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O o

Direct-object marker in Japanese. Suffix on final word of the direct object, even if that already ends in o sound.

Offense. Abbreviation used in team sports. See extended discussion at D.

Spanish word meaning `or.' When included in a list of numbers, it gets an acute accent (ó) so as not to be confused with the numeral 0 for zero. E.g., 3 ó 4, equiv. tres o cuatro.

When you scan a Spanish document using OCR software that's expecting English, ó is sometimes interpreted as 6, but to the human eye, ó is usually more different from 6 than o is from 0 -- particularly in some of the older fonts that had short numbers.

In many countries of Europe and Latin America, it is standard to write 7 with a small dash through the slanted line. On the other hand, it is also common to write a 1 that looks like a lambda, with the initial upstroke almost as long as the downstroke. In the US, where 1 is usually a simple stroke, the extra dash through the 7 doesn't distintinguish anything except the foreign origin of the writer.

In the early days of automated address recognition, the USPS sponsored an OCR software competition. In an attempt to assure that it was the algorithms and not the training sets that were being compared, the developers were required to use a specified collection of training sets. The results of the competition were significantly affected by the fact that the training sets did not contain crossed sevens, and the test sets did.

A lot of people, like me, also cross their zees (or zeds) when hand printing. I have no idea why. An archaic cross on the ess led to confusion and orthographic change in French.

Oscar. Not an abbreviation here, just the FCC-recommended ``phonetic alphabet.'' I.e., a set of words chosen to represent alphabetic characters by their initials. You know, ``Alpha Bravo Charlie ... .'' The idea behind the choice is to have words that the listener will be able to guess at or reconstruct accurately even through noise (or narrow bandwidth, like a telephone). I can't think of any other words that start with the letter O; those FCC guys are pretty inventive.

Oxygen. A pretty important chemical element, if you like to breathe. Learn stuff you didn't already know at its entry in WebElements and its entry at Chemicool.

For a long time, the atomic mass unit was defined as 1/16 of the atomic weight of an O-16 atom. This has been superseded by the C-12 definition, under which the natural isotope distribution of oxygen yields an average mass of 15.9994 or so.

See a bit of cautionary history at the Priestley and Scheele entries.

Just ``O.'' Not ``oh.'' A particle introducing the vocative -- the case used in direct address, as in ``O Romeo.'' Example of correct use:
Associate: Did you find everything you were looking for?
Customer: Well, actually no. I couldn't find ``Brother Where Art Thou.''
A.: It's under O -- ``O Brother, Where Art Thou?''
C.: Oh.

Attempts to map the syntax of English onto the grammatical categories of Latin led to a number of peculiar nineteenth-century distortions. One was the idea that English infinitives could not be split, because Latin infinitives could not be split. Another was the identification of a conceptually fugitive vocative case, identified by this particle.

In most SAE languages, nominative and vocative cases are now indistinguishable. In Modern Greek, though, most men's names ending in sigma drop it in the vocative. Hence, a fellow whose name is Athos is addressed Gia sou, Atho! (`Hello, Athos!')

In Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Alice at one point slips and falls into a pool of tears she cried when she was nine feet tall (chapter two, ``The Pool of Tears''). She has shrunk from holding the White Rabbit's fan, dropping it just in time to avoid oblivion by reductio ad absurdum or something like that. Looking about desperately for help, she sees a relatively large animal...

"Would it be of any use, now," thought Alice, "to speak to this mouse? Everything is so out-of-the-way down here, that I should think very likely it can talk: at any rate there's no harm in trying." So she began: "O Mouse, do you know the way out of this pool? I am very tired of swimming about here, O Mouse!" (Alice thought this must be the right way of speaking to a mouse: she had never done such a thing before, but she remembered having seen in her brother's Latin Grammar, "A mouse--- of a mouse---to a mouse---a mouse---O mouse!")
[Glossarist's aside: that would be nominative, genitive, dative, accusative, and vocative; she forgot ablative.]
The Mouse looked at her rather inquisitively, and seemed to her to wink with one of its little eyes, but it said nothing.

"Perhaps it doesn't understand English," thought Alice; "I daresay it's a French mouse, come over with William the Conqueror." (For, with all her knowledge of history, Alice had no very clear notion how long ago anything had happened.)
[Glossarist's aside: the Norman invasion, and the Battle of Hastings, took place in 1066. It is one of the best remembered dates, if not the best remembered date, in English history. First the ablative, now this. Listen, smarty-pants, I've had just about enough of your carping. Alice is all of seven years and six months old and in a spot of trouble, so cut her some slack, already!]
So she began again: "Où est ma chatte?" which was the first sentence in her French lesson-book. The Mouse gave a sudden leap out of the water, and seemed to quiver all over with fright. "Oh, I beg your pardon!" cried Alice hastily, afraid that she had hurt the poor animal's feelings. "I quite forgot you didn't like cats."

There's a form of spongiform encephalopathy that afflicts mice (see prions entry). One of the symptoms is the loss of their instinctive fear of cat urine.

One of the hits in Jefferson Airplane's second album, ``Surrealistic Pillow'' (1967), is the song ``White Rabbit,'' which includes the line

Go ask Alice, when she's ten feet tall.
Grace Slick did the vocals. She originally sang that song for another San Francisco band called The Great Society. That band, formed in 1965, was a foursome with her husband Jerry Slick, his brother Darby, and David Miner. The band managed to release a single with ``(Don't you want) Somebody To Love'' on the A side and ``Free Advice'' on the B side. (A single was a vinyl disc with one song recorded and replayed on each side by an analog mechanical process, young feller. The B side was usually, um, well, it didn't matter if it got scratched, though there were exceptions. Today it is thought that MP3 technology and customer-customized selections will finally end the travesty of music packages containing wheat and chaff together. I can almost believe this will happen.)

Great Society recorded a studio album, produced by of all people Sly Stone before his more famous days as a soul singer, but it wasn't released commercially. Not then. In 1990 (about twenty-five years after the songs were recorded), ``Grace Slick/The Great Society'' was released by the never more aptly named Legacy Records.

Around the time Great Society's recording efforts were faltering, the original Jefferson Airplane album was disappointing as well. Vocalist Signe Toly Anderson became pregnant and (according to this interview) wanted to get her husband away and out of the drug scene, and Jefferson Airplane asked Grace to join them. The rest is history, as they say.

``The Great Society'' was the name of LBJ's activist-government vision. (See, for example, the Head Start entry. Back in those days, it was possible to believe that a little, or maybe more than a little, benevolent government intervention could make a great society. F. Hayek, in the preface to a later American edition of The Road to Serfdom, comments on the very different reaction to his book when it was first published in the US than when it was originally published in Britain (shortly after WWII). He judged that in Europe, the longer experience with activist government made readers, including his opponents, more receptive to the skepticism about socialism that his book represented. In contrast, the US had less of this experience, and the problems were not yet so apparent, so his opponents were more outraged by the suggestion that there would be problems. I'm not sure Hayek's analysis of this reception difference is correct, but there you are.

For more on war, the Anglo-American relationship, and Alice, see the LSJ entry. Nothing on mice, though. It adds a certain poignancy to the classical-language reference above.

oder ähnlich. German, `or similar.' Translate as vel sim.


Typical materials: TeO2 (Tellurium Oxide), PbMoO4, LiNbO3.

Orthogonal Array.

OsteoArthritis. The most common form of arthritis. You get old, your joint cartilage wears away, your bones rub together and you hurt. The most effective way to prevent it is to die young.

Overeaters Anonymous. A twelve-course program, I think it is.

Organización de Apoyo de Base. Literally, in Spanish, `Base Support Organization.' More idiomatically rendered as `Grassroots Support Organization' (GSO).

On Approved Credit.

Example of usage:

``With this exciting offer, you can purchase now and not make any payments for 200 years OAC!''
We'll give you these terms if you're a nephew of the boss or an impecunious third-world country.
Since the debts of some third-world nations will never be paid, banks prefer to lend to them on such a long-term basis that by the time the loans have to be declared nonperforming, the approving loan officer has collected all of his pension.
National government budget balancing works on similar principles.

Ontario Association for Community Living. ``Our goal is that all persons live in a state of dignity, share in all elements of living in the community, and have the opportunity to participate effectively.'' Well, that's very nice, but, like, what is this organization about? Ah, in small letters in the image: ``in support of people with an intellectual disability.''

L'AICO in French.

Office of Advanced Concepts and Technology.

OtoAcoustic Emission[s]. Noises made by the ear. Specifically, they're made by the cochlea. It seems the cilia like to dance even in the silence. Discovered by David Kemp in 1978. Very useful as a measure of cochlear health. Especially useful because it provides a quantitative mechanism for testing the hearing of neonates.

Official Airline Guide.

Constituents of the AGD.

Organization of American Historians. Founded 1907. A constituent society of the ACLS since 1971. ACLS has an overview.


Österreichisches Archäologisches Institut. `Austrian Archaeological Institute.'

Open Application Interface.

Open Archives Initiative. ``The Open Archives Initiative develops and promotes interoperability standards that aim to facilitate the efficient dissemination of content. [I think content here refers primarily to text, the content of books.] OAI has its roots in the open access and institutional repository movements. Continued support of this work remains a cornerstone of the Open Archives program. Over time, however, the work of OAI has expanded to promote broad access to digital resources for eScholarship, eLearning, and eScience.''

Or-And-Invert (gate). Implements product-of-sums computation of a logic function. Cf. AOI.

Office of Administrative Law.

Office of Aerospace Medicine. Part of the FAA. (Earlier the ``Office of Aviation Medicine.'')

Operations, Administration, [and] Maintenance.

Operations, Administration, Maintenance, [and] Provisioning.

Orbiting Astronomical Observatory.

Old Age Pensioner. Used loosely (in the UK) for any retiree, on the reasonable (in the UK) assumption that the person receives a pension.

Orbit-Average Power. Artificial Earth satellites on long missions have power consumption may be usefully characterized as varying on three time scales. On a very short time scale (minutes or less) power consumption varies as various devices perform specific actions, the same way your computer's power consumption spikes when it reads sequential media, say, or thrashes in a poorly programmed swamp of page swaps. On a very long time scale, power use changes as the mission changes or as the satellite reaches its end of life (when gas for stabilization runs out, say). The activities of many satellites also depend on what is below them, or more generally whether they are on the day or night side of the earth. (For satellites in low orbits, whether they are on the night or day side affects not just their Earth-related activities but the power available from solar panels.) Thus, if one wants a ``useful'' measure of power consumption -- i.e., a measure that is reasonably stable over all but the very longest time scales -- one often needs to average over one or a whole number of orbital periods. For some satellites, of course, that is not necessary, but then the corresponding power averages are still equal to the OAP's.

Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research. Oh! Acronym Righteously felicitous! Part of the NOAA.

OptoAcoustic Spectroscopy.

Organization of American States.

(New York State) Office of Alcoholism & Substance Abuse Services.

Office of the (US) Assistant Secretary of Defense (Health Affairs).

Old Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance.

Online Access to Student Information and Services. Link is to the one at WCC in Washington State.

Online Access to Student Information Services. Link is to the one at WWU in Washington State.

Online Access to Student Information Systems. Link is to the one at UGA. If I find one in any Washington, you can be sure I'll switch the link.

Online Archival Search Information System. ``OASIS provides centralized access to a small but growing percentage of finding aids for archival and manuscript collections at Harvard. These finding aids are detailed descriptions of collections that contain a wide variety of materials, including letters, diaries, photographs, drawings, printed material, and objects. For each collection described in OASIS there is a summary description in HOLLIS.''

Office of Aeronautics and Space Technology. NASA acronym.

Optical Analyzer Technique. One such was proposed by McQueen et al. to determine material strength under shock compression.

Outside Air Temperature. Aviation acronym.

Disruptive passengers are an increasing problem. Before you become one, remember: It's cold out there!

Orbit and Attitude Tracking. [NASAnese.]

Organization of African Unity. Created in 1962. Hugely successful, as the prosperity, popular sovereignty, public health, and peace of Africa today demonstrate. In 1999, that visionary Libyan leader and best-selling author Moammar Gadhafi had a wonderful idea for the future of the OAU. ("Moammar Gadhafi" is a correct spelling. There are now over 50 spellings in the G-D-F correct spellings registry. This is one of them. This knowledge and a hefty bribe will keep you out of jail in Tripoli.)

Gadhafi's original idea was to change the name to ``African Union.'' Of course, it's not just a name change. More later, after the antiemetic.

Original Animation Video. Japanese equivalent of American made-for-video movie.

Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften. `Austrian Academy of Sciences.'

German, Oberbürgermeister. `Lord Mayor.'

Obligatory .... Productive prefix. E.g.: In the newsgroup alt.quotations, postings that do not otherwise contain a quotation accompanied by an attribution (questions, for example) should be accompanied, as a matter of courtesy, by an `Obquote.'

Ob, OB

o. B.
German, ohne Befund. Literally `without result,' used in medicine to indicate that a test returned negative.

It's an Anglicized Irish name. The Obama you've heard most about was o'riginally named Barraugh O'Bamaugh. That's how he comes by his silver tongue and his blarney. (Since people have asked: the tan is natural, but the sun bleaches his red hair blond; he dyes it black so as not to have to deal with people's ugly prejudices about hair color.)

Disparaging plural for Obama enthusiasts. Latin lives! The singular form Obamus seems to be less common.

Österreichische Bundesbahnen. `Austrian Federal Railways.'

On-Board Controller. Aye-Aye, Captain, Sir!

A microprocessor or three.

Other Backward Classes. An acronym used in India, which has an extensive, constitutionally-mandated affirmative-action system with explicit quotas (``reservations'') of government jobs. The three categories of people eligible for benefits are the ``scheduled castes,'' ``scheduled tribes,'' and OBC.

Outside Back Cover.

Oregon Board of Chiropractic Examiners.

On-Board Diagnostic[s]. Originally used to maintain compliance with anti-pollution systems, eventually expanded to cover a broadening variety of systems. Since nowadays a car is a computer with gas-guzzling peripheral devices, OBD is really just one I/O component.

The earliest systems were proprietary, with different plugs and codes for different manufacturers or models. In 1988, the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) set a standard connector plug and set of diagnostic test signals. The EPA adapted most of their standards from the SAE on-board diagnostic programs and recommendations. OBD-II (next entry) is an expanded set of standards and practices developed by SAE and adopted by the EPA and CARB (California Air Resources Board) for implementation by January 1, 1996.

Retronym for the original, basic OBD requirements.

On-Board Diagnostic (system) II. The current OBD standard (as of 2012, since 1996) required by law to be met by new cars and light trucks sold in the US.

Officer of the Order of the British Empire.

Outcomes-Based {Education | Evaluation}.

Out-of-Body Experience. The term usually excludes death.

Object-Based Equipment Model.

A somewhat object-oriented programming language designed in 1988 (It's also the name of an associated IDE.) Pascal (born ca. 1970) begat Modula (1977), and Modula begat Modula-2 (1978) and Modula-2 quickly begat Oberon, roughly speaking. Pascal was an offspring of Algol 60, conceived in reaction to, or revulsion from, Algol 68. You ought to have a look at Niklaus Wirth's article ``From modula to Oberon,'' vol. 18, iss. 7 of Software--Practice & Experience (July 1988), pp. 661-670, because I haven't. There's evidently more direct information in his article immediately following that (pp. 671-690): ``The programming language Oberon.''

Pascal was named after Blaise Pascal. Oberon was not named after Waugh. Instead, it was named after the moon of Uranus named Oberon. The Voyager 2 space probe was passing by Oberon at the time in 1986 that Wirth conceived his new project. (Modula was created for something called modular programming.)

For a smidgen of useful Oberon information, see its FOLDOC entry. As of this writing, Software--Practice & Experience is only online back to 1997 (that I have access to). The Wikipedia article on Oberon links to gzipped PostScript versions of the articles mentioned above, and some more. In fact there's an Oberon site, served by ETH, which is loaded with Oberon resources. Geometry.net has a good collection of links to documents on Oberon.

[Football icon]

The general-admission tickets for Notre Dame (ND) football games are called GA's. A home game against Rutgers was coming up. In the campus newspaper I saw the following sad classified advertisement:

(xxx) xxx-xxxx.

[Telephone number left out because, why should I provide free advertising?]

The throw-away line is that obese should be defined as excessively short for one's mass. Garfield the fat cat has described himself as not overweight but undertall. See also body weight entry for new ideas on how to lose weight; less interesting related entry: BMI.

OBstetrics and GYNecology.

A Japanese sash.

Optical-Beam-Induced. Productive acronym segment, as in OBIC and OBIRCH.

Optical-Beam-Induced Current.

Optical-Beam-Induced Resistance CHange.

OBITuary. As you get older you start recognizing more of the names.

Original Brand Manufacturer.

Or Best Offer. [Usage: ``The Andy Warhol Joke Book, mint condition, first edition; $5 O.B.O.'']

No wait -- I changed my mind: I'll take the second-best offer. Wouldn't want to appear greedy.

If you don't set a time limit on when you will stop accepting offers and select one, OBO only effectively means that you'll consider lower offers.

Common usage: ``or OBO.'' Don't believe me?

Orbis Biblicus et Orientalis.

Ore/Bulk/Oil. Ships whose holds can accommodate oil or ore. Cf. O/O.

Output Back-Off.

Open Burning/Open Detonation.

On-Base Percentage. Normally expressed as a decimal, like the batting average. If you regard the percent sign (%) as exactly equivalent (i.e., not just mathematically but in linguistical convention) to ``times 0.01,'' then it's all the same. However, calling it a percentage also leads to this error: a .001 difference is frequently described as a difference of ``one percentage point.'' If ``one thousandth'' is a tongue-twister, say ``one per-mil'' difference.

Spanish word meaning `work' in the senses that the English noun has only when it is countable. So ``a master work'' is ``una obra maestra,'' but ``I found a job'' or ``I found work'' is ``encontré un trabajo,'' and una obra cannot be substituted in the Spanish. For the etymology of obra, see opus.

The transitive verb obrar in Spanish has some of the same senses as the English word work (to work metal or miracles), but the transitive and especially the intransitive verb seem to have a broader range of acepciones. E.g. obrar el bien, `to do good'; obrar libremente, `to act [or operate] freely'; la carta obra en sus manos, `the letter is in his hands.'

Obrero translates almost perfectly to `worker,' as in a factory or a hive, (female form obrera). It's also used appositively: sindicato obrero is `labor union.'

Or Best Reasonable Offer. What people usually mean when they write or say OBO.

Optical-Burst Switching.

Something I don't know. Things that are not obscure but that you don't know are ``common knowledge.''

obscure allusions
I may have more to say under this head later, and I hope you'll ``get it,'' but for now I just want to park a quote here. It's from an essay by Edmund Wilson, following some material quoted in the vitamin entry, q.v. Wilson is criticizing Van Wyck Brooks's later work.
What is the value of all the as one might call it's scattered through the pages of Brooks? If it is Brooks who is calling it this or that, the interpolation is totally unnecessary; if, on the other hand, it is someone else, the author ought to tell us who. What is the explanation of the statement, in connection with Charles Eliot Norton, that ``his field was of imagination all compact''? If the sentence is Brooks's sentence, he ought not to load it down with this antique cliché; if the opinion is that of some previous critic, the cliché was not worth preserving. Who is it who exclaims of Francis Parkman, ``Eccovi, this child has been in hell''? Mr. Brooks pointing up his picture with a familiar literary allusion or some Bostonian1 addicted to Dante? ...

1. We have a footnote entry.

With apologies to Justice Potter Stewart: I might have difficulty defining obscurity, but I know it when I don't see it.

obstetrical we, obstetric we
Another name for the pregnant we (q.v.). None of these terms is at all common yet. We're just bringing them into being. So let's go with pregnant we, and use obstetric we as a euphemism for it.

Off-shore Banking Unit.

Oklahoma Baptist University.

