Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Whether the wether be cold…

Bellwether. Been hearing that word a lot lately, in conjunction with the Connecticut primary between Joe Lieberman and Ned Lamont. And I’ve been thinking it’s a pretty cool word.

The way it’s used, it means an indicator of trends – that is, if voters select Lamont, it indicates tough times for pro-war candidates, and if they choose Lieberman, it means the anti-war folks aren’t as strong as some people think. But as interested as I am in the outcome of that race, it’s only pertinent here as an example. (Although I also have to note that I really only hear the term in connection with politics anymore, but that may just be because that’s where my interests are. It could be used in football reporting all the time, and I’d never know.)

Bellwether originated as a term for a bell shepherds would hang on their lead sheep – which would indicate to the shepherd were the flock was. But what I like about it is what it seems to come from. A bell, of course, is a signal, just like in the original. And weather is something that we’re accustomed to having forecast. We’re used to thinking about weather in the future. So despite the term’s etymology having nothing to do with the Doppler 2000 Weathercenter, it still makes sense to the modern ear. Cool, huh?


(The other term that catches my ear on the news lately is Israeli pullout, but that’s mostly because it sounds kinda porny.)

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