tumescent

Pronounced: too-MESS-uhnt (alt: tyoo-MESS-uhnt), adj

Notes: An interesting, useful word


Yesterday’s phrase

The phrase chicken hawk not only refers to various hawks that are believed to prey upon chickens, but also is “a person who favors military action, yet has avoided military service”

First usage

Our phrase came into being the the mid-1800s

Background / Comments

I have heard of a chicken hawk from the Foghorn Leghorn cartoons; there were some of these cartoons (I don’t know how many) in which Foghorn was matched with a much smaller chicken hawk. I though the term referred to a specific species, but apparently not. The other definition was completely unknown to me. It comes from two slang words put together: chicken (someone who is a coward) and hawk (someone who pursues an aggressive policy). The hawk slang is usually heard in American political history when Congress was divided into “hawks” (those for war) and “doves” (those against the war).

Published by Richard

Christian, lover-of-knowledge, Texan, and other things.

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