This blog is for everyone who uses words.

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

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Thing Not To Do Today: have the pip.

File:Finish of 60 m running event during 1904 Summer Olympics.jpg
1904 Olympics: 60 metres race. Someone being pipped to the post.

Pip is such a little word, but like other small things such as grains of sand and spiders it gets everywhere, and it's spring that's pipping's busiest time. Pipping can mean making any short high-pitched sound, of course, but it's particularly the noise made by a very young bird. 

It's also, rather thrillingly I think, the action of a bird piercing the shell of its egg while hatching. A crack it makes in its egg is a pip.

This first sign of a new life is obviously a matter of great joy - though, perversely, In Britain, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, to give someone the pip is to get him or her into a bad mood. In New Zealand it can also mean to sulk.

I'm sorry to report that as far as pip is concerned things can get even more unpleasant. To pip someone can be to ostracise them, perhaps by rejecting them as members of a society; to pip someone at the post is to beat someone at the last minute and against all expectation; and in Britain pipping someone can mean shooting them with a gun. 

Oh dear...and it was such a harmless-looking word. I find that I'm rather glad to be done with it, now.

Definitely time to say pip-pip to this one.

Thing Not To Do Today: have the pip. These verbal uses of pip share their derivations with yesterday's nouns.

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