Archive for February 15th, 2011

February 15, 2011

Funny word, curmudgeon

Always complaining on a high level, pic: writing-rag.com

Curmudgeon goes very well with the last funny word, cantankerous – in fact now that I understand both words they go together in my mind most of the time.

A curmudgeon in basically an cantankerous person, a bad-tempered, surly, miserly human being.  Or in fact, bad-tempered old man as the word seems to be (almost) exclusively used for man, preferably old man. Curmudgeons are cranky people whose crankiness exceed normal levels of occasional or ill temper.  There is abit of a redeeming factor about curmudgeons, the complain – a lot – but they do it with a black sense of humor,with a certain style and dedication not found in your run-of-the-mill complainer.

The grandfather in The Simpson is a curmudgeon, and Walter Matthau in “Grumpy Old Men” is an excellent curmudgeon specimen and so are the two old guys on the balcony at the Muppet Show.

Another of those words that go back centuries and who’s origin has been lost in history.  So let’s not worry about it.

February 15, 2011

Peak, peek, pique

I almost got that one wrong today in a mailing I am going to send out for one of my clients – yikes!

I asked the (rhetorical) question whether something had awoken the readers interest and upon rereading the text one last time it dawned on me that I choose the wrong homophone, the expression is “pique somebody’s interest”, not peak or peek.

Let’s go through them:

Pique is a French loan word and means prick in the sense of stimulate which is exactly what it means in that context “did we stimulate/pique your interest”.

Peek is a verb and means glance, have a look, peep.  It implies a short, furtive look, not some long examination of something.  This is an example: “the kids were standing on tippy-toes peeking into the window hoping to get a quick look of what’s going on inside.”

And lastly: peak – that is a noun meaning top, mountain, mountain-top, summit,”Look at all the snow covered peaks – isn’t it beautiful?”

It is also used as a verb meaning “to reach the highest point’:  “the Dow Jones peaked around noon and then started to slide on bad news from a major computer manufacturer.’

Finally, it is also an adjective meaning top, highest ultimate “to reach peak performance you have to train every day.”