“Fully” spotting

My daughter Maria Yagoda, who first alerted me to the specifically British meaning of “fully,” sent along American entertainer Selena Gomez’s Instagram video of her dancing with a cute toddler. Selena’s message:

“Finally got to meet this sweetheart–she owned it fully.”

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[NOTE: The comments on this post suggest there is some perplexity about the use of “fully” in the U.S. and in U.K./Australia.  I direct you to my original post on the word. Basically, it’s commonly used here but in a more workmanlike way–usually before the verb, and specifically in opposition to partialness. “The bridge won’t be fully completed till next year,” “I don’t fully understand your point,” I fully appreciate your efforts,” etc.  In the U.K. and in Australia (where this use originated and is most common), it’s a much more all-purpose intensifier; as the (Australian) author of the most popular definition on Urban Dictionary put it, “Said to mean Really, Totally, Completely, a lot, very much so or to add emphasis to something.” Americans would never say, “I fully hate that show,” or “I’m fully going to ask her for a date.”

As for the little girl “owning” the dance, that’s a piece of American slang denoting mastery.]

“Dog’s Breakfast”

The online magazine Slate sent out this tweet June 23:

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The Oxford English Dictionary‘s first citation for “dog’s breakfast,” from the Balleymena (Ireland) Observer, 1892, also provides a definition: In a lump like a dog’s breakfast, said of a heterogeneous heap of things.”

It is very much a Britishism, but more of a NOOB than I would have expected. It has appeared in the New York Times–attributed to or written by Americans–seven times since 2010, the first in a quote from Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, who called court rulings on jury instructions  “a dog’s breakfast of divided, conflicting, and ever-changing analyses.”  The most recent occurred in a review of the HBO series “Vinyl” this past February, referring to a character who is “president of American Century Records, which has a dog’s breakfast of an artist roster: Grand Funk Railroad, Donny Osmond, Savoy Brown, Robert Goulet, and their biggest act, Led Zeppelin.”

Slate’s use of the phrase was appropriate–the author of the article called Simmons’ show “a mess.” If only the magazine had left things there. Instead, a mere four days later, it sent out this tweet:

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That was a misuse of “dog’s breakfast”; all the article really said about the industry was that it isn’t doing well. But the tweet committed an even worse journalistic sin: repeating yourself.


Today’s New York Daily News Front Page

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There is so much to say about this laudable attempt by an American newspaper to simulate British argot in marking Iceland’s remarkable football (“footy” for short) victory over England yesterday.  First, “Mighty England” is a longstanding phrase, applied not only to the national football team but to the country as a whole.is a reference  to the chant ““We’re from England – mighty, mighty England.” Over on Twitter, there has been considerable discussion about whether a hypothetical youngster would say “mummy,” or “mum,” or whether he would address his mother at all on this matter. (There have been no objections to “my arse.”)

Then there’s “call bollocks on” apparently meaning “to call something bollocks.” The phrase is not only not listed in the OED, it’s not even listed in Urban Dictionary. Lynne Murphy, who alerted me to the Daily News front page, has already blogged that it’s not an actual British expression. It’s certainly not widespread, but it’s out there, with 1,870 Google hits for “call bollocks on” and 874 for “call bollocks to.”

What do you lot think?

Political analysis

A letter to the editor of the Wall Street Journal:

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Perhaps Mr. or Ms. Stansbury is British, but in Los Gatos and the rest of the U.S., we say “college.”

More “Kit”

Spotted yesterday on Twitter from the American online magazine Slate:

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Obviously, Slate is using “kit” for what an American would usually call a jersey or shirt. My question is, would a British person refer to “France kit” or “French kit”?

First Cheeky Nando’s…

… (discussed here ) and now, courtesy of Lauren Collins (@laurenzcollins),




The other day, tiresomely, someone hacked the Twitter account of the National Football League and tweeted that Roger Goodell, the NFL commissioner, was dead. The tweet was deleted. Then the perpetrator sent out another tweet:

Oi, I said Roger Goodell has died. Don’t delete that tweet.

If the NFL has a forensic team working on the case, I would advise them to concentrate their efforts in Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, and South Africa, because that, according to Wikipedia, is where people say “oi.”

According to the OED, the word originated as the naval interjection “hoy!” (related to “ahoy”). “Oi” was originally associated with Cockney argot, and the first OED citation is a bit of dialect from the Evening Standard in 1937: “Oi, there’s a lidy ‘ere wants some juice on the knocker!” The same year, it appeared in the lyrics to the song “Doing the Lambeth Walk,” from “Me and My Girl,” a musical about a Cockney barrow boy who inherits an earldom:

Once you get down Lambeth way
Every evening, every day,
You’ll find yourself
Doing the Lambeth Walk. oi!

Since then it has provided the name to a British punk-rock subgenre and more generally gone mainstream. You can hear it shouted in streets and sporting events of Commonwealth countries, especially Australia, where “Aussie! Aussie! Aussie! Oi! Oi! Oi!” is a popular chant. But you don’t hear it in the U.S.

So get on it, NFL security. Your work is cut out for you.