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Dr. Goodword
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Postby Dr. Goodword » Tue Mar 20, 2012 9:35 pm

• panhandle •

Pronunciation: pæn-hæn-dêl • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun, Verb

Meaning: 1. [Noun] A narrower strip of land projecting from a larger territory. 2. [Verb] To beg.

Notes: Pan handles play a disproportionate role in the semantic awareness of English speakers. When we get angry we fly off the handle and when we are poor we panhandle. The noun has a plural, panhandles, and the verb is conjugated like all verbs (panhandles, panhandled, panhandling). It has a personal noun, panhandler.

In Play: The three most prominent (so to speak) panhandles in US geography are the Florida, Oklahoma, and Texas panhandles. The Florida panhandle is in the north of the state and, like the Oklahoma panhandle, points west. The Texas panhandle points north. The verb refers to begging on the street: "If I don't get a raise next month, I'm going back to panhandling."

Word History: The verbal sense of today's Good Word is a back formation from panhandler, that is to say, someone who handles a pan, a word that emerged in the 1890s. This term arose when beggars regularly approached people on the street holding a tin pan or cup with coins in it, shaking the vessel so that the money in it jangled and attracted the attention of passers-by. If people doing this are panhandlers, what they are doing must be panhandling, so the verb was 'back derived' from the noun. In other words, this word has nothing to do with handles but with handling pans. (We are so happy that Peggy Nielsen gave us what we are always begging for: another Good Word for our series.)
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Postby LukeJavan8 » Wed Mar 21, 2012 11:35 am

Nebraska's Panhandle may not be as obvious
on a map, but it is there nonetheless, and very
evident when one lives in this state. In territorial
days the capital was in Omaha, in fact the
capitol building, a magnificent structure, still
stands and a major high school occupies it.
The state capital is in Lincoln with an even more
imposing capitol building. In Pioneer days the
capital was moved west to be more convenient.
Today a move of 50 miles is barely negligible,(Lincoln
is only that distance from Omaha).
The folks in the western part of the state which is
far less populated, complain they might as well
belong to another state, and that the East
ignores them. They live in the Panhandle, and
it is called that on every news and weather forecast
when something is highlighted there. We are very
conscious that it is a panhandle. {e.g "Heavy snow
expected in the panhandle this evening".}
There was a move a number of years ago among
the counties of the panhandle to secede from Nebraska and
join another state. Geographically speaking no
matter what state they joined, be it Wyoming,
Colorado, or South Dakota, they would still be a

state capitol:
-----please, draw me a sheep-----

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Postby wurdpurrson » Thu Mar 22, 2012 3:13 am

Idaho's northern narrow extension is also called the Panhandle - yes, even capitalized in news stories. The University of Idaho is located there, in the small college town of Moscow. Guess there were more Russian immigrants in Idaho in the late 1800s than I realized.

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Postby Perry Lassiter » Thu Mar 22, 2012 11:26 am

Louisiana is shaped like a boot but the toe is never called a panhandle. It's always referred to as the toe or even just the boot for that extension. More often that area is called the Florida Parishes because they adjoined the panhandle of Florida.

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Postby Philip Hudson » Thu Mar 22, 2012 6:23 pm

I'm looking for ancestors in the Florida "toe", ca. 1830s. Their names are Bickham and Erwin (may be Irwin). The US census just doesn’t tell it all. Are there any genealogists among Alpha Agoras? If there are, we could start a separate communication venue. I know there are people who aren't interested in genealogy and Alpha Agora is not the right forum for it. Alpha Agora is supposed to be about the English language and linguistics, oft though we go astray.
It is dark at night, but the Sun will come up and then we can see.

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Postby bamaboy56 » Fri Mar 23, 2012 11:24 pm

I was born and raised in the Gulf Coast area of Texas. Every time the TV or periodical news spoke of the Panhandle, everyone knew they were speaking of North Texas bordering on Oklahoma. Now I live in L.A. (around here that means "Lower Alabama") just 20 minutes north of the Florida panhandle. Nice! Interesting there are other states than Texas and Florida that have panhandles.
Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I'm going to change myself. -- Rumi

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