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What is the meaning and origin of stalking

horse'?
When you stalk' someone or something, you follow the person or animal very closely without being
spotted. You do this in order to track, catch or kill the individual/animal. Now, let's deal with the
origin of the idiom. In the old days, when people went hunting for birds, they took a well trained
horse with them. They did this because they found whenever a solitary animal like a horse or cow
approached the birds, they didn't fly away. On the other hand, whenever a human being was seen
approaching, the birds promptly flew away. In order to trick the birds into believing that it was only a
solitary animal walking around, hunters trained their horses to walk very slowly and noiselessly
towards the quarry. The hunter walked alongside the animal, and ensured he stayed out of sight by
keeping low. When he was within range of the prey, he came out of hiding, and proceeded to kill the
birds. In this case, it wasn't the horse that was doing the stalking; it was being used to divert the
attention of the birds. The hunter was using the animal as a decoy. Something that is used to disguise
one's true intention or objective is usually referred to as stalking horse'. The idiom is quite
frequently used in politics and business. A candidate who is put forward by a party in order to split
the opposition is often referred to as a stalking horse'. This person may also be someone whose
name has been proposed in order to conceal the candidacy of a much more important figure.
*The party leader wanted me to play the stalking horse.
What is the difference between former' and
erstwhile'?
First, let's deal with the pronunciation of erstwhile'. The first syllable erst' rhymes with the words
burst' and first', and the second sounds like the word while'. The word is pronounced ERST-while'
with the stress on the first syllable, and it comes from the Old English erst' meaning before' and
while' meaning time'. The word literally means of former time'. In terms of meaning, there is no
difference between erstwhile' and former'. Of the two, erstwhile is considered old fashioned, and is
mostly used in rather formal contexts. Some books on English usage claim that erstwhile' is a
pretentious' word for former' and is best avoided.
*Gayathri, my erstwhile colleague, has become the Vice President of the new company.
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What is the origin of the word budget'?
The word comes from the Latin bulga' meaning leather bag'. In the beginning, the word budget' was
used to refer to anything that was made of leather: wallets, knapsacks, bags, etc. With the passage of
time, the word began to be used to refer to the contents of the bag, rather than the bag itself. And
what is it that we keep in our wallets? Money, of course! Since a Finance Minister usually kept his
plans on how to spend the money in his leather bag', the word acquired its modern meaning: an
itemized allotment of funds. Around the 16th century, the word was also used to mean a bundle of
news'. As a result, the word budget' became a part of the name of many newspapers: example, Pall
Mall Budget'.
What is the meaning of the expression scrimp and
save'?
When you scrimp on something', you attempt to save money by spending less than what is required
on it. If a company scrimps on security during times of recession, it is reducing the amount that it
normally spends on security, and in the process putting the company at risk. The idiom, scrimp and
save' means to economise'. You spend very little money on things, so that you can save up enough in
order to buy something that you really want. You wish to spend the money that you have so carefully
saved on something that is fairly expensive. The expression pinch and scrape' has the same meaning.
*The young couple scrimped and saved to buy a motorcycle.
How is the word iconoclast' pronounced?
The i' in the first syllable is pronounced like the letter i'. The second syllable is pronounced like the
word con', and the following o' is like the a' in china'. The final a' sounds like the a' in apple', ant',
and ass'.
The word is pronounced i-KON-e-klast' with the stress on the second syllable. It comes from the
Greek eikonoklastes'; eikon' means image' and klastes' means breaker'. Iconoclast' literally means
someone who goes around breaking images.
The term was originally used to refer to people who went about destroying statues and other
religious symbols in churches because they opposed idol worship. With the passage of time, the word
began to refer to anyone who challenged the traditional beliefs and values that people accepted
unquestioningly.
*Ravi is an iconoclast. He will have nothing to do with rituals.
What is the meaning of shoulder surfing'?
Nowadays, whenever we go out, we not only need to be on the lookout for the pickpocket, but also
the shoulder surfer'. This person will stand behind you, and look over your shoulder to see what
numbers you are punching in when you take money from the ATM. He will also frequent cybercafs,
stand behind people while they are typing in their password.
The word shoulder surfer' is frequently used in computer security to refer to people who use such
observational techniques to get information about others.
******
I hope you go before me because I don't want you singing at my funeral. Spike Milligan
What are you doing here? Aren't you supposed to be studying for your final exams?
I'm taking a break. What's that in your hand?
A novel.
Life isn't fair at all. I have to study, while you get to read a novel.
You don't need to feel jealous. The novel is nothing to write home about!
