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Americans probably became even more familiar with the word when George R. Root used it in his 1861 song "The Battle Cry of Freedom." The refrain begins with "The Union forever! Hurrah, boys, hurrah!"

No clue there to misbehaving little boys, but J.E. Lighter's Dictionary of American Slang gives us the essential clue. This reference book includes three entries for hurrah (hoorah, hooraw). The first: "an uproar, row"; the second, "lawless or wildly disorderly"; and the third "to harass, vandalize, taunt, on intimidate."

The intriguing thing is that the difference between this word being a positive and encouraging cry and an insult is the introduction of a comma:

Hurrah, boys (praise).

Hurrah boys (reproof).

Strike another blow for the lowly comma.



Talk the Talk

"Baggravation, n. A feeling of annoyance and anger one endures at the airport when his bags have not arrived at the baggage carousel but everyone else's bags have [blend formed from words bag and aggravation]." Source: a list of new words collected by an English class at Rice University (www.owlnet.rice.edu-ling215?index.html).

"Fauxhemian (FOH.hee.mee.un) adj. Relating to something that is bohemian in a fake or pretentious manner. —n. A middle class or wealthy person who affects a countercultural lifestyle. Also: faux-hemian." Source: a word maven's haven, www.wordspy.com.



Let Rosie hear from you by mail (Style Weekly, 1707 Summit Ave., Suite 201, Richmond Va. 23230; by e-mail, repps@styleweekly.com; by phone, 358-0825; or by fax, 804-355-9089).

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