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FatheR. A religious title, particularly for priests, especially Catholic ones. It's understood to be metaphorical, but if it weren't so commonplace it would be mildly amusing, given that Catholic priests are forbidden to marry. Can be confused with this other Fr.

FRagment. Any segment of ancient text that is part of a larger work, but available only as a quote or paraphrase appearing in someone else's work. Plural frr.

Flame Retardant. Look here for one company's introduction to their flame retardant polymer concentrates.

(Domain code for) FRance. Approximations of French are spoken throughout the country. This page lists national homepages for France.

Some French search engines:

Here's the French page of an X.500 directory. The France.com site is in English.

French sign language is explained in this old classics-list posting. (BTW, the word is préservatif.) Hmm, it seems I also incorporated the content of that posting into the I dunno entry.

Francium. Atomic number Z=87. Guess what country it was named for. The heaviest known alkali metal. No stable isotopes -- if it had been named Switzerlandia all its isotopes would have been stable. Read less speculative stuff at its entry in WebElements and its entry at Chemicool.

Discovered by Marguerite Perey working at the Curie Institute in 1939, which in other respects was a pretty bad year for France.


Edwin Newman includes the following footnote in the second chapter of his A Civil Tongue (I don't recommend the book):

De Gaulle, by the way, could speak English. When he visited the United States at the end of 1959, I went along, as NBC's Paris correspondent, to help in the coverage. There was a reception at the French Embassy, and as I approached de Gaulle I saw one of his associates nudge him and tell him I was there. He looked down at me and said, ``I am very happy to see you here.'' Whether he spoke in English because he was in Washington and thought it fitting or did not want to provoke me into speaking French, I never knew.

For another anecdote suggesting the limited English proficiency of an American, read the experiences of Walter Matthau a paragraph or two under the Pasteur eponym rubric.

French Revolution.

FRiar. Title designating a member of a religious order. This term tends to be used only for Christian religious orders, with monk used more generally. The abbreviation is ambiguous in a way the context is unusually unhelpful in resolving: another term abbreviated Fr. is also a religious title.

In the movie The Great Race (1965), Professor Fate (played by Jack Lemmon) turns out to have an uncanny resemblance to Prince Hapnik (played by Jack Lemmon). This leads to an extended episode in which the Professor impersonates the Prince. The perfesser's loyal sidekick Max (Peter Falk), innocently working at cross purposes to his boss, disguises himself in the robes of a friar (who will have a terrible headache when he recovers consciousness) and frees fellow racer Leslie Gallant III (Tony Curtis). A general brings the Professor the news.

Professor Fate: Leslie escaped?
General: With a small friar.
Professor Fate: Leslie escaped with a chicken?

Froude number. A parameter defined by the British naval architect William Froude and his son Robert Edward Froude. This is one of the important ``dimensionless groups'' of fluid mechanics. The Froude number in particular is relevant to flows in which free-surface effects are important.

The usual simple definition is

(Fr)2 = V2 / gL ,
where g is the acceleration of gravity, L is a characteristic length scale of the flow field, and V is a characteristic velocity.

(Fr)2 is a ratio of the scale of inertial forces to gravitational forces. (Sometimes the formula given here for (Fr)2 is itself taken as the definition of Fr.)

In open-channel flow, L is the channel depth y, and V is the average flow velocity. Since gy is the squared velocity of smooth shallow waves in a shallow channel, the Froude number is the ratio of the average flow velocity to the velocity of surface (gravity) waves.

FReshman. Those who are bothered by the presence of the morpheme ``man'' in this word, and those who are bothered by the presence of those who are bothered by the presence of the morpheme ``man'' in this word, have sought terms to replace it -- frosh, fresher, freshperson, first-year student, etc.

Financial Reporting & Analysis.

Fixed Radio Access.

FRAtello. Brother. Title for monk.

A word coined by C.L. Dodgson (``Lewis Carroll'') and introduced in Through the Looking-Glass (``O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!'') It caught on without ever seeming to gather an entirely clear meaning. The OSPD4 glosses it as splendid; all three major Scrabble dictionaries accept the adjective, but none accept frabjously. I mean, none accept the word frabjously. Err, what I'm trying to say is, the word spelled frabjously-- oh never mind.

In English, a noisy quarrel or uproar. The head term is a loan from French, although French fracas seems to be more about noise than conflict, and needn't be created by thinking or unthinking beings, as in English. Ultimately, it comes from the Italian fracassare, `to make an uproar' according to the OED2. See, however, fracaso.

Spanish: `failure.' I'd say fracaso is a little stronger than the English failure, connoting finality or disaster. Corominas y Pascual give the origin as the Italian verb fracassare, with senses of `smash to pieces,' `destroy,' `break noisily.' The Italian verb includes the pejorative prefix fra-; the base verb cassare, in the now-obsolete sense of `break,' was borrowed from the French casser, ultimately derived from the Latin quassare. I think it's fascinating that Italian should have restored the French -er verb back to its original Latin -are conjugation, but it seems to have happened with other -are verbs (which regularly became -er verbs in French). Another example I can think of is It. gettare, gittare < Fr. jeter, jetter, jecter < VL iectare < iactare (frequentative of iacere). You'd think it was simply a parallel development from the Vulgar Latin; sometimes it is judged so to be, but sometimes not. Presumably the loan (complete with vowel restoration) is conjectured on the basis of lack of evidence. (Time to say ``absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.'') This is one of those questions that linguists might be better equipped to address if they knew anything about mathematics.

Frame Relay Access Device[s]. Same as FRAU. Here's TAC's page advertising theirs

Frame Relay Assembler/Disassembler.

FRAGment. Philologists use this term for a fragmentary surviving portion of a larger text. This doesn't normally mean that it was found only written on a bit of scrap papyrus in the desert in Egypt. It usually means that it was quoted within the text of some other ancient author.

US military slang for murdering one's superior officer. The verb is derived from the weapon of choice at the time the usage arose (in the Vietnam war): fragmentation grenade (hard to trace). Possibly a majority of fraggings or fragging attempts resulted in injury and not death of the targeted officer, and it seems the word was sometimes used (as I just did with ``fraggings'') for the attack rather than the killing. You could read about this stuff anywhere, but how many reference sources will also remark that fragate, which means `frigate' in Spanish, would mean `frag yourself' if fragar were a Spanish verb meaning `to frag'?

More old news you can use, if you're imaginative enough: at the end of the movie ``Animal House,'' the subsequent history of the major characters is given (lettered in front of them as they are seen in the parade/riot episode). ROTC officer Doug Niedermeyer of Omega House is described as ``killed in Vietnam by his own troops.'' This movie, filmed in 1978, was the third directed by John Landis. In his segment of Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983), some soldiers are overheard discussing ``fragging Niedermeyer.''

Ferroelectric RAM. Essentially a DRAM with a polable (ferroelectric) dielectric in the capacitor, so it maintains its charge without the frequent rewriting that gives DRAM its name (`dynamic').

