Thursday, 19 March 2009
Rap: to knock sharply or perform a rhythmic speech with a musical backing. It's also a legal charge -- a murder rap (probably only for headlines in punchier papers). You can also take the rap for somebody else's crimes -- meaning you take their punishment for them.
Tuesday, 17 March 2009
Thursday, 12 March 2009
Wreck: to destroy or smash up, as in a shipwreck, or if you are American, a car wreck. It can also refer to something that has already been broken up. 'It's an old wreck.' It can also refer to items brought ashore after a shipwreck.
Wreak: cause a lot of damage. Pronounced 'reek'. 'Page planning have wreaked havoc on page three.' 'The damage wreaked by that woman ruined my wedding'. NOTE: Every time you write 'wrecked havoc', your chief sub kills a kitten.
Rack: this is a framework for supporting things, as in a luggage rack. You can rack up points in a game -- or rack up trade deals or successes. It is also an instrument of torture -- so someone who is on the rack is probably being dragged over the coals as they receive a bollocking.
Wrack: Seaweed; or thin high cloud.
Here's where it gets complicated. A rack for holding things is never spelled 'wrack'; The seaweed is never spelled 'rack'; however, you can rack, or wrack, your brains when thinking hard; and be racked, or wracked, with guilt. Something falling into disrepair can go to 'rack and ruin' or 'wrack and ruin'. And a diaphanous wrack, or rack, of cloud can cover the gibbous moon.
Tuesday, 10 March 2009
We had a story here about a youth band that received poison pen letters from an anti-fan; but they were simply loud and tuneless (if the letters were to be believed), rather than deliberately evil.
I think the evil Scout group activities would include:
- stealing unripe fruit from people's gardens -- but they'd do it in quite an obvious way, probably leaving a few caps and woggles behind to show it was them
- chalking words like 'bum' and 'fart' on the pavement outside the Post Office
- running sticks along newly painted railings
- leaning over a fence to shout 'yah' at passers-by
- making posies for their mums using flowers stolen from municipal flower beds
- something unmentionable (involving marbles) to the toilets in the church hall
Thursday, 5 March 2009
To ring something is to either make a circle round it; or to make it chime like a bell.
To wring something is to twist it -- either to squeeze water out of it by twisting (hence, a wringer as another word for a mangle; and also 'wringing wet'); or to kill something by twisting its neck.
Handwringing describes a gesture of powerless distress where the hands are clasped and twisted.
Wring someone's heart: hurt them emotionally.
Ring down (or up) the curtain on: To begin or end an enterprise (don't let those mean old subs make you change it to 'bring down (or up)').
Ring fence: This is a fence surrounding and sealing in a piece of land; but it is used in talk about funding and finance: "About £10m has been ring-fenced for research into HIV."
Ring the changes: This creeps into stories about... well change of any sort really. A writer who does this is wearing down the real meaning. To 'ring the changes' means to ring bells in a specific sequence which changes with every repetition. Be amazed -- check the Wikipedia article.