a serial response to merriam-webster's word-of-the-day
Friday, June 18, 2010
: a decisive or final defeat or setback
Ah, the cultural reference appropriated for casual use. I immediately think of bogart : to keep something all for oneself, thus depriving anyone else of having any; a slang term derived from the last name of famous actor Humphrey Bogart because he often kept a cigarette in the corner of his mouth, seemingly never actually drawing on it or smoking it (urban dictionary).
According to the etymology, it took only one year for the term WATERLOO to appear in casual use. I wonder if this is the ordinary turn around on such an appropriation. This was 1816, presumably France. Has this process sped up at all in the last nearly 200 years? I don't suppose there's really a way for me to answer this question in the space of a day. I'm already late, it's already 2:30, and I'm still writing. I should move on.
1816, like many others, was a busy year: Argentina declares independence from Spain, Indiana becomes the 19th state, and on June 6th there is a 10" snowfall in New England, after which 1816 becomes known as the "year without a summer." But this too goes nowhere.
Interestingly, the term Napoleon was also appropriated. Urban Dictionary (apparently my new favorite online destination) defines Napoleon : a short person who fancies himself hot shit. And there you have it.
I think this blog entry is today's WATERLOO actually; perhaps I should quit while I'm ahead, if I am in fact still ahead.