Fund for the Replacement of Animals in Medical Experiments. A UK charity. It's like bottle recycling programs: when you use up an experimental animal, you take it to them and they give you credit towards a new one. Hmmm, okay, maybe not.

Framemaker is the best text editor to use if you have absolutely no other option. An illustration of its ease of use can be found in a little file listing various unsatisfactory options for inserting aitch-bar. The great utility of the available tech support is also described completely in brief remarks.

If you must use Framemaker to write up your research, then switch to a research field in which there are no equations.

Originally an exemption or privilege granted by the sovereign to an individual or a restricted class of people. Unless you still believe in the divine right of kings, it now has the more general meaning of an exemption, privilege, or right granted or recognized by a sovereign government or any legal entity entitled to grant the right.

Over the course of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, ``giving women the franchise'' meant amending a government's constitution so women would have the right to vote.

A McDonald's franchise is the right to operate a business under the McDonald's trademark. Such a franchise is granted to individual entrepreneurs subject to a variety of contractual obligations. Read about it in this article in Startup Journal. (The article is from 1999 -- about the last time I ate there.) Becoming a McDonald's franchisee is a lot like joining the army, except that you have to put a half a million dollars up front, you have a good chance to get richer, and there's no shooting in most of the stores. Okay, two out of three. The US armed forces operate over a hundred different training schools. McDonald's operates Hamburger University (on the campus of company headquarters in Oak Brook, Ill., near Chicago). You can finish faster and it's ``tuition-free'' (after the $45,000 fee you pay at signing), but the selectivity in some years is tighter than Harvard University's.

Generally speaking (i.e., not just fast-food restaurants) a franchise may be granted on more or less exclusive terms (i.e., with a commitment that similar or nearby franchises will not be granted). An exclusive retail franchise is thus a kind of monopoly (not considered a restraint of trade if other companies can compete). This sense of the term is extended to include anyone who has some sort of monopoly. Thus, one might say that for a few years, Meg Ryan owned the romantic comedy franchise.

For a while, Kevin Costner was to baseball movies what Meg Ryan was to romantic comedies. He starred in Bull Durham (1988), Field of Dreams (1989), and For Love of the Game (1999). Yes, there were other baseball movies in that period. Yes, Costner also made some movies in that period that I'd rather not get into.

In Bull Durham, he plays Crash Davis, a veteran minor-league catcher. He's coaching ``Nuke'' (up-and-coming young pitching sensation Ebby Calvin LaLoosh) on the fine points of what to do when he makes it to the bigs (called ``the show'' in this show). On a bus trip...

Crash : It's time to work on your interviews.
Nuke: My interviews? What do I gotta do?
Crash: You're gonna have to learn your clichés. You're gonna have to study them, you're gonna have to know them. They're your friends. Write this down: ``We gotta play it one day at a time.''
Nuke: Got to play... it's pretty boring.
Crash: 'Course it's boring, that's the point. Write it down.

A later scene shows him after he has made it to the bigs, reciting the same clichés to a reporter, who is busily taking notes.

A number of religious orders. There are separate Franciscan orders for the Roman Catholic, Anglican (Episcopal), and other Protestant denominations. For official information, try the UN-affiliated NGO Franciscans International. There's also a Franciscan Web Page hosted by American University, but a move was impending in November 1999 to a new URL at Catholic University of America.

franglais, Franglais
Macaronic salad of French and English (from français and anglais). The word should be systematically capitalized in English but not in French. Franglais usually consists of French syntax and common words with borrowed English words (principally nouns), rather than the other way around. The other way around -- English syntax and common words with lots of borrowed French words -- is called English. Cf. Spanglish, Italiese. Consider also the faux ami.

Frankfurt is one of those foreign city names that has a translation (`Frankfort'), like Nürnberg (`Nuremberg' in English). At least, it used to. In the treasured (11th) edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica (1910-11), Frankfurt am Main (see aM entry) is `Frankfort-on-Main,' and Frankfurt an der Oder (see ) is `Frankfort-on-Oder.' More commonly, or recently, the pattern was `Frankfort on the Main,' (e.g., the 1960 RHD), but in current dictionaries and encyclopedias, Frankfurt is untranslated: `Frankfurt on the Main.'

For another example, see the entry HE for Hessen/Hesse.

Insect shit, basically, but see the third and fourth paragraphs for a more precise denotation. You probably wonder what utility this word could have in civic discourse (don't you?). Well, you remember all that controversy about ``yellow rain'' in southeast Asia, suspected of being a CIA plot and blamed for any kind of illness? Research eventually indicated that it was probably bee frass. Bees periodically go out together and have a communal poop. And you thought frat parties were disgusting. (Look, in the laminar-flow regime, which doubtless applies here, an isolated bee poopsicle settles at a velocity that varies as the inverse square of its radius. If they don't all poop together, there won't be any mass airflow to help along a process that is otherwise as slow as shit. They will either all shit together, or their shits will all hang separately.)

The word frass was borrowed from German in the mid-nineteenth century by English-speaking entomologists. (At the time, it was also written frasz, the sz indicating that an unvoiced ess sound is preceded by a metrically long vowel. Technically, a double ess shortens the vowel, and a single ess would imply voicing of the ess if inflection put a vowel after it. In modern orthography this is all taken care of by using the old Fraktur s-z ligature and regarding it as a single letter, so the word is written Fraß.) The German noun is related to a verb fressen. Fressen is the animal version of essen, `to eat.' It corresponds to one sense of the English verb feed. Where in English, we would say that a farmer feeds the cow and the cow feeds on grain, in German one would say equivalently that ein Bauer füttert die Kuh und die Kuh frisst Korn. (Fressen undergoes a stem change to become frisst in the third-person singular. The past-tense root is fraß.)

The OED's earliest cited English use of the word frass is from The Entomologist's Companion by H.T. Stainton (London: J. Van Voorst, 2/e 1854). (The second seems to be the only edition that any research library owns.) Stainton wrote:

The half-eaten leaves attest but too surely that some devourer is near. These indications of the presence of a larva are expressed in the German language by the single word frass, and we may, without impropriety, use the same word for the purpose of expressing the immediate effect of the larva's jaws, and the more indirect effect of the excrementitious matter ejected by the larva.

In English the word has (also, if the word is appropriate) come to be used in reference to the refuse left behind by boring insects, such as the sawdust generated by beetles burrowing into a tree. Boring insects are interesting! (Or your house.) Kill them! I'm inclined to take Stainton's word, but the acception of Fraß that he gives has escaped the notice of all general lexicographers of German from the Grimms on down, so far as I can tell.

The closest most dictionaries come directly to the English-speaking entomologists' sense is to define Fraß as the food eaten by predators. However, Fraß has also been used to describe slovenly eaters -- humans who eat like animals. From there it is not much of a stretch to have Fraß mean the mess that a messily-eating insect makes.

