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GP, gp
Galley Proof[s].

I wrote my first published paper using Volkswriter on an IBM PC (I mean an original PC, son, the kind with an 8088 processor and outboard abacus); hardcopy was on a nine-pin dot matrix printer. It looked okay, but when I got the galleys back, nicely laid out in double columns of elegantly typeset text and shapely equations, I suddenly realized -- Hey, this is an excellent piece of research! I'm a really smart guy!

[I felt even greater after I got the offprints and before I found the first error.]

Gas Plasma.

General audiences, Parental guidance suggested. A movie rating of the MPAA (q.v.) originally labelled M (mature) and now PG.

General Practitioner. A ``family physician'' or primary health-care provider. In the US, because so many medical school graduates choose to specialize (i.e., not to specialize in family practice), there is something of a shortage. In their stead, many have an internist (internal medicine specialist) as their primary care physician.

General Purpose. This is one possible origin of the name ``jeep.''

Genetic Programming. Don't worry yet. This still usually just means programming using the genetic algorithm.

Geometric Progression.


Grand Prix.

Group. A set and an operation mapping any ordered pair of elements into an element within the set, the operation being associative, all elements having an inverse.

(Domain code for) Guadeloupe.

Gas Processors Association. ``...an organization of operating and producing companies engaged in the processing of natural gas.''

Grade-Point Average. An average of course grades, each grade weighted by the number of credit hours of the course in which it was received.

Gallons Per Acre per Day.

Gas-Phase Chromatography. Prefer GC, vide supra, confer infra.

Gel-Permeation Chromatography. Hmmm. This and the previous could lead to confusion... I've got it! To avoid confusion, we'll only use one of the acronyms! (Actually, for this one you can use SEC, at the entry for which there's a bit more information.)

General-Purpose Computer. A general term, in use in the 1950's, for a reprogrammable computer, or what we today call a ``computer.''


Gallons Per Day. Individual consumption of water for immediate personal use in the US is about 90 gpd. The main components:

This adds up to about 24 billion gallons per day for the country as a whole, but it's nothing compared to the indirect water consumption represented by products consumed that required water to produce. E.g., 3-4000 gallons per pound of steak, when you count in growing the feed. Total US water consumption is about 500 billion gallons per day.

Glucose-6-PhosphateDehydrogenase. A phosphotransferase.


GPF, gpf
Gallons Per Flush. One reason for the use of urinals in public rest rooms: typical water consumption of 1 gpf. US water consumption for flushing toilets is about 25-30 gallons per capita per deim, or a shade under a third of the estimated 90 gpd total direct water consumption. Cf. LPF.

General Protection Fault.

GNU Privacy Guard. A PGP clone. This is a coincidence, but it is probably not a coincidence.

General-Purpose Heat Source. NASA designation for standardized packages that hold 238PuO2 used for RTG's.


Graphics Programming Interface.

General-Purpose Interface Bus. Eight bits in parallel. IEEE-488 (essentially the standard established by HP with their HPIB).

Gentleman's Pocket Knife. This acronym, with expansion, is used in a print advertisement I just saw. The ad includes the following sentence:
The GPK is fashioned after the officers [sic] knife of a renowned European army.
I can only conclude that ``Swiss Army Knife'' is a trademark (vide TM). Either that, or the ``renowned ... Army'' is a misdirection. Incidentally, it was only in 1994 or 5 that the Swiss (.ch) Army retired its carrier-pigeon corps, which had for a long time been maintained strictly as a back-up communication system.

Generalized Phrase Marker.

Graduated Payment Mortgage. A mortgage with gradually increasing payments. Typically the payments are initially low and rise gradually to a higher value that remains fixed after three or five years.

Gas-Phase Molecular Absorption Spectroscopy.

Green Paper on Mobile Communications. Green paper is easier on the eyes.

Gee Plus Plus. The GNU C++ Compiler, g++. Cf. gcc.

General Post Office.

Government Printing Office. Also searchable as a database in FirstSearch. Cf. corresponding British HMSO, which provides similar materials in English.

Group Purchasing Organization.

Spanish, grupo, `group.'

Global Defense Posture Review. The old GDR dissolved at the end of the Cold War, in 1990. Over a decade later, with a new long-term war on, is not too early to consider ``modernizing and readjusting the footprint of American military forces'' around the world.

A protein whose activity is regulated by GTP. G-proteins are found on the undersides of many different kinds of receptors. G-proteins are not the same thing as glycoproteins (gp)

General Packet Radio Service[s]. A nonvoice value-added service that allows information to be sent and received across a mobile telephone network. Also ``General Packet Radio System.'' Even, incorrectly, ``General Public Radio Services.'' Plans to achieve 100kbits/s before 2003.

Global Positioning System. Uses very long rope, called L-band. The L-band frequencies used are in an absorption window of water.

The ropes apparently hang from two dozen satellites. Amazing, huh?

Originally a military system, it's now in widespread civilian application. Some airlines are trying it out, but commercial aviation needs very high reliability, and GPS may be subject to jamming.


General Purpose (discrete) Systems Simulator. See what FOLDOC has on it.

Generalized Perturbation Theory. See F. Ducastelle and F. Gautier, J. Phys. F (Metals) 6, 2039 (1976); B.L. Gyorffy and G. M. Stocks, Phys. Rev. Lett. 50, 374 (1983).

Transliteration of Russian initialism for (in transliteration) Gosudarstvennoye Politicheskoye Upravlenie, `State Political Directorate.' The GPU was a secret police organization. It was formed in February 1922 from the Cheka and its first chief was inherited from the Cheka as well: Felix Dzerzhinsky. For most of 1922 it was an organ of the Russian soviet. With the formation of the USSR at the end of 1922 its ambit became the entire Soviet Union (it only technically became an organ of the USSR government in November 1923). It was dissolved in 1934, its personnel and successor entities eventually flowing into the KGB.

Graphics Processing Unit.

Ground-Proximity Warning System. ``Pull UP! Pull UP!''

(Domain code for) Equatorial Guinea.

Gentlemen's Quarterly. A magazine for men with disposable income.

Giant Quadrupole Resonance. A nuclear giant resonance.

Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research. It was ``Greenberg Research'' for the 2000 election cycle. I don't know how much work they do in corporate PR research, but their heart is in the political work. Their election polling is exclusively for what they call ``progressive'' party candidates, in the US (Democratic Party -- not really ``progressive,'' but the Greens don't really want to win, so what good is polling for them?) and abroad (SPD in Germany, Labour in Britain, Labor Alignment in Israel, ANC in South Africa). They also poll for a number of high-profile NGO's (``progressive organizations'').

General Release. Stage that under normal circumstances should follow BT (beta test).

General (Theory of) Relativity.

GRain. Specifically: a grain of barley -- a barleycorn. It's the smallest weight or mass unit in the glorious traditional system, roughly 64.8 mg in unnatural SI units.

Grand Rapids. It was the rapid rise to power of Gerald R. Ford that really put GR on the map. Before that, I guess there was just sort of a gray smudge there on the map of Kent County, Michigan.

People there like to say that GR (the city) is ``centrally isolated.''


G & R
  1. Greek and Roman; Greece and Rome.
  2. Greece and Rome, a classical journal published by the august (British) Classical Association but targeted at you blokes. Published for the CA until 2005 by Oxford U.P., by Cambridge University Press after.
        All the Greek and Latin stuff is translated into English so you can understand it, but they show you the original words so you can feel like they respect your ability to read it and merely provide the translation as a convenience. The joke's on you: knowing that you'll skip over it even if you could pick out a word or two, they substitute dirty jokes for the real Greek and Latin. This saves on copyright permissions too. Cf. Polish. G&R is catalogued by TOCS-IN.

Generation-Recombination. As in `G-R noise.'


Graeco-Roman or Greco-Roman.

(Domain name code for) Greece. Check out (*): Site problems on 2000.08.05 visit.


Here's the Greek page of an X.500 directory.

All computer games are illegal in Greece today. I suppose this requires some explanation.


Gurkha Rifles (company or brigade or whatever).

Groupe de recherche anglo-américain de Tours. ``A peer-reviewed journal of Anglophone Studies.'' Parenthetically, these studies include ``Literature, Civilization, Cultural Studies, Gender Studies, Linguistics.'' According to the homepage, GRAAT is to be pronounced so as to rhyme with ``great.'' You have to go off-site to find any page that expands the acronym.

Galactic Radiation And Background (satellite).

GRADuate. Someone who has (possibly just (recently)) graduated. It used to mean someone who had ``(possibly just (recently)) been graduated,'' back when that was the way to say it. What I'm trying to say is, please visit the graduate entry.


gradcurr, GRADCURR
`` Graduate Education in CLASSICS
a continuing conversation....'' The name gradcurr, used as a filename and mailing-list name, refers to GRADuate education and to the effort to keep it CURRent in some way. A gradcur would be a dog of an education. Hey wait a sec....