The meaning of the word obvious is obvious, as you might expect. I mean, let's be real here: if you don't know the basic meaning of the word obvious, then your mastery of the English language is not such that you would be looking up its meaning in this advanced glossary. That is the vision that informs our project: you have come here for deeper insight, of course.

Leon Trotsky had a nonobvious insight into the nature of obviousness. It is recorded by Joseph Hansen in the introduction to the English version of My Life (discussed at the Faux-Pas-Bidet subentry):

     He [Trotsky] was excellent at dictation, pacing himself according to the speed of the stenographer, whose strokes, hooks and curves he occasionally paused to admire; but dictation offered only some relief since he proceeded by successive approximations, going over his manuscripts repeatedly. "Sometimes," he told me once, "the most obvious thought comes only after the last draft is finished." The "last draft" was then reworked.

The usual joke about what is obvious has a math professor interrupted in mid-lecture by a student asking for the explanation of some assumption. The professor pauses to consider in silence, and after scratching his beard for twenty minutes, says ``it's obvious.''

In another version of this story, the professor interrupts himself. For a further nontrivial insight, see the trivial entry.

One of the things Ford Prefect had always found hardest to understand about human beings was their habit of continually stating and repeating the obvious, as in It's a nice day, or You're very tall, or Oh dear you seem to have fallen down a thirty-foot well, are you alright? At first Ford had formed a theory to account for this strange behaviour. If human beings don't keep exercising their lips, he thought, their mouths probably seize up. After a few months' consideration and observation he abandoned this theory in favour of a new one. If they don't keep on exercising their lips, he thought, their brains start working. After a while he abandoned this one as well as being obstructively cynical and decided he quite liked human beings after all, but he always remained desperately worried about the terrible number of things they didn't know about.

Outer BanKS, North Carolina. You might say it's a tourist ATM for the state.

OBX is a chain of barrier islands along the Atlantic coast, screening the northeast quarter or so of the North Carolina coast. It includes Kitty Hawk, so basically it's hallowed ground.

[Football icon]

Offensive Coordinator. An assistant coach. This was not meant as a disparagement of Orange County.

OC, O.C.
Officer of the Order of Canada. The intermediate one of three levels of membership in the Order of Canada. Philological analysis and comparative linguistic study of the abbreviations of the other two levels (CM and CC (meatier link)) suggest that the O. in O.C. stands for Officer rather than Order.

OC, O/C, O.C.
Open Collector. An output stage consisting of a BJT with a disconnected collector. This output must be connected to the high-voltage rail through an external resistor. The value of resistance chosen affects the output impedance, thus controlling time delay and fan-out. Most commonly, however, open-collector outputs used to wire-AND a number of similar outputs.

Optical Carrier. Vide s.v. OC-1, OC-3,... infra.

Optical Coupler. For one sense of this word, see HR.

Oral Contraceptive. ``The Pill.'' Old version used to be mostly estrogen, alternating with a shorter sequence of placebo pills each month. Now estrogen/progesterone pills are used. A double dose of certain contraceptive pills, taken within a couple of days of intercourse, can function as an effective ``morning-after pill.'' It causes a hormone storm that either prevents implantation or causes miscarriage. Long before the RU486 controversy, rape victims were routinely given this treatment. OC is also used to regularize a woman's menstrual period as part of infertility therapies.

Disclaimer: none of this information is very recent, or based on direct personal experience. If you want reliable information, visit your local family planning clinic. Take a mace when you go.

Orange County. I'd seen it used by someone from Orange County, California. Then came the TV show.

OrganoChlorine. Chlorine in organic compounds.

OC, oc
Over-Clock. To operate at digital electronics higher than rated speed. A standard danger with overclocking CPU's is that they fry. Pentiums (pentia?) slow down if they heat up, so they're harder to fry (and harder to oc without adequate cooling).


Ontario Classical Association. See also the Classical Association of Canada (CAC). Better yet, don't.

Obligatory Classical Content.


Officer Candidate Class. I looked in all my C++ manuals, couldn't find a thing on Officer_Candidate::foobar. Oh, here's something: an unofficial Marine OCC program page served on AOL.


Ontario Classics Conference. Usually held in May.

Options Clearing Corporation. Based in Chicago.

Orange Coast College in California (CA).

Owens Community College in Ohio (OH).

occasional poetry
Not intermittent poetry, but poetry for a particular occasion. Poetry written to order. Crap.

Ohio Consultive Council of the National Institute of Building Sciences. ``Under construction'' for most of 1997. In 2001 I noticed that this entry here is kind of stale. We're still under construction.

occupational therapy
The Medicare glossary defines this as ``[s]ervices given to help you return to usual activities (such as bathing, preparing meals, housekeeping) after illness either on an inpatient or outpatient basis.''

This is correct to the extent of omitting any mention of occupation in the sense of paid employment. In fact, an interesting division of semantic field has occurred. Occupational therapy is essentially rehabilitation of the hands and arms, and physical therapy is rehabilitation of legs, feet, and back.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. See the latest Diagnostic and Statistical Manual DSM for latest definition. See the next DSM for a different vision of truth.

What? You say can't pull yourself away from the terminal? Okay, look at this site. Also this item at OMIM.

My friend Lou, an administrator of mental-health services, explained to me recently that most of the soft mental-health syndromes (not schizophrenia or bipolar disorder or clinical depression or stuff like that, you understand) are simply pathologizations of behaviors that in other circumstances are regarded as virtues. The example I remember best is that OCD is just a pejorative way to say ``detail-oriented.''

So one may object to the term OCD as being an unfair pathologization of mildly atypical behavior. Another objection might be that the word disorder (expanding D) is almost precisely the least appropriate of terms, since the syndrome, or behavior, or complex, or disease (if you insist) is frequently characterized by an obsessive compulsion for order.

Off-Chip Driver. Since the late 1950's, device scaling has increased gate density and speed, and reduced power consumption per gate, mostly by shrinking device sizes and reducing currents. Voltages have also decreased, although this has been more gradual. Thus, the scales of currents and voltages of modern digital circuits is much smaller than the corresponding scales for off-chip applications. OCD's deal with this.


Oxford Classical Dictionary. The third edition represented an enormous improvement in nonclassicist-user-friendliness.

Organisation de Coopération et Développement Économiques. OECD in French. Why no diaeresis on the second o in cooperation? The mysteries of international finance.

Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force.

OCEAN Information Center.

Obsessive Compulsive Foundation. I just had to put this entry in. And this one too!

Organizational Conflict of Interest / Non-Disclosure Agreements.

Oxford Centre for Late Antiquity.

`Late Antiquity', the period between approximately 250 and 750 CE, witnessed massive cultural and political changes: the emergence of the world's great monotheistic religions, rabbinic Judaism, Christianity, and Islam; the development, and eventual destruction, of the Sasanian empire, the last Persian empire of Antiquity; the Germanic conquest and settlement of the western Roman empire; the transformation of Byzantium into a militarised and christianised society. The world of 750 was radically different from the world of 250, and the legacy of the changes that had occurred is very much with us today -- from European states tracing their origins to Germanic invaders, to the cultural divide brought about by the rise of Islam.

Oxford University has over 60 senior scholars, and a very large number of graduate students, researching within the field of Late Antiquity, with specialisms that embrace all the disciplines, from Archaeology to Theology, and that cover the entire geographical spectrum of the late antique world, from Coptic Egypt and Sasanian Iran, to the Celtic North. Recently these scholars have been united in the Oxford Centre for Late Antiquity (OCLA), hosted by the Oxford History Faculty. The aim of OCLA is to foster dialogue between the scholarly disciplines, and between the many institutions of the world that study Late Antiquity.

Judging from the images on the homepage, they specialize in the study of people with big hair. (Not that there's anything wrong with that!)

Online Computer Library Center, a nonprofit computer library service and research organization. Their services include EJO and FirstSearch.

Oxidative Coupling of Methane. A fuel-cell technology.

On-Chip test and Maintenance System.

Outside the CONtinental United States (US). Military usage. There's also CONUS. You can probably guess its meaning.

Ontario Council of Teaching Hospitals.

One-Component Plasma.

Open-Circuit Potential.

Oral Contraceptive Pill. See OC.

Oxford Concordance Program.

The Orange County (California) Performing Arts Center.

Office of Civil Rights. Part of the US Department of Education.

Optical Character Recognition. When done by a machine that converts scanned intensities or densities into a text approximation.

Oxford Cambridge and RSA Examinations. A UK college entrance exam board. In 2002, this exam board was at the heart of a grade-fixing scandal. Chief executive at the time, Dr. Ron McLone. More at the QCA entry.

Onondaga County (NY) Resource Recovery Agency.

Old Church Slavonic. Not a whole lot different from Old Bulgarian.

Operator Communications Software.

Office of Commercial Space Transportation.

Octans. Official IAU abbreviation for the constellation.

Ontario College of Teachers. The French name is L'Ordre des enseignantes et des enseignants de l'Ontario. Gee, that looks quite a bit longer. I have an opinion about that, right here in the glossary.

Although I have seen the OCT acronym used elsewhere, the OCT's own website refers consistently to ``the College'' and ``l'Ordre.''

An Ontario teacher recently explained the organization for me in four words, and the word evil appeared twice in his definition. I got to wondering how a representative professional organization could generate such feelings, and I discovered that

``[m]embers of the College elect 17 of the 31 members [of its Council]. The remaining 14 members of Council are public representatives appointed by the provincial government. Council meetings are open to the public.''
The problem is obvious: the Council meetings should be closed to the public.

Optimized Compensation Transactions.


Oxford Classical Text[s].

octane number
The term octane number is based on the idea that a high content of eight-carbon alkane (i.e., octane) indicates a high grade of fuel. (``High grade'' here should be understood narrowly as a high degree of resistance to knock.) In the sixties, the US government wanted to require gas companies to list the octane number at the pump. The method originally proposed by regulators apparently gave unflattering measures of octane content, and the gas companies petitioned for a different measure. In a compromise, pumps were required to list or display a pump octane number (PON) that was a simple average of the numbers found by the two measures [PON = (RON+MON)/2], Motor Octane Number (MON) and Research Octane Number (RON).

Gas stations and pumps in Canada display the same number (PON) as in the US. In Europe the RON is typically shown. The RON value of a fuel is usually higher than the MON value by about 8-10 for gasoline, so the same fuel sold in Europe has a nominal octane rating higher by 4-5.

Perkin-Elmer offers to help you determine both.

I'm not sure which name it has, but the original method (probably RON) approved by the ASTM in 1934 defines octane number as the octane percentage by volume of a heptane-octane blend with anti-knock characteristics equivalent to the gasoline under test. The particular alkanes in the blend are specified to be n-heptane and iso-octane (2,2,4-trimethylpentane). Of course, different tests give different meanings to the word ``equivalent.'' The devil is in that detail. To complicate matters further, in 1956 the ASTM extended the scale to octane numbers above 100 by the use of iso-octane fortified with tetraethyl lead [the use of which has been illegal for decades now, with verified decreases in human lead (Pb) levels]. I think that RON and MON are currently defined by ASTM D 2699 and ASTM D 2700, resp.

At Dan and Ilana's wedding, another friend of Dan's told me he worked in gasoline testing, but he couldn't explain RON or MON. He just reads the numbers off the machine (that'd be the ASTM 2885 method). It turns out that both numbers are obtained by running a specified test engine with the fuel under test, but that for RON the engine is run at lower speed, resulting in a higher octane number.

When John Fogerty sang CCR's cover of ``Proud Mary,'' (for the album ``Bayou Country'') he didn't understand the original song lyrics and sang ``pumped a lot of pain down in New Orleans.'' When Ike and Tina Turner did their half-nicccce...an'easy, half-rough version, Tina restored the original lyric:

pumped a lotta 'tane down in New Orleans
(Don't listen for it in the single, it's abridged.)

Anyway, that's the story I heard on the radio. The only problem with that theory, as has been pointed out to me, is that John Fogerty wrote ``Proud Mary.'' Well then, he misheard the 'tane expression, used it in the song, but then Tina sang true to the colloquialism: a case of reverse mondegreen.

Don't like that? Okay, here's another theory: John Fogerty meant pain, because he was talking about pumping iron. You know -- ``No pain, no gain.''

Wait, wait! Here's a reasonable theory: he used the homophone 'pane, meaning propane. People really use this contraction (testimony here).

What does John Fogerty think about all these theories? The net has an answer. According to radio personality Ken Hoffman,

I've been having an ongoing debate with a friend about the words to Proud Mary. He thinks the lyrics go, "Cleaned a lot of plates in Memphis, pumped a lot of `tane down in New Orleans." He says 'tane is short for octane, meaning the writer was pumping gas. One night I heard Jay Leno say the same thing.

Here's the correct lyric, straight from the writer John Fogerty:

"Sometimes I write words to songs because they sound cool to sing. Sometimes the listener doesn't understand what I'm singing because I'm dedicated to singing the vowel, having fun with the word sounds coming out of my mouth. `Cleaned a lot of plates in Memphis, pumped a lot of pain down in New Orleans,' is a good example. I think Tina Turner sang `tane' instead of `pain,' as in a contracted form of octane. But I knew what she meant," Fogerty said.

A likely story.

This entry is a bit rough right now, but it may be a while before I have a chance to come back and sand it down, and in the meantime it's holding up publication of the rest of the file. Sorry.

Quoting from Edward Frederic Obert's Internal Combustion Engine, (International Textbook Co., Scranton, Pa., 1968 3/e), p. 304:

The unknown octane rating of a test fuel is determined in the following manner: The engine [a standard one-cylinder model especially for testing] is operated with the test fuel, and the air-fuel ratio adjusted for maximum knock. The compression ratio is then varied until the knock intensity is standard (55 units). With the compression ratio locked at this setting, known blends of reference fuels are placed in the two auxiliary carburetor bowls. Each fuel is tested in turn, and the knockmeter readings are recorded. Eventually the original knockmeter reading (of 55) will be bracketed by two readings from two known reference fuels. One blend will have a higher octane number than the unknown sample, and the second blend will have a lower number (but the difference is restricted to about two octane numbers, since the knockmeter is nonlinear). Linear interpolation of the knockmeter readings for the three fuels is then made to find the octane rating of the sample of unknown fuel.

RON and MON are both measured with the same standard engine. The principal difference is that RON is measured with the test engine running at 600 RPM, and MON with the test engine running at 900 RPM. Also, the inlet temperature is 325K for RON and 422K for MON.

Octane ratings above 100 are obtained from comparisons with leaded isooctane.) I suppose linear extrapolation is stretched a bit to determine the octane numbers of n-octane (RON=-20, MON=-17).

    Rules of thumb regarding how octane numbers (RON and MON) vary with molecular structure:
  1. For unbranched, noncyclic alkanes (n-alkanes), octane number decreases with increasing chain length.
  2. Increasing the mass of an alkane by lengthening any of its existing chains (as opposed to replacing one of its hydrogens with a methyl group, say), also decreases octane number.
  3. For any fixed number of carbon atoms, increasing the number of side chains increases the octane number.
  4. Ring structures (cycloalkanes and aromatics) have higher octane numbers.
  5. Double bonds (alkenes) increase octane number.
Loosely speaking, one may say that the floppier the molecule, the lower the octane number. The highest-rated heptane is triptane, the structural isomer with the greatest possible number of branches. It's interesting that cycloheptane has unusually low octane ratings, breaking a pattern. Here are the RON's for cyclopentane through cyclooctane: 101, 83, 39, 71.

Eight bits. This term amounts to a machine-independent way of describing what is a byte on most machines. As such, it is useful in networking.

As it happens, eight bits is also a dollar.

[dive flag]

Diver slang for octopus -- the scuba gear, not the animal.

Office Channel Unit.

Oklahoma City University.

Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations. I got the feeling they didn't like Ontario Premier Mike Harris (1995-2002).

c-axis parallel to one edge.

Open Circuit Decay Voltage.

Onondaga County Water Authority. Notable for the similar (in some cases identical) pronunciation of the acronym and aqua (Latin for `water'). Onondaga County is in upstate New York. OCWA claims to be ``one of the largest public water suppliers in the U.S.,'' and bills itself as ``Central New York's Water Authority.'' (It actually serves a third of a million people -- doesn't seem like a lot to me -- in Onondaga, Oswego, Madison, and Oneida counties. That's the greater Syracuse area.)

Oven-Controlled Crystal Oscillator.

OC-1, OC-3, ...
Optical Carrier (OC signal rate at a multiple (1, 3, etc.) of 51.85 Mbps.


Oculus Dexter. Latin: `right eye.' Roman baseball players used to yell this as encouragement whenever the batter for their side let a pitch go through for a ball. Slightly more believable infotainment at the o.s. entry.

The abbreviation also stands for oculi dextri, because the Romans inflected noun phrases so you could tell an attributive noun even when the noun it modified was distant or entirely out of sight.

Spanish doesn't have a good translation for the English noun pet. (Patience -- it gets relevant!) The dictionaries give animal favorito, and I just encountered animal de compañia (`companion animal') in an email from Spain. A teacher's pet is not, however, ``un animal favorito del profesor'' or ``animal que le hace compañia a la profesora'' or anything like that. It's ``ojo derecho del profesor,'' which literally means `teacher's right [as opposed to left] eye.' In general, ``el ojo derecho'' of someone (also in the diminutive form, expressing affection: ``el ojito derecho'') is someone's `pet' in the metaphorical sense of a (usually subordinate or inferior) favorite. Don't think this is silly until you've considered the expression ``apple of my eye.'' Needless to say, the gender of the metaphor is determined by the metaphor's ``vehicle'' -- the eye, which is male. Hence, the forms given above apply whether the person referred to is male or female. The word oja (diminutive form ojita) means `leaf' (also `sheet [of paper]' and `[razor] blade'). For what it's worth, ojalá means something like `let's hope so.'

Old Dutch. A deceased member of the Indo-European Family. So go ahead and use it as a cool-sounding nickname -- confusion with the language name is unlikely to arise.

``Dutch'' was a common nickname in the US well into the twentieth century. It was typically applied to anyone of German descent. The practice is dated, disused,and largely forgotten, so I suppose anyone still called ``Dutch'' might well be called ``Old Dutch.''

Olive Drab (military abbreviation for the color that was for a long time the standard camouflage shade of American soldiers and arms. In the 1970's, the (West) German Military developed a pattern of green, brown and black (``NATO Green'') that is now used by the U.S. military.

Optical Density.

Organizational Development. I have no idea what that is, but I once chatted with someone who teaches it. I think the reason I avoided asking for an explanation was to prevent either of us from sounding stupid.


OD, O.D., o.d.
Outer Diameter.

Anaximander had a theory that the Earth was shaped like a cylinder, with height three times the diameter. The rest of the entry was written under the assumption that people live on the sides of the cylinder. This is pretty stupid, because (a) even the Greeks eventually realized that the Earth is round, and (b) if people lived on the sides, they'd slide down. In Anaximander's model, people live on the flat top surface of the Earth, but I can't be bothered to rewrite the rest of this entry. Here's how it stood before I discovered my stupid error.

You're bound to wonder about the North Star: is it a disc, or how does one see it if one isn't at the top of the cylinder? It's not such a problem: the 3-by-1 dimensions were standard for column drums, so I guess he had in mind something like a cylinder tapered towards the top, like a column. After all, he obviously couldn't have thought it was perfectly smooth either (could he?). I know, I know: now you want to know about the night sky: how is it possible that such a large region of the sky around the North Star could have been visible (in Winter) at times half a day apart? Look, Anaximander lived in the sixth century BCE -- this wasn't half bad for the time. I'm so glad that you've had an opportunity to ask all your questions.

In Anaximander's theory, the Sun was set in a wheel with dimensions 27 and 28. It's not entirely clear what those numbers meant: Anaximander's book or books are lost, and we have these numbers from third parties. That's as bad as getting your news from the MSM, but before the Internet there were no real alternatives. In chapter 4 of his Anaximander and the Architects: The Contributions of Egyptian and Greek Architectural Technologies on the Origins of Greek Philosophy (Albany: SUNY Press, 2001), Robert Hahn argues that these are radius rather than (as usually assumed) diameter dimensions, so Anaximander's Sun wheel has an o.d. of 56 Earth diameters and i.d. of 54.

