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Words, Words, Words...

13 years ago

All RPers love words!

It's been a while since we've had a thread devoted solely to words. Phrases, definitions, etymology, idiom, slang, pronunciation, spelling... Anything about words goes in this thread, as far as I'm concerned.

The discussion about jail/gaol elsethread prompted me to think about some of the slang for an institution of incarceration. I came up with hoosegow, from the Spanish juzgado, and clink, from the name of the famous Southwark prison. 'Clink' could have been applied to that ediface for the prevailing sounds there of clinking metal gates or chains around the prisoners wrists or ankles -- the derivation is uncertain.

I've heard 'the pokey' too for jail. Does that mean it's small? I'm not sure if this is accurate in the US only, but I've always thought of a jail as a place of temporary confinement while a prison was for long-term. Otis slept off his drunken sprees in the Mayberry jail, but Sheriff Andy might've held the hardcore moonshiners there until they were sent off to 'The Big House' (prison). Vee, is there a similar distinction in any parts of the UK?

Another institution that has its share of euphemisms and slangy names is the 'mental health facility'. I've always pitied the poor Colney Hatchers who got the name of their district co-opted because of the Colney Hatch Lunatic Asylum built in its midst. I grew up hearing "the hatch" -- or more often "the booby hatch" -- applied to my state's own mental hospital, yet Iowa is a long way from north London.

Funny how words get around!

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