Forms compounds in the form [application]-grade [material], meaning material of purity sufficient for the given application. For example, welding-grade argon, about 99.996%, is used for shielding the arc, as well as other parts of the apparatus that might arc.

grade inflation
This is too depressing. Let's talk about sports instead.

Minor-league baseball (that's not MLB, exactly) is organized into AAA, AA, and A leagues. I guess that makes the bigs AAAA, like those pissy little batteries inside of 9V batteries. Huh -- those same minor-league levels used to be called B, C, and D.

Grading is the least pleasant task a teacher has to face. For some of us, particularly in engineering and science disciplines, the thing that makes it hard is that many students, sometimes most, do very poorly. One tends under these circumstances to try to give partial credit where no credit is due. This is not a good solution. What you should do is to compute an honest ``raw score,'' and then apply a simple linear scale of the form
scaled score = A*(raw score) + B.
The scale factor A and minimum grade B should be chosen shamelessly. Normally no one will get exactly zero for a raw score, but you should accept the possibility in advance, and recognize that B may have to be quite high. This is bound to look pretty bad, so don't return the exams. Email or hand out individual score sheets, each giving the student's grade and class information (the average and standard deviation, maybe the entire distribution), and offer to discuss the exam with any student. No one will ask. You think I'm joking, don't you? I learned this from another professor.

Dr. Hoffman, one of my high school chemistry teachers, used a no-parameter correction for AP chemistry: she gave course grades based on the square root of our averages (so an average of 81% got us the A that required a 90% in regular courses). Notice that the square root of the mean of a set of positive numbers is greater than the mean of the square root (or equal if all values are equal). (This is an immediate corollary of the reverse fact about squares.) So a side-effect of her grading algorithm was to reward consistency.

    Other advice:
  1. Get drunk first. It won't improve your grading, but it will make it go faster.
  2. Don't use a magnifying glass. If the student doesn't understand that writing legibly matters, then that is the error you are taking points off for. (If the student knows it and is using poor writing as a way to hide something, then you're giving benefit of the doubt by not deeming it outright academic dishonesty.)
  3. Quit. Teaching doesn't pay enough.

There's been an interesting change in the way the verb graduate is used, a kind of ergative switch.

To graduate has traditionally meant to mark grades or degrees. Thus, a graduated cylinder is a tube with level markings (to indicate volume). In the context of education (and not just chemical education), ``to graduate'' had something like the same meaning. A school would graduate students, in the sense of marking them (in an abstract way) as having reached some level or grade of achievement. If you had a high school diploma, you would say that you were ``graduated from high school.''

Gradually, people have gone from saying things like ``I was graduated from Yale'' to ``I graduated from the University of Phoenix.'' That is (setting aside any other difference), the action of graduating has come to be understood as something a student does, the action of earning (or anyway being awarded) a degree. This is a nice practical instance demonstrating that the subject-object distinction is a conventional one-- a fact about a verb and the way we use it, rather than a fact about the world that is encoded faithfully into language. A slight anecdotal indication of the stately pace of language change is that I have heard the word graduate used in the new way (students the subjects of the verb) since the 1970's at least, but in the Summer of 2004 I heard a woman who looked to be in her thirties clearly use the old style (students the objects of the verb).

For information on the 1967 movie The Graduate, see Door Slam Method, Car.

Graduate Programs
A good general site for the graduate programs at UB is maintained by the Graduate School.

German title of nobility corresponding to English `Count.' The Zeppelins were named after Graf Zeppelin, who bought the original patents and made substantial further improvements, including streamlining it instead of having it look like a stubby pencil, the way a timber merchant might shape it (more at the LZ entry).

Journalists' slang abbreviation and newspaper copy editors' jargon for paraGRAPH. Also spelled graph. See Bil for an example of use.

Strikes me as an ill-advised name for any municipality, unless it has a famous burn unit.

Graf-Wellhausen Hypothesis
``The Documentary Hypothesis.''

General. Spanish abbreviation for the military rank.

GRid Algorithms (software) Library.

Gravitational Random-Access Memory (RAM). This technology doesn't exist and hasn't even been proposed yet, afaik, unless you count the Roman abacus. But GRAM (pronounced ``GEE-ram'') sounds like a cool acronym, so I figured I'd reserve it here. (It's cheaper than paying Star Registry to name a star after it, and just about as official.)

Grammar was one of the original ``liberal arts'' of the traditional medieval school system. The high esteem in which grammar was held is suggested by the fact that it is the origin of the word glamour (see the glam entry).

Educated people once generally understood that poor grammar is offensive, just as well-educated people still do today. The precise degree of offense usually falls somewhere in that twilight where the merely distasteful or aesthetically repulsive shades into the morally reprehensible. For calibration, here is a paragraph from the Introduction to Trial of George Joseph Smith (Edinburgh and London: William Hodge & Company, Ltd., 1922), written by the book's editor, Eric R. Watson, LL.B.

      Some time in 1908, in the name of George Love, he got some very subordinate employment in a West-End club; he seems to have been dismissed for inefficiency, so far as can be judged from a letter written when awaiting his trial for murder in Brixton Prison in 1915. This letter, characteristic for its vile grammar and spelling, its incoherence, and its braggart assumption of ``my marked love of poetry and the fine arts,'' begged a favourable statement from the steward.

In passing sentence, the learned judge commented that ``[a]n exhortation to repentance would be wasted on you.'' George was hanged for his crimes on August 13, 1915.

grammar school
In the US, grammar school is synonymous with primary school. In the UK, the term grammar school has, or had, a specialized sense. In the twenty years following the 1944 Education Act, secondary schools were divided into grammar and secondary modern schools. The grammar schools were academically oriented, with most graduates going on to university. (This was significant in that day, when university attendance was still not the norm.) The modern schools were more vo-tech, with some graduates going on to attend technical college but few going to university. Labour politicians came to regard the grammar/modern school distinction as socially divisive, and during the Labour government that began in 1964 (PM Harold Wilson), a new system of comprehensive schools was introduced. The new system was phased in over the next decades, by both Labour and Conservative governments, and now (almost?) all state-run secondary schools in the UK are of the comprehensive kind.

grammatical number
Grammatical number is not precisely the thing ordinarily meant by ``number.'' (Unless perhaps you're a linguist or grammarian.) It is a number-related grammatical category. Indo-European and Semitic languages generally have grammatical number, while classifying languages do not (Chinese, Japanese, and Mayan, for example). This distinction does not imply that it is impossible or even particularly difficult to give quantitative information in the latter languages. It does mean that in the former languages, it is usually difficult to avoid giving some quantitative information.

Early on in J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye, Holden Caulfield is having an exit interview of sorts with his history teacher at Pencey Prep, decrepit old Mr. Spencer. Old Spencer picks his nose.
      Then he said, ``I had the privilege of meeting your mother and dad when they had their little chat with Dr. Thurmer some weeks ago. They're grand people.
      ``Yes, they are. They're very nice.''
      Grand. There's a word I really hate. It's a phony. I could puke every time I hear it.

Over the course of the novel's four-day action, Holden begins to learn to not find quite so much in life ``phony,'' and he also slides into a nervous breakdown. At least he doesn't kill himself, like Seymour Glass in ``A Perfect Day for Bananafish.''

Catcher is an irritating novel about an irritating person with problems that would strike anyone with real problems as insignificant. But it's a good read and all that, because Salinger has such a good ear, as they say, for banal dialogue.

grand coalition
In parliamentary democracies, a party that wins a majority of seats in the parliament selects the prime minister and forms a new government. Very often, no single party controls an outright majority. In this case, the usual procedure is for the largest party, or one of the larger parties, to form a coalition with one or more smaller like-minded parties (junior partners). Typically, smaller parties find it attractive to participate in a coalition in return for policy or power concessions from the leading coalition partner. Indeed, this is usually the only way a small party can have any substantial direct power. Stable political alignments occur in this way. A good example is the Federal Republic of Germany. Since the 1970's, and even through the reunification, all governments have been formed by the either the major party on the right (the Christian Union parties, CDU/CSU, identified as ``black'') or the left (the Social Democrats, SPD, ``red''). They have usually had to form a coalition with the centrist FDP (``yellow''), (red-yellow government 1969-1982; black-yellow 1982-1998). Governments formed in 1998 and 2002 were red-green. The Greens are an environmental party.