Sources pass along a ``19'' for the Moon wheel, so at least he guessed it was closer. It's usually assumed that this 19 corresponds to the Sun's 28, so if you suppose that these are diameters, the Moon wheel has an i.d. of 36 Earth diameters. The stars are set in a cylinder inside the Moon wheel. (You weren't going to ask why we don't see stars against the dark side of the Moon were you? Good, because the answer is obvious: the reflected light of the Earth makes the dark crescent of the Moon so bright that it outshines the stars, just as the daytime atmosphere does. See, everything is easy if you have faith.) The standard conjecture is that the cylinder of stars, and the wheels carrying the Moon and Sun, formed a nice arithmetic progression; according to Hahn's view, that gives the star cylinder an o.d. and i.d. of 19 and 18, respectively.


Oxford Dictionary. Productive prefix for acronyms of book titles published by Oxford University Press, as in ODE. Come to think of it, the ones I refer to most often used an infix modifier initial: OCD, OED, and OLD.

Office Document Architecture. Also, because it is specified by OSI, sometimes expanded Open Document Architecture. Standard for electronic document transmission.

Official Development Assistance.

A Turkish word meaning room or chamber, and once used with the specialized sense of Janissary barracks, probably from the Old Turkish od, meaning fire. With the suffix -lik expressing function, it formed the word odalik, meaning a concubine in a harem or a female slave in general. (When you think about how slavery works, you realize there's not much difference in principle between these job descriptions.) The word was borrowed into French as odalique and (the form that became standard in French and English) odalisque.

Open Database Application Programming Interface from Borland.

Open DataBase Connectivity. (Refers to industry-standard framework.)

American Association of Oilwell Drilling Contractors. Founded in 1940. ``Oilwell'' was always one word in the organization name. I'm not sure when ``American Association of'' became part of the name (I think it always was part of the name), but in 1959 the AA appeared in the initialism of the association's new (and second) official logo (the logos are illustrated on this page). In 1972, the name changed to International Association of Drilling Contractors (IADC).

According to a presentation at the 1941 ODC Annual Meeting, more than 2,000 drilling contractors were operating in the US. There were about 4,000 rotary and 2,800 cable rigs available, and contractors owned about three-quarters of them. There's been tremendous consolidation, with far fewer independent contractors today.

Wells have also been getting progressively deeper. In 1859, in the face of some ridicule, Col. Edwin Drake drilled for oil near Titusville, Pennsylvania, and hit it at a depth of 59 feet, 8 inches. That was the first commercial oil well in the world, producing 35 barrels a day. (Pennsylvania was the first major oil-producing state. That's why a major brand of motor oil is called Quaker State.) Most early wells were shallower than 400 feet. The average well depth was about 3000 feet by 1941 and, according to the IPAA, 5572 feet in 2001. But average doesn't tell the whole story -- many modern wells are deeper than 25,000 feet. (You want metric units? Very well, a foot equals exactly 30.48 cm. ``Do the math,'' as they say.)

Generally speaking, increasing depth has meant a shift in basic drilling technology. Col. Drake used a cable rig: basically, this was an iron bit at the end of a cable. The bit functions as a ram: it is repeatedly raised by the cable and dropped. Drake's cable was pulled by a steam engine, and over time that was replaced by different motors. In principle, cable rigs can reach great depths -- a record of 11,145 feet was set by New York drillers in 1953 -- but efficiency decreases with depth. The alternative, and by far the most common kind of rig today, is the rotary rig.

The 1901 discovery of ``Spindletop'' oil field, on a salt dome near Beaumont, Texas, was taken as proof of the value of rotary drilling rigs, and popularized the use of drilling mud. As the numbers from the 1941 ODC meeting show, the gradual supplanting of cable rigs by rotary rigs was well along by 1940. Rotary rigs are basically drills: a long cylindrical tube (gradually lowered through the derrick and periodically extended by the addition of sections) transmits torque to a bit at the end. The bit can be a pretty ornery-looking device, decorated with toothed gears. The tube or ``drill string'' also serves to carry drilling mud down to the bit. The drilling mud (a mix of clay, water, and chemical additives) cools and lubricates the bit, and is recirculated by being forced up the borehole on the outside of the drill string. As it rises, it carries up rock cuttings. The cuttings are sieved out and the mud recirculated. (Sometimes the opposite circulation direction is used.) Rotary rigs have better hole-cleaning properties than cable rigs, and can transmit greater power to the bit.

Organización Demócrata Cristiana de América. `Christian Democrat Organization of America.' Based in Caracas, Venezuela. Oh, great.

Oppositional Developmental Disorder.

[Football icon]

odd front
In football, an odd front is a defensive formation with a defender over center (i.e., one in front of the offensive lineman who hikes the ball). An even front is a defensive formation in which no one lines up directly over center.

In basketball, most defenses are some variation of either man-to-man or zone (there are also ``junk defenses''). The zones are normally two, three, or four areas of the court surrounding the defended basket, and the zones deform a bit as the ball moves around. In an odd-front zone [defense], the outermost zone has one defender or three. In an even-front zone, the outermost zone has two (or four, who knows?) defenders. I wouldn't know a basketball from a large grapefruit, but according to the Internet, most teams attack an odd front zone with an even number front.

``Be My Baby,'' by Ronnie Spector, was a hit for the Ronnettes (oh-- is that where the name came from?). It included the lyric, ``For every kiss you give me / I'll give you three.'' I always found that theoretically challenging. Let's experiment!

Ordinary Differential Equation. The `ordinary' refers to the fact that there is only one independent variable. If there are two or more, it's a PDE.

Oxford Dictionary of the English Language.

Oilseeds Development Fund. A pot of money from Australian oilseed companies to fund initiatives of the Australian Oilseed Foundation (AOF).

Optical Distribution Frame[s].

Optoelectronic Data Filter.

Orientation Distribution Function.

Online Dictionary German-English. See the German entry for others.

One-Day International. A/k/a limited-overs internationals. A competition run by the International Cricket Council (ICC). The term ODI is used both attributively, for the form of cricket, and as a noun for the individual game or event played by ODI rules.

Open Data-link Interface.

Operational Display and Input Development. ODID III, ODID IV, ... represent studies of Human-Computer Interfaces (HCI) for air-traffic control (ATC), developed by the EEC, as well as software based on that research. ( E.g., these.)

Office Document Interchange Format in ODA (q.v.).

Object {Definition|Description|Design} Language. ODL (or an ODL) is used to declare a schema which defines the valid application types in an ODMG. Cf. OQL.

Open and Distance Learning.

Here's a project in History ODL. Here's a tendentiously acronymed ODL project from Finland. The Institute of [for] Educational Technology at an Open University in the UK is big on this stuff. Also visit the United States Distance Learning Association (USDLA).

Object Database Manager.

Object Database Management Group.

Optically-Detected Magnetic Resonance.

Ohio Department Of Development. Cf. WTN.

O'Donnell, Chris
You don't think it's demeaning enough to play yes-boy, perpetually impressed side-kick to a man in purple tights? Then read how the actor who plays Robin was doubly humiliated by a girl who has non-singing parts in MTV videos. [Update: he ended up marrying his reported college sweetheart, a person outside the business. The Aerosmith girl became Batgirl in the sequel.]

Why do these things happen to a guy with such a good chin and never a bad hair day? The answer was revealed in a special four-cleavages-on-the-cover issue of the weekly newsmagazine People. Chris O'Donnell, the prep school boy, is named one of the ten best dressed of 1995, along with Nicole Kidman, Oprah Winfrey, Cindy Crawford, Serena Linley, Marcia Clark (``best-dressed on a budget''), Jodie Foster and Elizabeth Hurley. Professional transvestite RuPaul gushes ``[h]e's so adorable.'' ``His mother must be very proud,'' Linda Dano declares. Cruel praise. One member of the best-dressed advisory panel costumed him for Batman Forever, but appears not to have recused himself from the decision, despite the evident motive for mischief.

Clearly, we have no Mickey Rourke here. And as Mickey Rourke once told an interviewer for Smart magazine:

``Every once in a while you've gotta roll the potato.''
No one knows what this means. (Dice.) However, Dorothy Parker once observed that
``You can lead a horticulture, but you can't make her think.''

Food for thought, probably.

A casting atrocity: O'Donnell as Hemingway!

[The purple-tights image link is to a locally mirrored copy of <http://wuarchive.wustl.edu/multimedia/images/gif/b/batman-a.gif>.]

Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. Part of the DHHS.

Optical Double Resonance.

Optically-Detected Resonance.

Office of Disability Services at UB.


Ozone-Depleting Substances.

Old Dominion University. In Norfolk, Virginia.

Optical Detector Unit.

Vorsicht: O-umlaut is alphabetized like O; the umlaut is ignored.

A FarOEan wind. Hey, it's in the Official Scrabble Players' Dictionary, that's good enough for me.

Old English. Precursor of Middle English.


Original Equipment. Term probably used most by motor-vehicle repair industry.

Outlook Express, Outhouse Excess. Two names, one official. A mail user agent (MUA, which see, please) from Microsoft. Outlook Express has been described as the ``(much better) free stepchild'' of Outlook. People who like it like the fact that it is a ``user-friendly and well-integrated client'' for users who are not themslves very well integrated. Also abbreviated OLE.

oe, Oe
This is a conventional way of writing the German letter ö (umlaut o in German) when the font or type or display hardware or whatever does not offer a mechanism to write the o with a dieresis on top.

The two-letter form is also used for traditional reasons in the spelling of some names. For example, the surname of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe is never spelled Göthe, except perhaps in jest or profound ignorance, though there are individuals who spell their own surname that way. Similarly, the common surname Schröder is written Schroeder when necessary, and most German immigrants to the US with that name seem to have adopted the oe spelling. In addition, however, there are Germans in Germany who regularly spell their surname Schroeder, and their numbers perhaps ammount to as much as 5% of the Schröder population.

Not entirely relevant, but worth knowing, is that in Goethe's own pronunciation, the oe sounded little like the ö/oe of standard modern German. It's not due to the two centuries of language evolution so much as to the fact that he used his own local dialect.

The association of oe with ö is apparently not arbitrary. My mother was taught in school in Germany, some time ago, that originally only oe was used, and that the ö is an abbreviated representation of this: the dieresis over the o represents the two vertical slashes made in writing an e (in the traditional Gothic script).

There are compound words in which oe represents two vowels. The typical example is a compound like soeben [so + eben].

The oe is also used to represent the ø. I don't know whether the ø replaced or arose as another short form of oe. It's also possible that ø is associated with oe indirectly through ö. See the Oerberg entry for why that might be.

One last thing: if you can't make an ö, it's a favor to no one if you write o with a double quote in any form or position. It's painful ugly. Please, just use the oe and have done.

(Georgia State) Office of the Education Accountability.

(Australian government) Office of the Employment Advocate. Sort of an antipodean OSHA. Not that I care, but I'm on a desultory mission to collect OEA expansions.

Oklahoma Education Association. Affiliated with the NEA.

Omaha Education Association. Affiliated with the NEA.

Oregon Education Association. Affiliated with the NEA.

You know, I should group these last three entries together, using {Oklahoma | Omaha | Oregon} in the definition. But if I did that, my leisure-time work product would decrease by two units, and my nominal relaxation efficiency would decrease even as I increased hobby effort. But I need a better excuse than that. A better excuse is that there are probably other OEA's with expansions beginning in OL or ON that aren't education associations, and we should be prepared.

Ontario {Energy | Expropriation} Association.

You're probably wondering why these organizations don't have an entry between the Omaha and Oregon Education Associations (OEA and OEA, respectively). The reason is, if I did that, the comment in the OEA entry above wouldn't make any sense.

The Ontario Expropriation Association ``is a non-profit, voluntary association of professionals having an interest in the field of expropriation law and practice.'' Emphasis on the word voluntary, I guess. ``Membership in the OEA includes lawyers, appraisers, planners, accountants, and others from both the private and public sectors. The association also includes members of the Ontario Municipal Board, and the Judiciary.''

As for the Energy Association, they are ``where energy idea and actions converge.'' The idea I get from their homepage image is that they want to extract energy from lightning to make lighting.

Organización de Estados Americanos. Organisation des états américains. Organização dos Estados Americanos. Spanish, French, and Portuguese names of the OAS.



Open E-Book standard. The coding structure that underlies most ebooks. Developed jointly by the Association of American Publishers (AAP) and Andersen Consulting Group Project.

Output Edge Control.

Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Established in 1961 with headquarters in Paris, the capital of France (a country in Europe) where it is l'OCDE. (We thought you'd want to know.)

Twenty-nine members currently: Austria, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece (this country needs a better name -- something dignified to go with its great history, not a homophone of grease), Hungary, Iceland (cool!), Ireland (calm down!), Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Luxembourg, Mexico (Mexico?), Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States.

Optics of Excitons in Confined Systems. An international conference series; the fifth was held in Germany in 1997. Eleventh: September 7-11, 2009 in Madrid, Spain.

Organization of Eastern Caribbean States. Just a fat-finger away from OECD. So close, yet so far.

Oxford English Dictionary.

Oxidation-Enhanced Diffusion. Hey, it could go either way: there's also ORD.

Omnificent English Dictionary In Limerick Form. Not particularly related to the OED or OED2, but they have many words in common.

Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd edition (1989).

Overall Equipment Effectiveness.

Opto-Electronic Integrated Circuit[s]. Integrated circuits with both electronic and optical signal-passing components. Here're a couple of pictures from Hughes Electronics.

Original Equipment Manufacturer.

OptoElectronic (OE) Modulator.

Office of Economic Opportunity. The joint chiefs of staff for the War on Poverty, back when that war was fought with a hope of victory, rather than as a holding action, during the Johnson administration.

Old Executive Office Building. Part of the White House complex. I'm not sure how I mean the word `complex.'

Old English Online Editions. Four vowels without the relief of a consonant? Is that allowed? How many syllables are in there?

The (OE)2 is a project of the MI at WMU. As of July 2002, the plural ``Editions'' is still prospective.

Office of Economic Policy.

When Latin teachers (I mean teachers of Latin, okay?) (don't get smart with me) refer to ``Oerberg,'' they are usually referring to H.H. Ørberg's Lingua Latina books, which we talk around at this LL entry.

A common practice in Germanic languages is to print or type oe for ö or ø when either of the latter is not available. (For a bit more on that, see the this oe entry.) When the relevant extension of the Roman alphabet is available, and in handwriting, the use of the two-letter equivalent is generally regarded as incorrect; the principal exceptions are surnames. Many people prefer to have their names written in a traditional form. (A similar thing occurs in Japanese, and it is the main source of the demand for printable kanji characters eliminated from standard use by the government.) Anyway, although the earliest editions of the Lingua Latina books used in the US bore his surname in the form Oerberg, later editions give the name as Ørberg, so that presumably is the form he prefers. Since the books make a strong effort to avoid showing any language other than Latin, I'm surprised I haven't seen a more Latinized version of his name anywhere (though writing oe for ø is a start).

German and Swedish use ö (called ``umlaut o'' in German and called by its pronunciation in Swedish) but not ø. Danish and Norwegian use ø but not ö. When Danish or Norwegian words written with an ø have close cognates in Swedish (and they often do) the cognates are written with ö. The converse (ö in Swedish typically mapping to ø in Danish and Norwegian cognates) is also true. Consequently, the two graphemes are often regarded as functionally equivalent (we won't talk about pronunciation), and one is sometimes substituted for the other when that is all that is available. At least, in English texts, one often finds ö substituted for ø. For example, in a typescript Introduction to Lingua Latina (it's mentioned toward the end of that LL entry), the author's surname is written Örberg.

Office of Educational Research and Improvement. Within the US Department of Education, so you're assured it will be intelligently run.

Old English Sheepdog. I didn't make it up; you can see it in the Dog Fanciers' Acronym List.

Optical Emission Spectroscopy. Equivalently, Atomic same.

Here's some instructional material from Virginia Tech.

Occupied Enemy Territory Administration. British government of Palestine between its conquest from the Ottoman empire in 1917 and the implementation of civilian government following the San Remo conference in 1920.

oeuvres de vulgarisation
French. There is no adequate translation into English, apparently.

German, Osteuropäische Zeit. `East European Time (zone).'

Old Fart. Old person, possibly an old fogey (see OF). Not necessarily complimentary. A virtually equivalent expression in Yiddish is Alter Kakker (`old shitter'), which came to be abbreviated AK (pronounced Ah Kah). It reminds me of an unbelievably puerile rhyme I learned in elementary school:
Here I sit,
All broken-hearted
Paid a dime to ____
But only ______.
You can figure it out. Hint: don't try to reconstruct this from scansion.

Old Flame.

Old Fogey. An old-fashioned person; a person set in old habits. Actually, since this defines fogey, I suppose an old fogey is an old old-fashioned person as opposed to a young fogey. May be confused with another OF. Back in the seventies, Oldsmobile became worried because its customer base was getting progressively older. (Not just the individual customers, who I'm sure you'll agree are bound to age; the average age of the customer base as a whole was increasing.) Instead of trying to improve the health of seniors, they faithlessly decided to try to attract younger customers. They agitated within GM for less hopelessly staid models, and they instituted a lame and transparently desperate ad campaign (temporarily successful, for all I know) around the neologism Youngmobile, although they didn't actually change the marque. The age of the models in Geritol advertising has been decreasing (or so it seems to me). Soon I expect it to be marketed as a baby food supplement.

You wanted more graceful transitions in the previous paragraph? What do you think this is -- literature?

A-driver's-license-and-car is babe-bait in high school and in retirement communities. In the former, parents may impose a curfew; in the latter, the state division of motor vehicles may impose a no-driving-after-dark restriction.

German, Originalfassung. `Original version.'


Outside Front Cover. The most prominent advertising space on a book. Much valued because, as they say, you can't tell a book by its cover.

Orthogonal Frequency Division Modulation. Part of the European standard for digital audio broadcast (DAB), inter alia. It's used for asymmetric digital subscriber loop (ADSL), and is being considered for high-definition television (HDTV).

I understand that after an initial IFFT, a ``cyclic prefix'' is slapped on the front, which is just a repeat of the end of the transformed signal, and that this makes decoding easy, and that another advantage of OFDM is that it's possible to design for ``bad spots'' in the frequency spectrum. The downside includes high peak-to-average power ratio, and the need for precise linearity in the amplifiers and very sharp frequency syncronization. Don't quote me on that, though -- the speaker intensity at the talk I attended on this stuff was fading into the air conditioner noise (white, Carrier), and the overheads were not easy to decode.

Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiple Access. Same as OFCDM.

Overall Factory Effectiveness.

OF and only oF. Evidently, on the basis of iff.

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offensive line
Please! This is a family glossary! As we envision it, the whole family [mom, her current significant other (SO), those step-children living at home] can gather 'round the monitor, a log-fire mpeg endless-looping in a corner window, and together read about

off the record
Here's something I thought was uninteresting in an interesting way: in the October (I think) 2005 issue of Vanity Fair, Michael Wolff reported that
[Vice President Dick Cheney's] office, oddly, or nervously, or defensively, refuses to supply a daily schedule of his recent activities, and, furthermore, makes this refusal off the record. (Truly--a spokesperson refused to provide information only under the condition that I agreed not to say she refused to provide information.)

I suppose she must have threatened to refuse to refuse to provide the information unless he agreed not to reveal her refusal. I think Wolff struck a bad bargain here, and it's not even clear that he honored the confidentiality agreement. It probably depends on the precise wording. What the nonspokesperson should have done was provide the lack of information on a recursive conditional basis. The reporter would have had to agree not to report any off-the-record information, with the stipulation that any information about off-the-record information (including but not limited to the conditions under which it might be reported) would be considered off-the-record information itself. One shudders to think what stick could correspond to such an indigestible carrot. One also wonders about the topology of such an uninformative information set. This set might have a hole in its interior: is it permissible not to report the daily schedule one hasn't been given, or is this tantamount to suggesting that one hasn't received the schedule?

