• Ouija •
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: A parlor game played on a board printed with the alphabet over which a planchette or other movable pointer roams, ostensibly selecting letters of its own will. Participants touch the planchette lightly with their fingers and solemnly promise not to apply any pressure to it. They then watch in amazement as the planchette moves across the board, selecting one letter after another until it spells a message relevant to some previously selected theme. The assumption is that the message comes from the spiritual world—without the normal cost of a medium.
Notes: The popularity of sťances, gatherings for the purpose of making contact with the spiritual world, waxes and wanes cyclically. The media (singular medium) are now something quite different from people blessed with the ability to contact the spiritual world. It is true that we continue to encounter the old media in the new from time to time. This odd little word has no family because it is a registered trademark!
In Play: This term has become a metaphor for the origin of unreliable information obtained through weird, mystical sources. "Where did you get the idea that you would be promoted this year, Oscar, your Ouija board?" Our ears still resonate with reports of Ouija finances at some of our larger businesses in the not-so-distant past: "I know the 3rd quarter figures look bad, but don't you have some Ouija formulas in finance that can buff them up a bit?"
Word History: As mentioned above, this Good Word is a trademark made up from the French word oui "yes" and German ja "yes". (This suggests that the absolutely correct pronunciation should be [wee-yah].) The word was first trademarked in 1891 by the Kennard Novelty Company of Baltimore, Maryland. It has passed down through several companies to Hasbro Toys, the current owner.
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