2003)

Did you know?
The Bible's Book of Judges (12:4-6) tells the story of the Ephraimites, who, after they were routed by the Gileadite army, tried to retreat by sneaking across a ford of the Jordan River that was held by their enemy. The Gileadites, wary of the ploy, asked every soldier who tried to cross if he was an Ephraimite. When the soldier said "no," he was asked to say "shibboleth" (which means "stream" in Hebrew). Gileadites pronounced the word "shibboleth," but Ephramites said "sibboleth." Anyone who left out the initial "sh" was killed on the spot. When English speakers first borrowed "shibboleth," they used it to mean "test phrase," but it has acquired additional meanings since that time.

Just you wait: After Glenn Beck's revolution, we'll separate the wheat-Americans from the chaff-Americans by noticing who says "coke" and who says "pop" and who stands "in line" vs. who stands "on line." And you'd better learn to like ranch dressing if you know what's good for you.


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