Here's a less convoluted situation, but one with a little more emotional weight. It's from a Washington Post story of June 20, 2007, reporting the continuation of a ban on the use of BlackBerrys in French government ministries and the presidential palace. (After all, BlackBerry data are routed through servers in the UK and the US; the NSA may be listening.)

An Orange France spokesman said Wednesday that the company had no comment on the government's decision to banish the BlackBerry from the corridors and offices of government because of security concerns. The spokesman, however, pleaded not to be named declining to comment.

RIM, the Canadian company that makes the BlackBerry, says messages sent via BlackBerrys are super-duper secure (not an exact quote). Of course, they have to say that. The question is, what are they not telling us, and what are they not telling us that they're not telling us? Check out the non-denial denial entry also, but don't tell 'em I sentcha.

Oxygen-Free, High-Conductivity (copper).

Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight. Oversees Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae.

Optical Free Induction Decay. A short-pulse generation method for lasers; see Eli Yablonovitch and J. Goldhar, Applied Physics Letters, 25, 580 (1974). See short bibliography

Oklahoma Foreign Language Teachers' Association. The Oklahoma affiliate of SWCOLT (the Southwest Conference on Language Teaching), which is in turn a regional affiliate of ACTFL (the American Council of Teachers of Foreign Languages).

OFM, ofm
Order of Friars Minor. A Franciscan order.

Oxygen Free Radical. Thought to be a really bad guy in (animal) aging.

(UK government) OFfice for STandards in EDucation.

Office of Fair Trading. A UK government agency.

Orbiter Flight Test. NASA acronym.

OFfice of TELecommunications. British government's telecommunications (wire-line and wireless) regulator.

of the South
The ``Harvard of the South'' is a much-disputed title. It might be Duke (in Caroliney) or Vandy or Emory or any of a score of other places that claim the epithet, or just possibly none of them (so foller th'link awreddy!). Here is a list of X's and Y's, where Y is ``the <X> of the South'' and X is not Harvard.

Niagara: Cumberland Falls (in Whitley County, Kentucky)
Grand Canyon: Breaks Canyon
William Shakespeare: William Faulkner

See also our FSU entry. (F is for Florida, SU is for Soviet Union, and X is for the People's Republic of Berkeley.)

Overseas Filipino Workers. That's Filipinos working outside the Philippines.

Open Financial eXchange. An XML-based project of the banking industry to automate the exchange of bills, statements, and payments.

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Offensive Guard. An inside lineman in American (``grid-iron'') football.

Output Gate.

Old Graduate College. Original wing of the Graduate College, the residential college (local name for a dorm) at Princeton University. There central square is dominated by a statue of Andrew Fleming West, first dean of Princeton's graduate school. West had struggled with university president Woodrow Wilson over whether or not Princeton should have a graduate school. When he lost, Wilson left Princeton and went on to become president of the US. I'm not sure if this counts as a service of the Graduate School. Years later, to compound the insult, Princeton University went on to name its school of public affairs ``The Woodrow Wilson School.''

Cf. NGC.

The OGC sits at the top of a hill, on the far side of a golf course from the main undergraduate campus. On a misty morning, coming into Princeton on the train spur from Princeton Junction, the most prominent sight off to the west is the OGC's Cleveland Tower, rising like an upscale Brigadoon in central New Jersey. More than one person claims to have felt disoriented by the sight.

Oregon Graduate Institute of Science & Technology.

Office of Guest Investigator Programs (Code 668 of GSFC).

Optical Gravitational Lensing Experiment.

Other Government Securities.

Og Trans Fat
You must mean ``Og Tran's fat.'' I didn't even realize Og was a Vietnamese name.

AlcOHol. The abbreviation doesn't really reflect middle letters of that word. It represents the chemical symbols for oxygen (O) and hydrogen (H). An alcohol is an alkane with an -OH group substituted for a hydrogen.

Hydroxyl group. Like OH but not sharing any of its electrons. Since many of the common alkalis are hydroxides (in particular, ammonium and metal hydroxides), it occasionally appears as part of the abbreviation for a base.

Off Hook. A standard modem light.

Post-office abbreviation for Ohio.

The Villanova Center for Information Law and Policy serves a page of Ohio state government links. USACityLink.com has a page with some city and town links for the state.

The song ``My City was Gone'' first appeared on the Pretenders' album Learning to Crawl. It was written by lead singer Chrissie Hynde, a native of Akron, Ohio, after she returned from a long stay in Britain. The song ends

Ay, oh, where did you go, Ohio?

OverHead. A common acronym component: POH, SOH, TOH.

Oh be a fine girl kiss me right now sweet
Mnemonic for the spectral classification sequence O B A F G K M R N S. There are others.

The spectral classification sequence categorizes the light spectra of stars. The system was developed by E. C. Pickering, director of the Harvard College Observatory from 1877 to 1919, a time when it was dark at night across most of the US and it wasn't ridiculous to operate a professional astronomical observatory in coastal Massachusetts. Back when there were competing spectral classifications (due to Secchi and Vogel), Pickering's system was known as the Harvard system or the Henry Draper system. Henry Draper was a benefactor of the observatory.

Pickering's system is based not on the color of the star, but on the relative absorption of a sequence of pairs of absorption lines. Thus, as one moves along the main sequence from B to A (i.e.: B0, B1, B2, ... B9, A0) the relative absorption of helium lines decreases and the hydrogen absorption lines become more prominent.

OverHead Cams. The cams are eccentric widths of a cam rod that actuates poppet valves (see OHV, for want of a less specific entry) in an internal combustion engine. Overhead here really means over the cylinder heads, so the valves can be actuated directly, rather than by an indirect mechanism involving rocker arms.

A nice description is served on this page.

Oxygen Hole Centers. Charged defects in silicon dioxide.

Ordered Hierarchy of Content Objects.

2-hydroxydesipramine. (Hydroxy radical is -OH, desipramine is DMI.) OHDMI is the major active metabolite of DMI found in blood plasma.

Office of Human Development Services.

O. Henry
Pen name of William Sydney Porter (1862-1910). There are probably fewer than twenty popular theories of how this name was chosen. Whether he was really guilty of embezzling from the Austin National Bank is also controversial. He is famous for writing short stories less interesting than his own life.

Optimized Hartree-Fock-Slater (HFS, q.v.). See I. Lindgren, Physics Letters 19, 382 (1965); Arkiv Fysik (Sweden) 31, 59 (1966). For relativistic generalization, see Arne Rosén and Ingvar Lindgren, ``Relativistic Calculations of Electron Binding Energies by a Modified Hartree-Fock-Slater Method,'' Physical Review 176, 114 (1968).

Old High German. In modern German: Das Althochdeutsch (see ahd.). The ``high'' (or hoch) refers to geographic elevation -- high in the mountains to the south, highland as opposed to lowland (from Flanders to Pomerania). (Cf. ``Upper'' vs. ``Lower'' Egypt.) The term Hochdeutsch tends to be used in a more restrictive sense today, referring to the standard dialect as opposed to the local languages (some of which are also high German in the strictly descriptive sense). For the rest of this entry, however, I will use ``High German'' in the broader sense of the language subfamily that arose in southern and central Germany.

High German is a division of West Germanic. West Germanic is one of three main divisions of the Germanic language family, which in turn is one of a dozen or so major divisions of the Indo-European language family. The other two main Germanic branches are North Germanic, otherwise known as Scandinavian, and East Germanic. The East Germanic tribes migrated from the Baltic and settled around the Black Sea by the fourth century. Then came Attila. Someday if you're good I won't tell you the story. It's very exciting, and it doesn't have a very happy ending.

West Germanic includes Anglo-Saxon and its descendants (including English, a language you may be aware of), Frisian, Dutch, and related languages, and the two language groups Low and High German. Some time around 500 A.D., a sound shift occurred in OHG that still distinguishes Hochdeutsch (the more precise term for German from other West Germanic families.

The Low German branch of West Germanic has surviving members, such as Plattdeutsch, among the various local languages of modern Germany. But High German is the ancestor of standard German, and historically, most German literature has been written in OHG or one of its descendant languages. German literature is thus divided into three periods. Old High German (800 A.D. to 1050), Middle High German (1050-1500), and New High German (1500 to present)

Other Health Insurance.

Oh, I don't care how I look
You think after I spent three hours to achieve the effortlessly-beautiful look, that I would spoil it with a smudge of ugly truth? Get real: deception is the essence of personal allure.

Yes, yes, you're thinking of Violet, George and Mary Bailey's childhood friend in It's A Wonderful Life. She says, ``Oh, this ol' thing? I only wear this when I don't care how I look.'' The Violet character's best line, m.A.n., is uttered by the actress playing her as a child in an early scene. Coming into Mr. Gower's drugstore, she meets the little Mary Hatch,

Mary: I love [George].
Violet: Me too!
Mary: [But] you love all the boys!
Violet: What's wrong with that?
(From memory; first three lines approximate.)

Oh, I'm sure, like, ``yeah.''
This phrase caught my ear the other day and gave it a sharp tug. It's a minor miracle that people who have thoughts no more intelligent than this are nevertheless able to articulate those thoughts in language that can be understood. I mean, like, if they had to figure out how to construct a sentence from grammatical first principles, they'd have to like, just gurgle, you know?

Look, what I'm trying to say here is, most people have an unconscious mind that would blow out their conscious mind in any fair test of intelligence, see? The conscious mind gets all the publicity only because it's out in front. Cool, no? Anyway, practice the head term until it rolls off your tongue like some bad meat you ate an hour ago, and you can sound spontaneous too.

A structural formula for Iodous acid. O=I-O-H would have been better, but we understood.

Old German word for `uncle.' Also the surname of Georg Simon Ohm (1789-1854), who in 1826 discovered the resistance law named in his honor.

The SI unit of resistance, named after Georg Simon Ohm. This is the only metric base unit abbreviated by a Greek letter (a capital omega). The only other Greek letter normally used in metric unit abbreviations is a lower-case mu, indicating a factor of 10-6.

The h in the German noun Ohm is silent -- it only serves to indicate that the o is long (in terms of vowel quantity). In Greek, the distinction is made by using different vowels omega and omicron, as the names imply.

Greek does not have a letter aitch. The capital eta looks like H, but it's just a vowel. When Greek is written in Roman characters, aitches are inserted to represent aspiration. Specifically, th, ph, and ch transliterate the Greek letters theta, phi, and chi, which in Greek represent the aspirated versions of the unvoiced stops tau, pi, and kappa, respectively. (We do the same thing with voiced stops in Hindi: bh, dh, gh.) Vowels and rho can also be aspirated, but there aren't separate letters for the aspirated versions. Instead, the characters for the unaspirated sounds are augmented by a breathing mark. (The breathing mark, also called spiritus asper in Latin, looks like a tiny left parenthesis mark above the letter.) Thus, the Greek words that we write hero and rhetor look like ero and retor with specks of ink or screen phosphor along the top. As you can see, the aitch indicating aspiration is usually written after the aspirated sound in Roman characters, but before the aspirated vowel. However, when a Greek word begins with an aspirated diphthong (as in haima, `blood'), the breathing mark is placed over the second vowel.

Well, I was trying to build to something. I was going to mention that vowels in Greek were only aspirated (or at least only got aspiration marks) at the beginning of a word. (This makes it a bit like English, which now has lost word-final aspiration -- it occurs only in foreign loans like Bach and loch -- and limited intervocalic aspiration.) Then I was going to bring in the microohm, and, like a soufflé, this Greek concoction would rise and yield mÔ! Or mo' or something. (I don't like soufflé.) But alas, as often happens, the ingredients didn't come together quite right and, deflatedly, I must simply ask you to proceed now to the mho entry.

Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation (Division) of the state of California.

German: `without.' That's in the sense of `lacking,' antonym of with, not in the older sense of English without that contrasts with within. The word ohne evolved in both low and high German dialects from the negating prefix ohn-, un-, cognate with a, an- in Greek and Sanskrit, in- in Latin (with assimilated forms i-, il-, im-, and ir-), and English un-. In fact, ohn- continued to be productive as a prefix in German until about the 17th century, but today the form (and pronunciation) un- is standard.

At first blush, English appears unusual in having a compound to fill this semantic slot, but that is mainly appearances. Dutch has zonder. (And Dutch zonde is `sin,' so zonder zonde is `sinless.') This zonder is cognate with, and sounds a lot like, the German word sonder. The original senses of the word included `outside' (i.e., `without'), and considering that that is the sense of some Indic cognates (like reconstructed Old Indic sanu-tar), there seems to be some parallel reasoning going on here. Sonder (also sunder) accumulated some related meanings, such as `for each,' and now the main sense of the adjective (and adverb) is `separate(ly).' This all seems very reasonable if one meditates on the related senses of ``outside of'' and ``apart from'' in English. In fact, the outside notion just won't die. The Swedish adverb ut has about the same meaning as its English cognate `out,' utan expresses `without.' The Danish is uden. For Spanish and some other Romance, see sin.

Observatoire de Haute Provence. It observes the ``upper province'' -- to wit: the sky. It's an astronomical observatory. What's that? No? You say that's spelled differently, and there's an old region of France whose name means `higher province'? A likely story. Next thing, you'll be telling me a city has a name that means `colony,' or a country has chosen as its name something generic like ``United Kingdom'' or something.

OverHead (slide or transparency) Projector. I've never personally encountered this acronym in all my years of using overhead projectors of this sort, but I've seen it attested. See also the next entry and the Wasei eigo term OP.

OverHead Transparency Panel. Also called projection plate. Allows a live computer screen image to be projected by an ordinary overhead projector (OHP). The market is currently dominated by LCD's.

German `ear.'

German `eye.' If you can't pronounce your vowels accurately, use Auge.

Oregon Health & Science University.

Off-Highway Vehicle.

OverHead Valves. The valves control intake to cylinders of fuel-air mix and exhaust from cylinders of burnt fuel in an internal combustion engine. In ordinary automobile engines, the valves are always overhead (i.e., at the end of the cylinder, in the cylinder head). The expression ``overhead valve'' derives its meaning from indirection: it simply avoids saying that the camshaft is overhead (that would be OHC), and so implies that the camshaft is elsewhere, and that the valves are therefore actuated by the old pushrod-and-rocker-arm mechanism. A nice description is served on this page. For a completely unrelated kind of indirection, which you really have no interest in, see my uncle's comments at the ZNR entry.

Automobile engines are almost all four-stroke engines. Hand-held chainsaws, lawn mowers, boats with outboard engines, motorcycles, and snowmobiles all traditionally used two-stroke engines. The principal advantage of a two-stroke engine is that you get one power stroke per cylinder per revolution of the crankshaft, rather than one every two revolutions. This means that roughly, you only need half as many cylinders and you have a lighter engine. Two-strokes are also lighter because they're simpler. The earliest designs had no valves, just inlet and outlet openings on the side of the cylinder, closed by the side of the piston. Later designs improved operation slightly with reed valves -- one-way valves that do not require actuation (so no cams, etc.). Some two-strokes do have valves at the top of the cylinder, but I don't know anything about their actuation.

The philosophical disadvantage of two-strokes is that they're sloppy: they squeeze the four operations of compression, power, exhaust, and intake into just two strokes (one complete turn of the crankshaft). This means that you're adding fuel-air mix as you're removing combusted fuel from the same cylinder, so some fuel is wasted: being exhausted immediately as it is let in. Fuel injection gets around this, since fuel can be injected just before spark, and that approach has also been tried. In any case, there are many kinds of inefficiency, and carrying a heavier, harder-to-repair engine may not be worth slightly greater fuel efficiency.

In practice, many other factors influence fuel efficiency, and fuel pass-through is not even the most important cause of hydrocarbon (unburnt fuel) emissions now. Nevertheless, with the exception of hand-held chainsaws, the two-stroke applications listed earlier are moving toward four-stroke. The main practical advantage is vastly reduced noise.

Operations and Inspection.

Chat-room rebus for ``Oh I See.''

Organisation of the Islamic Conference.

Oregon Independent Colleges Association. Affiliated with NAICU.

The local form or forms of a folktale, folksong, or any other folk genre. ``Local'' in the definition may refer to a village, state, tribe, region, nation or other grouping.

The first part of the term is derived from the Greek oîkos, `house, dwelling.' Other English terms with the same root tend to be based on the Latinized root form oeco-, and the initial oe has generally eroded to e (as in foetus > fetus). In fact, the only common words I can think of that have the root are economy and ecology, and derivationally related words. (According to the OED, oecology was modeled on oeconomy.) The Greek original of that word, oikonomia, essentially had to do with household management. [For a really thorough discussion of the semantic evolution of the word economy in English, see the beginning of Moses Finley's The Ancient Economy (Un. of Calif. Pr., 1973).] In German, economy is Ökonomie. (The umlauted character represents oe.) The word Ökonomie shares the semantic field of economy with the more common Wirtschaft. (The distinction doesn't line up with that of economy and finance. Look, this is the oicotype entry. Wait until we have a dedicated Ökonomie entry, or look in a German dictionary.)

By now you're eager to know how oicotype happens to be spelled the way it is. The reason is probably that the word was introduced by a Swede, Carl Wilhelm von Sydow. See Selected Papers on Folklore, ed. Laurits Bødker (Copenhagen: Rosenkilde and Bagger, 1948).

Oklahoma Independent Colleges and Universities. Affiliated with NAICU.

Original Issue Discount. A term used by the US IRS. If you need help preparing your tax return, try visiting the IRS website.

A suffix that forms adjectives; in general foofoid or baroid means ``having a form resembling foofa or bar.'' Used as a noun, the term often excludes, say, foofa from the category of objects that resemble foofa. The morpheme is common in science and math, and widely used in zoology to name taxa above the level of genus on the basis of a characteristic genus or species. Names with -oidea and similar endings (oideaoids? nah) correspond to broader and more inclusive (i.e., higher) taxa than names ending in -id. Ultimately, the -oid suffix arose from the Greek word eidos, `form.'

Optoelectronics Industry Development Association. A North American industry association; a member of ICOIA.

Spanish for `heard.' More precisely, the female form of the past participle of oír, `to hear.'

Organismo Internacional para la Energía Atómica. Spanish name of `International Atomic Energy Agency' (IAEA). If it bothers you to see the cognate of English organism here, think of it as an ``international body'' rather than an ``international agency.''

Office for Intellectual Freedom (of the ALA). See also FEN.

Organisation internationale de la Francophonie. It's not just about language: L'Organisation internationale de la Francophonie est une institution fondée sur le partage d'une langue et de valeurs communes.

Office of Inspector General.

Open Information Interchange. Index of Standards here.

Operations Interface Module.

Orientation-Imaging Microscopy. SEM-based imaging technique for analyzing the crystallographic structure of materials.

Standard onomatopoeia for pig sound. The fact is, pigs are much more expressive than this would suggest. See two postings [(1) and (2)] on the Classics list.

One Income, No Kids. A marketing demographic. Less common than DINK.

One Insufficient income, Nasty Kids and Spouse. Acronym coined by TV Guide writer Harold Poskin, to describe shows like ``Roseanne'' (in which Roseanne plays Roseanne Conner, a cynical blue-collar wife who works in a beauty salon and has better laugh lines than her kids).

Roseanne (the show) ran from 1988 to 1997. Its outlook would appear to have had little in common with that of ``The Cosby Show,'' which ran from 1984 to 1992. The Cosby Show was a sort of black ``Father Knows Best'' (1954-1963). Bill Cosby said he created it partly because he was tired of sit-coms in which ``the children were brighter than the parents.''

(UN) Office of Internal Oversight Services. ``Services'' is probably the key word here, followed by ``Internal.'' Pressured by the outcry over a vast Oil-for-Food scandal in 2004, SG Kofi Annan appointed an Independent Inquiry Committee (IIC) headed by Paul Volcker. The report of its investigation, released in January 2005, immediately became the main source of information about how the opaque UN bureaucracy operates.

