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Dr. Goodword
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Postby Dr. Goodword » Thu Apr 12, 2012 10:35 pm

• jetty •

Pronunciation: jet-ee • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: 1. A natural promontory, land projecting out into water. 2. A pier or dock projecting into the water. 3. A projection from a building, especially from an upper storey, a cantilever. 4. A breakwater designed to defend a harbor.

Notes: This word comes from the verb jet "to project forward, to protrude". It is the root of jettison "to throw overboard" and the thing thrown overboard, jetsam. This word is most frequently heard in the phrase flotsam and jetsam. However, items that are thrown overboard and float are flotsam. Jetsam is expected to sink to the bottom, perhaps to wash ashore later. See the connection with the sense of throwing in the Word History.

In Play: Let us first look at the nature of a natural jetty: "The state of Florida is the most prominent natural jetty in the United States." Jetty is most widely used in the US to distinguish breakwaters from piers: "Randy had a few too many drinks on his boat and crashed into the jetty as he entered the harbor." Of course, we should not forget the architectural usage: "The jetty on Henderson's house allowed him to run a driveway beneath it and bring the second floor up to his property line."

Word History: Today's Good Word comes from Old French jetee "something thrown out, a projection", the feminine past participle of jeter "to throw". Old French inherited this word from Vulgar (Street) Latin iectare, an alteration of Classical Latin iactare "to throw". There are many words English borrowed from Latin with this root: subject, inject, eject, interject. English made jut out of the same Old French word, jetee, though it is not clear how it did this. (We wish Anthony Arlidge safe harbors always for his suggestion of this word, whether protected by a jetty or not.)
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Philip Hudson
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Postby Philip Hudson » Sat Apr 14, 2012 11:27 am

The words flotsam and jetsam have legal ramifications. Recall our recent discussion of the words shall and will. Together with the words lagan and derelict, they describe specific conditions of ships and ships cargo. There are legal ramifications as to the ownership of these ships and cargo. In a literary sense, I have my sea legs, but I am not an expert in maritime law. Any one who is interested can look into it.

“The Thing”, a song popular in the 50s, is about a flotsam box. The rescuer of the box found something in it that was offensive to everyone who saw it. It had no name and was referred to by three short heavy beats on the bass drum. It made the finder a social outcast and finally sent him to Hell. Watch what you scavenge!
It is dark at night, but the Sun will come up and then we can see.

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