In exceptional circumstances, two (or the two) large parties will form a coalition, with or without their traditional junior partners. This is called a grand coalition or a unity government. The exceptional circumstance may be a war or other crisis, although sometimes it is the intransigence of a third party (one large enough to be required for an ordinary coalition, say, but which pushes its advantage with demands unpalatable to the larger partners). The UK had grand coalition governments during WWI and WWII. In Germany, a black-yellow coalition ruptured at the end of 1966, in a dispute over taxes, and a große Koalition (black-red) governed from 1966 to 1969.

Grandparents' Day
August 13, 1996 was Grandparents' Day at the fair, causing one member to leave Stammtisch early. Next day, as he recounted the experience, his grandson appeared, parents in tow. Thinking quickly, our banjo specialist asked to hear stories about winning lottery tickets.

They were founded in 1867, you read about them for US History class, and OMG -- they're still around!


Construction debris intended for human ingestion. (We have an entry for a similar concept based specifically on bricks.)

One of my happiest moments camping on the John Muir Trail occurred when it was discovered that blessed field mice had gotten into the ``dirt granola'' (a special recipe). We were forced to eat food for the rest of the trip.

A vaguely similar misadventure was described by W.C. Fields in ``My Little Chickadee'':

Once ... in the wilds of Afghanistan, I lost my corkscrew, and we were forced to live on nothing but food and water for days.

By the way, for those of you who just came here from reading about George Washington Carver: it turns out that arachibutyrophobia is fear of peanut butter. I believe that peanut butter is sometimes used as the cement in granola. (Proceed now to the that's peanuts entry.) I guess that fear of spiders getting into your larder would be something like arachnibutyrophobia.

[Granola for human consumption is a California (CA) thing. An obscure ballot proposition passed during the flake era (Zen master Jerry Brown's first term as governor) requires everyone to eat granola. There is no other plausible explanation.]

The precise status of granola among mouth-fill materials has always been controversial. For example, Snack Food Technology (p.242; bibliographic details at the snack food entry) begins its treatment with the following observation:

     Granola bars, as presently formulated and marketed, come very close to being just another type of candy bar [albeit indigestible], and one of the stated limitations of this book is the avoidance of the general line of confections.

Grant's Tomb
A national landmark that was allowed to fall into serious neglect and disrepair, but which was brought back from the dead, so to speak, in large part through the efforts of Frank Scaturro.

The answer to the old trick question -- ``who is buried in Grant's tomb?'' -- is Ulysses S. Grant and his wife Julia Dent Grant. It's a trick question because their remains are not below the immediate ground level, but rather just entombed. The answer given first in this entry is regarded by many as a ``distractor.''

Often the gotcha answer is phrased ``Ulysses S. Grant and his wife are interred there.'' This can be confusing, since from the Latin roots, the apparent meaning of interred is ``placed in the ground.'' Nevertheless, the term has clearly had a broad sense for much of its history in English. The OED2 gives examples of the verb inter in English dating back to 1303. One example refers to interrment in a chapel -- Malory's Le morte Darthur, written in English prose around 1470. Milton's epitaph for Marchioness Winchester (1631) is cited: ``This rich marble doth inter / The honoured wife of Winchester.'' (Rather masculine rhyme.)

Cognates of the word cannot be traced back in any language any earlier than the 11th century; the classical Latin term was inhumare. This was a distinction with a difference: one sense enterer had in Old French was ``protéger avec de la terre, bloquer par des terres'' [`to protect or block with earth']. This is the first sense given by Frédéric Godefroy's dictionary of Old French, Dictionnaire de l'ancienne langue française et tous ses dialectes du IXe au XVe siecle. It's also the sense with the greatest number of examples given in the original dictionary, but the Complément has more examples in senses similar to those of Modern English inter. In none of the (nonfigurative) examples given is it clear from the context shown that the interrment cannot be underground, and the distinction does not appear to have concerned Godefroy very much. One example given (in the form anterrer) is from a Mort Artus; perhaps that'd be a place to look. That might begin to hammer down when a broadening of meaning, if one was needed, actually took place. The Modern French verb enterrer has a range of meanings similar to English inter (likewise Spanish enterrar; see discussion at cemetery).

It seems that the Medieval Latin interrare originally had a separate sense (protecting with earth mounds), but that it soon or also was taken as a synonym of inhumare. Eventually, the latter sense became predominant. (Perhaps the obsolescence of packed-earth fortification played a rôle here.) This yielded two common Romance lemmata corresponding to English inter and inhumate, both of which implied burial underground. The death-obsessed Middle Ages bequeathed European languages a variety of more specialized terms (e.g. Spanish sepultar; also French ensevelir, derived from a word that in the first half of the 12th century meant pretty much the same thing). My guess is that the convenience of a single word that didn't distinguish between above-ground and below-ground destinations exceeded any felt need for a term referring only to the common below-ground interrment. It is typical that the most common special case and the general case should be described by the same word.

The salience of protection by earth or earthworks is interesting. The English word mound is related to a Germanic root connected with defense. Hence Siegesmund, Sigmund, originally meaning `defender of victory.' (This story is complicated by interactions with the Latin root of mountain. I'll look into this again later.) A similar relation exists in German among the nouns Burg (`castle') and Berg (`hill, mountain'), and the verb bergen (`save, rescue'). An interesting expression is den Kopf in den Händen bergen. A somewhat literal translation might go `protect one's head in one's hands,' but the meaning is rendered in English by ``bury one's head in one's hands.'' Coincidentally, the English word bury is derived from the same Germanic stems meaning `protect' and, more relevantly, `shelter, cover.'

And what of bury in its modern sense? If inter and its French and Spanish cognates have been used indifferently for interrments in earth and above it, why hasn't bury? The answer is that it has. That's why no one is bothered by expressions like ``urn burial,'' never mind ``burial at sea.'' (Are they?) That's why in New Orleans, the dead are generally said to be buried even though most are placed in vaults. Many dictionaries, like the OED's, Funk and Wagnalls (Funk and Wagnallses?), MW's, and the New Penguin English Dictionary (2000), give principal definitions of bury along the lines of ``deposit (a corpse) in the ground or in a tomb; inter.'' Some others, such as AHD3 and AHD4 (1992, 2000) and RHD (1995), give burial under ground as a first definition, and in a more general sort of grave, possibly a vault, possibly watery, as a second. Now, burial at sea is not a less legitimate sense of the word bury than burial in a churchyard, so I don't think these dictionaries are implying that any interrments are not really burials. What they are implying is that burial other than under ground is less common. As the disconcertingly chatty Collins Cobuild Dictionary of the English Language (1987) puts it: ``When you bury someone who is dead, you put their body into a grave and cover it, usually with earth.'' (My italics.) This lower frequency has apparently given rise to a feeling that bury really does only mean under ground, and given traction to the Grant's-Tomb gotcha. Don't buy it.

Journalists' slang abbreviation and newspaper copy editors' jargon for paraGRAPH. Also spelled graf.

Generally Recognized As Safe. An FDA designation, and a common term in the chemical toxicity literature. A more usable term than just plain ``safe,'' since you never know.

Generic Retrieve/Archive Services Protocol. A vendor-independent interface definition developed by OGIP.

Gradient-Accelerated (NMR) SPectroscopy.

Grateful Dead Smiley
Hey, devastating news today (1995.08.09): Jerry Garcia died. He was fifty-three. They found him at a drug rehab center.

Magical Blend serves a tribute of sorts.

The Don Henley song ``Boys of Summer'' (released in the 1985 album ``Building The Perfect Beast'') includes the following lines as an epiphany, before the singer lapses back into a chorus of nostalgia:

Out on the road today, I saw a Deadhead sticker on a Cadillac.
A little voice inside my head said ``Don't look back, you can never look back.''

New York Sun columnist John Avalon, had a piece (2005.08.10, cf. supra) at RealClearPolitics entitled ``Jerry Garcia's Conservative Children.'' He observed that ``no less than three of Generation X's most high-profile young conservatives remain dedicated Deadheads: Deroy Murdock, Tucker Carlson, and Ann Coulter.''

Grattis på födelsedagen
Swedish: `happy birthday.'

keeps dust off the ceiling. See also the philatelo-gravitational field set up by Emily Dickinson.

A fine beverage. And how did your bypass surgery go?

According to the riddling wrapper of a food entertainment (joint marketing) product that I ate some time ago, Sam's favorite color is brown because it's the color of gravy. Sam is apparently a character in iCarly or BFF, if either of those is the name of a show.

Once upon a time, my girlfriend cooked something that she called ``curry,'' and I explained to her that it was really just gravy. The next day, it was my turn to cook. Be careful what you explain.

The Gray Lady
That's no lady -- that's my New York Times! The nickname is a reference to the appearance of the front page, which traditionally was short on pictures. (By rights, the name should apply to the Wall Street Journal; by tradition, it doesn't.)

