May 11, 2009

WORD OF THE WEEK: Why whinge when you can whine—or not?

Today's Word of the Week comes from Merriam-Webster's online dictionary. And it's timely as ever: Last night, I (yes, really) watched the season finale of "The Celebrity Apprentice." I was surprised at the winner—but more surprised at the whinging of contestant Annie Duke, celebrity poker player. After weeks of putting on her poker face and playing in stride through comedian Joan Rivers' exaggerated insults, Duke spent her last moments in Donald Trump's "board room" complaining about the personal attacks. With that, she seemed to give it all away.

Here's what Merriam-Webster has to say about the word "'whinge': • \WINJ\ • verb: to complain fretfully : whine

"Example Sentence:

"She urged her fellow workers to stop whinging about how they were victims of 'the system' and to do something to change that system.

"Did you know?

"'Whinge' isn't just a spelling variant of 'whine.' 'Whinge' and 'whine' are actually entirely different words with separate histories. 'Whine' traces to an Old English verb, 'hwinan,' which means 'to make a humming or whirring sound.' When 'hwinan' became 'whinen' in Middle English, it meant 'to wail distressfully'; 'whine' didn't acquire its 'complain' sense until the 16th century. 'Whinge,' on the other hand, comes from a different Old English verb, 'hwinsian,' which means 'to wail or moan discontentedly.' 'Whinge' retains that original sense today, though nowadays it puts less emphasis on the sound of the complaining and more on the discontentment behind the complaint."

I was further surprised last night to hear Joan Rivers argue emphatically against Duke's style of business, saying (or shouting) that it exemplified all that America is moving away from: focus on the bottom line, and lack of human consideration. She punctuated her argument with a rousing rebel cry, yelling (something along the lines of), "Let's show the world that America really cares!"

Ever heard the phrase, "The squeaky wheel gets the grease"? If a whine is an amplified squeak, then maybe it's best to wail? That is, if you're working for The Donald. ... What are YOU whinging about?

(c) KiKi Productions, Inc. 2009

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