The Spanish word fresa (discussed at fruta) has nothing to do with fressen. I figured I'd mention that first and get it out of the way. The verb fressen is cognate with the English fret. The current common sense of the verb fret was originally expressed by phrases like ``fret oneself'' -- i.e., to eat oneself up with worry. Shakespeare uses the word both reflexively and intransitively (with the same sense, iiuc). He also uses the transitive verb in the sense of ``provide with frets'' (like a guitar), always figuratively (``...yon grey Lines, That fret the Clouds, are Messengers of Day'' -- Julius Caesar). He rather plays with the word, tangling its different meanings. The clearest instance of a pun is in this from Hamlet to Guildensterne:

Why looke you now, how vnworthy a thing you make of me: you would play vpon mee; you would seeme to know my stops: you would pluck out the heart of my Mysterie; you would sound mee from my lowest Note, to the top of my Compasse: and there is much Musicke, excellent Voice, in this little Organe, yet cannot you make it. Why do you thinke, that I am easier to bee plaid on, then a Pipe? Call me what Instrument you will, though you can fret me, you cannot play vpon me. God blesse you Sir.

A herald from the defeated enemy approaches King Henry V at the field of Agincourt and makes this speech:

No great King:
I come to thee for charitable License,
That we may wander ore this bloody field,
To booke our dead, and then to bury them,
To sort our Nobles from our common men.
For many of our Princes (woe the while)
Lye drown'd and soak'd in mercenary blood:
So do our vulgar drench their peasant limbes
In blood of Princes, and with wounded steeds
Fret fet-locke deepe in gore, and with wilde rage
Yerke out their armed heeles at their dead masters,
Killing them twice. O giue vs leaue great King,
To view the field in safety, and dispose
Of their dead bodies.

Here fret seems to function as a past participle meaning ``bound, tied.'' That sense, already archaic in the bard's time, is appropriately close to the Old French freter, and properly means to bind with a hoop or ring. It is the origin of the guitar-fret sense.

Ian Fleming's You Only Live Twice contains an explanation of its title: ``Once when you are born and once when you look death in the face.'' (What if you go into a coma?) Yet the title can't help but remind one (and suffer by the comparison) of some -- let's call them immortal -- words from ``Julius Caesar'':

Cowards die many times before their deaths;
The valiant never taste of death but once.

I only wonder if Fleming also had in mind the dead knights killed twice. Anyway, let's get back to fretting.

King Lear, in Act I, Sc. 4, unforgettably, curses his evil daughter Gonerill:

Heare Nature, heare deere Goddesse, heare:
Suspend thy purpose, if thou did'st intend
To make this Creature fruitfull:
Into her Wombe conuey stirrility,
Drie vp in her the Organs of increase,
And from her derogate body, neuer spring
A Babe to honor her. If she must teeme,
Create her childe of Spleene, that it may liue
And be a thwart disnatur'd torment to her.
Let it stampe wrinkles in her brow of youth,
With cadent Teares fret Channels in her cheekes,
Turne all her Mothers paines, and benefits
To laughter, and contempt: That she may feele,
How sharper then a Serpents tooth it is,
To haue a thanklesse-Childe. Away, away.

Here fret can have the sense of ``abrade.'' This is close to the (originally Germanic) eating sense, but is considered distinct and probably is ultimately from the Latin fricare, `rub.' And I haven't even mentioned the ``carve'' extension of the ``abrade'' meaning, to say nothing of the lace-and-ornamentation-related meanings! The truth is, this one set of letters has enough meanings and spells enough etymologically distinct words that just to write ``fret'' is to pun. See its entry too. (Amazingly, fricare is not supposed to be the source of the English word frig.)

Frame Relay Access Unit[s]. Same as FRAD.

German, `woman,' `wife,' and `Mrs.' Similar in usage to Spanish señora.

Federal Reserve Bank. Usually called ``the Fed,'' a semiautonomous organization of twelve regional Federal Reserve Banks headed by a Board of Governors. This link is to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York's homepage. They have a page that lists the other 12.

Family Research Council. ``Defending Family, Faith, and Freedom.''

Financial Reporting Council.

Family Resource Center on Disabilities.

Federal (US) Rules of CRiminal Procedure.

Functional Requirements Description. [Federalese.]

Former Regime Element. A member of the previous regime.

Frequency (of radiocommunication signal). Signal corps and general military jargon.

freak failure
An early device failure by the mechanism that normally leads to mature failures. Distinguished from the majority of early failures, which are typically due to some other mechanism.

freak flag
Long hair on a male. In the exceptional case that you are female, your hair could be as long Jefferson's, Einstein's, or even Newton's, and it wouldn't qualify you as a freak. Long beard, that's another story.

Almost -- cut my hair! It happened just the other day.

Don't be givin' in an inch; let your freak flag fly. Odds are fifty-fifty you have your grandfather's X chromosome anyway, in which case you'll go bald iff he did.

  1. adj.: A euphemism. ``Freaking'' is not an equivalent.
  2. pres. part. vb.: Freaking out. Experiencing apoplexy; suffering a seizure; having a conniption; throwing a fit.

    While many are aware that Newton's particulate theory of light included a concept of ``fits'' to explain interference phenomena, the sense of the word ``fit'' in his explanation is probably misunderstood more often than not. He did not mean that some path length of traveling light ``fit'' a particular length, as we understand wavelength fits within interference structures. Rather, he meant that at certain distances, the particle of light would experience an abrupt event, like a fit. A later generation of physicists, attempting to explain another phenomenon associated with wave interference, coined the term ``quantum jump.''

Short for Alfred and Frederick.

Fast-REcovery Diode. Reverse recovery on the order of 100 nsec, with a well-defined recovery charge. Forward recovery is the hard part; more typical recovery time 1 µs, recovery charge increases with peak current.

``Soft recovery'' may be specified, in which case low-voltage characteristics are recovered to within a tolerance called the ``soft factor'' (0.8 is typical).

Redundantly, this is typically called a ``FRED Diode.''

Figure-Reading Electronic Device.

The Foundation for Rural Education and Development. ``FRED's mission is to promote activities that improve rural educational, social, and economic conditions.'' Affiliated with OPASTCO.

Fragmentation and Reassembly Engine with DMA.

FRame EDitor.

The FREDericksburg Regional Transit bus system. I'm awed by the bold originality of this radical acronym. It serves Fredericksburg, Virginia. It's partly supported by UMW, so UMW students get to ride free with a college ID.

FRont-End to Disk.

One spelling of a nickname for Alfred. I imagine it's the nickname of some Alfredas, Elfreds (a variant of Alfred that makes the original meaning clearer), Manfreds, Olfreds, Ulfreds, Wilfreds, Winfreds, Winifreds, and Wolfreds too, but I don't know any.

Short for Freddie Mac, which is the next entry.

Freddie Mac
Colloquial name for FHLMC (Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation).

You wannna see Freddie, Mac.

Federal Resources for Educational Excellence.

free at last
Martin Luther King, Jr., gave his most famous speech, the ``I have a dream'' speech, on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on August 28, 1963, before a crowd estimated at 200,000. That day was a Thursday, but the speech was part of ``The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom,'' so maybe the audience didn't have anywhere else to be.

But that wasn't my point. King ended his speech with these words:

And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, ``Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!''