Generally recognized as a town in Austria. This joke was funnier when there weren't so many entries between it and GRAS. Well, at least it had a chance.

Gamma Ray Burst.


Greek, Roman and Byzantine Scholarly Aids. Sterling Dow published Conventions in Editing as a supplement to vol. 2, in 1969. This gives a complete set of guidelines for the use of epigraphical symbols in Classics based upon the Leiden system that has become nearly universal since its promulgation in 1914. So I've heard.


Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Studies. A ``scholarly journal devoted to the culture and history of Greece from Antiquity to the Renaissance.'' But mostly, it's a journal of Byzantine studies. I guess they had to have a title of byzantine obscurity. Catalogued by TOCS-IN.

Generic Reference Configuration.

Glass-fiber-Reinforced Concrete.

John H. Glenn Research Center at Lewis Field. As if we're supposed to know where on earth (?) that is. Ah -- near Cleveland; it's explained here. John Glenn was a senator from Ohio after he retired from astronauting (not counting his geriatric shuttle junket). Another short form of the facility name is ``NASA Glenn.''

Grains Research and Development Corporation. An Australian industry organization.

Graduate Record Examination. A set of half-day exams administered by ETS to students seeking admission to graduate school in the US.

The GRE was originally conceived by its creator, W.S. Learned, as a way of assuring the quality of university education, since the products of graduate school at the time (early twentieth century) were destined to be college and university professors. There have been periods in the nation's history when the numbers have worked out that way. The last such time was the period from the panic after the Sputnik launches until about 1971 or 1972. At other times, disappointment was statistically guaranteed for a large fraction of those who sought masters and later doctoral degrees in hopes of becoming professors. So now the GRE is just an instrument used by most graduate schools to determine how smart their suckers are. Yeah, yeah, there are many other careers for which a nonprofessional graduate degree is useful. (Professional schools for medicine, dentistry, law, and business have their own distinct standardized admissions exams.)

The GRE exams are nowadays of two kinds. The GRE® General Test corresponds roughly to the SAT I exam administered by ETS to high school students. The GRE® Subject Tests correspond in the same way to the II exams. (Long ago, the SAT II tests were called Achievement tests, and the SAT I was just the SAT.) It is a little bit harder, sometimes, to establish what the graduate of an undergraduate program in some specific field should be expected to know, than it is to make a comparable specification for a course of study in high school. The preceding sentence is probably not true, but it's hard to disprove and it provides a useful excuse. An excuse has occasionally been needed when the year's GRE tests in some subject seemed a bit too closely tailored to the material covered in undergraduate courses recently offered by the department of persons closely involved in creating that year's test. FWIW, however, I haven't heard rumors of such scandals in recent years. In the sciences, at least, the material tested is generally from the more elementary general courses. So much for the GRE Subject Tests.

The GRE General Test is graded in three sections: verbal, quantitative, and analytic. The verbal and quantitative sections are graded in a range of hundreds. The analytic section (precisely, the ``Analytic Writing'' section) was too, until the October 2002. Since then, the analytic section has received a single-digit score:

For the Analytical Writing section, each essay receives a score from two trained readers, using a 6-point holistic scale. In holistic scoring, readers are trained to assign scores on the basis of the overall quality of an essay in response to the assigned task. If the two assigned scores differ by more than one point on the 6-point scale, the discrepancy is adjudicated by a third, very experienced reader. Otherwise, the scores from the two readings of each essay are averaged. The scores on the two tasks are then averaged and a single score (rounded up to -point intervals) is reported for the Analytical Writing measure.

This writing section seems to resemble the new writing test on the SAT, also graded on a ``6-point scale'' (a scale of 6, anyway). I haven't finished updating the SAT entry, so I'll mention here that the new SAT writing test was lampooned in an article in the March 2004 Atlantic Monthly (pp. 97-99): ``Would Shakespeare Get into Swarthmore?'' More precisely, the authors (muckety-mucks at the Princeton Review: John Katzman, Andy Lutz, and Erik Olson) consider what holistic grade would be earned by selected passages of various well-known writers. Gertrude Stein gets a 1, Hemingway a 3, and Shakespeare a 2, Ted Kaczinski, the Unabomber (and a Ph.D.) gets 6 out of 6.

So much for the writing section. The coaching for the GRE in China (PRC) and India (.in) is apparently pretty good. In order to make a fair comparison of the actual abilities of students, many EE professors usually subtract one or two hundred points from the GRE scores of Chinese and Indian graduate students. On the other hand, university course grades in the US are considered inflated and only loosely indicative of mastery, whereas course grades from China and India are regarded as reasonably meaningful.

Of course, compared to the TOEFL and other standardized language competence tests, the GRE is a model of accuracy.

In the 2002-2003 round of tests (October 2002 to February 2003), 68% of GRE test-takers were US citizens whose primary language is English. In 2001-2002, the corresponding number had been 58%. This is about consistent with the initial trend and magnitude of foreign graduate student enrollments following 9/11.

The quality of education offered by a school is limited by the quality of its students, because (a) students learn from each other and (b) professors adjust the courses they teach to the students they teach. There are other more subtle reasons why one may want to go to a school with better students, or at least to know in advance something about the quality of the condisciples one can expect to have at a grad school, but those two reasons are enough. Statistics based on GRE scores (average scores, or ranges, say) would provide that information, and virtually no other statistics can provide comparable information. Consequently, such data are generally closely held. Typically one may find average total (verbal plus quantitative) GRE scores for an entire graduate school, but rarely for individual departments. Such aggregated data are of little use in distinguishing, say, economics departments at different universities.

Great Books
An education fad with lasting impact. See the Center for the Study of the Great Ideas. The Notre Dame Program in Liberal Studies is a Great Books program.

Greatest Hits of Rock'n'Roll
Well, gee, it depends a lot on what you mean by ``Great.'' I mean, there's Elvis and there's Chubby Checker, and then there's Grace Slick and Aretha. Even Sammy Davis, Jr., kinda borderline on genre. But what about Mama Cass? See, it really depends-- Oh! You said ``Hits''! I thought you said ``Hips.''

Great Pumpkin
A personage mythically associated with Halloween, somewhat as Santa Claus is generally associated with Christmas in North America. The Great Pumpkin was introduced by Charles M. Schulz into the comic-strip world of his Peanuts, as the individual obsession of Linus.

There is a short work dating from just after the death of the Roman Emperor Claudius, who like some of his predecessors on the throne was declared a god by the Roman Senate. The work is generally but not certainly attributed to Seneca, who can be imaged to have wanted to get his back. The title is variously reported, but usually with some reference or allusion to apotheosis, which the work describes a parody of. (Apotheosis is elevation to divine status.) Probably the most widely accepted title is Apokolokyntôsis divi Claudii. The latter words, in Latin, mean `of the god Claudius.' The first word, in Greek, can be rendered as `elevation to pumpkin status.' (SPOILER: Claudius doesn't actually become a literal pumpkin.) See also this p.c. entry.

Great Red Spot
An anticyclone on Jupiter, about 20 degrees south latitude and big.


Oxford nickname for Literae Humaniores, the local name for classics (as a major or curriculum). The First and the Second Public Examinations in Greats are called, respectively, Mods (for Moderations) and Schools (or, confusingly, Greats). They are taken at the end of two and four years. Each examination consists of about a fortnight of twice-daily written exams, three hours in the morning and three hours in the afternoon. Then there's an oral exam a couple of weeks later, where they check your teeth and how shiny your coat is. Actually, it's a viva voce exam.

The Mods test proficiency in Latin and Greek. Students sitting for this exam have read Homer and Virgil and stuff. The Schools test knowledge of ancient history, logic, moral philosophy, and political philosophy, and include papers on Plato, Aristotle, Herodotus, Thucydides, Xenophon, Plutarch, Cicero, Sallust, and Tacitus. If you pass, you are certified insane. Okay, not quite; I have some more information on this now. You can pass with first-, second-, or third-class honours. (I mean ``you can'' in the sense that you might, or, well, you can dream anyway.) Or you can get a fourth, which is passing but just barely. Or you can fail. Failing doesn't require you to write nearly as much, but you don't get the same benefits.

The instructions on the sight translations used to say just ``Translate.'' In the late 1960's, Leofranc Holford-Strevens took this at its ambiguous face value and translated into Serbo-Croatian. The story goes that when the examiners realized what they had before them, they called the Foreign Office to ask if anyone there was fluent in the language. The F.O. said no, but that there was a bright young fellow at Oxford.... Since that incident, the instructions read ``Translate into English.'' It seems to me that Anglo-Saxon is the other hyphenated shoe that's waiting to drop. Holford-Strevens is best known today for his book on Aulus Gellius.

