Next time you're on the green, try not to airmail your shot into the drink, cabbage or kitty litter, okay? To get a handle on golf's rich vocabulary, we called PGA professional and author Mark Blakemore, who runs well-known golf schools in Northern California. Mark takes us down the linguistic fairway:
Airmail. "It means you either hit a shot that flew too far, or a drive that carried in the air farther than anybody else's ball."
Albatross. "A score of three under par on a hole, which doesn't happen very often. The word comes from the fact that an albatross is a rare bird. Naming hierarchy in scoring is like that. A hole in one on a par five, for example, is called a condor, which is an almost extinct bird, of course.
Cabbage. "Slang for long grass off the edges of a fairway. It describes very long rough, like those at the British Open or U.S. Open. The words spinach and lettuce are also used."
Drink. "Refers to a water hazard. 'In the drink' means into the water."
Stop noodling with your axe and gimme a vamp on your doghouse, can you dig it? To help translate this deliciously jazzed up sentence, drummer Brian Floody, a professional musician active in New York's jazz scene, graciously gave us this list of jazz-related words and their meanings:
||Any musical instrument
||Upright acoustic bass
| Licorice Stick
||A dual meaning: Technique, or for horn players, the spot where the horn meets their lips.
||Practice (see Shed)
When spell-check can't help you: The Scripps National Spelling Bee publishes a consolidated list of 23,413 unique words. Here are a few, ahem, vexing examples. Okay, spellers -- on your mark, get set, go:
Adapted from "Bird Words," contributed by subscriber Ruth Beasley. Ruth writes about birds on her website Learning the Birds. She can also be heard on High Plains Public Radio , her local NPR affiliate in Garden City, Kansas.
A large part of learning the birds is the attempt to gain fluency in a new language. Bird words, I call 'em. Memorable words like melanistic, pileated, accipiter, and axillar -- none my spell-checker recognizes. These fine words permeate the bird books, meticulously staking out descriptive territory.
Birders are people for whom subtle differences are carefully noted, and it's important to get the lingo right. Colors are precise, with shades of tawny, bay, cinnamon, ivory, chestnut, and buff. I'm still figuring out the difference between sooty and slatey, mottled and splotched.
Submitted by Sebastian Beckwith, founder of In Pursuit of Tea,
a company dedicated to "exploring remote regions to supply the finest artisanal teas."