Ever wake up with the demands of the day whipping around in your head? No? Honestly, no? Egad, then once again, I’m in the minority. Wait, no. I see that timid hand barely below shoulder level.

Go ahead, admit to it. We are those who think. All the time. About everything. Heavy sigh.

Doesn’t mean I don’t sleep. As a point of order, I sleep very well. Most of the time. Unless the thought herd gets restless, meandering in and out of the files I keep in my brain. Which of course goes into another file.

And yes, at some point, I will have to organize those files. A bit.

Oh, all right, I confess. Organizing is not one of my stronger abilities. I tell the children they will get it later. When they have to back up the truck to dump the contents of my office. Or simply strike a match. But that means notifying the fire department before hand. So they can cordon off the neighborhood.

Or not. But I have warned them. Or was that in another file?

To get back to the point (because I noticed several of you slipping off for more coffee) the word slug came to my attention. Mostly because of editing an essay. Notice I am resisting the temptation to chase yet another rabbit. Back to slug. I wrote that outloud?

Back to point, how did that word develop so many meanings in English? As in, to slug or hit someone. Take a slug, a stiff drink. A slug nickel isn’t worth much, while a garden slug means disaster in roses. In the railroad industry, before they used pushers in rail yards, they used slugs to maneuver empty cars. When I am a slug, I lay around all day, goofing off.

Which I am not doing. Really.

The sense of the word hinges on context, because the root word for slug came from lots of places. Old English, old Norse, in the blacksmith trade in reverence to small bits of metal snipped or flung off, to another older German word for strong liquor, the slimy critter in the garden from old French referring to a specific fish, all the way to old Irish for a hard or killing blow. In newspaper lingo, a slug was a first line in a print article. And we do understand what’s being said by the context.

Unless the speaker has a lisp, which throws a monkey wrench into the process. I know that from personal experience. Don’t ask. S words give me fits when I’m tired.

Which I Am Not.


Most of the time, what we say relates to what we do. Describing those actions take words. Those little blasts of air explain, confuse, attract, repel, create images in our brains and muddy intentions all over the place. Which is why I think about them. And tell y’all all about it.

Tossed in that little plural singular for fun. ‘Cause I do talk that way.

One of these years the first part of some words will drop off, because of use or misuse (referencing that colloquial ‘cause I just did) and no one will be the wiser. Except for word geeks. Small sigh.