Great Scot!
See below: Great Scott!


Great Scott
Jocular for the Liddell-Scott-Jones Greek-English Lexicon. See explanation at LSJ.

Great Scott!
An expression of surprise, amazement or outrage. Origin uncertain, but apparently in the US, from the 1860's, possibly referring to General Winfield-Scott, a hero of the Mexican-American War. (A hero only on the American side, one may note.)


For stuff on Greece, see the country entry .gr. If you want to learn the language(s), try the Gk. entry. (That makes sense, doesn't it?) The entry you're reading now is more about the closely related languages that constitute an odd branch of the IndoEuropean language family. Classical Greek is a lot closer to Modern (demotic) Greek than the more recent Old English is to Modern English. There was a big uproar a few years ago when the Greek government finally legislated away the polytonic accent system (acute, grave and circumflex in form, though they originally represented tones in the sense that Chinese has tones).

A syntactically simpler version of Greek that developed in Hellenistic times was called Koine. For more on this, see the classics-list archives for a discussion of Umberto Eco's use of the term.

Those learning Greek to read the New Testament in its original language (or to read the Septuagint) often study Koine first. Most others, however, begin with Attic dialect (i.e. the dialect of the area around Athens). [The one prominent exception is the approach long taken in the intensive summer course at the University of Texas at Austin. This used Lexis, a Greek primer by Gareth Morgan, which starts out with the Ionic dialect. This has the advantage that, since contiguous vowels were not systematically contracted and Attic long alphas are etas, the basic morphology is less complicated by irregularity.] Those interested in studying Ancient Greek will probably find useful a site dedicated to Greek Grammar (and related material).

Classical Greek had a variety of dialects. The major division was between Eastern and Western Greek. Western Greek preserved for a longer time the letter digamma, which in the glyphs used for some dialects looks like a lunate sigma, and in others like an eff, which letter -- through Etruscan (Etr.) -- it became in the Latin alphabet. [The survival of digamma varied. It is more precise to say that it disappeared early from the dominant Attic dialect.]

According to Buck, the Latin form Ulysses of Homer's Odysseus reflects derivation from Olysseus, a dialectal variation. Good early attestation of forms with lambda is found in Attic vases of the first quarter of the sixth century BCE (see Bromner's Odysseus 18, and compare Threatte's Grammar of Attic Inscriptions 484 (#40.04). I'm cribbing here from a Classics-list postings by Steven Lowenstam and David Meadows; I haven't checked this myself.] At least one art historian has supposed that the Olysseus reading was due to painters confusing delta and lambda (they look especially similar in upper case, to say nothing of the Cyrillic forms), but somehow Corinthian vase painters, who spoke a different dialect, avoided this visual error.

A few widely recognized dialects became, in stylized form, standard registers for different genres: Ionian for epic, Doric for odes Pindar, Aeolic for lyric or love poetry, Attic for drama. This sometimes resulted from the prestige of an early artist (Homer's epics, maybe Pindar's odes, the Aeolic dialect of Lesbos for the poetry of Sappho and Alcaeus). On the other hand, Herodotus was from a Doric city but wrote in Ionic. It's not certain why, but presumably it reflected his expectation that reportage written in that dialect would have a better reception among his educated readers.

[For much more, see Carl Darling Buck: The Greek dialects; grammar, selected inscriptions, glossary (U. of Chicago Pr., 1955) and Gregory Nagy: Greek dialects and the transformation of an Indo-European process (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard U.P., 1970).]

Of course, different dialects are reflected in the speech of characters in Greek drama, and interesting stuff happens when translators try to English the distinction. Many British translators (e.g., Alan Sommerstein and Jack Lindsay, to a lesser extent Kenneth McLeish) use Scottish dialects to render the Spartans' Doric dialect in translations of Aristophanes's Lysistrata. B. B. Rogers uses a sort of Scots for the speeches of the Megarian in Aristophanes' Akharnians. Lattimore's Lysistrata has the Spartans speaking in hillbilly dialect, while Sutherland's uses a thick Southern accent (a fine distinction, to some).

The first time I worked in New Mexico, I was taught the following wisdom:

``In the West, men are men and sheep are scared.''

Some years later, in a pub behind Victoria Station, I overheard the same story, but with Scots instead of Westerners. I guess if there were a sufficiently distinctive Western accent, that would be used for Spartans as well.

Henderson's English translation gives Spartans a Russian accent.

When Aristophanic comedy is staged in Sweden the Spartans speak with a touch of Norwegian. See also the chapter ``9-5 as an Aristophanic Comedy,'' by James Baron, in Martin Winkler's Classics and Cinema (Bucknell Review, 1991).

The following sidelight is from a classics-list posting by Daniel Tompkins. Tony Harrison was a working-class youth in Leeds who had an English teacher who forbade him to read Keats aloud in class because of his accent. In an autobiographical essay, Harrison writes

Much of my writing has been a long slow-burning revenge [on that teacher] ... I think that to these feelings are due my reclamation of the Mystery Plays for Northern speech and actors and why there's a strong Northern character to the language I used for the National Theatre Oresteia, which proved too much for some people. One critic wrote that the chorus sounded like 15 Arthur Scargills! I make no apologies. There's no earthly reason why a Greek chorus should sound like well-bred ladies from Cheltenham in white nighties.
For a full discussion, search on "Harrison" in that month's postings. (Another Leeds Harrison is mentioned elsewhere in this glossary. When you pack a reference work with enough information, that kind of coincidence begins to occur.)

In modern Greek productions of Aristophanes, Scythian slaves speak with the Greek accent of Eastern European soccer coaches of Greek teams. I didn't make this up myself.


Greek gods
Greek gods are the gods of the ancient Greeks. It is in this sense that they are Greek. They were not necessarily actual Greek nationals. Hades, for example, rules the underworld. Velikovsky argued that Athena was born on Jupiter. If this stuff intrigues you, see Classical Mythology.

A mixture of Greek and English. This term is rather less common than, and I suspect is patterned on, Spanglish.

They have a technically proficient Java-based homepage.

Among the Eskimo of coastal Alaska and nearby Siberia, it seems Greenpeace is used countably (``a greenpeace'') for individual members of the group (disliked and distrusted for opposing whaling and other economic activity). (Datum surmised from an article on Arctic warming in the April 2002 issue of Discover magazine.)

``The Greg'' is short for the Pontificia Università Gregoriana (a Roma). In English, `Pontifical Gregorian University (in Rome).' Noteworthy for having the most austere university homepage you have ever seen.

Global Regular Expression Print. A Unix command abstracted from ed. (It is perhaps more appropriately regarded as an abbreviated sed command, since sed functions from the Unix command line.) More practical information at B4 entry.

French: `strike.' ``On strike'' is ``en grève.'' For an example of use, see rosbif.

A portmanteau of ``Greek'' and ``exit'' that gained currency (ooh -- painful term) after Greek parliamentary elections in 2012 created increasing expectation that Greece would have to exit the Eurozone sooner rather than later. I don't know whether it's pronounced with the vowels of ``Greg zit'' or of ``Greek sit.'' Either way, the word seems to have an appropriately unpleasant sound.

The agreements underpinning the euro (beginning with the first -- the Maastricht Treaty) make no provision for a member of the Eurozone to withdraw from it. The same agreements underpin the European Union in its current form. Many EU member states are not part of the Eurozone, but it seems that the ratchet mechanism in accession to the Eurozone is regarded somehow as a rigidly non-severable part of EU agreements.

On the other hand, the Lisbon Treaty, which came into effect on December 1, 2009, introduced a provision for a member state to secede from the EU. (There is still no provision for expulsion, but the European Council can vote to suspend any rights of membership and impose sanctions.) EU law should always be taken with a grain of salt, since any inconvenieant law is liable to be ignored. Nevertheless, informed commentators willing to address the question seriously seem to see a Greek exit from the Eurozone as necessarily entailing exit from the European Union. (The Schengen Area, which was originally a separate arrangement, is now incorporated in the EU agreements, but neither the Schengen Area countries nor the EU countries constitute a subset of the other, so...) Presumably, arrangements for Greece to be remain part of the Schengen Area would be possible, although there is some question of willingness.

Generalized Reduced Gradient (method). A method of searching for the or a supremum of a smooth function by moving along the gradient in the space of the independent variables.

Gas Research Institute.

Until they come up with the expected breakthrough, I recommend going easy on the bean porridge.

Government Research Institute.

Graduate, Realtors Institute. Specifically, a graduate of the educational program of the (US) National Board of Realtors.

Gravure Research Institute. Merged with the GTA to form the GAA in 1987.

Global Resource Information Database.

