Set 48 – Five New Words for Feb 17

Theme: French words that are now anglicized

1. alley-oop (al-ee-OOP)


interjection: Used as an exhortation or to signal the start of an activity. For example, when coordinating efforts to lift something heavy.

noun: A basketball move in which a player throws the ball to a teammate near the basket who leaps to catch it in mid-air and then puts it in the basket before returning to the floor.

Phonetic respelling of French allez-hop or allez-oop, cry of a circus performer about to leap. From French allez, imperative of aller (to go) + hop/oop (an expressive word).

“You couldn’t haul bodies without a partner and you needed to be able to talk, even if it was only to say alley-oop.”

“Jawanza Poland soared to the basket and flushed home an alley oop.”

2. kickshaw (KIK-shaw)

1. A fancy dish; delicacy.
2. A trinket.

From phonetic respelling of French quelque chose (something) as kickshaws which was treated as a plural and turned into the singular kickshaw.

“I assume it’s a gloriously handsome affair … slices of homemade seed cake and other toothsome kickshaws.”

“A more sophisticated eye might cringe at the odd little kickshaws displayed about the room, but I appreciated the whimsy.”

3. toot sweet (toot sweet)

adverb: Quickly; immediately.

Phonetic respelling of French tout de suite (at once, straight away).

“Martinson called the cops and told them to get a patrol car to her house toot sweet.”

4. parry (PAR-ee)

verb tr.: To ward off or evade.
noun: A defensive movement or an evasive answer.

From French parez (ward off), imperative of parer (to ward off), from Latin parare (to set or prepare).

“In the way Ryan Gosling parried questions with polite, self-deprecating charm, you could still see the Canadian in him.”

5. Mayday or mayday (MAY-day)

noun: A distress signal; a call for help.

Mayday is an international radio distress signal used by ships and aircraft to call for help. It’s a phonetic respelling of French m’aider, from venez m’aider (come and help me), from venir (to come) + me (me) + aider (to help).

“Auckland Westpac Rescue Helicopter flew to the aid of a yachtsman who made a mayday call this morning off the coast of Raglan.”

“Rooms [at Hotel Bel-Air are] so high-tech I felt like a 747 pilot. Helpful techies arrived promptly no matter how often I radioed Mayday.”


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