Set 47 – Five New Words for Feb 16

Theme: Words of nautical origins

1. doldrums (DOHL-druhmz)

MEANING:
noun
1. A state or period of stagnation or slump.
2. A region of the ocean near the equator marked by calms and light variable winds.

ETYMOLOGY:
In the olden days when a sail-powered vessel hit a calm region of the ocean, it could be stuck there for days. Sailors called that area the doldrums.

USAGE:
“While the US stock market roared ahead, Europe was left in the doldrums.”

2. scupper (SKUP-uhr)

MEANING:
noun: An opening for draining water, as on the side of a ship.
verb tr.: 1. To prevent from succeeding. 2. To overwhelm, disable, or destroy.

USAGE:
“Three possible misfortunes could scupper recovery.”

3. scuttlebutt (SKUT-l-but)

MEANING:
noun:
1. Rumor, gossip.
2. A drinking fountain or a cask of drinking water on a ship.

NOTES:
The word arose from the sailors’ habit of gathering around the scuttlebutt on a ship’s deck. Things haven’t changed much with time. Now we have watercooler gossip in modern offices.

USAGE:
“Here’s a roundup of iPad 3 rumors, with a little context as to whether you should believe the scuttlebutt or not.”

4. bonanza (buh-NAN-zah, boh-)

MEANING:
noun:
1. A source of sudden wealth or profits.
2. A very large amount.
3. A rich mine or pocket of ore.

ETYMOLOGY:
From Spanish bonanza (calm sea, hence good luck or prosperity), from Latin bonus (good).

USAGE:

“Belfast residents hope the Titanic exhibition will spur a tourism bonanza.”

“We feel we have a major discovery here, with bonanza-type grades of silver, and even the gold values are very high as well.”

5. groundswell

MEANING:
noun:
1. A surge of opinion or feeling about someone or something.
2. A broad deep swell of the ocean, caused by a distant storm or an earthquake.

ETYMOLOGY:
Groundswell was the term sailors used for a swelling of the ocean. Why ground? Originally, ground referred to the bottom of anything, especially an ocean.

USAGE:
“A nationwide general strike fuelled by a groundswell of anger brought parts of Spain to a halt yesterday.”

“Waves along the coasts may get as high as 23 feet this weekend due to two significant groundswells.”

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