To file a formal grievance. Here's an example of the use, in an opinion column by Michelle Rhee in the June 13, 2010, NY Daily News entitled ``D.C. school [sic] chancellor Michelle Rhee says New York must learn from her groundbreaking union deal'':
If a teacher is rated as "ineffective," she is immediately terminated from the system. If rated "minimally effective," he has a freeze on his pay raise and after two years is terminated. Further, teachers cannot grieve their ratings, they can only grieve procedural errors.

I know little about Rhee's new instrument for teacher performance evaluations, but I think I know this: where some teachers could once have grieved, now they could just grieve.

Well, I once knew it, anyway. Later that year the mayor who had Rhee's back was defeated for the nomination of his (Democratic) party (D.C. is essentially a one-party town), replaced by a rather less reformist fellow, and Rhee resigned. I'll try to track down how the implementation of that contract went.

(If you followed a link for ``the Grimm'' to this entry, you can safely skip to the third paragraph immediately.)

Jakob and Wilhelm Grimm are best known to English-speakers as the authors of popular fairy tales. They did write some original fairy tales, but mostly they committed fairy tales to paper that had been in the oral tradition. Different storytellers told the stories they knew in their own ways, and the Grimms created their own versions after interviewing a number of storytellers. This was a combination of ethnological and editorial work that was not uncommon in that time. Béla Bartók did a similar service for folk music (both in his native Hungary and further afield -- he was working in Algeria in 1913). The Grimms weren't even the first collectors of folk tales in Germany, although they preached and to a large extent practiced a greater faithfulness to the oral sources than had been deemed necessary until that time. Why am writing about this!? This wasn't even what I created the entry for in the first place.

I created this entry primarily for ``the Grimm'' -- a lexicographic monument that is the closest thing for German (and it's close enough) to the OED for English. Its official title is Deutsches Wörterbuch, but it is uniquely identified as Das Deutsches Wörterbuch von Jakob und Wilhelm Grimm (`The German Dictionary of Jacob und William Grimm,' to English it as much as possible). The Grimms collected materials for it and published the first volumes, but it ultimately represents the work of generations of philologists.

The Grimms began their work in 1838 and saw the publication of the first volume (A - Biermolcke) in 1854. Wilhelm, who was often sick, died in December 1859, having completed the letter D. Jakob, who completed the letters A, B, C, and E, saw the publication of volumes 2 (Biermörder - Dwatsch) and 3 (E - Forsche) in 1860 and 1862, resp. He was working on Frucht (`fruit') when he collapsed at his desk in 1863. The work was continued for another century, even through three major wars (two volumes were published during WWII). Volume 32 (Zobel - Zypressenzweig) was published in 1960, completing the series. (Volume 33, a source index, was published in 1971.)

GRaded INdex. Might refer to a lens (index of refraction) or to an alloy (mole fraction is written as a subscript index in a chemical formula; see GRINSCH below).

An individual in the well-loved Dr. Seuss children's story How the Grinch Stole Christmas (New York: Random House, 1957).

To preserve the pronunciation in German, grinch would have to be spelled Grintsch. Why do I mention this? See grinsch.


A number of conjectured etymologies of this word are extant. The two most popular folk etymologies are
  1. Mexicans protested the American occupation of Mexico during and after the Mexican-American war with the phrase "Green Go!" (The U.S. military uniforms are supposed to have been green. I don't know.)
  2. A song popular with the U.S. occupying troops was ``Green Grow the Rushes, Oh!''

The etymology favored by Spanish-language dictionaries seems less colorful. The entry in Breve Diccionario Etimológico de la Lengua Castellana (Madrid: Editorial Gredos, 1987, 3ª edición) is

GRINGO, 1765-83. Se aplicó primeramente a la lengua y luego al que la hablaba. Es alteración de griego en el sentido de 'lenguaje incomprensible', 1615, valor que en España se dio por antonomasia al nombre de la lengua de Grecia, como resultado indirecto de la costumbre de mencionarla junto con el de latín, y de la doctrina observada por la Iglesia de que el griego no era necesario para la erudición católica.
[Eng.: from a book entitled Concise Etymological Dictionary of Spanish:

GRINGO, 1765-83. Was first used for the language, and then for its speakers. It is a modification of griego [Greek] in the sense of ``incomprehensible speech'' (1615). It took this meaning in Spain by antonomasia from the name of the language of Greece, as an indirect result of the custom observed by the [Roman Catholic] Church of mentioning it together with Latin, and of the doctrine of the Church that Greek was not necessary for Catholic erudition.]

The conversion of an ee to an en (going from griego to gringo) may seem surprising to an English-speaker. It seems a natural enough assimilation in Spanish, where the i forces the e to be articulated as a sort of palatalization, a y-glide that is perceptibly more work to pronounce. Another example of an en unexpected from etymology is in cementerio. (For an en that disappeared, see mesa.) Whatever the etymology, use of the word griego is attested in the eighteenth century, ruling out an origin in the U.S.-Mexico war.

In the middle ages, monks would comment on Greek passages scattered in Latin text, ``Graecum non legitur est.''

In Bellum Gallicum (bk. 5, 48, 4) Caesar describes writing a letter (in Latin) using Greek alphabetic characters, to prevent its being understood by Gauls if it is intecepted. (Elsewhere he describes using a simple letter-substitution code of the sort still sometimes called Caesar cipher today.)

In Act I, Sc. ii of his ``Tragedy of Julius Caesar,'' Shakespeare includes this timeless dialogue:

Did Cicero say any thing? 

Ay, he spoke Greek. 

To what effect? 

Nay, an I tell you that, I'll ne'er look you i' the face again: but those that
understood him smiled at one another and shook their heads; but, for mine own
part, it was Greek to me.  ...

GRINSCH, grinsch
GRaded-INdex Separate-Confinement Heterostructure. Also (later): ``GRaded-Index SemiConductor Heterostructure.'' Good way to make heterojunctions with nonabrupt (finite slope) conduction-band discontinuities. (``Index'' refers to mole fraction: in AlxGa1-xAs, the ``index'' is x.) Note that in contrast with QWI, the grading of the interface is here achieved by adjusting the alloy during the growth process (typically MBE or MOCVD).

Stammtisch Beau Fleuve In The News:
On the Word Fugitives discussion forum, a search for a German word that might be ``the reverse'' of Schadenfreude came to discuss the word grinch. Michael Fischer looked up grinsch at OneLook and was led to (the May 1999 version of) our entry. His reaction was

I take no joy in learning this.

I first encountered this word at a microelectronics conference in 1988 or so, where a speaker was presenting work from his group in the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG), which probably coined the word. I thought I caught some fugitive smiles in the audience, American listeners realizing that the speaker was unaware of the word grinch, introduced in the famous Dr. Seuss story The Grinch Who Stole Christmas.

In principle, grinsch ought to be pronounced with a final esh sound after the en, like mensch or revanche, but in practice, anglophones tend to pronounce it grinch. (As the examples suggest, the nsh sound combination is unusual in word-final position in English. Small consolation to people who risk their tongues to pronounce dths.) Blanche is similar: some pronounce it with a final esh and some pronounce it like blanch, which makes some other people do so.

I was introduced to a woman named Renée once at a loud C&W bar in Albuquerque. She corrected my pronunciation of her name. All I remember is her shouting that it was pronounced ``in English, with the accent on the first syllable.'' I still can't guess any vowels that make sense with that stress pattern. She probably spells it ``Renee.'' I wish her well, though as you may have guessed, we didn't hit it off.

Okay, someone has written in with a suggested ``American'' pronunciation. We have a winner! You can stop sending in your suggestions! Please!

You know how single women say, ``the good ones are taken, the single ones all turn out to have some problem.'' That's me, I'm a category-two guy. Single women's married friends might have a better idea of what real guys are like, or lower standards. They're constantly having harebrainstorms like ``gee, we should try to get Renee together with [any of husband's category-two friends]. Oh wait -- we tried that and it didn't work out so well, did it?''

I got on much better with a woman named Noel or Noël who sat next to me on a flight to Oklahoma City. She complained about people who pronounce her name to rhyme with Joel (like Noel Coward). It just goës to show, you can't please everybody.

In German, süß or suess (not seuss) means `sweet.'

I'm just not into C&W -- that was the problem.

GReenland Ice-core Project.

I dunno. It was just a lit ref; they dint een give a title. You check out W. Dansgård, S. J. Johnsen [sic], H. B. Clausen, D. Dahl-Jensen, N. S. Gundestrup, C. U. Hammer, C. S. Hvidberg, J. P. Steffensen, A. E. Sveinbjöfnsdottir, J. Jouzel, G. Bond: Science (London) vol. 364, pp. 218-220 (1993).

griping tale
A maundering story, a mewling narrative.