It is clear from the IIC's report that the OIOS generated many reports accurately detailing major problems and making sensible recommendations. It is also clear that, with minor exceptions, the content of these reports was ignored. Apparently the OIOS has no enforcement power and no mechanism to instigate enforcement. This is deeply characteristic of the UN, which is ultimately sustained by a faith that words magically lead to deeds, without credibly threatened penalties or force.

Old Irish.

Ontario Institute of Studies in Education. Officially, they seem to prefer the less grandiose OISE/UT, but OISE/UT is apparently the only institution with ``Ontario Institute of Studies in Education'' as part of its name, and plain OISE is widely used.


Ontario Institute of Studies in Education of the University of Toronto. It has a degree program leading to a B.Ed. in Classical Studies (Latin), or has had, and as of this writing (2005) that was the only the only anglophone Latin Teaching program in Canada. This program was suspended in 2005-6 but will run in 2006-7. (I don't know how you do that -- what do students in the program do?) Longer-term continuation of the program is in that parlous state known as ``under review.''

Oxidation-Induced Stacking Fault.

Office of Information Technology.

Organización Internacional del Trabajo. Spanish, International Labor Organization.'

Optoelectronic Industry and Technology Development Association. A Japanese industry association; a member of ICOIA

Official Journal of the European Communities.

Orange Juice.

Initials and nickname of Orenthal James Simpson. Vide Akita.

Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. Part of the US DOJ. I think they're only trying to prevent delinquency, not justice. At most, they want to prevent Justice from having to take its just course. And the Juvenile in ``Juvenile Justice'' -- I'm pretty sure that is supposed to characterize the defendants. Why are you reading this when you could be doing something useful?

Office of Justice Programs. Part of the US Department of Justice (DOJ).

On-the-Job Training. Sink-or-swim. Technique used with new US presidents.

Okay. Expansion, if it indeed be an acronym or abbreviation, is like the etymology generally, much in dispute. Oll Korrect is a popular expansion. See plenty on this page.

OKlahoma. USPS abbreviation.

The Villanova Center for Information Law and Policy serves a page of Oklahoma state government links. USACityLink.com has a page with some city and town links for the state.

OKay Application Programming Interface (API)? No cigar. The okapi is a forest ruminant, related to the giraffe but smaller and with an ordinary neck. It has a reddish-brown body, creamy white cheeks and whitish stripes and bands on the legs. If you haven't seen one, it may be because it lives only in the Congo river basin. It seems that Africa has cornered the market on striped ruminants (short list at the zebra entry). There ought to be a reason.

AlcohOL suffix in organic chemistry. Used to indicate that a chemical species has an -OH (``hydroxyl'') functional group attached to a carbon.

If the carbon is part of a benzene ring, then the compound is called a phenol or (with multiple hydroxyl groups) polyphenol. Otherwise -- with hydroxyl group (or groups all) bonded to nonaromatic carbon(s), it is an alcohol.

There are a number of older chemical terms that end in -ol and do not describe alcohols or phenols. Typically these are terms widely used among all chemists in Germany during the nineteenth and early twentieth century, and which have lingered in use among nonchemists and industrial chemists after the IUPAC rationalization of chemical nomenclature. Prominent among these no-longer-appropriate uses of -ol are the aromatic (but nonphenolic) chemical names ``benzol, toluol, and xylol,'' now replaced by benzene, toluene, and xylene.

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Offensive Lineman. An offensive position in American football. This particular position does not lead to fame.

Office Lady. Wasei eigo abbreviation of wasei eigo coinage. Cf. DK.


Optical Limiter. A kind of optical circuit breaker: nonlinear optical material that increases opacity with intensity, to protect sensitive or valuable equipment. There was an episode of TOS in which Spock's eyesight was spared by the fact that Vulcans evolved a natural OL. He took his initially apparently permanent blindness stoically, of course.

Ordered List tag in HTML. Different numbering styles can be specified using the TYPE parameter, as described in these examples.

OnLine Analytic Processing. This is a pretty meager entry, isn't it. Try the DW entry, there might be something interesting there.

In the previous paragraph, the sentence containing the word meager is declarative, not interrogative. That's why I didn't use a question mark. Some people disapprove. We need to have an international conference on this question. The question question, I mean. You understand?

Optical Linear Algebraic Processor.

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Outside LineBacker (LB). OLB's line up in a two-point stance behind the defensive linemen (typically two defensive ends (DE's) and one or two tackles (DT's), and outside the DE's. There are normally three or four linebackers, with the outside linebackers typically lining up beside or slightly forward of the one middle linebacker (MLB) or the two inside linebackers (ILB's).

Outside linebackers used to be called defensive ends, but that sounded slow, so they came up with a different name. More seriously, the linebacker position was invented by legendary University of Michigan coach Fielding Yost. The number of men on the field (11 per team) hadn't changed, so I guess the original OLB's were DE's who were playing slightly off the line.

Usually pejorative adjective meaning like Keith Olbermann, host of MSNBC's hourlong ``Countdown,'' a news program with extensive commentary. (Five news stories are counted down on each show.) My understanding is that the likeness is to his leftward or pro-Democratic or anti-GOP bias, but he only works TV, so I only know him by his and MSNBC's reputation. ``Matthewsesque'' gets way more ghits, but a large fraction of these are for the musician Dave. Without careful study, I can only say that the adjective Matthewsesque (for Chris) is at least comparable in usage to Olbermannesque, and possibly much more common.


Oxford Latin Course. One of the more readings-based series, with a strong focus on Horace and the Late Republic/Early Empire period. In principle, most of the widely used introductory Latin books and book series can be used at all levels from middle school to college. In practice, grammar-intensive books like Wheelock work better at the higher levels, while the grammar-soft-pedaling series like OLC, CLC, and Ecce Romani are better-stomached by middle-schoolers. Here's a collection of useful bookmarks for teachers of Latin using the OLC. The textbooks most commonly used in the US are listed at the Latin school texts entry.

On-Line Card Catalog. There is a small number of very widely used systems. There was also a transition around the turn of the century, from curses-based systems like NOTIS to browser-based systems like ALEPH.

I guess ``card catalog'' (like ``carriage return'') has lost some semantic traction, so OPAC will become increasingly common.

As we stroll briskly down electronic memory lane, let's pause a moment and record a melancholy milestone, a John Henry moment. After Notre Dame's libraries switched to an OLCC system in the 1980's, and then to another in the 1990's, the old card catalog at Hesburgh Library had some inertia. It ceased to be updated, but it remained available, and I even used it a couple of times in the late 1990's when the electronic catalog was off line. In particular, during and just before final exams, Hesburgh stays open around the clock, which is cool, but the old electronic catalog went off-line after about 3 AM, which was not cool. That was when I used the cards. I'm sorry I didn't record the dates of these significant events. It was probably before 2000 that the card catalog cabinets were moved out of the first floor.

Once all volumes were on electronic record, the cards started to be recycled for scratch paper. You would look up a book on the OLCC, grab an old card from a convenient stack near the PC, and write the call number on the back of the old card. It was faster than printing out. There is a certain poignant nobility in this final humble service of each card, making its lonely departure among bad photocopies and forbidden candy wrappers, too soon, forever, out of the only library it had ever called home.

One evening last week, during the traditional end-of-semester scavenger hunts, a callow youth approached me and asked where the card catalog was. He wasn't sure what he needed, but apparently he needed a catalog card. When I reached over to get him one, I realized that the scrap-paper stack had only the recycled bad-photocopy slips. I did find a couple of old cards nearby, but today (December 11, 2005) I learned that we have indeed come to the end of an era: the capacious cabinets were finally emptied a couple of months ago, and since then there are no more cards to refill the scrap-paper stacks. Sic transit.

Eda Kriseová is a Czech novelist, was a dissident under Communist rule. Thanks in part to international pressure, she received an exit visa from Czechoslovakia in 1988.

She visited Harvard, where she was to give a reading. Sitting down at a computer terminal in Widener Library, she typed in the words ``Czech underground literature.'' To her surprise, the computer responded. She then typed in her own name. The computer answered that it had carbon copies of some of her own samizdat manuscripts. ``I burst into tears,'' she said. ``I felt like a victorious Robinson Crusoe, whose message in the bottle had washed up on shore.''

She went home. Fast forward to -- no wait! Better go to slow-mo; everything happened suddenly. On January 16, 1989, Kriseová's friend Vaclav Havel and seven other civil rights campaigners were arrested for hooliganism. They were trying to place flowers at the statue of St. Wenceslas in Wenceslas Square. (Wenceslas is the English form of the Czech name Vaclav.)

On May 17, 1989, Vaclav Havel was released after serving only four months of his nine-month term for this crime. Ms. Eva Kvetenska, the judge who ordered his release, read a report from the prison authorities that Havel, a playwright, had shown ``disciplined conduct.'' She ordered him placed on two years' probation, pronouncing that this would be long enough to guarantee his ``re-education.'' In 1968, Havel had gone on the air with the short-lived Free Czech Radio, during the Soviet-led invasion by fraternal socialist armed forces that crushed a liberalization known as the Prague Spring. From that time, he was permanently banned from publication and performance. (The next year, a student named Jan Palach immolated himself at St. Wenceslas Square in protest. The hooliganism of January 16, 1989, was to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of his suicide.) As a coauthor of Charter 77, Havel was arrested within 24 hours of that declaration's announcement; charges related to Charter 77 work won him a four-year prison term in 1979.

Havel became president of Czechoslovakia on December 29, 1989. Well, other things happened too, so I'm just concentrating on the stuff that seems relevant to this entry. Kriseová became a member of Havel's advisory board. In 1992, she attended a conference organized by Partisan Review, on ``Intellectuals and Social Change in Eastern Europe'' (held at Rutgers University in Newark, NJ). Her talk, on the last day of the conference, was entitled ``Where I Hid My Manuscript.'' [The block of quoted text above is from Jacob Weisberg's report on the conference in the back-page ``Diarist'' feature of the New Republic: ``Newark Diarist'' for May 4, 1992, p. 41 (vol. 206, #18).] Kriseová wrote Havel's official biography, which received mixed reviews.


Oxford Latin Dictionary. Many classicists still prefer Lewis and Short (L&S), the century-old Oxford Latin dictionary that the OLD was intended to displace.

L&S has older scholarship, of course; in particular, our understanding of Indo-European is supposed to be improved. I've also read the claim that L&S is notorious for the inaccuracy of its indications of vowel length. I guess notoriety is a matter of degree.

On behalf of the L&S it may be said that it has more usage information, details on semantic shifts, etc. Also, the OLD -- unlike L&S -- is more sharply focused on classical texts for cites and sources, and excludes Christian and other late antique evidence. Some see this as reflecting the values of ``old-style Christian-hating classicists.'' Fight! Fight!

old age
The psalm has been updated to reflect medical progress; by common agreement with the oldest person present (see Governance), this is something you can't die of before age 80. However, the enfeebled condition of all those who have survived to the age of 60 is recognized by the Burger King at the UB commons--a discount is available. Vide AARP).

Old English sheepdog
This amazing creature achieves its status as an Old English sheepdog before it is as much as a month old, even in dog months. The AARP is very interested.

old flame retardant
Eugene A. Nida writes
In general, redundancy is calculated as a ``left-to-right'' procedure; that is to say, the predictability of a following term is calculated upon the extent to which preceding forms determine its probability of occurrence.
In actual speech, however, as well as in the understanding of written materials, persons do not decode merely from left to right. Rather, they take in what might be called ``meaningful mouthfuls'' and actually determine the meaning by two-directional decoding, so that redundancy must be calculated both lineally and structurally.
[In Toward a Science of Translating: With Special Reference to Principles and Procedures Involved in Bible Translating (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1964).] When people who can think but not calculate try to put their ideas into mathematical terms, the results can be amusing.

Old French
Bears approximately the same relation to Modern French that Middle English bears to Modern English. Either that, or postmodern English (q.v.) is spoken.

I'm somewhat conflicted about this entry. On the one hand, ``Olds'' is clearly a short form of the name Oldsmobile, and thus clearly appropriate as an entry in this glossary. On the other hand, Olds is just the surname of the man who founded Oldsmobile in 1897, Ransom E. Olds (yes, and of a lot of his relatives).

old soul
They tell me I have an old soul. Of course, it was cheaper that way. Try over at ``Metempsychoses 'R' Us'' second-hand emporium -- I hear they're having a sale. Everything's got to go. They're moving to a new location.

Object Linking and Embedding. Microsoft object technology.

Opto & Laser Europe. ``[A] a technology-transfer magazine for the European photonics industry.''

OutLook Express. Microsoft mail software (vide MUA). Microsoft prefers to use ``OLE'' for ``Object Linking and Embedding'' (above), but since Outlook Express makes its presence felt by crashing and malfunctioning by design, one needs a short name for it. Some use OE, some OLE. The expressive name is ``Outhouse Excess.''

On the uk.railway newsgroup, monitored by our research department, the despised Connex has been compared favorably to Outlook Express. However, on that newsgroup OLE has another expansion:

Overhead Line Equipment. You probably better look at the previous entry.

A Scandinavian boy's given name. Or boys' given name. I mean, it's not just one Scandinavian boy's name, but the name belongs individually to each boy who gets it. Why do things have to be so complicated?! Pronounced approximately OH-lee. Anyway, that's approximately the pronunciation, regardless how precisely it's pronounced. Cf. Jan, Ollie.

Organic Light-Emitting Diode.

An ester, made from sugar and fatty acids. It tastes and has the texture of fat, but is not digested. Unlike similar products already on the market when it was approved in January 1996, it also does not break down at the temperatures used in cooking.

It's often called a polyester, but it's not a polymer. It's a sucrose (double sugar) esterized with five to eight fatty acids.

As of this writing (March 1997), olestra is found only in, and in all, fat-free potato chips.

It has been impossible to test toxicity using the usual animal-model protocols. That is, normally one gives factor-of-a-hundred (proportional-by-body-mass) overdoses to test animals to detect any deleterious effect. This has been criticized on the basis of the idea that too much of anything is bad, but it does improve the odds of detecting problems that might otherwise take years to develop, or to which the test animal happens to be less susceptible. In any case, since fat substitutes are not trace-level additives but a major fraction of the food they're used in, factor-of-a-hundred increased ``doses'' would simply burst the test animals. A part of the argument for acceptance has simply been that olestra isn't absorbed, so it would take some pretty nifty magic for it have a toxic effect.

There are, in fact, a number of health problems possibly associated with olestra, among the least of them the fact that olestra tends to leak out through the other end of your GI tract, even though you thought you were toilet trained. On the other hand, there are a number of health problems associated with the consumption of ordinary fat.... Studies suggest that GI problems (cramps, ``fecal urgency'' and soft stools, mostly) happen to a few percent of people who eat the equivalent of half a tube of fat-free Pringles, but the data are still, pardon the expression, spotty. The GI effects are reported to be comparable in magnitude or severity to those produced by baked beans, dietary fiber, and prunes.

The main specific concern is that olestra is a solvent for fat-soluble nutrients like vitamins A, D, E and K. This affects the ability of the intestines to absorb them, but then so does whether you cook them or not, and whether you eat fiber with them, etc. Federal regulation requires fortification with vitamins A, D, E and K, but that's not so simple. Vitamin A is not one substance but a large class including some of the carotenoids. The possible consequences of depleted carotenoid uptake are unknown, so try to eat a cooked carrot unaccompanied by fat-free potato chips or oat bran, every once in a while.

It's marketed by P&G. They spent 25 years and $200 million dollars on research and health studies. What a bargain. Accidentally created in 1968; first petition filed for its approval as a cholesterol-reducing drug in 1975 and withdrawn in the face of research showing that it wasn't very effective; P&G petitioned for food-additive approval in 1987.

Here're some other sites:

Office of Law Enforcement Technology Commercialization. Hosted by NTTC.

O levels
Ordinary levels. High school exams taken in England and Wales at about age 16. Replaced by GCSE (q.v.).

[Football icon]

Offensive Left Guard. Usually ``offensive'' in the sense of playing on the offense, but the other sense is often applicable.

Originating Line Information.

Oklahoma Library Information Network.

Olive Oil Grades
These are established by the International Olive Oil Council, an agency comprised of major producing nations, based in Madrid, formed under the auspices of the UN in the 1980's. See extra virgin and antonomasia entries. For real information, visit this site.

Nickname for Oliver. Pronounced AH-lee (except in Britain and some other places, where the ``O'' is pronounced, bizarrely, like ``o''). Cf. Ole.

Ocular Larva Migrans.

Output Logic MacroCell.

On-Line Operation[s].

Office for Literacy and Outreach Services. Part of the American Library Association.

One Laptop Per Child. A program to distribute very inexpensive laptop computers to children in poor countries. (They're Linux machines with hand-crank power available. Originally targeted at $100, they're available at roll-out in late 2007 for under $200.)

On-Line Service[s].

Ordinary Least Squares.

On-Line Test[ing].

``One Life to Live.'' An ABC daytime soap opera that began its life in 1968. It was cancelled in April 2011; its dying agonies will air in January 2012, if the world doesn't come to an end before then.

On-Line Transaction Processing.

Optical Line Unit.

Oman domain code. Okay, here's something: Sultan Qaboos University. (Make up your own puns.)

A religious syllable. Also, one finger to the right of in on a qwerty.

In Japanese, this syllable is rendered in such a way that the romaji transliteration becomes `aum.' Hence the name of the infamous Aum Shinrikyo cult (discussed elsewhere in the glossary: LPF).

Odyssey of the Mind. ``... a world-wide, nonprofit organization that promotes creative team-based problem solving in a school program for students from kindergarten through college.''

Organización de Miembros. Spanish, `Membership Organization' (MO).

Operational Measurement.

German, `grandma.' Cf. Opa.

Ontario Medical Association.

Optical Multichannel Analyzer.

Omar is well known to be an Arab or Arabic name. It is less well known that it is an old form of the name Homer. I've read that the latter is the etymology in the case of US Army Gen. Omar Bradley.

A relatively cool word for a relatively warm thing: the third of the four stomachs of a ruminant. You're probably wondering what the others are called.

Oh, all right:
  1. rumen
  2. reticulem
  3. omasum
  4. abomasum
It might help to remember that food normally passes through them in reverse alphabetical order.

Office of Management and Budget. An agency of the White House that handles the number crunching for the Budget that the president sends to the House of Representatives, where by constitutional requirement all spending bills must originate. The Congress has a corresponding office called the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).

Operation and Maintenance Center.

Optical Mode Conditioner. An interconnect between single-mode optical fiber (like Gigabit Ethernet 1000Base-LX) and ``traditional'' multimode cable.

Organización Mundial del Comercio. Spanish, `World Trade Organization' (WTO). Also l'OMC, in French (Organisation mondiale du Commerce). Cf. OMS.

Office of Motor Carrier, an office of the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) within the Department of Transportation (DOT). On January 1, 2000, it was upgraded to a separate administration (within the DOT), now called the FMCSA.

For more, see the NTEA's glossary of Truck Equipment Terms.

OrganoMetallic CVD. Probably the more common term is MOCVD.

The On-line Medical Dictionary. Thanks to Graham Dark. One of the many on-line medical dictionaries autosearched by Onelook.com.

Omega Rho
Operations Research Honor Society.

Ohio's Mid-Eastern Regional Education Services Agency.

Ohmigosh. The eff evidently stands for ``French,'' as in the Montreal-English expression ``pardon my French.''

O.M.F.U.G., OMFUG, Omfug
Other Music for Uplifting Go[u]rmandizers. The signs and awning of the New York club CBGB's (q.v.) read CBGB and, in smaller letters below that, OMFUG. CBGB's founder and only owner, Hilly Kristal, has been quoted in the press as saying that ``[a] lot of people believe `Omfug' stands for something dirty.'' I can't imagine why. ``But the truth is, I felt CBGB sounded so pat that I wanted something to go with it that sounded a little uncouth, or crude.'' This was the club that was famously saved when the Punk music people discovered it.

