This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Thing To Do Today. Or Possibly Not: pop.

You have to be American to understand cricket.

All right, all right, that's an exaggeration. But there's a grain of truth in it, all the same.

Pop is one of those words which causes havoc amongst the English-speaking peoples. If an English person pops a man in his wheelchair they are putting him in lightly and without fuss. If someone from the US pops a man in his wheelchair, there's a good chance the poor man is getting punched. 

But where does the cricket come in?

Well, in cricket a batsman waiting to hit a ball must stand in an area of the pitch delineated by a mark called a popping crease. An English person will probably shrug and accept this as one more peculiar cricketing term to go with with googly, Baggy green, and donkey drop; but an American will understand at once that it marks the place where the batsman hits - pops - the ball.

With this exception, round here in England just about all pops are quick and light. If we pop round to see someone we are making a quick uninvited visit; if we have a pop at something we are having a go at it in a non-committed sort of a way; if we talk of popping the question then we are pretending that asking for someone's hand in marriage is a cause of no anxiety at all; someone who pops his clogs is dying without causing the least amount of sorrow; someone who pops his shirt is pawning it; someone who drinks pop is imbibing some fizzy non-alcoholic substance like ginger beer.

Harmless stuff, ginger beer - though not to be recommended if you're got to go out and bat after your lunch (yes, cricket is the game where everything stops for lunch. And afternoon tea).

All that gas might be enough to make you pop.

Thing To Do Today Or Possibly Not: pop. This word is an imitation of the sound something makes when it pops. My Collins dictionary dismisses pop in the hitting sense as obsolete or dialect.

But it's not, is it.

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