06 June 2009

Cartoon: Exactly why are gay couples so anxious to join the crowd?

Cartoon by David Horsey of The Seattle Post-Intelligencer published 2 June 2009.

This is cynical view of marriage on the part of the cartoonist! In any case, this funny cartoon is rich in vocabulary.

- 1. anxious: This adjective can be a problem because it has adopted a double meaning that appears contradictory. Normally it means to be apprehensive and uneasy about something. It’s how you would feel if you were about to undergo a major operation at the hospital!

However, starting in the 18th century,  the word started being used colloquially to describe eagerness, the feeling that you can’t wait for something to happen. Imagine how a mother feels when one of her grown children comes back home after being away for a long time. She is very anxious to see him or her.

There is still a lot of discussion among English lexicographers on the usage of this word and many prefer that ‘anxious’ retain its original meaning. In either meaning, the speaker is expressing emotional urgency.

- 2. wedded: This adjective is derived from the verb to wed, meaning to marry. We also get the noun a wedding for the marriage ceremony. Wedded simply means to be united in matrimony or marriage.

It can also be used to describe someone who is strongly attached to something. You might describe Al Gore as being wedded to his fight against global warming.

-3. a mid-life crisis: This expression is used to describe a period of emotional turmoil, usually on the part of men, that comes about when one realizes that youth is gone and change is needed.

Notice that the cartoonist used the plural form. Crisis has an irregular plural form: a crisis [krahy-sis] → crises [-seez].

-4. lame: This adjective is used to mean weak, inadequate or unsatisfactory. More traditionally the adjective is used to describe someone who is physically disabled or handicapped in the legs or feet causing them to have limp or walk with extreme difficulty. It can also apply to an physically injured or impaired arm. So, you can see how it also adopted a meaning of weakness or inadequateness. So, a lame excuse is so weak that it cannot support itself.

-5. a thing: By employing this word to describe an affair or sexual misconduct, especially when one wants to imply that it didn’t really mean anything, the speaker is hoping to convince the person they are speaking to that it wasn’t anything important or meaningful. It was just a thing!

-6. a beer gut: Sometimes also called a beer belly, it is what we call an abdomen that has that particular round shape associated with someone who drinks a lot of beer.

Look up gut to find other interesting idiomatic usages of this word.

-7. burgeoning: You should recognize the roots of this word from the French word un bourgeon. It simply means to grow or develop quickly. For example, you could say that China has a burgeoning middle class.

-8. erectile disfunction: Without going into an unnecessary description, this medical condition is also simply called ED. Wouldn’t you rather hear the doctor say, “He’s suffering from ED” rather than, “He’s suffering from erectile disfunction?” Either way, the terms sound much better than its synonym ‘male impotence.’

There are two variants of the spelling possible. You can also write erectile dysfunction.

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