Thursday, May 25, 2017

Q&A on Words

Barbara has her PhD in linguistics so when a word question comes up, such as today, I ask her.

My question:

in regard to the montana incident, I saw a tweet that said something like "he really wailed on that guy" and I thought no, it's WALED and no definitions meaning "beat up" or "walloped" appeared for either spelling... then I checked WHALED and that wasn't it either.
do you know which one it is?

Her answer:

In my trusty Webster's 2nd, "whale" can mean to thrash, and it gives "wale" as another spelling -- maybe because when you lash someone with a whip, you make stripes on them that look like wide wale corduroy.  To me, saying "he really whaled/waled on that guy"  can also be just extremely screaming at someone, doesn't have to be physical.   I think it might be cognate with welt, too.

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