Monday, September 28, 2009

Introducing Word of the Week

I got all keen at the start of the year and bought a beautiful hardback Australian Oxford Dictionary. And rather than just use it to support my desk lamp, I've decided to give it a work out.

The inaugural Word of the Week is shoo-in.

I've seen it spelled 'shoe-in' before, and vaguely thought it might have something to do with shoe horns (which make it easier to get your foot in the shoe, hence the sense of ease signified by the term. This is how my mind works). So when I saw it printed in this morning's paper as 'shoo-in' I decided to do some investigating.

I didn't have to look far. According to my lovely hardback, shoo-in means 'something easy or certain to succeed,' and comes from an earlier use of the term for the winner of a fixed horse race.

As you can see, nothing to do with shoes at all, but I suspect the reason some people spell it as 'shoe' is that shoe is actually a word, while 'shoo' doesn't look like one (though it is in my dictionary: 'an exclamation used to frighten away birds, children, etc.').

Sometimes we just have to accept that the English language can look silly at times.

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