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Hoisted by someone else's pike
Monday, August 20, 2007   8:47 AM

As a reminder that most people interpret any interest in their word choice as either approval or criticism — and not, not harmless curiousity — here's an email incident I had to apologize for last week.

Apropos of an argument over whisky vs. whiskey:

Female coworker: Pike down! No harm, no foul here!

Male coworker: You just called me a PIKE!

Female coworker: I didn't call you PIKE, I requested that you pike down!!!! Don't make me have Dan look up and explain the meaning on this one too!!!!

Our Bold Hero: A common error per Google, but apparently not the original expression...

On sailing ships signals were given to the crew by sounding the boatswain's (bo'sun's) pipe. One such was 'piping down the hammocks' which was the signal to go below decks and retire for the night. When an officer wanted a sailor to be dismissed below he would have him 'piped down'. This usage is recorded in Royal Navy workbooks from the 18th century.

Female coworker: Ok - now Dan caught me... PIPE down dang it!!!!

Our Bold Hero (to male coworker): I pissed her off methinks, but this whole pipe/pike thing is fascinating. The technical term (which I was just reading about last week!) for her error is 'pineapple' -- it's a species of malapropism. Whoo! Words!

Male coworker (forwards my message to everyone): HA ha!

Female coworker: Be fascinated with somebody else's words!!! Peaceout!!!!

There goes my chance to ask if peaceout was an intentional runtogether...

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