In the spiritual, the freedom the singer refers to is the freedom of the grave. Most of the versions of the spiritual that are available on the web differ from the version quoted by Dr. King. If you want to track down different versions, include the string ``King Jesus'' so your search isn't swamped with texts of King's speech. But that wasn't my point either.

Ernest (``Fritz'') Hollings (D-SC) was 70 years old when he won election in 1992 to his sixth term in the US Senate. He evidently didn't expect to run again, and at the victory celebration on election night he exclaimed.

I don't have to get elected to a bloomin' thing. And I don't have to do things that are politically correct. The hell with everybody. I'm free at last.

Fritz Hollings was a colorful character, but these remarks were somewhat at variance with the pieties he normally expressed during campaigns. I recall that there was a particularly saccharine bit in an interview he gave during his unsuccessful campaign to be the Democratic presidential candidate in 1984; he explained that he first got the idea of going into politics when he saw the good that government could do. (I can't find that interview now. You'll just have to take my word.) But I don't mean to disparage Hollings any more than King. The former also did his part for civil rights; his leadership as governor of South Carolina between 1958 and 1963 insured the peaceful integration of that state's schools.

Hollings decided to run again in 1998, and footage of him speaking the words quoted above was aired by his opponent's campaign. He won again and served out his seventh term. But that wasn't my point. Come to think of it, I didn't have any particular point; I just felt like bringing together a couple of striking instances of the head term.

freedom fries
A name for French fries that was used in the US mostly in 2003-4, in reaction to French opposition to US actions in Iraq. Changing the name of French fries is an extreme form of ``soft power'' that I like to think of as mushy power force projection. If you want to understand how mushy power works, or not, read the Medef entry. To be sure the fries are mushy, ``deep fry'' at low temperature. (On the other hand, if you want fries that have excellent mouthfeel but taste exactly like paper, try Wendy's. I tried them once, and I suffered no paper cuts!)

freedom toast
A name for French toast ...mmm, mmm, follow link for rich, delicious irony... that was used in the US mostly in 2003-4, in reaction to French opposition to US actions in Iraq. The term gained less currency than freedom fries, or perhaps I just don't get up early enough.

free email
It normally is. Oh, you want a free emailbox? Why are you looking here? You want the ``email, free'' entry.

free gift
One unit of promotional junk.

free guide
Advertisement for our services.

FREE Inside!
An Exciting Excerpt From

Evidently selected by the Coca Cola book expert for the joint-marketed pleasure of the kind of people who drink Diet Coke. They guess things about my reading preferences that I never suspected. I also find that they increase the structural integrity of the packaging-cost-optimized 24-packs. When you slip your hand in the carry slot, try to pull the excerpt toward your palm and use it to distribute the force you exert on the inside of the box.

Free Market
I'm all for that. The ones I go to all charge.

freeper, Freeper, FReeper
Pejorative term for a US political conservative, and nonpejorative term for member participants in the website <FreeRepublic.com>. One could aargue that it's never a pejorative term, only that it is used extremely disrespectfully by some, but the rarer adjective forms freeperish (with -ly adverb) and freeperesque (all with capitalization variants) are probably exclusively pejorative.

FWIW, the domain for the Detroit Free Press (Detroit's leading fishwrap) is <freep.com>.

Free Seminar!
Long Advertising Pitch!

Free Upgrade!

free upgrade! open now!!

Software that is free to use, but not in the public domain. (In particular, this means that it cannot be freely included as part of another package and the code cannot be reused in modified form.) Loosely, ``freeware'' is used to mean any free software, including that in the public domain.

Free Week of Calls
25% discount on the first month's bill.

Not what you expected, huh? Beginning to regret that two-hour call to your cousin in Rangoon, now, eh?

Back when Mr. Coulter, my high school electronics teacher, was in the Signal Corps in 'Nam (.vn), arranging connections to call oneself around the world was entertainment.

Friedrich Ludwig Gotlob Frege (1848-1925). During his lifetime, Frege was even less known than he is now, but someone nevertheless betook to have a photograph taken (right). The intellectual father of Bertrand Russell, he got the ball rolling on mathematical logic and the philosophy of language. (Just because the preceding statement is vague does not make it untrue, even if that possibility is fraught with logical difficulties.)

According to Warren Knox,
I have learned
To spell hors d'oeuvres
Which still grates on
Some people's n'oeuvres.

If you aspire to this, or to an even higher level of French language competence, then you may find useful the English French Bridge (not to be confused with the Chunnel) as well as the ARTFL French-English Dictionary Form.

It's neither true nor very well known, but you read it here first: 97.22 per cent of the world's literate population is fluent in French, but virtually no one uses the language for fear of having his or her accent ridiculed by a native speaker. For more on shame-related language behavior, see the Polish, Belgium (.be), Broken English, and Denmark (.dk) entries. Heck, read the whole glossary (this could take a while).

This website offers to conjugate your French verb. Trust the French to come up with something kinky like that. Incidentally, some of the best French dictionaries are available free on line (TLFi, Littré).

French dog food
Back in 1968 or 1969, there was an odd news report out of France that went roughly like this: a housewife found her dog lying dead on the ground outside the house. The dog had seemed perfectly healthy, so the woman suspected food poisoning. She frantically called her husband at work, but it was too late: he had already eaten the lunch she had made him, using the same meat the dog had eaten. He went immediately to the hospital, where he had his stomach pumped and survived.

I wasn't reading newspapers much in 1969 -- I only learned about this because Robert brought the news item in for show-and-tell or some similar class assignment during the 68-69 school year. Anyway, either it was clear that the woman had used dog food as a spread for her husband's sandwich, or we all or at least I just assumed that. It's been a few decades, and Rob says he's hazy on the details, but he'll let me know if he remembers anything. The fact that the wife hadn't eaten any of the meat herself might stand as evidence for the dog-specific food hypothesis, it seems to me. Eventually, a neighbor's kid admitted to killing the dog by dropping an iron on its head from a window.

I was originally reminded of this story when I ran across a web page of somebody's (Jay Cross's, I think) trip to Nice, France. At the bottom of the page there is this:

Since it's illegal to import food into the U.S., I can't imagine how this happened, but somehow my dogs tried French dog food for the first time last night and absolutely loved it! Latte, who has some doggie eating disorder, gobbled down his rabbit and ran over to lick Smokey's bowl. This morning, they both dug into their agneau vigorously.

Well, he did mention earlier that he'd bought 87 euros' worth of ``truffles, mustard, honey, and special salt.'' The hardest work in looking for truffles is keeping the animal (one uses a pig or a dog to sniff them out) from devouring the truffles as soon as they're dug up. That, in turn, reminds me of the beginning of Gulag Archipelago. The relevant facts are mentioned at the bima entry.

French letter
A British euphemism for condom. Use of the term is now about as common as the occasions for referring to condoms by a euphemism, but you should try to remember this (it's easier than trying to forget it) because it's useful for puns.

