Sunday, March 12, 2006

Words for the collegiate weekend

To pigeon-hole something is to put it away for consideration in the future. A pigeon hole was originally a recess that a pigeon could nest in. The term came to be applied to recesses in which things could be stored. Hence the verb's definition.

To button-hold someone is to sequester him at a party (and talk his ear off). Notice that it is button-hold and not button-hole. It comes from the act of grabbing someone's button so as not to let him or her leave.

Basket case is slang for a soldier who has lost all four limbs. Its meaning is extended to those who are unable to function. The OED's earliest listed citation is from 1919.

Mental case is slang for someone who has mental problems.

Punch-drunk describes a mental state similar to drunkenness caused by blows to the head.

Nauseous describes something that causes nausea.

Nauseated describes someone who is affected by nausea.

To black-out at a party means to get to the point of drunkenness where (later on) one cannot remember what happened.

To pass out is to become unconscious.

Inmate is a fairly general word to describe someone who lives in a structure that houses many. For instance, the OED defines collegian as a "member or inmate of a college". It is most frequently used, however, to describe patients in a hospital or residents of a jail.

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