Saturday, June 9, 2018

Dressing up the verb

English is famous (or infamous) for words having multiple meanings, some with no apparent connection with them.  A charming subgroup of such words involves articles of clothing.  These have clear, commonly understood meanings as nouns in their usual context, i.e., the items covering up a person’s birthday suit.  Yet, as verbs, they stray, to one degree or another, and take on a different persona.

An example of this is the word dress, as celebrated in one of the wonderful stories of Peggy Perish, Amelia Bedelia. In it, the literally minded maid puts a dress on a chicken instead of preparing it for cooking or eating as in the expressions dress a turkey or dress a salad.

Keeping with women’s clothing, to skirt an issue is to avoid it, not to show off its nice legs.

As any fan of the original Batman TV series knows, to sock or belt someone does not send a person to work but instead to the hospital.

To meet a man that suits you may involve a tailor or but most probably leads to a wedding as he fits your needs.

Speaking of tailors, coating the fish with breadcrumbs is not a cheap way of keeping it warm. The bread crump coat in this case just keeps the dinner tender.

To shoe someone out may sound violent but actually must done very discretely, without too much fuss, unlike being booted from a tournament, which is very unceremonious.

It is advisable to both to wear a cap when hiking and cap an appetite or temper.  Everything in moderation.

Staying in the area of the head and neck, a scarf is elegant and keeps you warm.  By contrast, scarfing down food, i.e., uncontrolled eating, can look rather disgusting and be unhealthful.

Finally, while a tie may seem extraneous in some cultures, notably Israel and Jamaica, a proper speaker ties everything together with a summary.

In that light, if clothes make the man, they also confuse him, especially if he is a foreigner.

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