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Each week The Sun's John McIntyre presents a relatively obscure but evocative word with which you may not be familiar, another brick to add to the wall of your vocabulary. This week's word: 

STYMIE

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Holding, with Mr. Mencken, that "no man guilty of golf should be eligible for office of trust or profit under the United states," I am mercifully unacquainted with the terminology of the game and was unaware that the word of the week originated on the links in Scotland.

A stymie (pronounced STY-mee) is a situation in which your opponent's ball lies on the putting green between your ball and the hole. To stymie is to put one's opponent in such a position.

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The verb has come to mean "to impede," "to obstruct," "to frustrate," or "to thwart." It is beloved of copy editors because it fits so snugly in a one-column headline.

Example:  From The New York Times of February 27, 2011: "Mr. Cuomo, some lawmakers suspect, prepared the budget with a deliberate political strategy in mind: to stymie special interests and disrupt the rhythms of the annual budget battle with lawmakers. ..."

A note to readers: Last week's entry marked the fourth anniversary of this feature, 191 words to date (I missed a few weeks). Today's entry marks the beginning of its fifth year of poking into the recesses of the English language. It has been pleasant writing for you. 


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