Similarly, the French once used the term lettre anglais. It might have helped me to have remembered that during the adventure I am surprised to realize I have not foisted on this glossary yet. Anyway, the relevant point was that after biking 25 kilometers uphill in the rain to Condom just so I could say that I had bought some there, I whipped my moisture-engorged French-English pocket dictionary out of my pocket and discovered that the critical vocable wasn't there. You cannot imagine my chagrin. It's a bit gauche to use sign language for this particular item, and in Condom even an English-speaker might have had some difficulty ``getting it'' if I had said I wanted to buy a condom.

A tight, impermeable barrier of protective amnesia has enveloped the main thrust of that experiment in social intercourse, but I do remember that I got what I was after. In case you ever find yourself in a similarly sticky situation, the word is préservatif. It's Präservativ or Kondom in German. That's what the farmer thought I was. German, that is. I met the farmer when I encountered a meadow full of curious cows where my map said a road should be. I was lost. All reference works failed me that day. After we got the nationality issues squared away, I finally got to use sign language. For example, here is how the farmer communicated ``You are very far from Chateau de Bonas'':

  1. Repeat ``Chateau de Bonas.''
  2. Widen eyes.
  3. Slap forehead once.

French letter
Ç. Actually, it was invented for Spanish. In Spanish, as in most Romance languages, a letter c preceding a vowel e or i was pronounced ``soft'' or ``sweet.'' The precise sound depended on where in the evolution (usually via Vulgar Latin) the sound was arrested. The usual sequence was k --> ts --> ch --> s, where the sounds are spelled in English. Thus, the title Caesar was adopted directly from Classical Latin into German, yielding Kaiser. (In fact, Caesar is generally held to be the earliest Latin word adopted by Germanic-speakers. See also tsar.) Russian and other Slavic languages borrowed this word from a Germanic language,has a slightly later version transliterated Tsar (previously also Czar) in English. In Aragonese, or Old Castilian, the ç represented this ts sound. Italian (with Cesare) stopped at a ch sound. (Somewhat confusingly for Anglophones, perhaps, the ``hard'' c sound is recovered by inserting the silent letter h, as in the loan chiaroscuro and the brand Chianti.) In French (César) the consonant has evolved as far as an s sound.

(English borrowed forms of Caesar at least three times. The current form, which has sometimes been written Cesar, apparently takes its pronunciation from French and its spelling from Latin.)

As languages in Iberia evolved, somewhat in parallel, the sound associated with ç evolved as well. By the seventeenth century, the old system of three voiced and three unvoiced sibilants had collapsed. There remained only three unvoiced sibilants, and more than enough letters to represent them. In Spanish as in French and Italian, c is no longer marked when it is soft before an e or i. Instead, c is simply regarded as having a different sound when followed by either of those vowels, and marked only when the sound is exceptional. Like Italian, Spanish has a trick to force a hard sound (a qu spelling is used). The role of the ç comes in the complementary case, when the c is soft. In Italian, one simply inserts an i after the c, and in Spanish one replaces the c with a z. (In Aragonese, the letter z had represented the voiced sound dz corresponding to the unvoiced ts represented by ç.) In French, one uses a ç for a soft c not followed by e or i, as in aperçu, façade, français, François, garçon, leçon, and Provençal.

(In New Castilian, the principal modern dialect of Spain, the pronunciations of ce, ci, and z evolved further in a less usual way: the s sound became an unvoiced th sound. The reason is not certain, but it is presumed to have something to do with Basque, which had no voiced sibilants. Basques made up perhaps as much as a third of the Christian forces in the Reconquista.)

French opera
Most of our rather limited content on this subject can be found at the Bizet entry.

French phrase resource
Just the key French phrases you need, and not that stupid how-are-you crap. Plus, an easy-to-understand spelling based on phoneticons that show how your face looks when you speak French vowels correctly.

  1. American English: the french fries
    French: les frites
    L :-|}
    FR 8-[) T
  2. American English: the freedom fries
    French: les frites de la liberté
    L :-|}
    FR 8-[) T
    D :-||
    L :( )
    L 8-[) B 8-(| RT :-))
  3. American English: french toast
    French: pain perdu
    P :=(|
    P :-(| RD 8-o
  4. American English: cheese-eating surrender monkeys
    French: primates capitulards et toujours en quête de fromages
    PR 8-[) M :( ) T
    K :( ) P 8-[) T 8-o L :( ) R
    T :-o Zh :-o R
    K :-|} T
    D :-||
    FR :-[( M :( ) Zh

French toast
Bread slices soaked in a batter of egg and milk, then lightly fried or grilled. In the US, this was apparently called German toast until WWI. The name was changed then for patriotic reasons. Similarly, several wars later, there was a movement (or perhaps more of a feint or head fake) to change it again, to freedom toast. (It's not anticipated that we will be going to war against Freedom, so this might have been a more durable name, but it didn't last.) This kind of move away from national designation also has a WWI precedent: sauerkraut was rechristened ``liberty cabbage.''

In 2006, during the doubtless not-entirely-orchestrated international furor over satirical Mohammed cartoons published in a Danish newspaper, Tehran bakers got also got into the, uh, rechristening act. It turns out that they had also traditionally used a term that translates literally as ``Danish pastry.'' Sweet, flaky danishes were, in fact, a large part of their stock, baked fresh daily. By mid-February, these were being sold as ``roses of the prophet Mohammed.'' The name change was ordered by the confectioners' union on February 16, 2006. (You remember the legend of the origin of the croissant, right? Good.)

The Fannie Farmer Cookbook was apparently behindhand: the 1918 edition did not list French toast, but did have a recipe for German toast. Note that the recipe called for stale bread. One of the Wonders of modern baking, so-called, is that bread comes mushy and ready-to-German-or-French-toast straight from the store. It's the greatest thing since, actually since before, sliced bread. (Yuck.)

The 11th edition of the book (don't ask me ``which book?''), published in 1965, gave a recipe for French toast and not German toast. I haven't checked when the name change took place.

In the US, French toast is mostly a breakfast food. In pre-WWII Germany (Breslau, to be precise) my mother knew this as a lunch food. Cooked slices were served in a stack (like pancakes), with layers of marmalade between the slices. It was called arme Ritter, `poor knight.' The implication was probably that this was the best sort of food an indigent knight could afford. Farmer's specification of stale bread begins to make more sense. It seems like a few delicacies arose from ingenious efforts to make the best of a lean larder. Pizza was originally a stereotypical poor-people's food in southern Italy, so-I-understand. I wonder if the New Orleans version of the submarine or hero or hoagie sandwich, the ``Po' Boy,'' was not originally thought of as a way to use bread to extend a small amount of filling.

My grandmother had a comfortable childhood, and money didn't really become tight until after WWI, and particularly after the Nuremburg laws took away the men's livelihoods, so I always wondered a little where she learned the following trick. When butter starts to go rancid, you can beat it with water. Whip it long and well enough, and the chemicals that are the source of the foul odor apparently dissolve into the water. (Not surprising, since butter is nonpolar, and smelly butyric compounds should prefer the polar solvent of water.) You pour out the water, and the rest of the butter is fit for hungry human consumption.