Until 2002, news reports in major papers expanded O.M.F.U.G. (with whatever punctuation or capitalization) with Gourmandizers (observe the u), although innovative, daring, progressive, and illiterate USA Today used Gormandizers in 1993. From 2003 on, most news reports used Gormandizers.

FWIW, in English the obsolete verb gourmand had the distasteful connotation of sloppiness that the noun gourmand still has, while the obsolete or rare verb gourmandize (used by W.M. Thackeray in his 1841 essay ``Memorials of Gourmandising'') had or has the genteel connotation of the noun gourmet. Personally, I prefer the 1820 suggestion made by A.D. Macquin in a footnote to Tabella Cibaria: ``The gormand unites theory with practice, and may be denominated Gastronomer. The gourmet is merely theoretical, cares little about practising, and deserves the higher appellation of Gastrologer.''

Object Management Group. An organization that now maintains the UML definition.

omg, OMG
Oh My { God | <God-euphemism> }. Useful in chat-rooms. Hence lowercase.

Optical Mode Interference. Mechanism in certain LC displays. [See M. Schadt and F. Leenhout, Appl. Phys. Lett. 50, 236 (1987).]

Online Mendelian Inheritance in Animals. Cf. OMIM.

Online Mendelian Inheritance in Man. ``This database is a catalog of human genes and genetic disorders authored and edited by Dr. Victor A. McKusick and his colleagues at Johns Hopkins and elsewhere, and developed for the World Wide Web by NCBI, the National Center for Biotechnology Information. The database contains textual information, pictures, and reference information. It also contains copious links to NCBI's Entrez database of MEDLINE articles and sequence information.''

Remember, you can't spell omission without miss. Oh wait, now I think of it, you can. Just write om ission and uh, delete the space.

Organisation Mondiale de la Propriété Intellectuelle or Organización Mundial de la Propiedad Intelectual. French and Spanish, respectively, for World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).

Optical Mark Reader. A scanner for grading bubble-sheet forms (for answers to multiple-choice exams, say).

Open Media Research Institute. A ``unique public-private venture between the Open Society Institute and the U.S. Board for International Broadcasting.''

Orbital Maneuvering System.

Organización Mundial de la Salud. Spanish, `World Health Organization' (WHO). Also l'OMS, in French (Organisation mondiale de la Santé). Cf. OMC.

This would make a euphonious acronym, but it doesn't seem to stand for anything yet. When it does, we will be ready.

Object Management Template. Not explained very clearly here.

Object Modeling Technique.

Organisation mondiale du tourisme | Organización Mundial del Tourismo }. Spanish names of the UNWTO (see WTO).

Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment. The extra special therapeutic ingredient that makes osteopathic medicine (see DO) so much more effective than ordinary medicine.

OrganoMetallic Vapor-Phase Epitaxy (VPE).

Old Norse.

Postal abbreviation for the Canadian (.ca) province of Ontario. Capital: Toronto. (Ottawa, the national capital, is also in Ontario.)

Ontario is Canada's most populous province, with an estimated 12.28 million people in October 2003, or 38.7% of the population. Quebec is second.

A Japanese word meaning `debt, gratitude.' In appropriate context, it is sometimes used for on yomi.

Organización Nacional de Ciegos de España. `National Organization of the Blind of Spain.'

Their ``about'' text begins ``En la ONCE siempre hemos sido un grupo de personas muy transparente,'' which means `at ONCE we have always been a very transparent group of people.' This explains immediatamente why I had so much trouble seeing them, though detecting what is transparent is perhaps less of an incremental handicap for the very blind.

Anyway, the at-ONCE collocation doesn't correspond to a pun in Spanish. ONCE, read as the ordinary word meaning `eleven,' requires plural agreement, making puns on the singular acronym troublesome to construct. ``At eleven PM,'' for example, is ``a las once de la tarde.''

once, las
Las once, Spanish for `eleven o'clock.' Yeah, this entry might be superfluous, but I can afford the bandwidth.

onces, las
Las onces, Spanish for `(the) elevens' (though I really want to write `the elevenses') is a repast traditionally taken at 5PM, at the end of the siesta, which follows the traditional heavy midday meal. The ``eleven'' was originally a euphemism for aguardiente, which has eleven letters. Aguardiente is `rum' (also Sp. ron, Ger. Schnapps, Fr. eau de vie -- pronounced eau d'vie). The word aguardiente is a contraction of agua (`water,' see AWWA) and ardiente (`burning,' a cognate of Eng. ardent).

The technical destinction seems to be that while aguardiente originally meant rum, it now refers to any distilled liquor, while ron still refers exclusively to distilled liquor made from sugar cane.

White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.

(Netscape) Open Network Environment.

This one?

one bourbon, one scotch, and one beer
This is the refrain of a song written by John Lee Hooker, and if it isn't also the title then the title is ``The House-man Blues.'' I don't know right now. Willya lemme slide? I'll have the answer for you in a month, next, I dunno. The song was popularized, at least for my generation, by George Thorogood and the Delaware Destroyers. (I dunno if they're s'posed t'be the destroyers from Delaware or of Delaware. Might be both.)

Anyway, it was never very clear to me what the beer was for, since the purpose was to get drunk. (Mixing different kinds of alcoholic drinks is also reputed to cause worse hangovers, but I can't say I've performed properly controlled studies of the phenomenon.) Then (April 17, 2008) I read the following (a column by Daniel Henninger, in the WSJ, entitled ``Hillary and Obama in Small Town [sic]''), which I think may explain it.

So it came to pass last Saturday night, in what is surely the most preposterous photo-op in campaign history [what, not tank-bobblehead Dukakis?], Hillary Rodham Clinton of Wellesley and Yale was pounding down Crown Royal whisky from a shot glass at Bronko's bar in Indiana. A friend emailed that if she really wanted to win Pennsylvania, she would have drunk some of the draft beer in her left hand, dropped the shot glass into the mug and slammed that back. But hey, her heart was in the right place.

Japanese: `big sister.' Cf. oniisan.

One man's...
meat is another man's poison. A proverb.

``One man's Mede in another man's Persian.'' A play on this proverb, alluding to the sloppy conflation of the two peoples by Herodotus.

Goes with ONE BED. ONE way or another, depending on hyphenation.

British, `one-time thing.' Cf. one-shot, nonce.

To get some idea of the floruit of this term, I did searches of all years (to 2006) in the LION database (350,000 works of English and American poetry, drama, and prose, and 175 full-text literature journals). Five poems turned up -- one in each of the years 1991, 1992, 1993, 1996 (posthumous), and 1997 -- that had ``the one?off'' (first three instances) or ``a one?off'' (last two), with ``?'' normally a hyphen, though a space or other punctuation would yield a hit. They were all by authors in Britain or some kind of British orbit. (In chronological order they were: Seamus Heaney, Irish; Iain Bamforth, say Scottish; Kamau Brathwaite, let's say Indonesian, since that might piss him off, although he was born in Barbados and slowly discovered his African spiritual roots, because he used a virgule instead of a hyphen, and anyway poets deserve no mercy, in fact, let's make Seamus Heaney an Englishman; Donald Davie, English; Edwin Morgan, Scottish.) There were no hits in the drama or prose categories. (There were various false positives like ``will cast such a one off'' in prose literature of the 16th and 17th cc.)

One of my two favorite ...
Diplomatic declension of ``my favorite.''

One of the only ...
Which one of the only?

An American expression that may correspond to the British term one-off, but which is not as fashionable in ordinary speech, whatever ordinary is. (I mean colloquial.) The meaning of one-shot seems to be a natural development of the phrase ``one shot'' with shot understood in the now common, originally metaphorical sense of attempt. I did some LION searches for one-shot like those described at the one-off entry, and found only one relevant instance, though it was clear from context that it meant one successful try. It was in poetry, of course, published in 1991 by Cornelius Eady. (Eady is currently -- 2006 -- a professor in the University of Notre Dame English Department).

I thought to add this entry only because I had happened across another instance in a July 15, 1948, letter from the American novelist John O'Hara (to James Thurber; see the Selected Letters of the latter, p. 95). O'Hara wrote: ``Fletcher Markle has been trying to get the radio rights for a one-shot of [O'Hara's novel Appointment in] Samarra.'' (He priced it much dearer than the show could afford, because they had made a botch of his novel Pal Joey a year or two previously.)

And then, of course, there's the circuit...

An electric circuit that outputs a single pulse signal in response to some trigger. The output signal is intended not to depend on the form of the triggering signal, but simply be output reproducibly a fixed time after the trigger condition is met (the toggle of a switch, an input voltage crossing a threshold with positive slope, that sort of thing). It's very useful for experimental apparatus, allowing one to focus data capture on those times when is data to be captured.

One size fits all
We don't have your size.

One Way
The tree-lined road that runs parallel to Two Way, or that's named for our illustrious Mr. One.

one week
The difference between a bad haircut and a good haircut. Cf. 8 days.

Organización No-Gobernamental. Spanish, `Non-governmental organization' (NGO). Hongo (the aitch is silent) means `fungus' and `mushroom.'

Japanese: `big brother.' Cf. oneesan.

online dating
Professional good ol' boy Joe Bob Briggs once (in the 1980's, I imagine) made this prediction:
The nineties are gonna be the decade when the woman starts nagging you before you even meet.

Pre-tax price is.

Oxide-Nitride-Oxide. Alternating layers of silicon oxide and silicon nitride, useful in microelectronic device fabrication because the different dielectrics are etched by different chemicals, allowing for clever masking tricks.

Ono, Yoko
Artist, and widow of John Lennon.

Octane Number Requirement. The minimum octane number that will allow engine operation without knocking.

Office of Naval Research. The OXR that inspired the term OXR.

(UK) Office for National Statistics.

on second thoughts
A phrase used in New Zealand to mean ``on second thought.''

on spec
ON SPECification. I.e., meeting specified design criteria. A common expression in engineering, although an even more common expression in engineering is not on spec.

on spec
ON SPECulation. A standard phrase in publishing, especially in magazine publishing. Say you have an unsolicited book or article proposal, or a manuscript, to submit to a publisher. If you send it in directly, ``over the transom,'' it goes in a slush pile, to be read by a lowly junior assistant editor. [No one is under any obligation to read past a loss of interest, of course. ``To read'' in this context means to begin to read, and possibly to spurn after paragraph one.] In order to avoid this anonymous fate, you write an author query to an editor that your mother's friend's sister knows, or who belongs to another chapter of your frat, or else your agent has lunch with his contact. If there is interest, your work is accepted ``on spec,'' which just means that the editor will read it (in the sense defined previously), no promises.

The Original New Testament. You'll have to read about it at the ANT entry; I feel bad now about how I'm wasting my time, so I'm not going to repeat my comments.

Organisation des Nations Unies. French name for the `United Nations.' Since the name ``United Nations'' was coined by US President FDR, it's fair to call this a translation.

Strictly and generally speaking, ONU is not the translation of ``Oh noooo!'' At least, it wasn't.

Organización de las Naciones Unidas. Spanish name for `United Nations.' Incidentally, the League of Nations was called ``La Sociedad de Naciones'' for no strong reason obvious to me. Spanish does have a perfectly serviceable cognate of league -- liga. The Hanseatic League, for example, is (or anyway was, and now is called) Liga hanseática.

The Security Council is called Consejo de Seguridad, and I suppose the General Assembly is Asemblea General, but I don't recall.

The six official languages of the UN are English, French, Spanish, Russian, Arabic (since 1974), and Chinese, in order of decreasing likelihood of the corresponding initialisms being included in this glossary.

Optical Network Unit.

onus probandi
Latin: `burden of proof.'

Nail-biting. Literally `nail-eating,' of course.

on yomi
Japanese for `loan reading.' (Cf. on.) That is, for a reading of kanji according to the original Chinese (subject, of course, to the vagaries of many centuries' parallel evolution in Japan and China). In English discussion of Japanese, the half-translation ``on reading'' is common.

Well, if you don't have an infinity sign (oo) in your character set, oo may have to do. A Stammtisch FDT.

FAQ: Is infinity odd or even?
Short answer: Infinity is not an integer, and does not obey the same mathematical rules as integers. For example, any finite number added to infinity yields infinity. In particular,
oo + 1 = oo .
It is therefore evident that the notion of ``odd or even'' could not be extended to infinity in any very natural or useful manner.

Long answer: Hmmm, hard to say. Some days it is and some days it isn't. It depends on the weather.


J. Wallis introduced the symbol in De sectionibus conicis [`Of conic sections'], Oxford 1655.

Object-Oriented. This compound adjective occurs as part of other expressions, the most common being object-oriented programming, objected-oriented design, and object-oriented analysis and design, in order of increasing pretentiousness. Not too surprisingly, ``object-orientated'' appears to be considerably less common than ``object-oriented'' even in the UK.

Ore/Oil. Ships with separate cargo hold(s) for ore, as well as tanks for oil. Cf. OBO.

SkyWest Airlines. If you wait too many decades to start your airline, all the sensible two-letter designations are taken.

Object-Oriented Analysis and Design. If it's a big project, maybe you want to use something like RUP.

Whenever I see this initialism (which is not often, but is too often), it reminds me of TomJoad. In Grapes of Wrath++, he executes destructor calls on a couple of Person instantiations, and declares a static method for ooppressed Ookies.

Out-Of-Body. An OOB experience is a footless walk on the wild side. Don't forget to come back.

Officer On Duty.

Object-Oriented Design. Looks ODD to me. In my circles, to use an expression like OOD would be pretentious and unserious, so I've never heard it and don't know whether it rhymes with wood or food.

Object-Oriented DataBase. Reminds me of Clarence Oddbody, Angel Second Class.

Object-Oriented DataBase Management System.

Object-Oriented DataBase System. Considering the record structure already built into any DB, object-orientation is not a steep hill to climb. It's a wrap...per.

Other Official (fund) Flows.

Out Of Frame. How evocative.

Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association. You'll understand now when an Ethiopian trucker roars past, singing ``Roodoomès! Roodoomès! Roodoomès! Roodoomès!''

On-Off Keying.

Object-Oriented Literate Programming.

Order[s] Of Magnitude.

A race of knee-high aliens. (No, their legal status isn't specified. What are you, some kind of trouble-maker? I didn't say they were illegals, now did, I? I also didn't say my friends could use you in a one-way deep-sea diving experiment either. Let's be reasonable about this: making all those individual little candy pieces can be labor intensive. We wouldn't want to limit consumer choice by overzealous government intrusion in the private sector, now would we? I knoew you'd see it our way.) They labor in Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory. This is one of at least three references to that classic work (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) to occur in these webpages. This may be a sign of my rather attenuated exposure to literature, either as such or such as it is. I hope everyone understands that the factory makes chocolate, but that it is not itself made out of chocolate, mostly. That is important. Have you been to Hershey's Chocolate Town, virtually [like its nonvirtual (`real') mirror] in Pennsylvania Dutch country?

They spoke Oompa-Loompish in the old country, where they were preyed upon by hornswogglers, snozzwangers and whangdoodles, lived in tree-houses and subsisted on green caterpillars. Now they speak English and eat chocolate, but they still maintain their traditional costume. See chapter 16. No apparent connection with Oompa bands.

Object-Oriented Programming. Explained on this page.

Out Of Pocket (expense).

Out Of Print.

Robert Lynd (Y.Y.) published an essay called ``Out of Print.'' (It is chapter VIII in his 1923 collection The Blue Lion and Other Essays.) He begins with the following observation, which may at first puzzle the modern author.

There is a pleasure in seeing a book, if it is one of one's own books, going out of print. It encourages a faint hope that, even if one allows for the numerous people who have bought it by mistake, a man or woman here and there may have actually liked it.

In Lynd's day, a book went out of print when all the printed copies had finally sold out. It was a kind of sales milestone. No longer. Technology has made small printing runs and multiple printings cheaper. So books tend to go out of print more quickly, and when they do it just means that demand fell. In addition, the philosophy, the ``business model,'' of publishers has changed.

Until some time in the 1960's, successful publishers made most of their money (when they made money) off their backlists, so books tended to stay ``in print'' longer than they do now. The entire business was ``inefficient'' in economic terms. Printing houses ran as something approximating charities, and editors were poorly paid. (Like Ivy League professors in the old days, they might be presumed to be independently wealthy.) In the early 1960's some, uh, media companies began to think that ``properly'' run, the old houses might actually yield reasonable return on investment.

They started to buy up the old houses, and eventually the business was run by businessmen instead of book people. To their accountants, the costs of storage seemed to loom large. Also, changes in US tax law (particularly the way that depreciation is calculated on unsold books) effectively penalized the warehousing of slow and sporadic sellers, and fiction profits began to be dominated by a few big names. (It should be noted that the US book market has an unusual sales arrangement. Unsold books can be returned to the publisher for a refund. This concession-like arrangement was conceded by publishers during the Great Depression, and they were never able to roll it back.)

(The story at university presses was different but probably not better. There was a great expansion in the number of university presses to go with the increasing expectation of published research from professors. Then along about the 1980's or 1990's, universities began to expect their academic presses to sell some of this academic dust to the public and turn a profit.)

The enormous bookstores (Crown and Barnes & Noble, and Borders) put a large fraction of their small competitors out of business in the 1990's. Now as an oligopsony (and in B&N's case as a publisher -- hello, vertical integration) they have the leverage to reduce publishers' profit margins. I'm sure there's more to it, but these changes are often cited as contributing factors in the decline of the book industry in pre- and early internet days. Anyway, what happens to a title now is that as soon as sales flag it is remaindered to discounters or mulched. (Sometimes this can be handled very poorly. A friend of mine now retired from the book business told me about one book that was used for a large sociology course at some university. The course was only offered once every three years, and the company wouldn't store them that long, so after two years they'd mulch the unsold copies, and the next year they'd do a new print run. The three-years thing does sound a bit odd, but I can believe that a regular course rotated instructors, and every three years or so a guy would teach it who wanted that one book. Of course, if it had been a small-enrollment course, that guy would have been SOL, which is about what OOP often means to an instructor.)

An ad for Loome Theological Booksellers asserts that ``99.9% of the books ever published are now out-of-print,'' but immediately concedes that ``[o]f course, most books ought to be out-of-print. They weren't very good when they were first published; they haven't gotten any better with age.'' Then they go on to offer themselves as a solution to this nonproblem. Among the nonlamentable nonlosses that they can make nongood, one example they list is that ``not less than 241 different books on the life or thought of [Karl] Barth [1886-1968] have been published,'' yet only 16 remain in print. I'm flabbergasted. They buy and sell used books.

That reminds me -- you remember Bargain Books, the discount bookstore (you guessed this, right?) that I mentioned back at the adult education entry? The store sells remaindered titles, many of them from academic publishers. It's owned by a former college professor. Specifically, he was a theology professor. His chain has an unusually good selection of theology books.

The accusative of oops, a third-declension Latin noun. I'm sure oops is a Latin noun; it was just left out of all the dictionaries by mistake, and happened not to occur in any of the texts that have survived. I mean, it's not really possible for a language to have as few words as Latin is supposed to have had, so this must be one of them.

Object-Oriented Programming Language.

Object-Oriented Programming Software. How true that is!

Object-Oriented Programming Systems, Languages and Applications. A conference.

Object-Oriented Relational DataBase Management System.

Dutch, `place, point, corner.' Cognate of German Ort.

Oort Cloud
Name for a vast cloud of small bodies orbiting, if that's the word, about the sun at a distance of about one light-year. It is named after the Dutch astronomer Jan Henrik Oort (1900.04.28-1992.11.05), who proposed it in 1950 in order to explain the origin of comets. The existence of the cloud is now widely accepted among astronomers.


Out Of Service.

Operations Other Than War. Military term, pronounced ``ootwa,'' for thumb-twiddling exercises between wars, like peace-keeping and humanitarian relief.

Omega Rho.

OP, Op
Operation. Usually not operator, which due to pervasive telephonic influence is abbreviated ``Oper.''

