Collusion collision

Those of us who are unable to look away from our televisions or newspapers (or phones) have no doubt been as inundated as I have been with news about Trump and Did He or Didn’t He. If Rachel Maddow wasn’t so interesting, I’d be hopelessly out of date, because she’s one of the few I like and can understand.

I’m sure her predecessors (on the news, hour-wise) report the news just as well as she does, but there’s altogether too much shouting and posturing (and spittle) for me to gain any insight from them.

So I wait until 9:00 p.m. (EDT) when Rachel is on to get my dose of TV news. This is one disadvantage of living in Vermont, as opposed to Washington state. In the Evergreen (Everrain) State, Rachel is on at 6:00 p.m., and we fell into the habit of eating dinner while she waxed on with backstories and updates. Of course, Saturday Night Live never is, live I mean, but I gave up on that except for Weekend Update a while ago.

The word of the day/week/month on Rachel and her cohorts appears to be collusion. Did Trump or his campaign collude with the Russians?

It would be pretty awful if they did, but what exactly is collusion? The popular definition is to conspire; to come to a secret understanding for a harmful purpose. The interesting thing about the word is that it comes from the Latin words col (together) and ludere (play). So colluding is literally goofing off.

Ah, but our language all too often throws away the literal for the sublime. Consider that synonym for collude: conspire. That word transliterates to “breathe together,” (con together + spire breathe) which conspirators certainly do. They also collude, but you won’t find a box of Boggle anywhere near them. Collude has always meant what it means today, etymologically speaking, as far as I can tell.

Rachel makes a great effort to avoid sarcasm when she reports on the Grand Donald of D.C., but the late-night talk show hosts let it fly. I’ve actually taken to watching the first 15 minutes of Steven Colbert before I fall into bed, just to see what inappropriate jokes he’s come up with.

Sarcasm, the use of irony to mock, has ancient roots in a Greek word that meant tear flesh like a dog. Ouch. But the etymology doesn’t follow the bitten, it follows the biter. The word sarkazein evolved to mean “to bite one’s lips in rage” and finally “to sneer.”

Sarcasm arrived in English in the 17th century via a Greek modification of sarkazeim: sarkasmos, a hurtful remark.

Hey, here’s that box of Boggle. Anyone want to collude?


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