Common typo

Usually, typing mistakes are easy to find (if one looks for them of course) as they make the word look unusual. There are some though that change one word into another. Sometimes, the change of the word doesn’t change the meaning of the phrase though. These are the most difficult to find typos.

I make one of these pretty often. Instead of “global warming” I type in “global warning”. The toughest one to find, but I don’t usually bother.

Vacation vs. vocation

My co-worker and I were composing an email today. He was writing and I was watching over. When I pointed out to him that he wanted to write “vacation” instead of “vocation”, he argued that if the word was wrong, the spellchecker would have underlined it in red. Since I was 99.9% sure that I was right, I aked him to double check.

It turned out that both “vacation” and “vocation” are legitimate words. But what surprised me was that their meanings were almost opposite.

“Vacation” has to do with resting and spending the time nicely. “Vocation” has to do with hard work. If you don’t believe me, check the definitions in the dictionary. Here are the words in : vacation and vocation.

P.S.: And I was right.

Solid food

Yesterday, when I wrote about Maxim’s first food I of course meant his first solid food. It’s just that I didn’t know that solid food is called solid food in English. The direct translation from Russian is “solid” indeed, but when I was writing the post, I wasn’t sure that I could the word “solid” to describe food. And I was too lazy to check in the dictionary. Today, when I was replying to a comment for that post, I noticed the Google Adsense banner which was promoting some “solid food” website. I checked the site, double checked in the dictionary, and it was indeed – “solid” food.

Either I am being too smart or too stupid. I don’t know.

P.S.: Maxim seems to really enjoy his new diet.

Char or trout

Consider the joke told by Richard Stallman that I read in this article:

Once I was eating in Legal Sea Food and ordered arctic char. When it arrived, I looked for a signature, saw none, and complained to my friends, “This is an unsigned char. I wanted a signed char!” I would have complained to the waiter if I had thought he’d get the joke.

Until today, the word “char” had only one meaning to me. It was a computer term, which is used as a declaration of a character or string variable in some programming languages. Such as C, for example.

It turns out, that there is another meaning. Here is a quote from the dictionary for you:

also charr (n. pl. char or chars also charr or charrs)

Any of several fishes of the genus Salvelinus, especially the arctic char, related to the trout and salmon.

Wikipedia entries for those of you who want to learn more on this fishy subject: Salvelinus, Arctic char.


During the last few days I started to change my understanding of the word “enlightment”. I think I already mentioned that Maxim loves looking at light sources (lamps, windows, etc). He loved looking at them from his very first day in this world and he still enjoys it.

Sometimes he would lay on the bed looking at the light bulb, thinking about something. And than he would suddenly start talking in his meaningful manner (‘Rggggrgg’,’Arrrrgggrrgg’, etc). When I see him like this, I say that he just was “enlighted”. Thus “enlightment” is talking your mind out after watching a light source.

Alternative etymology of the word ‘wise’

I had a revelation recently about etymology of the word ‘wise’. It came to me when I was reading and thinknig about different stages in child’s life. There is one particular period when a child asks one billion questions per second. ‘How does fridge work?’, ‘When did you and mama meet?’, ‘Why is the sky blue?’, etc. In Russian parenting books, this period is sometimes called ‘a why’s age’ (‘почемучки’), meaning an age where a child asks a lot of ‘Why?’ questions.

And than it hit me – why’s age. It sounds a lot like ‘wise’. And it can be connected too – asking lots of questions can make one wise.

I thought that I’ve discovered the etymology of ‘wise’ on my own, without any references. But when I decided to verify that it was indeed so, I found out that I was wrong. Online Etymology Dictionary has this entry for ‘wise’.

I like mine better anyway.

Glasgow kiss

Finding the meaning of Glasgow kiss was a bit harder than usual. Mostly it was because there are name clashes with poetry, TV Series, drawings, etc.

Wikipedia rescued me. Here is a quote from teh Glasgow kiss page:

A Scottish kiss (sometimes also called a Glasgow kiss) is a British slang term for a headbutt. It is considered derogatory because it portrays people from Scotland as being violent.

And from the Head butt page I learned that it is a fighting technique:

Head butting is a fighting technique that uses the cranium to strike an opponent’s face to cause injury or a knockout.

The head butt is very powerful as the entire body can be driven behind the strike. It is also potentially damaging to the person throwing the head butt. At the front of the cranium are two bony prominences, which the brain can strike into during the delivery of a head butt causing dizziness or even unconsciousness. There is also the risk of shattering the opponent’s teeth and cutting the forehead (HIV infection is a concern).

When delivering a head butt, it is wise to control the opponent’s head by holding the back of the neck. This will keep the head static and easier to strike without injury to yourself. It is also a good idea to strike above the hairline, as any abrasion of the skin will mean the blood coagulates in the hair and does not run into your eyes.

The head butt is powered by bending of the waist and driving with the legs, not by neck movement (which can cause whiplash).

Targets for the head butt include the nose, cheeks, chin, jaw, sternum, solar plexus, and collar bone.

The head butt can also be delivered backwards to an opponent who is holding you from behind.


It was interesting to find out that one of the meanings of the verb “contract” is a kind of “shorten” or “minimize”. Here is a quote from the

  1. To enter into by contract; establish or settle by formal agreement: contract a marriage.
  2. To acquire or incur: contract obligations; contract a serious illness.
    1. To reduce in size by drawing together; shrink.
    2. To pull together; wrinkle.
  3. Grammar. To shorten (a word or words) by omitting or combining some of the letters or sounds, as do not to don’t.