Let me make some points for the benefit of the punctilious: No, it's not really my idea of ``toast'' either, but the word ``fries'' was evidently taken. ``Toast'' here, as usually, is uncountable. So you might prepare just one slice of French toast, although that would leave a lot of egg batter left over. But that doesn't invalidate the plural ``bread slices soaked...'' in my definition.

(Whatever the origin, at least the French do know this dish. They call it pain perdu.)

In the Francophone town of Madawaska, Maine, just across the St. John River from Quebec, the dish is known as Canadian toast.

God have mercy on the Native American with that name, and all downwind, but it was the code name for the US evacuation of Viet Nam. This information is culled from a Joan Didion novel (Democracy), but in matters of military nomenclature, reality is more fantastical than fiction, so this probably wasn't made up.

Federal Radiological Emergency Response Plan. US governmentese.

Cool (not warm) or fresh (not stale), in Spanish. (Masculine form fresco.)

I guess if you keep it cool it's more likely to stay fresh, but it's occasionally handy to have distinct words. Conversely, in English ``hot'' means both caliente and picante.

British noun meaning frosh.

freshman orientation
Here's Michael Moffatt, in Coming of Age in New Jersey (1989), p. 4:
Orientation is the well-scripted routine by which anyone who has gone away to college since about 1925 has probably first experienced American higher education. Historically, it replaced the older, hairier student-to-student initiations of the late nineteenth century: hazing and some of the other colorful customs of the old undergraduate college life.[6] Modern orientation can be seen as a firmly entrenched college custom as well, however--in this case, as a dean's ritual. It is the

The footnote ([6] above) puts a twist on this:

In fact, I discovered during subsequent historical research, the deans' orientation and a cleaned-up version of undergraduate hazing coexisted at Rutgers and at other American colleges for half a century. Hazing suited the deans' purposes admirably: it stitched the students together; it taught them conformity to conservative student ``traditions.'' Only after the undergraduates laughed such practicies out of currency in the late 1960's did the deans discover that hazing was illegal and beneath the dignity of college youths.

freshman reading program, freshman text
Some universities (Univ. of Pennsylvania, the University of Maryland at College Park (?)) apparently have a reading program for freshmen. What this extensive educational initiative does is simply to burden incoming freshmen with the pointless and time-consuming chore of reading a whole book over the summer even before they arrive at school for their freshman year. Seminars early in the first semester are held to discuss the book, often a heavy one.

All I want to say here is that the frets on guitar necks used to be made of gut, so you can imagine they had to be adjusted and replaced from time to time, just like the strings. In that day, it made sense to have the verb ``to fret'' describe the action of applying frets. Now they're sturdier and permanent, and ``to fret,'' in appropriate context, means to press a string or strings against a fret or frets using your left hand, unless you are Jimi Hendrix. And if you are Jimi Hendrix, then I'm very sorry, because you died before you were 28.

I figured I ought to put that business about fretting a guitar in an entry where you (assuming that you are not Jimi) would have a decent chance of finding it, since a lot of dictionaries don't seem to have noticed the newer verb sense. Most of our information about fret is a few paragraphs into the frass entry.

Frame Relay Forum - Local Management Interface.

Falcon Ridge FF. No, I don't know what the FF is for yet. From the context, it could be Folk (music) Festival and it couldn't be French Fries. Okay, I checked. It's ``Folk Festival.'' I probably orta clean up this'ere ol' gloss'ry entree.

French Fries could come in handy for the contra dancers. They're addicts. They only come off the floor for urgent hygiene and carbo-loading.

Federal Republic of Germany. Translates Bundesrepublik Deutschland (BRD). The term was more useful during the half century following WWII when two Germanies coexisted. The BRD/FRG (West Germany, formed from the American, British and French zones of occupation) absorbed the communist ``Democratic Republic of Germany'' (GDR) in the general political collapse of the Warsaw Pact.

FRaGment. Any segment of ancient text that is part of a larger work, but available only as a quote or paraphrase appearing in someone else's work.

Facility for Rare Isotope Beams. (The official name has no hyphen, but it's not a facility for rare beams, exactly. It's a facility that generates beams of short-lived (and thus rare) isotopes. It's a national user facility for nuclear science, funded by the Department of Energy Office of Science (DOE-SC), Michigan State University (MSU), and the State of Michigan. A list like that is like a flat ingredients list. Here's something a little more quantitative. In early August 2013, the DOE signed off on cost and timeline for FRIB: $730 million total project cost, of which the federal government will provide $635.5 million, with projected completion in 2022.

FRIB began construction in 2013 on the campus of MSU (in East Lansing). Construction and eventual operation are MSU's responsibility. This entry is also began construction in 2013. When I get around to it, if ever, the scaffolding that is this sentence and its neighbors will be removed, and the present tense used in some earlier sentences will be on target. It may be awhile: MSU had expected the DOE to request $55 million for FRIB in 2013, but the administration's proposed budget only included $22 million for it.

The acronym was pronounced ``EFF-rib'' by the speaker (from NSCL -- a sister facility at MSU) at a physics colloquium I attended in October 2013,, so I guess that's standard.

La Fundación para las Relaciones Internacionales y el Diálogo Exterior. ``Un think tank europeo para la acción global.'' It's based in Madrid.

The name of a town in Colorado and a town in Texas. It's also the nickname of a very small town in California.

In 2006, Frisco, Texas, a northern suburb of Dallas, made news by terminating an elementary-school art teacher for an event that occurred when she took a class of fifth-graders on a trip to the Dallas Museum of Art. The trip had been approved by the principal, and the 89 students were accompanied by 5 teachers, at least 12 parents, and a museum docent, but the hammer fell on Ms. Sydney McGee, an art teacher with 28 years of teaching experience who planned the event.

The museum tour took place in April of that year. Students saw nude art (nude statues and other nude art representations!) and a parent complained. McGee's contract was not renewed for the next year, and her request for a transfer was refused. Frisco ISD and McGee reached a settlement that October. There was no nondisclosure clause, but the parties agreed not to ``disparage'' each other, and the matter disappeared from the news.


Incidentally, in addition to the well-known French and English word that is the head term of this entry, French has and English also had from it the word frison, meaning `Frisian.' Spanish has this as frisón, which sounds pretty much like the French etymon, except that the final n in Spanish is pronounced as a consonant /n/ rather than as a nasalization of the final vowel.

Federación Rural de Jóvenes. A Uruguayan organization with ultimate goals like a 4-H and operations like a junior UN.

Fixed-Rate Mortgage. A retronym for the kind of mortgage that was the overwhelming standard for private home purchases until the introduction of the ARM.

FRoM. Lists from and subject for emails in a user's system spool or in a folder. Part of the Elm distribution, so it may disappear if your local sysadmins decide to drop Elm. Ditto nfrm. Mail folders have a pretty simple and reliable structure, so you might find it more efficient to write your own equivalent script than to download the Elm package and install it or install it selectively. Partly equivalent functionality is available from from.

Floating-Rate Note.