Influenza (flu). From French gripper (`to seize'), hence also la grippe.

This was also adopted in Spanish (which has no cognate of gripper), as la gripe. Although the grammatical gender has been preserved from the French, Spanish nouns ending in the letter ee are usually male (see LONERS), so this grates slightly on the hispanophone ear, and la gripa has also come to be used.

WHO serves some pages on current influenza activity.

Greater (NY) Regional Industrial Technology (program). SBA program begun on a trial/demonstration-program basis in 1995. Here's a followup article.

A member of the Liberal Party (LP) of Canada. A capitalized informal adjective and noun, like Tory (PC member).

Since 1964, the Quebec Liberals have been separate from the rest of the party. And since 1968 and Trudeau, they've been in significant political opposition to the federal Grits. Grits is breakfast, a bit further south.

Sand or something like it in texture.

Spanish noun meaning `yell' and verb meaning `I yell' (infinitive form gritar). The English word yell in the preceding translations should be understood to stand for a broader semantic range, certainly including shout and sometimes including scream or shriek.

Just to be clear about the English, all of the terms offered refer to loud vocalizations, but they cover a spectrum from human to animal:

  1. Shouting is usually loud speech, though the speech may not be especially complex (Interjections, dammit!).
  2. Yelling may be loud speech or just loud sounds. It carries a slightly stronger suggestion of anger or fear than shouting does, though there is substantial overlap in meanings. As a rule of thumb, one may say that people shout in confusion, agitation, irritation, and anger, and yell in mounting anger and fear for themselves. A shouted warning is less likely to be angry; a yelled warning is more likely to be a threat. Shouting is more likely to be sustained over the course of a heated argument. Yelling is a bit more ominous and not expected to last so long. ``Shouting and screaming'' is a much less common expression than ``yelling and screaming.''
  3. Screaming is higher-pitched utterance of loud sounds. It can usually be assumed not to be the utterance of any particular words, unless there is some indication otherwise. (`` `No!' she screamed,'' for example. `` `Piteously!' he screamed'' is probably mispunctuated.) But a scream is still a human sound. Screaming is normally associated with extreme fear or pain, but people may be said to ``scream with laughter'' (which suggests high-pitched, scream-like laughter).
  4. Shrieking is more certainly not speech, probably consists of unmodulated segments of vocalization, and may be produced by animals (other primates and birds). Shriek is evidently cognate with German Schrei.
  5. Screeching is the cat version of shrieking, a little more in anger than in fear, a little more premeditated and a little more modulated in volume (sharp initial rise, slow fall-off). Tires can also screech, just as car horns can honk. Humans can screech, I suppose, just as they can moo and do duck and pig calls, but when a person is said to screech it is more evaluative or subjective than descriptive; the speaker is saying that the effect on him of the human ``screecher'' is like to that of a cat screeching.
  6. Crying (see cri de coeur) and howling will be discussed after the intermission. OKAY!!!???

Hulled, ground white corn meal, cooked up as breakfast. Construed as a mass noun (hence ``grits is good'').

Global Recycling Network.

grn, GRN

Gamma Ray (orbiting) Observatory. Launched 1991. Renamed CGRO.

GlyceROl. Glycerine. Productive abbreviation.

Greenwich Royal Observatory. The Royal Greenwich Observatory (RGO) was transferred to Herstmonceux in 1960, and later to Cambridge. Flamsteed House and the rest of the old digs of the Royal Observatory at Greenwich were transferred over the next seven years to the UK's National Maritime Museum (NMM) and restored. When the Royal Greenwich Observatory (RGO) at Cambridge was closed in October 1998, the original site again came to be known as the Royal Observatory, Greenwich (ROG).

GNU tROFF document formatting system.

Groupes Régionaux d'Observation de la Grippe. French, `regional influenza monitoring groups.' See also the grippe entry.

A structure extending into the sea from a shore, intended to retain and collect sand. Other things that collect sand at the beach are also called groins. The US Army is all about projecting structures, and the US Army Corps of Engineers always has a plan to protect some lighthouse with a groin. Sounds backwards to me.

The German name of various small-value coins used by most German states since the Middle Ages. The name is ultimately from Latin grossus, `large' (short for large penny). From the fourteenth century until the introduction of decimal coinage in the twentieth, it was usually a 12-Pfennig silver coin. (In principle that made it a solidus and therefore a Schilling, but that kind of reasoning only works if you make the silly assumption that a Pfennig is a Pfennig.)

When the Guldengroschen was introduced in 1484, it was worth 21 Groschen. The Guldengroschen was a silver coin intended to be equal in value to the existing Goldgulden, so -groschen here in effect suggested silver. Just as a point of comparison, England introduced a gold coin called the guinea in 1663. (Three years before the Great Fire of London.) Its value relative to the shilling fluctuated (between 20 and 30 s. per guinea) until 1717, when its value was fixed at 21 shillings. After the coin was withdrawn in 1817, the term continued in informal use with the sense of 21 shillings. A sort of popular unit of account. It could still mean 1.05 GBP today, but it doesn't.

The 21-Groschen Guldengroschen, on the other hand, did not last. By the mid-16th century the Guldengroschen was worth 24 Groschen, and that ratio stuck for three centuries, with occasional local variations. (Remember that ``Germany'' until 1860 was a collection of independent, occasionally loosely confederated kingdoms, principalities, and duchies -- lots of duchies -- and a few otheries.) Also, the Guldengroschen became the Thaler. Specifically, starting in 1519, a particularly high-quality Guldengroschen began to be minted in Joachimsthal, Bohemia (the Joachimsthaler Guldengroschen). This coin (name eventually shortened to Guldenthaler and Thaler) became dominant. (The name became dolar in Spanish and dollar in English; see the 2 bits entry.) Yes, this is a counterexample to Gresham's ``Law.'' Such counterexamples abound.

In 1821, Prussia -- by then the dominant German kingdom -- revalued the Groschen (as the Silbergroschen) to be 1/30 of a Thaler, and over the next 15 years that ratio was adopted by most other German states. This looks like a good deal for whoever minted Thaler. Conversely, it became expensive to continue minting Groschen that were really worth 12 Pfennig instead of 10. Over time, the physical coin itself shrank. (Not naturally! It was minted smaller!) Finally, in 1873, the last Groschen was minted, and the name continued in informal use for a 10-Pfennig nickel coin of the Prussian Empire. It was still used in that sense during the Weimar period (i.e. after the end of WWI, the abdication of the Kaiser, and the creation of the first German republic).

You probably don't care, but the only reason I started out to write this entry was so I could record the information in the previous sentence, learned from my mom, who lived in Breslau during that period. The other stuff I'm not sure about -- I just rustled up that possibly accurate information on the internet, so who knows?

Grosch's Law
The cost of a computer grows only as the square root of its speed.

Named by Herbert R. J. Grosch after himself, this was based on IBM machines up to 1953. Given that computer costs depend on many dimensions besides speed, and given that speed itself can be measured in a variety of ways (various dhrystones, Winstones, MHz), with nonproportional results, it becomes clear that this law is not as precise as it sounds.

However, Grosch's Law did encapsulate a qualitative fact that held true until about the eighties: computing cost used to rise sublinearly with the size of the machine. That is, if you had a big computational task, it was cheaper to do it with one big machine than to split it into two pieces and have two smaller machines do it. Equivalently, the slower the machine, the higher the cost per cycle.

There were always exceptions to this rule, of course, frequently having to do with accessibility of input and output. However, the general rule implied that it was worthwhile to make the fastest machine possible. Following this logic, Sidney Cray made a celebrated career out of using the latest technology to make the fastest supercomputers.

Begin opinion -->
In the 1980's, this rule broke down. Increasingly, `minisupercomputers' and soon thereafter workstations became cost-effective. Although there has been a great deal of research on parallel computing, the transition has so far involved minimal change in the underlying software. Parallelism has been incorporated at the hardware level, particularly in pipelining and vector processors, but massively parallel computer architectures like connection machines and hypercubes remain mostly a research idea. The most radically parallel computing is based in software -- message-passing schemes like PVM that allow independent machines to cooperate by distributing parts of a task that are, preferably, as independent as possible. There continues to be interest in non-von Neumann-like approaches, but the relative high power of current processors, and the tasks to which they are put, mean that for the overwhelming majority of users the heroic tricks are not worth the trouble.
<-- End opinion.

German: `capitalization.' I must mention that I have before me a two-volume Die Entwicklung der Großschriebung im Deutschen von 1500 bis 1700 [`The Development of Capitalization in German from 1500 to 1700'] (Heidelberg: Universitätsverlag C. Winter, 1997). Near equivalent word: Majuskelgebrauch, `capital use.'

