Archive for the ‘Truncation’ Category

fancy bottoms

November 10, 2015

Passed on to me through several Facebook pages, this vintage clothing ad from the site (providing pages from 70s catalogs; the catalog this one came from is not identified):


These are knit trousers — bell-bottoms in fact — with fancy bottoms, where bottom is intended to refer to

(1) ‘the lowest point or part’ of something (NOAD2), in this case, the lowest part of the trousers

Entertainingly, there are three other possible senses here: one given by NOAD2 —

(2) informal ‘buttocks’

— and two not: a sexual sense (opposed to top), denoting

(3) someone who takes the receptive role in anal intercourse (or, by extension, someone who takes the receptive or submissive role in other sexual acts)

and a sense from the clothing trade, denoting

(4) a garment worn on the lower half of the body (vs. a top, a garment worn on the top half of the body)

So fancy bottoms could refer to fancy asses / butts (a number of Facebook readers were enchanted with the idea); or to sexual bottoms who are fancy, in one or another sense of fancy; or to garments for wear on the lower half of the body that are fancy (say, by being made of cloth printed with a fancy pattern, or by having extra features of one sort or another.

There is some discussion of the sexual senses, in a gay context, in postings linked to from this blog on 6/3/13.  And of the clothing-trade sense in four postings on this blog:

7/11/11: “Active bottoms” (link), with both bottom and active in clothing-trade senses (active ‘for (vigorous) activities’, as in active wear vs. leisure wear)

1013/11: “More bottoms” (link), with Big and Tall Bottoms

3/29/13: “Colored bottoms” (link)

10/29/13: “More bottoms and tops” (link), with buy a bottom, get a top

These sightings are entertaining because of the potential ambiguity between the clothing-trade and the sexual senses. (Ok, itr’s cheap entertainment.)

There is yet a fifth sense that bottoms might have picked up, but apparently hasn’t — as a truncation of bell-bottoms, in which case fancy bottoms could refer to fancy bell-bottomed trousers (fancy all over, not just fancy at the bottom). Such garments certainly exist; here’s a striking number from a Burning Man:


But it seems that among the alternatives to bell-bottoms — flares,  boot-cut or boot-fit trousers, even the occasional truncation to bells — we do not find bottoms.

Going to the dogs

October 20, 2015

Two dog (after a fashion) cartoons: one by Dale Coverly (from his Speed Bump strip), one by Phil Selby (from his blog):




Muhly grass

September 30, 2015

From a recent visit to Palo Alto’s Gamble Garden, a glimpse of a very pretty ornamental grass. Photo from the web:


This is a white variant (White Cloud) of Muhlenbergia capillaris, Muhlenbergia being the genus of muhly grasses. (Note that the common name is derived by clipping from the botanical name.)

The botanical name will take us on an adventure in U.S. history, starting in the early 18th century.


Crab feast

August 15, 2015

Some time ago a tv commercial went past me in the middle of the night: a commercial for a fast-food or casual-dining restaurant advertising specials on crab, a feast of snow crab and king crab. So I wondered about the crab in these two names, suspecting that we might be in a world where the referent of one or both of these names is unclear — where there are several distinct creatures called snow crab, say — and maybe also in a world where biologists claim that some things called crabs (or X crabs, for some specific X) are not in fact crabs at all, or aren’t “true crabs”. My suspicious are justified.


Coordinate initialisms

August 6, 2015

It started with an ADS-L posting by Benjamin Barrett about the initialism T&A, which (he learned) abbreviates tits and ass but can also denote (from a Wiktionary entry) “scantily-clad women, or entertainment featuring scantily clad women” (that is, a display of tits and ass).


[The T & A Team is a classic porn film from 1984, with the slogan “Using Their T & A to Make the World a Better Place!”. It’s a take-off on the tv series The A-Team (1983-87).]


Language cartoon Wednesday

August 5, 2015

That would be today, with three language-related cartoons in my inbox: a Rhymes With Orange, a Mother Goose and Grimm, and a Bizarro:





Matters poblano

August 1, 2015

Following on my posting about the noun rajas, notably in rajas con crema ‘poblano (pepper) slices with cream’, there’s some unfinished business involving the word poblano.

One, recipes for this dish go back and forth between referring to the peppers as poblanos and poblano peppers. (Similarly in Mexican Spanish: poblanos vs. chiles poblanos). Some people judge the latter variants to be redundant, like Weimaraner dog instead of just Weimaraner.

Two, where does the word poblano come from?

Three, how does mole poblano, the sauce, fit into this picture.

And four, what does any of this have to do with Spanish pueblo ‘town, village’, and the Pueblo communities of Native Americans in the Southwestern U.S.?


Dave Blazek

July 26, 2015

Another cartoonist new to this blog (like Ken Krimstein, recently posted on). The Loose Change cartoon by Blazek below (from 2010) came to me from the Grammarly Facebook page via a friend:


Pin the Apostrophe on the Word.

There’s a rich vein of cartoons mocking English teachers for their purported inclination to focus on minutiae.


The unflappable waitress

July 23, 2015

Today’s Bizarro:

Hun / hon.

The informal clipped form hon (for honey) as a term of address is stereotypically used, along with other pet names like the full honey, sweetie, dear(ie), and doll, by waitresses to their customers, in addition to the use of these as terms of endearment to genuine intimates. Many customers find the usage disrespectful and insulting, expressing intimacy in a situation where they see that deference to authority is called for.

(If you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Don Piraro says there are 4 in this strip — see this Page.)

“beat a urine”

July 17, 2015

At first glance this looks like word salad, and things aren’t helped much if I tell you that it’s a VP, that it’s attested, and that it wasn’t an inadvertent error. Context, we need context.



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