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Swing those hips

From an article about a fatal fall in a state park:

He tried to shimmy down to lower ledge and seemed to have lost his balance and fell, said Sgt. Ken Turner, spokesman for the Maryland Natural Resources police.

To shimmy is to shake. A car shimmies when the front wheels wobble. Or, if you would like something more vivid to lock meaning in memory, shimmying is what Blaze Starr used to do so memorably at the Two O’Clock Club on The Block in Baltimore. (Her movements so captured the imagination of the governor of Louisiana, Earl Long, Huey’s brother, that he embarked on an extended affair with her.) The word derives from chemise, which may or may not suggest an original context to you.

To shinny is to climb, specifically by gripping with hands and legs while climbing a rope or pole. It derives from shin — you know, the leg.

If you can distinguish between a gym class and a strip club, you can probably master the distinction between the two words.

Posted by John McIntyre at 12:06 PM | | Comments (1)


Shouldn't that be "... seems to have lost his balance and fallen" -- ?

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About John McIntyre
John McIntyre, mild-mannered editor for a great metropolitan newspaper, has fussed over writers’ work, to sporadic expressions of gratitude, for thirty years. He is The Sun’s night content production manager and former head of its copy desk. He also teaches editing at Loyola University Maryland. A former president of the American Copy Editors Society, a native of Kentucky, a graduate of Michigan State and Syracuse, and a moderate prescriptivist, he writes about language, journalism, and arbitrarily chosen topics. If you are inspired by a spirit of contradiction, comment on the posts or write to him at
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