2018年2月14日 星期三

scrawl, knuckle-duster, brass-knuckled, the demented, lose your marbles

To research his hypothesis, Cross studied 30,000-year-old drawings in the Chauvet-Pont-d’Arc Cave in southern France and concluded that the motions in the scrawls are similar to the arc that a thrown spear might take. In other words, prehistoric humans weren’t just doodling on cave walls; they were drafting plans, strategies, and representations that showed an acute awareness of their game.

The Paris Review

Don Quixote is not only a cautionary tale about the perils of idealism: among other things, it is also the first great book about books, a visionary parable about the responsibilities of reading and writing fiction that arrived early on in the age of printing.

What does it mean to be “quixotic” today? Are street-corner preachers quixotic? Is Bono? What about film directors who dementedly pursue the unlikely grail of adapting a difficult book for the screen? The word endures…

Donald Trump has trampled all over the unwritten rules of American democracy, violating his party and his country. All Americans are worse off as a result

Trump has taken a knuckle-duster to American political culture

F. T. Marinetti, 1909

We have been up all night, my friends and I, beneath mosque lamps whose brass cupolas are bright as our souls, because like them they were illuminated by the internal glow of electric hearts. And trampling underfoot our native sloth on opulent Persian carpets, we have been discussing right up to the limits of logic and scrawling the paper with demented writing.

"We’ve been lied to in terms of the preparation in the hospitals," one nurse declared.
National Nurses United is one of the nation’s youngest unions, and one one...

Urban Dictionary: knuckle dusters


knuckle dusters are another term for the illegal, easily concealable weapon, brass knuckles. To dust ones knuckles is to put on Brass Knuckles.

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Brass knuckles - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Brass knuckles, also sometimes called knuckles, knucks, brass knucks, knucklebusters, ... Import ofknuckle dusters into Australia is illegal unless a government permit is obtained; permits are only available for limited purposes, such as police ...

brass knuckles

Syllabification: brass knuck·les


A metal guard worn over the knuckles in fighting, especially to increase the effect of the blows.


Line breaks: scrawl
Pronunciation: /skrɔːl/


  • Write (something) in a hurried, careless way:Charlie scrawled his signature[NO OBJECT]: he was scrawling on the back of a used envelope


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  • An example of hurried, careless writing:the page was covered in scrawls and doodles[MASS NOUN]: reams and reams of handwritten scrawl





early 17th century: apparently an alteration of the verbcrawl, perhaps influenced by obsolete scrawl 'sprawl'.

Lose your marbles

Lose your wits.
Lose one's marblesTo 'lose one's marbles' is to lose one's mind. In the 1954 film The Caine Mutiny Humphrey Bogart linked insanity with marbles when he showed his character, the demented Lt. Cmdr. Queeg, restlessly jiggling a set of metal balls when under stress in court. Bogart's performance was so affecting that many have supposed the film to be the source of the phrase. It is American, but originated in the late 19th century, not the 1950s. The expression has now been shortened to simply 'losing it'. The point is that the person in question has, as in another earlier variant, 'a bit missing'. Perhaps 'marbles' meant 'mind' or 'wits' before 'lose one's marbles' was coined. That's worth investigation at least, so let's have a go.
Marbles are, of course, the little glass or metal balls that children use to play the eponymous game. From the mid 19th century 'marbles' was also used to mean 'personal effects', 'goods', or more generally 'stuff'. This latter meaning derives from the French word 'meubles', which means 'furniture'. From the 1920s onward two US expressions became established - 'to pick up the marbles' and 'to pick up one's marbles'. These mean 'to carry off the honours or prizes' and 'to withdraw from activity or game and cause it to cease' (like the UK variant 'take one's ball home'). 'Marbles' also meant testicles and has been used that way since at least the mid 19th century.
It has been suggested that the 'losing one's mind' meaning derives from the Elgin Marbles. These are the collection of sculptures, some from the Parthenon Frieze, which were taken from Athens by Lord Elgin in 1806. The supposition is that the expression derives from the loss of the artworks by the Greeks, or their subsequent loss at sea when the ship that was transporting them sank. An interesting theory, but no more than that; there's no evidence to support the idea.
It's more likely that 'marbles' was coined as a slang term meaning 'wits/common sense', as a reference to the marbles that youngsters play with. The notion of 'losing something that is important to you' appears to have migrated from the image of a forlorn child having lost his prized playthings. An early citation of this figurative usage is found in an August 1886 copy of the St. Louis Globe-Democrat:
He has roamed the block all morning like a boy who had lost his marbles.
During the late 19th century, 'losing one's marbles' began to be used to mean 'getting frustrated or angry'. This reference from New Zealand was printed in The Tuapeka Times, in August 1889:
For I tell you that no boy ever lost his marbles more irrevocably than you and I will lose our self-respect if we remain to take part in a wordy discussion that ends in a broil. [a quarrel]
This transition to the 'losing one's mind' meaning began in the US around the same time and the Ohio newspaper The Portsmouth Times, reported a story in April 1898 that referred to marbles as a synonym for mental capacity:
Prof. J. M. Davis, of Rio Grande college, was selected to present J. W Jones as Gallia's candidate, but got his marbles mixed and did as much for the institution of which he is the noted head as he did for his candidate.
The expression took a little time to mature and was used in both 'anger' and 'sanity' senses for a few decades. What is common in all the early citations is the sense of loss and the consequent reaction to it. By 1927, the loss of sanity meaning had won out and an edition of American Speech defined the term unambiguously:
"Marbles, doesn't have all his (verb phrase), mentally deficient. 'There goes a man who doesn't have all his marbles.'"
See also: knuckle down.

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Line breaks: de¦ment
Pronunciation: /dɪˈmɛnt/




late 15th century (as an adjective in the sense 'demented'): from French dément or Latin demens,dement- 'insane'. The noun use dates from the late 19th century.


  1. Mentally ill; insane.
  2. Suffering from dementia or a loss of cognitive function.
dementedly de·ment'ed·ly adv.
dementedness de·ment'ed·ness n.