Pet peeves and other strange creatures

Published 10:06 am Wednesday, June 8, 2005

By By Lee Weyhrich
Certain phrases in the English language make no sense whatsoever.
For instance why is something always hot as Hades, but when we use the biblical word for Satan's hometown we can use it after a number of phrases such as "cold as," "hot as," "big as," and "small as," which are all pretty much at odds with one another?
Last week, we covered my pet peeves over the misuse of the word "literally" and the ridiculous portrayal of the south by people who learned everything they know about the south from Gone With the Wind.
Another of my pet peeves is the phrase "pet peeves." A pet peeve sounds like some kind of tame rodent, like a ferret, or a politician.
According to Webster (the dictionary, not the kid from the TV show) a peeve is, "a feeling or mood of resentment."
The definition of a pet is "a domesticated animal kept for pleasure rather than utility."
So basically a pet peeve is a useless resentment that you keep around for the fun of it (so apparently they are like politicians).
Q: Are there so few bad things in the world that we have to pick out tiny insignificant things to worry about? Do we just have so little to do that we can sit around coming up with things to be bothered by?
A: Yes and yes. That's what TV news is for.
Another weird thing about the English language is the way we say some words are bad for children to say so we give them words to use as substitutes, Hades for instance.
Ever look up any of those words in a dictionary? You will immediately wash your kid's mouth out with soap if you do. And you will probably feel an urge to wash out your own.
Darn, for instance actually means the "D" word it's standing in for. Dang, fortunately, does not mean the "D" word but it does describe a certain bodily function of sheep. Hades is in fact a Greek God, not a place, which gives the phrase "hot as Hades" a whole new meaning.
The first two definitions of potty are "insignificant" and "going slightly crazy." Therefore going potty means you are either becoming insignificant or you have just lost your mind.
That gives new meaning to the phrase "potty training" too. You could substitute "toilet training" but only if you are teaching your children how to wash themselves and put on cologne which may not be a bad idea.
Yes the English language is a wonderful and complex thing thanks to that Webster guy. Now if you'll excuse I'm going to take my pet peeve potty.
Lee Weyhrich is the Managing Editor of the Atmore Advance. His column appears weekly.

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