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Variations on the bird theme



From the U.K., John Heelan explains the meaning of "gaggle". Other WAISera have provided similar but less detailed information:

  • "gaggle 1. n. Flock (of geese); (derog.) company (of women); disorderly group.2. v.i. Cackle (of geese)(ME, n.f.v., imit.; cf gabble, cackle). (The Concise Oxford Dictionary 6th Ed., Oxford:OUP,1978, p.433).

Although "gaggle" might be a faintly humorous way of describing a collection of prelates, for me no dictionary can provide words appropriate to describe the depths of horror, sorrow and compassion that ordinary Brits feel for the victims, their families, and the American people caused by Tuesday's outrage".

Irrelevant comments: Postings sent to John Heelan were returned with the note that he had not opened his e-mail for 30 days. I suppose he has now come home. Postings with the correct address sometimes bounce back with an incomprehensible reference to a wrong address. Mysteries of e-mail.

I am sure that Bill Cortes was not suggesting that the prelates were a disorderly group of women. Most Americans simply regard "gaggle" as similar to "bunch", which is more flowery. I myself associated the word with geese, but that led down other blind alleys. I told Bill that being in London to observe the European scene he was in the catbird seat. The catbird makes a sound like a cat.Webster does not give "catbird seat". The turkey Les gave me gobbles (see gabble above). Apparently only male turkeys gobble. They have the gift of the gab, but what they say is gobbledegook. Female turkeys just gobble their food. Gobble originally meant the sound made while eating. This information is for the birds.

Ronald Hilton - 9/16/01


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