Order Parameter. No, not price or quantity. A parameter characterizing the degree of order. Many order-disorder transitions are second-order (different sense of ``order'') transitions that can be studied by renormalization group methods. This analysis requires, principally, a Hamiltonian and an order parameter.


Ordo Praedicatorum. Latin: `Order of Preachers.' Better known as the Dominicans. Since 1216. Probably the best-known Dominican priest, though one not much celebrated by the order today, was Tomás de Torquemada.

Usage note: the initials O.P. after a name is used both by Dominican Roman Catholic priests and by women and non-priest men in the religious Order of Preachers. (A similar practice applies to S.J.)

I notice that the pseudonymous author of Promptorium parvulorum (1499), mentioned at this entry, is described as ``Galfredus Grammaticus dictus, frater Ordinis S. Dominici.'' Draw your own conclusions.

Organization & Procedures.

Original Poster. I.e., the person who emailed the original posting.

Overhead Projector. [Wasei eigo only.]

German, `grandpa.' Cf. Oma.

Office of Price Administration. A US government agency created to assure equitable distribution of items in short supply (i.e., to administer rationing) and to control prices during WWII. In April 1942, the OPA issued the ``General Maximum Price Regulation,'' which limited all retail prices to whatever was the highest price they had reached during March 1942.

One-Photon Absorption. Awkward conflict with the OPA instrument, next.

Optical Parametric Amplifier. Awkward conflict with the OPA phenomenon, previous.


Online (usually library) Public Access Catalog. Here're a bunch in Japan. That of the British Library is now available. Has been for a while. See also OLCC.

Tallulah Bankhead said
They used to photograph Shirley Temple through gauze. They should photograph me through linoleum.

For more on Shirley Temple, see YSO.

Optical Parallel Array Logic System. A parallel-processing optical computer proposed by J. Tanida and Y. Ichioka, Applied Optics, 25, pp. 15655-1570 (1986).

Organização Pan-Americana da Saúde. Name in Portuguese of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO); cf. OPS.

Organization for the Promotion and Advancement of Small Telecommunications COmpanies.

``... a national trade association representing more than 500 small, independently owned local exchange carriers (LECs) and their affiliate telecommunications companies.

Primarily serving rural areas of the United States and Canada, these commercial telephone companies and cooperatives range in size from fewer than 100 to as many as 100,000 access lines and collectively serve more than 2.5 million customers.''


op. cit.
Notation in references (footnotes or endnotes): `in the work cited' [Latin opere citato.] This once-popular abbreviation was frequently a frustrating nuisance because it was often unclear which previously cited work was meant. Approximate synonym of ibid. and idem. Cf. loc. cit.

Oligomeric ProanthroCyanidins.

On-line Philosophy Conference. Inaugurated in 2006.

Optical Proximity Correction. Adjustment of photolithographic exposure (pattern and/or duration) to compensate for the proximity effect. Qualitatively, this entails underexposing on the inside of a curve or bend in the desired layout, and overexposing on the outside.

The usual approach in photolithography uses a binary pattern (i.e., mask opaque or clear), and OPC is done by adding or subtracting serifs of window area. This causes further unevenness away from a bend, that must be compensated by higher-order serifs, leading to a kind of diminishing ripple of correction moving away from any bend.

Original Program Clock Reference.

Optical Path Difference.

Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries. ``An international Organization of eleven developing countries which are heavily reliant on oil revenues as their main source of income. Membership is open to any country which is a substantial net exporter of oil and which shares the ideals of the Organization. The current [2002] Members are Algeria, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Venezuela.''

OPposite the EDitorials. A page of outside commentary, usually on the odd page (recto) facing the even-numbered page (verso) containing a newspaper's editorials.

Outdoor Power Equipment Institute. Every year around April they start airing public service announcements about the safe operation of snow-blowers. (Don't stick your hand into the snow-throwing chute -- that sort of thing.) At least that's when I've heard them in Indiana in 2008 and previous years. I was out of state a lot in April 2009, but I just heard the PSA again in mid-May. If they're going to keep this up I think they should move their operations to Australia.

open channel
An open channel, from the civil engineering standpoint, is not necessarily what one might intuitively suppose. A liquid conduit is considered open if it has a liquid-gas interface. It does not matter whether the liquid runs along the bottom of a pipe or in a channel open to the sky, or in a subterranean channel. What matters is that the liquid has a free surface. The hydraulics of the situation changes dramatically if there is no air space, because liquids in most cases (most cases being water or oil) are incompressible to a large degree. In an open channel, continuous flow can accommodate obstructions or variations of various sorts by changing height: lower water velocity leads to higher water level, hence greater cross-sectional area, and flow is maintained. Without a gas space to expand into (i.e. in a closed channel), this does not happen. Other things do; see water hammer.

As a practical matter, most open-channel flows of interest are macroscopic. More specifically, they are in channels wide and deep enough that the flow is turbulent. (The parameter that determines whether flow is turbulent or not is a `dimensionless group' called the Reynolds number, Re.) Ordinarily, the most important dimensionless group characterizing open channel flow is the Froude number (Fr, q.v.).

``Open conduit'' and ``open-conduit flow'' ought to be equivalent to ``open channel'' and ``open-channel flow,'' but the former terms are rare. Funny how the semantic field divides up. Channel became a dead metaphor for a broadcast frequency band and more recently for internet data streams that function similarly. Both channel and conduit are metaphors for paths by which information flows in human organizations (e.g., ``the proper channels,'' ``back channels,'' ``a conduit for information''). (See also back-channel.)

The words channel and canal both translate into Spanish and French as canal (which is also used both for TV channel and water channel). For a related confusion, see the Mars entry.

Open Graphics Language. The dominant environment for developing portable, interactive 2D and 3D graphics applications.

Opening of the American Mind
Rebuttals or rejoinders to Allan Bloom's Closing of the American Mind. There are two significant items by this title that I'm aware of: one is an Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. New York Times Book Review, July 23, 1989. Another is a book by Lawrence Levine published by Beacon Press, subtitled ``Canons, Culture, and History.''

Open on Sunday's!
Good for you. Sunday's what?

Organize and Promote Epidemiological Networks
Réseaux d'Observation des Maladies et des Epidémies
. The French part is roughly `disease and epidemic monitoring networks.'

OPER, Oper.

The copyright status and arrangements for opera are a bit different than those for other musical works. Whereas a radio station can simply play most music and send conventional royalties to ASCAP, broadcast of an opera recording requires prior approval, much like publication of a book excerpt.

Only recently, librettos for Puccini's operas became available in paperback.

The name opera is simply the Italian word for `work.' It is singular (the plural is opere, I guess). For more on this, see the opus entry.

Opera Buffa
Opera not intended to be taken seriously. This seems to imply that there is some other kind.

Oh, well, alright: buffa is supposed to be farcical, rather than merely amusing or unraucously comical. Enlightened now?

A number of years ago, my senior colleague G. Mahler composed a work that was largely classical (as opposed to quantum) mechanical and described this opus as opera buffa. This is all true.

I just noticed that thin horizontal line in my screen. It's distracting.

Opéra, French
I find it only slightly less amazing that someone would write opera in French than that someone would write opera in English. You probably don't care what I find amazing. Okay, I understand. Sniff. I'll go away now.

In French, opera buffa is called opéra bouffe. It's an interesting situation, since the original Italian essentially means `Frog Opera,' I think. Well, it means something related to frogs, anyway.

Early in his career, Clint Eastwood acted in a lot of spaghetti westerns. (For Sergio Leone? You could look it up. At IMDB.) Westerns are also known as horse opera. If they'd been made in France instead of Italy, they might have been called opéra boef.

Okay, now I'm really going away.

Soon. Possibly it bears mentioning that westerns are also called ``oaters.'' Not that I've ever heard anyone call them that, but it's one of those crossword-puzzle words -- nonexistent but plausible. You notice how movie horses never eat? I guess the forage in Hollywood is not tasty. Probably laced with too many recreational chemicals. (You say you have seen movie horses eat? Bullshit! If that's so, then where do they put it? Because movie horses certainly don't shit.)

All these years later, it occurs to me that the only reason I started to write this entry was to provide a cross-reference to the Berlioz entry, a link for which I ended up forgetting to include until now. In order not to have a one-sentence paragraph, I'll add that Russian opera is mentioned at the entry for the Judgment of Paris.

Oriented PolyEsTer. I guess ``OPEST,'' while more appropriate, had poor resonances.

Orbiter Processing Facility.

Optical Field-Effect Transistor. Here's a short bibliography.

OPFOR, opfor
OPposition FORce. Generic designation in combat training exercises.

Ophiuchus. Official IAU abbreviation for the constellation.

Open Prepress Interface.

Outdoor Power Equipment Institute, Inc. At 4:25 EST, on December 24 1995, they broadcast a public service announcement (PSA) about safety, children, and riding mowers, on AM radio station WBEN in Buffalo. Okay, it was a nationally syndicated program, but really, we're not the only people still expecting snow this season. Medialink admits they put this together. Maybe they should time their winter announcements to follow hysterical reports of global warming.

OPIE is now on web, so you don't need to snailmail or phone their offices at

341 South Patrick St.
Alexandria, VA 22314
+1 (703) 549-7600

They apparently don't deal in snow blowers.

OPerations & Information Management.

OutPatient Intravenous Infusion Therapy Association. Every time an organization with a cool acronym allows its domain name to lapse, the world is impoverished.

Optical Path Length.

Ottawa Public Library / Bibliothèque publique d'Ottawa. In answer to the obvious question: it's not abbreviated simply ``BPO'' to prevent confusion with the Buffalo Philharmonic. (Oh -- you wanted the correct answer? How borrring.)

Office of Personnel Management. The US government has at least one.

Organization & Procedures Manual.

Other People's Money. I suppose the popularity of this phrase is due to Margaret Thatcher. She famously said that ``[t]he problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people's money.'' The form in quotes preceding is the received pronouncement -- the form popularized by bumper stickers and such. (See the Voltaire entry for a similar use of ``quotation'' marks.) The received form paraphrases a comment she did made in a 1976 interview: ``...Socialist governments traditionally do make a financial mess. They always run out of other people's money.''

German, öffentlicher Personennahverkehr. Literally `Public Local Passenger Traffic.' Local public transport.

In the US, there's no acronym for the general concept.

Optical Parametric Oscillator. Two lasers are heterodyned in a nonlinear material, producing sum and difference signals. Especially useful to achieve IR pulses (fs to ns), as there are few good IR laser sources [the best are the CO2 laser at 10µm and free electron laser (FEL)]. Temperature-modulation of the laser sources is now used to fine-tune OPO's.

Oriented PolyPropylene.

Florida State Legislature's) Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability.

OPPOnent or OPPOsition. As in ``oppo research'' -- digging dirt on an opponent for when the campaign ``goes negative.''

Yes -- if you act now you can send us money!

See also the ABPT entry.

Office of Passenger RAil Franchising. The governmental body that decides which company (see list) gets to control which dismembered fragment of the murdered corpse of British Rail.

Note: the views expressed in this glossary do not necessarily reflect the opinions of OPRAF.

In 1992, William F. Buckley referred to the host of television's highest-rated talk show as
... the black lady who is alternately fat and thin, I forget her name.

In an act of sublime revenge, Oprah started a monthly book club. Okay, not quite monthly. According to a People magazine profile of various of the lottery winners, I mean authors of selected books, it's about nine books a year. Come think of it, that might be monthly if you don't count the TV off-season.

Okay, Oprah quit that; it was increasingly difficult to find books she felt ``absolutely compelled to share.'' A victim of her own unrealistically high standards, I guess. Others are rushing to fill the literary void. Kelly Ripa is starting something similar (``Reading With Ripa''), which will concentrate on commercial fiction. (Kelly Ripa is the woman who plays the TV role of Regis Philbin's wife or granddaughter on ``Live With Regis and Kelly.'') The Today Show and USA Today are starting book clubs, too.

Further update: according to the books page at Oprah.com, ``When the book club ended a year ago, I said I would bring it back when I found the [sic] book that was moving...and this is a great one. I read it for myself for the first time and then I had some friends read it. And we think [Steinbeck's East of Eden] might be the best novel we've ever read!''

I wasn't sure where to mention it, so this could be as good a place as any: Regis Philbin is an alumnus of the University of Notre Dame.

OPRI, Opri
Office de protection contre les rayonnements ionisants. `Office of protection against ionizing radiation.' An organ of the French health ministry. Has been known to conspire with SPR.


In Roman mythology, Ops was the wife of Saturn and the mother of Jupiter. In Greek mythology, Saturn was Kronos and Jupiter was Zeus. In stories about those two, Zeus's mother is usually Rhea, so she's probably the best Greek correspondence of Ops.

Ops was female, although it wasn't necessary specifically to point this out explicitly. I'm paid by the word; she was the goddess of abundance -- the personification of ops, Latin for `might, power,' in particular `power to aid.' The very antithesis of oops! (Oops! I meant antithesis oopis -- gotta use the genitive.)

On-base Plus Slugging (percentage). The sum of the on-base percentage (OBP) and the slugging percentage (SLG). The OBP has a value between zero and two. As is typical with baseball statistics called percentages, this value is stated or written as the first three digits in the decimal expansion. (When written, the decimal point is sometimes shown and sometimes not.)

Ontario Philosophical Society.

Organización Panamericana de la Salud. Name in Spanish of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO); cf. OPAS.

OEM Products and Services Division. Of Intel, for one.

OPerationS DEPuty. Explained at this page. Cf. DEPOPSDEP.

OPerations System/Intelligent Network Element. Sounds obscene, don' it?

Office of Private-Sector Relations.

Occupied Palestinian Territories.



Ovulation Predictor Test.

This reminds me of sheep. To determine if a sheep is pregnant, you (or perhaps someone more experienced) insert(s) a tube to listen for something called the `winds of pregnancy.' No joke. That's all I remember from a book about Basque folkways. That, and the look of helpless concern on the inverted ewe's face. Another contribution to research at the crucial nexus of language and pregnancy is the shacked up entry.

South of Basque country in Spain is Catalonia. Orwell's book based on his Spanish Civil War experiences there is called Homage to Catalonia, and marks a turning point in his politics. Catalan, by Alan Yates and Carter Brown, published by Teach Yourself Books, London, 1975, offers translations for phrases that you might find useful. Among them:

I am prepared to raffle the goat.

It is sobering to contemplate the improbable series of misadventures and diminishing fortunes that would take one to the brink of uttering this phrase. (On the other hand, if it were late November 2008 and you were Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich, you could probably use a few different ways to say ``I am prepared to raffle the Senate seat that has been held by President-elect Barack Obama.'') Wikipedia has a meat raffle entry.

Catalan, by the way, is an international language. It's the local language in the Sardinian city of Alghero.

optical isolation
Transmission of voltage level through an optical link in order to isolate two circuits. A mandatory application is in medical electronics: sensors contacting the body must be optically isolated from any power equipment, as a stringent guarantee against accidental shock.

Sir Boss: "What do you know of the science of optics?"
Applicant: "I know of governors of places, and seneschals of
        castles, and sheriffs of counties, and many like small
        offices and titles of honor, but him you call the
        Science of Optics I have not heard of before;
        peradventure it is a new dignity."
Sir Boss: "Yes, in this country."
[ 29 ] Mark Twain's A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (1889), ch. 25.

Latin, `work.' The (nominative) plural form is opera. There is rarely any good reason to use the stupid naturalized form opuses, except to condemn it.

Most related words that come from Latin contain the root oper-. The reason is that opus is a third declension noun, indicated ``opus, -eris'' in traditional dictionaries. Most of the related words and declined forms of the noun are based on the modified root represented by the genitive form operis. Romance languages use noun forms based on a collapsed case structure, and the standard form of a noun is usually based on an oblique case. Hence the derived form in Italian: opera. If you simply voice the stop consonant and lose the unstressed middle vowel, you get the Spanish cognate obra. (English uses, as a rule, whatever forms it pleases, usually from more than one language. Hence opus, operation, operetta, et ceterra.)

Since you asked... the particular oblique form that was the model for the later collapsed or simplified case structure was typically the ablative or accusative. These cases had more functions than the dative, and prepositions (real prepositions) in Latin only took accusative or ablative objects. Starting from the ablative turns out to work better for Spanish. I think starting from the accusative works better -- i.e., gives a better fit to the forms that actually occurred -- for French. The difference is slight, especially when you remember that final em's weren't being pronounced in post-Classical Latin, and that anyway a lot of final syllables died in the creation of Old French.

Optimising Public Understanding of Science and Technology. A project once funded by the European Commission, 2000-2002. On the surviving pages you can see the PUS acronym oozing everywhere.

Oral Polio Vaccine.

Organic PhotoVoltaic.

Orthogonalized Plane Wave.

Off-Premises eXtension.

Optical Quality.

Optical Quick Access Recorder.

Object Query Language. An OQL names the possible queries that can be made to an ODMG, defines the views that result in answer. I think. Cf. ODL.

Office québécois de la langue française. You need to know what that means in English? That's your problem.


Oedipus Rex. See O.T. (Oedipus Tyrrannus).

Office Regenerator.

Offner Relay.

Vide A. Offner, Optical Engineering, 14, p. 130 (1975).

Olympic Record.

Operating Room (in a hospital).

Operations Research.

A couple of sites are WORMS and Michael Trick's Operations Research Page.

Oregon. USPS abbreviation.

State named after the spice oregano. At least, that's a better theory than any offered by niggling etymologists.

The Villanova Center for Information Law and Policy serves a page of Oregon state government links. USACityLink.com has a page with mostly city and town links for the state.

Object Request Broker. CORBA terminology for its central concept, explained here by what?is.com

Office Repeater Bay.

Online Reference Book for Medieval Studies.

The word is used loosely today, though it once had a precise technical meaning. In the time of Copernicus, author of the revolutionary De revolutionibus orbium coelestium [`Regarding the Revolutions of the Celestial Orbs'], an orb was the three-dimensional analog of an annulus. That is, an orb was the region between an outer spherical surface and an inner sphere completely within the outer sphere. A sphere was a solid body: the region up to some distance from some center. For some purposes, of course, it was not necessary to maintain a distinction.

James A. Traficant, Jr., was once a colorful member of the US House of Representatives, representing a district in Ohio (Akron, Youngstown, and environs) as well as assorted, um, special constituencies, such as himself. (As an act of mercy, I'm going to warn those who are not regular readers of this glossary that they can expect very little information on orbits in this entry.) On April 11, 2002, Traficant was convicted by a federal court in Cleveland of a laundry list (I just had to use that evocative term; actually the list had ten charges) of crimes of corruption.

The charges included taking bribes (e.g., free labor and materials from construction businesses in exchange for intervening on their behalf with federal regulators) and kickbacks ($200,000 total; $2500 per month from his administrative assistant alone), illegally requiring his congressional staffers to pitch in on his boat and his farm (literally in the latter case, with pitchforks), ordering a staffer to destroy evidence, and cheating on his taxes (yawn).

Traficant served as his own attorney in the trial. It's a truism that a lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a client, but Traficant is not a lawyer. Anyway, the same fool had beaten the rap in 1983. He convinced a jury that he took $163,000 in mob money as part of a one-man undercover operation he had been running as Mahoning County sheriff. He had earlier achieved folk-hero status by his refusal, as sheriff, to evict out-of-work steelworkers who couldn't pay their bills. The acquital apparently cemented his reputation, and he rode the ensuing wave of popularity into Congress the next year. (The IRS is not bound by the findings of a mere criminal court, however, and they garnisheed his wages for $108,000 that a tax court decided he owed on the $163,000 in bribes he didn't declare. And this can't be double jeopardy, since the US constitution says that mustn't happen.)

Upon conviction on all ten criminal charges in 2002, the 60-year-old Traficant faced up to 63 years in the slammer, plus various fines. Federal guidelines recommend something in the neighborhood of five to ten years in such cases, and prosecutors in the case recommended that he do at least 7 1/4 years. Such precision! The judge rounded that up to eight years when he sentenced Traficant on July 30.