Nothing to write home about? Does it mean it's not very good?
When you say that something is nothing to write home about', you mean that it is mediocre. It's not
something to get excited about.
In other words, it's not as good as you'd expected it to be. Supriya's party was nothing to write home
about.
Good example. I got a raise yesterday, but it's nothing to write home about.
You got a raise? Then we must celebrate. Let's go to that new restaurant on MG Road.
Let's do that after your exams.
After my exams! All my friends would have visited the place by then. They
Why are you so hung up on eating in new restaurants?
What does hung up on' mean?
It means to be obsessed. You are constantly thinking about the thing or person.
Can I say, my friend Ramesh is hung up on Kajol? He just can't get her off his mind.
That's a very good example. Don't know if Ajay Devgan will be happy about it, though. Quite a few
politicians in our country are hung up on getting statues of themselves made.
These are people who probably didn't play statue when they were kids.
You may have a point there. Now then, you'd better...
I'm hung up on new restaurants because I love eating good food.
That's not true. You never really enjoy what you are eating. You order something, and then when
you see what someone else is eating, you have dish envy.
Dish envy? Does it mean being envious of something that someone else is eating?
Very good! Dish envy is something that we experience all the time. I order a plate of idli, and you
order a butter masala dosa. When your dosa comes, I feel I should have ordered dosa too. I feel that
my idli is inferior to your dosa.
It's true that I feel dish envy once in a while. But it's not...
All of us have experienced the anguish of dish envy sometime or the other.
That's true. Anyway, tell me, what's the novel about?
It's like a typical Indian movie. Boy meets girl. Boy is poor, girl is rich. They fall in love, yada yada
yada.
Yada yada yada? Never heard that expression before.
It means, so on and so forth. It's an expression that is mostly used in informal contexts.
I see. So, when you say yada yada yada', you mean that everything else is understood.
That's right! The listener can figure things out for himself because everything is so obvious.
Every time I show my report card to my father, he tells me the same thing. That I should get up
early in the morning, be more disciplined, work much harder...yada yada yada.
All parents give such lectures. You will too when you have kids.
* * *
I hate to spread rumours, but what else can one do with them? Amanda Lear
How was dinner last night?
We decided not to go to the new restaurant. We had dinner here.
Your friend Rahul had a vegetarian meal! Unbelievable!
Rahul has been an economic vegetarian for a month now.
I know what vegetarian means. But what does economic vegetarian' mean?
Someone who is forced to become a vegetarian because he cannot afford meat.
I see. When Guhan lost his job, he decided to become an economic vegetarian.
Several months ago, when there was talk of job cuts, a few of my friends became economic
vegetarians.
That's understandable. They must have been...
What are you doing here so early?
Don't you remember? Our college elections. I am...
Oh, that's right! You must be pumped for the elections. What are the chances of...
Pumped for the elections? What do you mean by that?
When you say you're pumped for' or pumped up for' something, you mean that you are tense and
at the same time very excited about something.
I see. In other words, you are nervous and at the same time eager. Like a player before a big match.
Exactly! Our captain says that the team is pumped up for Sunday's big game.
Unfortunately, our Indian team never seemed pumped up for any of its matches.
Well, according to the coach, our overpaid underachievers were only pumped up for the IPL
matches.
Don't forget the parties. The waistline and double chin of some players make that pretty obvious.
Tell me, why pump up'? What is being pumped?
I understand it is adrenaline. Do you think your candidate has the smarts to win the election?
Smarts? You mean smart', don't you?
No, I mean smarts'. The word is frequently used in informal contexts to mean intelligence'.
I definitely have the smarts, but not the confidence. How does that sound?
Terrible.
What's wrong with the example?
You don't have the smarts. You know it, and I know it.
Not very funny, I'm afraid. Have you finished your project?
Almost. We're on the home stretch.
Home stretch? Does it mean you're almost done?
That's right. When you say you're on the home stretch, it means you're in the final stages of
something. It could be a journey, a project, a...
Ok, ok, I understand. Pankaj told me he is on the home stretch with his dissertation. Another two
weeks, and he'll be done.
Wow, that was quick. He must have spent the last two months writing. It is also possible to say, in
the stretch'. We would have arrived earlier, but our car broke down in the stretch.
What does home stretch' refer to?
The expression comes from the world of horse racing. The distance between the last turning on the
race track and the finish line is called the home stretch'. Do you think your candidate will win?
Not sure. He is trailing right now.
Let's hope he moves ahead in the stretch.
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Gossip is what you say about the objects of flattery when they aren't present. P.J. O'Rourke