Old Polish monetary unit: 1/30 of a zloty. Cf. Groschen. Stanislaw Lem mentions that a ten-grosz coin was called a ``sixer'' (so goes the translation, in the book mentioned at inanimate) back in the days of his youth. I don't know what that was six or a sixth of. I guess it was roughly a sixth of a grzywna, but closer to a fifth. Maybe it was a sixth after taxes. And to think I once believed that pounds, shillings, and pence were complicated.

Okay, here's an idea. The grosz was intended to be (and was for a little while, before inflation took effect) equivalent to the German Groschen. That was usually worth 3 Kreuzer (a South-German coin) at times when both of those coins (or notions) existed, and the Kreuzer was worth 2 Albus after the fifteenth century. So, stretching across to the region of the Rhine (where the Albus was minted and used until the mid-18th century), we have something that the grosz was worth six of. FWIW, the Albus was originally meant to be worth one Groschen, but it shrank. This isn't amusing, this is just confusing! Okay, okay, it's just names.

In 1923, the recently reinstituted country of Poland reinstituted the grosz as 1/100 of a zloty. The same year, Austria reinstituted the Groschen (abbreviated g) as 1/100 of its Schilling.

Old Polish monetary unit: 48 grosz. In other words, 1.6 zloty. By the eighteenth century, this was not a denomination but a unit of account only, typically and traditionally used in expressing the amounts of fines.

An electric node that conventionally is assigned the voltage zero. An electric node is an idealization, an equipotential region. (If you want to get beyond the idealization, see the ground-loop entry.) One thinks of the ground node as near-by, convenient, like the ground.

In the UK, electrical ground is traditionally called ``earth.'' In Spanish, the term is tierra, which conveniently translates both `ground' and `earth.'

It's interesting that the noun ground coincides with the past and past participle forms of the verb grind. One might suppose that the usual noun ground is in fact grind's gerund, but the OED, at least, seems to think it's just a coincidence. The noun groun, which has cognates only in Germanic languages, has an original sense of `bottom,' and doesn't seem to have been connected with the idea of grinding. There is a cognate of ground with a high vowel, Middle English grynden (ninth-century attestation) or grend (14c.) which meant (for the sun) `to set.' Even the grounds of ``coffee grounds'' has a ``bottom'' sense: examples with related senses, from 1340, 1450, 1601, and 1745, show that it was originally used in the sense of dregs or lees in cases (wine, rosewater, oil, beer) that involved no grinding.

Still, in a wider sense, I think the OED may have this wrong. There is in some words a marginal element of onomatopeia, and words that do not share a formal connection nevertheless can share a sort of communion of sound sense due to the element of meaning they derive from a shared phoneme. A very good example is a set of words that begin in gl, like glade, glimmer, glisten, glow. (Cf. blimp. Also, I can't resist noting that an obsolete sense of glade was the setting of the sun.) The evocative power of the gr- sound is suggested by the name Gradgrind, invented by Dickens and mentioned at our Septimus entry.

ground game
In football, a balanced offense has both passing and running components -- i.e., the offense tries to gain yards in the air and on the ground. An effective running attack is a good ground game. I've encountered the term ``air game,'' but it's less common.

Some political commentators and campaign workers have referred to GOTV efforts as ``the ground game'' since at least 1992. This specialized use of the term seems to have been jargon through the 2002 election cycle, but in 2004 it came into widespread use. (Judgments based on Lexis-Nexis searches.) The ``air game'' in this context would be the more visible part of the campaign, including pitches that go out over the air waves, but the air term is also rare, at best, in this context.

ground loop
A circuit completed through ground, in which two or more contacts to ground do not function as a single node. Typical source of isolation fault. For example: current flowing within ground causes two nodes, regarded as equivalent in a second circuit, to have actually different voltages.

The liability of ground connections not to be true fixed-voltage nodes leads to the most dramatic logic gate design consequences in ECL/CML: because of the high slew rate of the output transitions, the emitter followers that are the last stages of the logic gates (i.e., which drive the output) use a different ground than the differential amplifier input stages. [Typically, although positive logic is used, the logic swing is in a negative range of voltages. This is done so that npn transistors can use ground as the common collector voltage, so different grounds rather than supply voltages are used.]

In home and industrial wiring, the most evident consequence of non-ideal ground is the use of two grounds in power cables. In the standard American plug configuration, the broader of the two parallel flat connectors is a live ground, used to sink ordinary circuit current. The third connector, the largest, is a dead ground, intended not to carry current in normal conditions. The face, panel, case, or cabinet surfaces of electrical equipment can be grounded through this to provide greater shock protection, since high normal currents in one device will not affect voltages on the surface of any device. The mere presence of an extra ground, however, is not great protection if there is an internal short to an exterior surface. In this connection, vide GF and GFI.

More electrifying than a nose ring.

ground plane
An electrically grounded, approximately flat surface. In the context of printed circuit-board assemblies, it's a grounded metal (normally copper) layer. I saw the words ``ground plane'' in some text quoted at the HTO entry and asked Walter, who's just finishing up his Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering, what he thought of when I said the words, and he said, ``well, it depends on the context.'' Sure. He obviously figured it was a trick question and hedged his bets. All he could come up with as an alternative was a plane in an airport context. (But please note: ground is that past participle of and verbal adjective based on grind, as in ground pepper. A ground plane is one that has been through a giant grater; I don't think pilots refer to planes on the ground as ground planes, any more than hunters refer to geese on foot as ground geese. For more on the last topic, see the entry.) Look, this may be a Catholic university (I'm not going to commit to anything definite on that), but it is possible to be too catholic.

Grove giveth and Gates taketh away.
The hardware [Grove was Intel's CEO through 1999] gets faster, and the software gets slower [Bill Gates is Microsoft's chairman].

A more precisely pessimistic version of this is known as Wirth's Law.

Grove's Law
Telecommunications bandwidth doubles every century.

A precise statement of the computer industry's frustration with the sluggishness of an older electronic technology that existed in a government-regulated competition vacuum for half a century. Attributed by Gordon Moore, chairman of Intel, to Andrew S. Grove, ex-CEO of Intel. Alludes to Moore's Law.

You don't hear much about Grove's Law anymore, since cable and DSL have become widely available. Some people even have reliable broadband.

German Resources On the Web. Raised up on the web by AATG.

growing bananas
You'd go bananas too, if you were surrounded by people who wouldn't put on their hearing aids.

The capital of Chechnya. It is not widely appreciated among non-speakers of Slavic languages that grozny is Russian (and Ukrainian) for `formidable.' Then again, perhaps the Russians did not sufficiently appreciate this either. (The z seems just barely a sibilant in native pronunciation, incidentally. It could pass for d in English.) The word grozny also occurs in Polish, where its meaning is a bit different. Of course, in Polish the word has no pronunciation.

Gamma Ray Spectrometer.

Gesellschaft für Anlagen- und Reactorsicherheit mbH. (`Association for [nuclear] plant and Reactor safety.')


Greek and Roman Studies.

Gross Register Ton[nage].

The Russian initialism (in English transliteration) for Glavnoe Razvedyvatel'noe Upravlenie, or `Main Intelligence Directorate.' Created by Lenin in 1918, it has typically been glossed as ``Soviet [and now Russian] military intelligence.''

Grus. Official IAU abbreviation for the constellation.

GReen-blUE. This is not a word for a specific greenish blue or bluish green color. Instead, it refers to a broader color category that includes both blue and green -- that is, all colors that are clearly green or clearly blue according to the usual sense of those terms in English. The term grue is convenient for cross-cultural studies and discussions of color terms. Languages with few color terms often divide up the space of colors in a way that isolates grue.

The Japanese word midori might marginally qualify as a grue word. It's normally translated as `green,' but the color of the sky is often described as midori.

According to Berlin and Kay (in revised versions of their original research on color-term evolution and universals), basic color-term vocabularies start with black and white (i.e., terms corresponding to these English words), first add red, then add a yellow or grue term, then the other (grue or yellow), and afterwards distinguish green and blue. (The next step is to add a brown term, and after this, in quick succession, terms for purple, pink, orange, and gray. The main intrinsic problem with most of this research is that the criteria for determining what qualifies as a ``basic color term'' are elastic. Extrinsically, there is anthropological and neurological evidence against this and similar hypotheses of human semantic universals.)

Spanish noun meaning `clot.' If you add powder to a fluid (e.g., add milk powder to water) and it fails to homogenize into a smooth paste or fluid, you can say it formó grumos. You'd translate that as `formed lumps,' but in most cases you'd translate lump by some other word.

Swiss cheese normally has a built-in ventilation network. This Swiss cheese could use something like that.

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