Frame-Relay Network Manager.

Fast RHIC Oscillation Grabber. RHIC is the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider.

Frequency-Resolved Optical Gating. A characterization technique that yields laser pulse phase information. Here's a FROG tutorial.

See, for example, R. Trebino, K. W. DeLong, D. N. Fittinghoff, J. N. Sweetser, M. A. Krumbügel, B. A. Richman, and D. J. Kane, ``Measuring ultrashort laser pulses in the time-frequency domain using frequency-resolved optical gating,'' Rev. Sci. Instr., vol. 68, pp. 3277-3295, 1997.

FROM. Lists from and date for new emails in a user's system mail spool. Part of the standard BSD distributions. Cf. frm.

from whence
A phrase that normally communicates the meaning `whence' as well as the information that the user does not known that whence means `from where.' The word whence is obsolete in English, but the corresponding word woher in German is current. German-speakers learning English are not normally taught the word.

Term equivalent in meaning to freshperson, but generally less offensive to those who have a tender lingistic sensibility. Term equivalent to freshman, but generally less offensive to those who have a tender sexual-political sensibility. Equivalent to British fresher, but more common in North America.

A first-year student in a four-year educational institution.

First Regional Observing Study of the Troposphere.

Froude number
See definition and explanation at Fr entry.

Fantasy Role-Playing (games). Same as RPG. Same as Dungeons and Dragons (D&D).

Federal Response Plan. US governmentese.

Food Refrigeration and Process Engineering Research Centre.

Frame Relay Permanent Virtual Connection (PVC).

Flush Rush Quarterly. A publication devoted to chronicling Mr. Limbaugh's expostulations. Perhaps the title gives an idea of its general opinion of these.

FRagments. Plural of fr.

Federal Reserve System. Quasiautonomous national banking authority that administers US monetary policy. Answers to no one, but the Fed chairman periodically visits the Hill to amuse congresspersons with his Delphic pronouncements, even less candid than a Supreme Court justice nominee fudging his or her position on Roe v. Wade.

Fellow of the Royal Society. This is a greater distinction than Order of Bath, and you can assume the dignity fully clothed. There's also an ``Order of the Garter'' [vide Johnson]; ever since the days of King Arthur and Monty Python, it seems the English have had some unusual ideas about dressing and cross-dressing. King Henry VIII was intensely vain about his calves (the ones below his knees) and wore clothes to reveal them to greatest advantage. Charles and Diana continued an ancient tradition faithfully.

This reminds me that Greg, down the hall, was explaining the other day how he was forced to use Windoze 95 for his experimental work, since otherwise he'd have to write a lot of his drivers and other code from scratch. A good, honest Unix man, Greg said that using Win95 is like dancing with a transvestite. [Gloss/translation for idiots: ``It's not the real thing, and it doesn't give the same pleasure, even though it bears a superficial resemblance.''] I found this remark particularly amusing because I had just returned from a friend's orthodox Jewish wedding. I didn't notice any transvestites there, but I did dance with men. (I know, I know, my distaff readership is thinking ``I dance with men all the time.'' It was a first for me, okay?) If you want to learn more about kinky orthodox Jewish weddings, rent Bird at your local video place; it was directed by Clint Eastwood, the film director. You've probably heard of Clint Eastwood the actor. It's actually the same person.

The ``Royal Society'' is short for a long version of the name that is never used anymore: ``The Royal Society of London for the Improvement of Natural Knowledge.''

Frame Relay Service.

Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry.

Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.

Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra. Set up in 1927 by YLE, which was set up in 1926. What, no Texaco Star Theater?

Frame Relay Switching System.

Frame Relay Service-Specific Convergence Sub-layer.

Field-Replaceable Unit. A system component that can be replaced ``in the field'' -- i.e., without anything back to the shop. Some FRU's are CRU's, while others require trained service personnel.

A Yiddish adjective meaning `strictly observant of Jewish law.' Cognate with Modern German fromm, `pious.' Fromme, Frum, and related forms are moderately common surnames, but to find a corresponding common surname in English that expresses a similar idea, one must resort to the more ambiguous, possibly merely locative, Church (or the Scottish equivalent Kirk), Sexton, etc.

The fairy tale of Cinderella (Aschenputtel) begins as her mother, sick and sensing that the end is near, calls Cinderella to her bedside and says ``Liebes Kind, bleib fromm und gut, so wird dir der liebe Gott immer beistehen, und ich will vom Himmel auf dich herabblicken und will um dich sein.'' [`Dear child, remain pious and good, and the dear Lord will always stand beside you, and from heaven I will watch over you and be with you.']

Frugal, Responsible, Unpretentious, Mature Person. Doesn't say anything there about fashion sense, does it? A backronym if there ever was one. There is, or was, a ``National Frumps of America'' run by a woman in Florida. Perhaps she perpetrated this.

A plain (i.e., not attractive) girl or woman. It is conjectured that the word is derived from the Middle Dutch verb verrompelen. (Dutch rompelen is cognate with Engish rumpled.)

There are other definitions. One, ``a primly sedate person,'' seems to be the target of the backronym above. The range of dictionary definitions, and the fact that none of them really corresponds to my own experience of how the word is used, suggests that the meaning has been evolving.

In my experience since, say, 1970, frumpy is something akin to slovenly, and the rarer word frump simply designates someone, usually female, who is frumpy. To be more precise, to appear frumpy is to be cheaply dressed in unflattering clothes, which may dowdy but need not be. Frumpiness does not necessarily imply unfashionableness. I imagine a chubby girl in multiple layers of thin pastel-colored polyester. Some of the layers may be slightly torn. Where's the shopping cart? The lexicographic consensus suggests that my sense of the word is unusual (used only in the region where I have been living -- New York, Arizona, and various points between) or else new. It seems to me, however, that this new or nonstandard meaning conforms more closely to the putative original Dutch sense than most of the other meanings it is claimed to have had in English.

frustrated actor
It is a stale witticism that a director is a frustrated actor. And speaking of thespians, ``Every writer is a frustrated actor who recites his lines in the hidden auditorium of his skull'' is attributed to Rod Serling, speaking of writers. Also common is the claim that every teacher is a frustrated actor. The version I used to hear was that every professor is.

I did know a retired math professor who acted in what I think were off-off-Broadway-and-never-going-there-either stage productions. Also, when I was a professor at UB, I attended a political indoctrination camp (falsely advertised as a short course in pedagogical technique) where one of the celebrated instructors was a former actor who taught in the Biology department. But I didn't regard him as a turncoat for knowingly participating in that travesty, because I didn't think it probable that he was ever really a scholar.

Those two were cases of men who both acted and taught. Until today, however, I had never encountered an admission by an academic that he had wanted to be an actor but wound up teaching instead. So it may be rare, so I'm writing an entry for it. I found it in Sick From Freedom (OUP, 2012), by Jim Downs. His acknowledgments begin thus:

This book has a long history that can be traced to the University of Pennsylvania and the fateful semester when I opted to abandon my childhood dream of becoming an actor and instead decided to become an academic.

