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A Trip to the Vet

Rosie Right

A reader remarked to Rosie that he was interested in the media's constant use of the word vet to describe the process of investigating whether a potential nominee would pass an intense scrutiny of his/her background. Where did the usage come from? The Oxford American Dictionary 1999 gives the first meaning of vet (noun) as "colloq: a veterinary surgeon." The first meaning of vet as a verb is "make a careful and critical examination of (a scheme, work, candidate etc)." But the second meaning of the verb is described as "examine or treat (an animal). [abbr.]" The Word Detective, written by Evan Morris and posted as an amusing site on the Web, provides an answer to our reader's question. Morris tells a questioner that the word means to examine closely, but he also remarks that "vet has only fairly recently become the Word Du Jour among magazine writers and political pundits in the U.S., which explains why you hear it so often these days. But while vet evidently seems exotic to reporters and editorialists on this side of the Atlantic, it has been in standard, albeit informal, use in Britain since the turn of the century." Vet, he tells us, originally meant to have your animal thoroughly examined by a vet: "So if you feel like livestock next time the IRS vets your tax return, just do as I do. Open your big brown eyes and moo." You can see The Word Detective on the Web at Talk the Talk:
Here's a new phrase that we probably should all know about: economy-class syndrome. Reuters News services reports that hundreds of passengers have been suffering blood clots after sitting in planes for more than six hours. In Britain, Reuters says, an average of one passenger each month has died from a pulmonary embolism after arriving at Heathrow. These deaths have been caused by "deep vein thrombosis." The problem has also been detected in people flying to Australia. The airlines claim that the syndrome is not caused by those squeezed-together seats in economy class but by a lack of exercise. If you're flying more than six hours, be sure to exercise your legs, and keep tuned for instructions from the airlines as to how to prevent the condition. It seems apparent that we will hear more about this condition. Let Rosie hear from you by telephone (358-0825), letter (1707 Summit Ave, Suite 201, Richmond Va. 23230), fax (355-9089) or e-mail

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