Lexie Reemerges from the Etymological Underground

Word problems [clap, clap, clap, clap, clap, clap]…word problems…

It was my phone. “Lexie Kahn. What’s the word?”

“Lexie! You’re there. I’ve been leaving messages and texts for weeks. Where’ve you been?”

It was C.J. Chan, a voice from the past — two months ago, to be precise — when I took French leave. “I can’t tell you where I’ve been – out, off the grid, at an undisclosed location, underground.”

“Literally underground? Who were you chasing – Batman, Dick Cheney or the White Rabbit?”

Antelope Canyon Horizontal sm IMG_2564

Photo: Judith B. Herman

“Hmmm. I was in a bat cave, briefly, but the bats beat it out of there, leaving me nothing but a carpet of their calling cards. Say, you weren’t the one who sicced that batty Batman character on me; were you?”

“What? What are you talking about, Lexie? And isn’t undisclosed a double negative?”

He was evading the question. Maybe he was in league with Batman. “Never mind. Yes. If something is not disclosed then it’s closed or covert, which technically means ‘covered’ rather than ‘closed,’ but it’s the same idea.”

“So you’ve been up to something secret, furtive, clandestine?”

Now it was my turn to obfuscate by diving into etymology. “Did you know that furtive comes from French furtif, furtive, from Latin furtīvus, from fūr thief?”

“Uh, no, but –“

“And clandestine is from Latin clandestīnus ‘secret, hidden,’ which comes from clam, meaning ‘secretly.’ That clammed him up for a while.


This entry was posted in English language, etymology and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Lexie Reemerges from the Etymological Underground

  1. S. O. says:

    Funny! Hope you had a great trip.   Sue

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