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APLOMB

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APLOMB

Postby Dr. Goodword » Sun Apr 28, 2013 9:41 pm

• aplomb •


Pronunciation: ê-plahm, ê-plêmHear it!

Part of Speech: Noun, mass (no plural)

Meaning: Composure, confidence, coolness, poise, self-control.

Notes: Today's Good Word is an absolute lexical orphan without a single relative: no related adjective or verb. It is a distant historical relative of plumber (see Word History), but neither of these words is derived from the other. Keep an eye on the final B. English doesn't like the cluster MB and only the M is pronounced, unless the two consonants fall into discrete syllables, as in the case of number. Notice that the B is not pronounced in the comparative form of numb (numb-er), but it is in the noun meaning "a cipher", where the syllable break is between the M and B: num-ber.

In Play: Wherever composure and self-confidence are required, look for aplomb: "Miranda played the Mozart fugue with great aplomb and remarkable dexterity." It does, however, emerge in situations where you might not expect it: "Leticia responded to the post-party mess throughout her house with great aplomb, never once losing her temper."

Word History: Today's Good Word goes back to an Old French phrase à plomb "(aligned) with the plumb bob" from plomb "lead, plumb bob". Its sense derives from the use of a lead weight at the end of a string to measure a perfectly vertical line. Anything that is plumb with the bob is perfectly upright and well aligned. French plomb "lead" comes from Latin plumbum, which turns up in several English words. Most of these words have to do with plumbing, which originally consisted of lead pipes held together by lead joints. Since the discovery of lead poisoning, plumbers shifted to iron, copper, and, now, plastic pipes with cemented joints. Down South we still say, "He's plumb crazy," meaning he is perfectly crazy.
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Re: APLOMB

Postby Slava » Sun Apr 28, 2013 10:09 pm

A nice, plummy word. Let's thank the Dr. for helping us plumb some of the depths of its meaning.
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Re: APLOMB

Postby David McWethy » Mon Apr 29, 2013 3:30 am

I don't mean to split nits, but when Dr. B. writes:
Down South we still say, "He's plumb crazy," meaning he is perfectly crazy.

I think "completely" or "utterly" would be a better choice to indicate the degree to which one has become crazy instead of "perfectly".

Unless, of course, the subject being referred to is one who continues to believe that Obamacare is the cat's meow, in which case perfectly is so self-evidently correct that when used in conjunction with "crazy" it becomes redundant.

But I could be wrong.
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Re: APLOMB

Postby MTC » Mon Apr 29, 2013 7:59 am

BERTIE AND JEEVES "ON THE PLUMB"

Bertie: One of those, Jeeves. (pointing to plum on nearby tray)

Jeeves: Did you perhaps mean a section of fruit from the tree of the genus prunus , species ameicana, Sir?

Bertie: Ah, quite. The purplish one, that is.

Jeeves: (serving plum)

Bertie: I say! Juicy as the night Tuppy Glossop showed up sloshed at The Drones in scarlet tights as Mephis, Mephis...

Jeeves: (frowning) Mephistopheles, Sir?

Bertie: On the mark and on the plumb as usual, Jeeves.

Jeeves: I do seem to recall a minor contretemps involving Master Glossop at your club, Sir.

Bertie: Mephisto was a plummy role for Tuppy, I must say, but he did get a bit carried away with the pitchfork. I had to cushion the controversy.

Jeeves: You were punning when you referenced "plumb" earlier, were you not Sir?

Bertie: A little play on words, Jeeves. "Plumbing the depths," perhaps.

Jeeves: Very good, Sir. Indeed you showed remarkable aplomb during the entire controversy my sources tell me.

Bertie: I was in fine form, wasn't I Jeeves? Not half a bubble off plumb as Aunt Dahlia would have it. And as I think about it now another plum may well be in order.

from The Apocrypha of MTC
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Re: APLOMB

Postby LukeJavan8 » Mon Apr 29, 2013 1:03 pm

Isn't Obamacare the cat's meow. I'm so disillusioned.
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Re: APLOMB

Postby Perry Lassiter » Mon Apr 29, 2013 1:42 pm

Let's avoid being plumb catty on the Agora.
pl
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Re: APLOMB

Postby Philip Hudson » Mon Apr 29, 2013 3:26 pm

Plum Nelly is a huge geegaw shop near Lookout Mountain in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Its name is purported to come from the fact it is plum out of Tennessee and nearly (nelly) out of Georgia. Hard to understand why, because it is actually in Tennessee.
This shop is not the only Plum Nelly example, but it was the first reference I found on Goggle. Its owners might take exception to the geegaw description. The saying predates the shop and is said of a number of out of the way places near state lines. I have no connection to this place and so this isn't spam.

I worked so hard to find this reference that I am plum tuckered out.
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Re: APLOMB

Postby Perry Lassiter » Mon Apr 29, 2013 8:13 pm

MTC, on reflection your ear for reproducing Plum (his nickname!) Wodehouse is exceptional. Perhaps you could resurrect more of Bertie and Jeeves as the Apocrypha or PGW.
pl
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Re: APLOMB

Postby call_copse » Tue Apr 30, 2013 6:46 am

I can never resist a bit of Wodehouse, I never knew his nickname was plum. Good TV adaptation of Blandings on the BBC recently over here - worth catching if you can.

Bonus point if you can tell me what this definitive Wodehouse related list comprises:

    Gremlin Boogie
    Broken Compass
    Sewing Machine
    Comet
    Atomic
    Cement Mixer
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Re: APLOMB

Postby MTC » Tue Apr 30, 2013 8:14 am

Crapulous Classifications of hangover symptoms from The Mating Season.

P.S. Thank you, Perry.
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