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108 "pie-shaped" (Word origins - alt.usage.english)




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This article is from the alt.usage.english FAQ, by Mark Israel misrael@scripps.edu with numerous contributions by others.

108 "pie-shaped" (Word origins - alt.usage.english)


This word, for which our earliest citation so far is from 1913
(found by Fred Shapiro with Lexis) nearly always means "shaped like
a slice of pie", not "shaped like a pie". (A use found by Matthew
Rabuzzi in W3's entry "Jack Horner pie" may mean the latter.)
The word is quite common in North America (a search by Myles Callum
on Nexis turned up more than a thousand instances), but little
known elsewhere (a search on a British corpus turned up nothing,
and British correspondents tell us that they "would not
automatically assume that that was what was meant"). The word,
for which there is no entry in *any* dictionary, was discovered by
Mark Israel on 11 July 1995, when Matthew Rabuzzi used it in a
suggested emendation to the "Origin of the dollar sign" entry in
this FAQ, and it was found to be missing from the dictionaries.
That's right, folks; in future years, when you open your dictionary
and see an entry for "pie-shaped" there, remember: you have *me*
to thank for it!

Other discoveries of mine are: "underwear" in the specific sense
"(women's) underpants" (American women have taken a dislike to the
word "panties", and will now say things like "I put two pairs of
underwear in the wash", or "I'm not wearing any underwear" when
wearing a bra); "slab leak" (a leak from a pipe embedded in a
concrete slab; many plumbers advertise in the Yellow Pages that this
is something they can repair); and "go to temple" (dictionaries note
that "church" has a specific sense in which it is used as a mass
noun, "divine worship at a church", but do not note that "temple"
and "shul" can be used in a similar way).

 

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