Monday, May 08, 2006

May 8: Words from World War II Day

Today is the anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe. The celebration of the victory over the Nazi war machine took place all over the United States, England, and the formerly occupied nations of Europe. General Dwight Eisenhower signed the final documents of Germany’s unconditional surrender on the evening of May 7, and at that time declared that May 8 would be celebrated as the official V-E Day. In the USSR, a few pockets of German resistance remained, delaying the Russian celebrations until May 9 (1).

Someone once said: "A language is a dialect with an army and a navy." When the survivors of wars return from the battlefield, they bring with them military jargon and foreign expressions, as in Vietnam (see Word Daze March 29) and World War I (see Word Daze April 6). Probably more than any war though, World War II made a major dent in the English Lexicon. Below are examples of words from World War II from Christine Ammer’s book Fighting Words (2):

day of infamy

Today’s Challenge: Combative Compounds
The ten definitions below are for two-word expressions from World War II, according to Christine Ammer’s book Fighting Words (2). Given the definition, see if you can come up with the term:

1. Trivial, petty

2. Began to be used as verb in World War II, meaning to rig up a hidden hazard.

3. A group, often consisting of experts, that is formed to investigate or solve a particular problem.

4. This practice began in World War II, a period of shortages and rationing.

5. The termination of a romantic relationship.

6. Replaced shell shock from World War I to describe a disabling psychiatric disorder that results from the stress of active combat.

7. A routine trip.

8. Members of Hitler’s Nazi Party.

9. A pathetically inept person.

10. Exaggerated flattery used to cover up some real issue.

Quote of the Day: Sometime they'll give a war and nobody will show. --Carl Sandburg

1 -

2- Ammer, Christine. Fighting Words: From War, Rebellion, and Other Combative Capers. New York: Paragon House, 1989.

1. mickey mouse 2. booby trap 3. task force 4. car pool 5. dear John 6. battle fatigue 7. milk run 8. brown shirts 9. sad sack 10. snow job

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