Friday, May 28, 2010

Word of the Day - from Yesterday - Sockdolager

I like new words and I am curious about the origin and usage of words. If I had KWIKN (known what I know now), I would taken my 2 years of high school Latin more seriously. Yesterday I competed in a Corporate Spelling Bee - a fundraising event to benefit One to One Literacy Programs. Each table of 10 worked as a team - once the word was read out by the moderator, the table had one minute to submit their best-guess spelling of the word. The words were challenging and everyone at the table had ideas about the best spelling. Here is one word I learned yesterday....
sock·dol·a·ger - such a mean mean word - who would think it had a "k" in it? Our table also guessed it should be spelled "dologer" .... (obviously we got this word wrong!)

I was curious about the word.....

Etymology: origin unknown
Date: circa 1830
1 : something that settles a matter : a decisive blow or answer : finisher
2 : something outstanding or exceptional

This sockdolager of a word has an unusual claim to fame in the US history. It turned out to be the cue on which John Wilkes Booth fired his shot at President Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln was watching the play "Our American Cousin" in Ford's Theater on that fateful night. His killer, Booth, an actor himself and aware of the dialog, knew the line that brought the loudest burst of laughter from the audience was:
"Well, I guess I know enough to turn you inside out, you sockdologising old man-trap."
Booth fired his gun at that precise moment to muffle the loud noise of his shot with the guffaws from the audience. Who knew?

Our team came in 2nd - only after 2 tie-breakers..... go team.......

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