Saturday, December 20, 2008

Cliché gone wrong

Driving, listening to the oldies station, now a "holiday music" station, I heard the anonymous voice of a syndicated newsreader: ". . . winter storm cutting a wide swipe across much of the country."

The word the reader was needing is swath. Merriam-Webster OnLine explains:

Middle English, from Old English swæth footstep, trace; akin to Middle High German swade swath
Date: 14th century

1 a: a row of cut grain or grass left by a scythe or mowing machine b: the sweep of a scythe or a machine in mowing or the path cut in one course
2: a long broad strip or belt
3: a stroke of or as if of a scythe
4: a space devastated as if by a scythe
Winter of course might take (not cut) a swipe at us, but that would suggest a brief bit of bad weather, not unrelenting movement. "Wide Swipe" turns out to be the name of a spell in World of Warcraft, which might explain this cliché gone wrong.

In other clichéd news, "embattled" Governor Rod Blagojevich has vowed not to talk about his situation in thirty-second sound bites. Says Blagojevich, "I will fight, I will fight, I will fight until I take my last breath. I have done nothing wrong."

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