Incidentally, the book's subtitle is ``African-American Illness and Suffering during the Civil War and Reconstruction.'' As the author explains (p. 4), the

...high rates of illness and mortality during the Civil War resulted from various factors, including the unsanitary conditions of army camps, polluted waterways, unburied bodies of animals and soldiers, overcrowding, dislocation, and the medical profession's uncertainty about how to respond to the massive epidemics that plagued the South.... Disease and sickness had a more devastating and fatal effects [sic] on emancipated slaves than on soldiers, since ex-slaves often lacked the basic necessities to survive. Emancipation liberated bondspeople from slavery, but they often lacked clean clothing, adequate shelter, proper food, and access to medicine in their escape toward Union lines. Many freed slaves died once they secured refuge behind Union camps. Even after the war ended, they continually struggled to survive in a region torn apart by disease and destruction.

Friedmann-Robertson-Walker. Refers to the class of metrics and cosmologies derived from the application of homogeneity and isotropy assumptions to the Einstein Field Equations.

fruit bat
Adorns the cover of the O'Reilly sendmail book. Edie Freedman, who designs all the covers in O'Reilly's software zoo, insists that ``There's absolutely always a reason'' for the animal chosen, according to a Jason Fry article in the Wall Street Journal (p. B1, Monday, July 28, 1997).

Fruit bats tend to be pretty weak echolocators and to have very good eyes; they're diurnal, not nocturnal like most bats. Echolocation is probably not the smartest way to hunt for fruit anyway.

In February 1994, scientists reporting from Malaysia in the journal Nature wrote that they had found a mammal species, the Dayak fruit bat, in which the males lactate. According to Dr. Charles Francis, ``[The bats] looked like perfectly good males with large testes, but from the other end I could see they also had well-developed breasts.'' The only other male mammals to lactate have been a few specially-bred goats and sheep, which produced milk in extremely small quantities. [New York Times, 2-24-94.]

Although men do not lactate, they are susceptible to breast cancer (the rates are much lower than for women).

The Talmud (at Shabbat 53b) tells the story of a poor man whose wife had died, leaving him with a hungry nursling. A miracle happened: his breasts grew so that he could suckle the child. There's an argument about whether this meant that he was a great man or an unworthy man (the rabbis were of two minds about how cool miracles are), but no discussion of why he got breasts instead of his wife's survival as a miracle.

`Fruit' in Spanish. (This entry is actually about fruta and various cognate words, under bold headings below.) The Spanish word fruta and its natural English translation have a common etymon in the Latin fructus from the deponent verb fruor `enjoy.' Hence fructus meant `enjoyment,' as well -- more frequently -- as `fruit' in the various senses of the English word. One can see a reflection of the nonbotanical use in the English word usufruct.

The Latin word fructus was always masculine, and normally fourth-declension, a/k/a u-stem, though it was also sometimes declined as a second-declension noun. (This is a natural confusion, since -us is the standard nominative ending of masculine second-declension nouns.) In the general collapse of genders and declensions that characterized the transition from classical Latin through Vulgar Latin to Romance and in particular to Spanish, fructus did the usual thing, which was to keep its male gender and take its standard form from the Latin ablative fructu. In the usual way, the final -u became -o, yielding fruto. The c needn't have disappeared (cf. actor, auctor [original Sp. word that became autor], lector, tractor, etc.); I suppose this is why Corominas y Pascual refer to fruto as a ``descendiente semiculto'' [`half-cultured descendant'] of fructus. Given the agricultural associations, the comment looks like a pun.

The Oxford Latin Dictionary lists fructa (a feminine, first-declension version of fructus) as an apparent by-form, giving an eighth-century A.D. example which suggests the form was used for stylistic reasons without any real distinction in meaning (``fructam et fructum (dixerunt antiqui)'' [contrary to the quote, there doesn't seem to be an earlier example extant]. All that is what the lawyers might call ``due diligence.'' That being duly done and said, the feminine form in Spanish (fruta), attested since at least the thirteenth century, is probably an independent development.

Fruta and fruto
divide up the semantic domain covered by the single English word `fruit.' The male term fruto is the more general or abstract (including the senses of `product, achievement'), while the female term fruta tends to refer to `edible fruit,' though not all edible fruit. The difficulty of articulating the semantic ranges a little more precisely is dragging out the completion of this entry.

While it is not so common for the main senses of a common noun in English to be translated into two different Spanish nouns (the reverse is more the pattern), when it does happen, this sort of gender divergence is often the mechanism. For another example, branch in more and less abstract senses may be ramo and rama, resp. For a fruit-related set of examples, see the entry on gender of fruit and trees.

is the augmentative form of fruto (i.e., un frutón is `a big fruit'). However, the word is also used for a Chilean fruit that is similar to the strawberry, but larger, sourer, and more yellowish when ripe.

The words to be discussed are fruto, fruta, frutal, frutero/a, fruticola, and frutilla. That makes this a pretty ambitious entry, so let me get a few things out of the way quickly and approximately.

is a diminutive form of fruta, and is applied regionally to different edible and nonedible fruit (and also to the plants these come from). In the Argentine dialect in particular (of particular interest to me because it is, sowieso, my native dialect), frutilla is the usual word for `strawberry' and strawberry plant. (There is a European evergreen called a strawberry tree in English and a madroño in Spanish, which yields a small fruit that may be used for jams. If not pruned it can grow like a shrub, but that doesn't make it a strawberry bush, which is the name of an American ornamental. The latter yields berries that are poisonous to humans. These ripen, in clusters of up to five berries, within capsules that look like strawberries -- that's the origin of the common name. The name of the plant genus is Euonymus -- `good name.' This is sheer coincidence. Pliny the Elder explained that the flowering of the euonymus presaged pestilence -- makes sense, since it happened every year. The name is a euphemism, like Eumenides [`graces'] for the Furies.)

is the usual word for strawberry outside Argentina. (It's from the Latin fraga, via French fraise.) The Mexicans are among those who call strawberry fresa, and they also have an expression ``la gente fresa'' meaning `the in crowd' or some other privileged group. There happens to be another word fresa meaning `milling tool' or `dental drill,' from fresar `to grind, mill,' from the Vulgar Latin fresare, from the classical Latin frendere (participle fresum). The Latin words have similar meanings to the Spanish one; I didn't want to get side-tracked (no, never!) but I figured I should mention this since I don't know which word the Mexican expression is based on. Depending on your attitude, it could be either or both.

Somewhere up there, I probably should have pointed out that strawberries are not, from the strictly botanically correct point of view, fruit.

and (the phrase the word implies) árbol frutal mean `fruit tree.' Finally something straightforward! Either that or I'm getting tired.

is usually someone who sells fruit, unless that someone is female, in which case she's a frutera. Let's stop here for now.

Flame-Retardant paper substrate material for cheap electronic circuits.

Fire-Retardant glass laminate substrate material for electronic circuits. Dielectric constant about 4.8.

Fire-Retardant glass-and-polyester substrate material for electronic circuits. Inexpensive; popular for automobile electronics.

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