Here is one of the less creative examples of Traficant's color. It involves the then House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt. Democrats were in the minority from 1994 to 2006. By the time of Traficant's conviction, Gephardt (D-Mo.) had already pointedly stopped referring to Traficant as a Democrat when speaking with reporters. Perhaps that had something to do with Traficant having voted in 2001 for Republican J. Dennis Hastert (Ill.) rather than Gephardt to be House Speaker. (One factor may have been his fellow Democrats' beginning to distancing themselves as his prosecution grew imminent.) In the normally party-line vote, Traficant's break with his party had no effect. However, the Republicans' margin in the House was only five votes, and it was feared on the Democratic side that his symbolic vote signalled a readiness to vote with the G.O.P. and weaken Gephardt's bargaining power. The party refused to give the nine-term Trafficant a single committee assignment. On a related note, Traficant often called colleagues ``Mr. Chairman'' even when they didn't head a committee. I suppose it was easier than remembering who did.

Gephardt suggested privately to Traficant that he resign. (This was apparently before the conviction; after the conviction, Gephardt called publicly for his resignation.) According to Roll Call, Traficant's reaction was to call for Mr. Gephardt to perform a reproductive act upon himself. A potentially reproductive act, I suppose. In principle, perhaps. Okay, here's a tiny-bit more creative: late in the 2002 trial, he said of the prosecutors, ``They have the testicles of an ant.'' I suppose at least some of the prosecutors would have to have been all male, if this remark was supposed to have some exculpatory value in Traficant's defense. Perhaps he planned to reveal the prosecutors' plans for the formic gonads, but didn't get a chance. U.S. District Judge Lesley Wells ordered Traficant to sit down and gave him another of her scolding lectures.

Incidentally, if the ant-testicles comment tickled some brain cell off in a corner of your brain somewhere, it might have been because of Fred Allen's famous comment -- ``You can take all the sincerity in Hollywood and put it into a flea's navel and still have room left over for three caraway seeds and an agent's heart.'' (I've seen various versions of this, and perhaps more than one is correct, but I very much doubt the versions that involve eight caraway seeds -- that's an exageration.) Fred Allen broadcast his humorous remarks on his own radio show from 1934-1949. Traficant broadcast his best material from the House floor (1985-2002), making frequent reference to his anatomy and necessary bodily functions, and to ``Star Trek.'' His speeches usually ended with the line ``Beam me up.''

That reminds me, since this is the orbit entry, that I should circle back to the point. Under House rules in effect at the time, a felony conviction triggered an automatic investigation by the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct (the ``Ethics Committee'' for short). [Under current rules, the House doesn't wait that long any more.] A subcommittee was named, a set of charges was drawn up (closely paralleling the criminal counts), Traficant was given a chance to respond on July 15, and on July 18 the committee unanimously recommended his expulsion. A report on The Hotline the next day collected Traficant quotes from other news sources, including this comment about members of the [news] media:

Many of them are so dumb they could throw themselves at the ground and miss.

That would be an eccentric orbit. This bit was harvested from <CNN.com> on July 18, and appeared elsewhere. (I first found it in Ted Reuter's 449 Stupid Things Democrats Have Said, p. 85.) Traficant was expelled by the House on July 24.

Like any comedian, Traficant recycled his material. (See the boobs entry for another example of material that may have been recycled.) In researching this here orbit entry I discovered that in June 2000, he made a floor speech about the US Supreme Court. Here are some excerpts, in the same order in which they were quoted, from the Washington Times of June 22, 2000.

The Supreme Court says pornography is OK and it is OK to burn the flag, that communists can work in our defense plants, that it is OK to teach witchcraft in our schools and that it is OK for our students to write papers about the devil.

But the Supreme Court says it is illegal to write papers about Jesus, it is illegal to pray in school, and now the Supreme Court says it is even illegal to pray before a football game. Beam me up.

I thought the Founders intended to create a Supreme Court, not the Supreme Being. Think about that statement. I yield back a Supreme Court that is so politically correct they are downright stupid, so stupid they could throw themselves at the ground and miss.

Oh, and, one last thing about the events of 2002. The ethics committee recommended expulsion rather than lesser penalties such as censure or reprimand because of ``the gravity of the offense from the gentleman from Ohio,'' in the words of Rep. Howard Berman of California. Gravity is the force that keeps moons and planets in orbit, of course, but never mind. This conventional Congressional use of ``gentleman'' reminds me of an amusing incident (it's amusing now, anyway) from the time shortly after my mom and her family emigrated to Bolivia. Her stepfather never mastered the Spanish language in its entire subtlety, and at that time he had already not mastered Spanish. (I recycle my material too.) So one day when somebody was trying to break into their house, he called the phone operator and reported, ``¡Un señor quiere entrar en nuestra casa!'' The operator responded, ``Entonces déjelo entrar.'' Except for the critical words, the quotations are approximate, and I'm sparing you the German accent. Anyway, the first sentence means: `A gentleman wants to enter our house!' To which the reasonable response was `So let him in.'

Actually, that reminds me of another true story, involving a restaurant owner and one of his most valued employees. I won't identify these persons any more precisely because, you know, someone might get in trouble. The employee didn't speak much English in those days, so the owner took the trouble to mine a Spanish dictionary for some useful words. One of the words is querer, `to want.' (This verb occurred above in the phrase ``quiere entrar,'' `wants to enter.') So when the owner wanted this employee to come help him, he would say ``[nombre del empleado], te quiero,'' meaning `[employee's name], I love you.'

That ought to remind anyone of Alexander Bell's famous telephone message [to his own assistant in another room] on March 10, 1876. (``Mr. Watson, come here; I want you.'') Here there was no language difficulty, but there had been some communication difficulty. The message is described as the first transmission of a complete (and comprehensible) sentence. However, that doesn't mean that the ability to send an intelligible message had been impossible before that date. Bell's attorney had filed a patent application on the previous St. Valentine's Day (so appropriate), and the patent had been granted three weeks later, on March 7 (those were the days). Apparently Bell had been working to improve his invention without actually being set up to transmit a message. (I suppose he mostly just talked to himself over the phone to see how well it was working, but I'll have to look into it.) The famous first message was sent ``accidentally.'' The first public demonstration of the telephone took place before a meeting of the AAAS in Boston the following May 10.

Office of Research and Development. They don't actually do the research or development. They handle the submissions, paperwork, negotiation, and compliance associated with (mostly government-funded) research contracts at a university. The ORD page at Jackson State (JSU) plays a catchy tune.

O'HaRe International Airport, out Dere near Chicago, IL. You are free to speculate why I gave up attempting acronymic explanations of IATA airport codes. Here's its status in real time from the ATCSCC.

Ah -- the mystery of the name is solved! Orchard Place Airport was built by the federal government in 1942 for use by the nearby Douglas Aircraft plant. It was declared surplus in 1946 and deeded a thousand acres to the city. As a civilian airport it was known as Chicago Orchard Airfield and Douglas Field (hence the O - R - D). In 1949, Chicago renamed its older airport Midway Airport, in honor of the Battle of Midway, and named the new airport O'Hare Field, in memory of Medal of Honor winner Edward ``Butch'' O'Hare, a navy pilot killed in action in the South Pacific.

Optical Rotary Dispersion.

Oxidation-Reduced Diffusion. Hey, it could go either way: there's also OED.

orden de arresto
Spanish, `arrest warrant.' Sometimes I wonder why I put in some of these entries. I hope I'm not revealing too much.

Orders of Chivalry
Quick guide (from a friend of a friend) -- ignoring obsolescent orders, from highest to lowest:

  1. The Most Noble Order of the Garter
  2. The Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle
  3. Order of Merit
  4. The Most Honourable Order of the Bath (three classes)
  5. The Most Distinguished Order of St. Michael and St. George (three classes)
  6. The Royal Victorian Order (five classes)
  7. The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (five classes)
  8. The Order of the Companions of Honour
  9. The Distinguished Service Order
  10. The Imperial Service Order

The surname of a guy who sells vacuum cleaners. His company is named after him. Even though it's in all-caps, it's not an acronym. The letters are very blockish, and the `O' could be mistaken for a `D.' To me it always looks like `DRECK.'

Open Reading Frame. A sequence of DNA base pairs (bp's) that is intelligible code for a peptide chain. Here's a tool for their interpretation.

Österreichischer Rundfunk. `Austrian Broadcasting.' A public broadcasting station with three radio and two television channels.

Orbiting Retrievable Far and Extreme Ultraviolet Spectrometer.

ORGanization. The top-level domain name for nonprofit organizations. Mostly. This includes many educational institutions (particularly now that the set of institutions permitted to have subdomains under .edu has been restricted) as well as religious organizations. For example, <http://www.fa.org/> is Friends Academy, a K-through-12 Quaker Day School.

Incidentally, ``Quakers'' is a name, initially somewhat pejorative, that was eventually adopted by a religious group called the Society of Friends. The Shakers came by their name in similar fashion. In Israel (.il), members of the ``secular'' majority (i.e., those with lax religious observance) call the ultra-religious haredim, which translates roughly as `tremblers.' I think that's still pejorative.

A number of apparently for-profit organizations now have .org URL's (I'll let you find them).

ORGanization. A second-level domain name under various ccTLD's. Japan (.jp) and many other countries with consistent two-letter second-level domains use <.or.>. France (.fr) uses .asso. to be different. The o represents a hole.

organic chemistry
The chemistry of carbon compounds. Really: the chemistry of any and all compounds that include one or more carbon atoms. This includes a few chemicals that it is sometimes more appropriate to study in the context of other groupings of compounds, but that's okay.

The idea of dividing compounds into organic and inorganic was introduced by Léméry in his Cours de Chemie (1675). There the compounds which are created by reactions in the mineral world were classed as inorganic, and those which were known to be created only in the animal and vegetable worlds were classed as organic. (This is not exactly how the distinction was originally formulated, but it is effectively what we now understand the distinction to have been.) It was eventually found that all organic compounds so defined happened to contain carbon, although some inorganic compounds (note: by the original definition) also contained carbon.

Organometallic compounds, or metalorganics. Compounds of metals with organic compounds. Many such compounds -- as for example TEG, TMG, TEA -- are used in the CVD growth of compound semiconductors.

Spanish, `pride.' Adjective orgulloso (`proud'). See empingorotado.

Orion. Official IAU abbreviation for the constellation.

oriented times three
Hospitalese for knowing the date, one's name, and where one is. I never know the date without looking at my watch.

Oak Ridge Institute for Science Education.

Organización Regional Interamericana de Trabajadores,
Organização Regional Interamericana dos Trabalhadores,
Organisation régionale interaméricaine des travailleurs.

(Best guess expansions reconstructed from English.) Spanish, Portuguese, and French, resp., `Inter-American Regional Organization of Workers.'

Inter-American Regional Organization of Workers/International Confederation of Free Trade Unions. That's the usual English expansion; for more on ORIT see previous entry.

The language of the Indian state of Orissa. (An official provincial language listed in the Indian Constitution. About 10 million speakers.) The language is written in an alphabet that has only about two characters, maybe three in good light, which look roughly like Q, 4, and |. Children in school are indoctrinated in the idea that if you write | and scratch it out, or if you use different squiggles for the tail on the Q, then these represent different letters. (Cf. minim.)

Our colleague Nihar is from Orissa, giving us an opportunity to test the strength of the indoctrination on an otherwise intelligent victim. The hold that this fantasy has on him was strong. He insists that the Oriya alphabet is essentially the same as the Sanskrit (Devanagari) original, and that the horizontal line across the top was left out historically for practical reasons: back when the writing was on organic material, straight lines that ran along the underlying grain could destroy the wood or leaf being written on. [This is obviously false, because that story was made up to explain the absence of horizontal lines in runes (see thorn entry). Nihar probably borrowed it. For similar instances of borrowing, see the Shiva entry. If you get so far as to follow the Halaka link, note that in Orissa, Halka is pronounced more like Haluhka.]

Over the very same beer (Honey Brown, mostly) that discovered Nihar's hopeless indoctrination, we pondered the secret of gupta.

Observatorio del Roque de los Muchachos.

Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Spanish for `gold.' Also Italian. Okay: it's Italian, and also Spanish. Look, if we all remain calm and reasonable, there's enough word for everyone. Please, people! It's a small word, we all gotta share!

Cf. ouro.

Optical Read Only Memory (ROM). In other words, CD-ROM.

Arsenic trisulfide (As2S3). A yellow mineral often found in conjunction with realgar. Once used as a yellow pigment, whence its name: Middle English < Old French < Latin auripigmentum = aurum (`gold') + pigmentum (I'll let you guess what that meant). Now an ore of arsenic.

A mechanical model of the solar system. Usually not entirely to scale, because the Sun is so big and the Moon is so close. What is to scale is the ratio of orbital rates. We had one or two of these in my elementary school, but we didn't learn a name for it. It's named after Charles Boyle, Fourth Earl of Orrery (1676-1731), a grandson of the famous physicist Robert Boyle, First Earl of Orrery (1621-1679). In 1713, the fourth earl paid clockmaker George Graham to create the first mechanical solar system model. The device was named (by whom I am not sure) orrery in the Earl's honor. Awwww. At least it wasn't designed by Robert Hooke, instrument maker to the first earl. Hooke misses out on a lot of credit; in its early years, the Royal Society was practically Hooke's lecture-and-demonstration series.

The orrery caught people's imaginations because that was precisely what they lacked. For an allusion to orreries, see the Dickens excerpt at the v.a. entry.

Oral Roberts' Rules of Order. Well, okay, it's not real book and the acronym is -- unsurprisingly, I guess -- not much used. On the plus side, the acronym is a palindrome, it makes an appropriately allusive connection between the numinous and the numismatic, and the book title has a fine sort of surreality. Possibly depending on what you think of Oral, that might should be Roberts's.

Look, I don't make this stuff up, you know. I'm not that creative. Dan (a fellow who co-stars in the Berlioz entry) worked in a book store where someone actually came in and asked for ``Oral Roberts' Rules of Order'' by name. (You'd have known that if you'd followed the Oral-Roberts link.) I wish Dan had asked the customer to describe the book first.

Optical Remote Sensing.

Oral Rehydration Solution.

There used to be a song, surprisingly not popularized by Dean Martin, that began ``How dry I am.''

Crumb or table scrap.

German, `place, point, corner.' See a. a. O. and AOK for examples of use. The Dutch cognate is oort.

There is an older German word, cognate with Dutch oorete and the English word ort. For a crumb more on that, see the miga entry.

Ooty RadioTelescope. In India. The temptation to write OoRT must be resisted, because the name Oort is already taken (for Oort Cloud).

Organization For Rehabilitation and Training. Although I've also seen (`... through Training.') Originally called Obshestwo Propostranienia Truda, `Society for Handicrafts and Agricultural Work,' when founded as a Jewish-poor aid society in 1880 at St. Petersburg, Russia.

Oral Roberts University. A school founded by the person it was named after.

Off-Road Vehicle. A steady mount for the drug-store cowboy.

IATA code for Aéroport d'Orly, (south of and) serving Paris, France. Operated by ADP.


Oculus sinister. Latin: `evil eye' or `left eye' -- one of the two, anyway. My oculist must be an occultist. Cf. o.d. More information at TLC.

Old Saxon. Precursor of Old English.

Old Style. Refers to English dates under the Julian calendar. See explanation at CY (Calendar Year) entry.

Operating System. Visit the FAQ for the Usenet newsgroup comp.os.research.

IBM uses the term System Control Program (SCP).

Optical Scan. An OS ballot or test form has open outlines (ovals typically, rectangles or diamonds sometimes) for possible responses (votes or answers). A response is indicated by the filling-in of an outline, typically with a #2 pencil. Perhaps the use of pencil is a hold-over from when the marks on paper forms were detected by conductivity. I suspect ink is detected as well as graphite now, but who wants to find out the hard way (or worse: not find out) that it isn't? Okay, this year (2008) when I voted in the primary, I noticed that the booths where we filled out the OS ballots were only equipped with pens.

Modern OS ballot machines typically regurgitate ballots with overvotes so that voters can correct their forms. The machines I've used accept paper ballots that are printed on both sides, and can read ballots inserted in at least a couple of different orientations. The scanned votes are tabulated and reported, but the individual scanned ballots are also collected in an internal bin and afterwards transported to a central counting station for any possible recount. (I think the votes are generally tabulated in the limited sense of being separately summed. I don't recall any instance of the government doing crosstabs, except in the limited sense of preventing overvotes.)

Optical Spectroscopy.

Osmium chemical symbol. Osmium has an atomic number 76. That means it has 38 protons and... 38 more protons! (The atomic number is the total number of protons in the nucleus.) Osmium is one of the platinum-group metals.

Learn more about osmium at its entry in WebElements and its entry at Chemicool.

Out of Stock. Publishers' abbreviation.

Oxygen Saturation.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea. The most common type of sleep apnea, in which there is a loss of muscle tone in the tongue, throat and larynx during sleep, causing partial (hypopnea) or complete (apnea) blockage of the air passage. The diaphragm increases pressure progressively to compensate, and the sleeper repeatedly awakens or almost awakens. Cf. Central Sleep Apnea (CSA).

Optical Society of America. See their ``OpticsNet.''

A Japanese word for `king.' That little hat over the o isn't a crown, by the way. It's a way of indicating that the o is long. (``Long'' in the traditional sense of duration, ``vowel quantity.'') The word is actually a sort of compound, written with two kanji. The first kanji, is pronounced ô and can be used for `king.' The second kanji represents -sama, a formal version of san (equivalent to Mr., but not marking gender).

Ohio Section of the American Physical Society. What I have to say to them is: ``O you Silly Acronym PutzeS.''

Oriented-Strand Board. A wood construction building material.

Osbourne, Ozzy
As a public service, I'd like to point out that Ozzy Osbourne is looking increasingly like Yoko Ono. It's probably not contagious, unless living your private life very publicly is contagious.

(U.S.) Office of Special Council. ``[A]n independent federal investigative and prosecutorial agency. Our primary mission is to safeguard the merit system by protecting federal employees and applicants from prohibited personnel practices, especially reprisal for whistleblowing. OSC also serves as a safe and secure channel for federal workers who wish to disclose violations of laws, gross mismanagement or waste of funds, abuse of authority, and a specific danger to the public health and safety. In addition, OSC enforces and provides advisory opinions regarding the Hatch Act, and protects the rights of federal employee military veterans and reservists under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act [USERRA] of 1994.''

Ontario Securities Commission. Performs functions similar to those of the US SEC.

Operations Support Center. In the wake of TMI, the NRC ordered that licensees of operating nuclear plants establish an OSC at each plant, ``separate from the control room and other emergency response facilities as a place where operations support personnel can assemble and report in an emergency situation to receive instructions from the operating staff. Communications [are required to] be provided between the OSC, TSC, EOF, and control room.''

Orbital Sciences Corporation. (Listed on the NYSE as ORB.)

Optical Sensor Collaborative Association.

Orbiting Satellite Carrying Amateur Radio.

Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. The old CSCE.

Open System Direction.

Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services. ``[C]ommitted to improving results and outcomes for people with disabilities of all ages.'' How can they hope to achieve anything when they're stuck in the feckless Department of Education?

I assume in French this would be l'osers.

Open Software Foundation (``Oppose Sun Forever'').

Oxidation-induced Stacking Fault. (That's ``stacking'' at the microscopic level -- crystal planes all bent out of shape.)

Office of Supervisory Jurisdiction. NASD term for an office where supervisory activities take place (customer orders are reviewed and endorsed, advertising or sales literature for use by an NASD member's associated persons is approved, etc.)

Occupational Safety and Health Administration. (Or `... Act.')

O'SHAuGhnessy. A classroom building at Notre Dame University. Cf. Shaq.

Open Society Institute. A project of/Somehow related to/Funded by the Soros Foundation.

The term ``open society'' was popularized, or at least prominently used, by Karl Popper; the title of one of his best-known books was The Open Society and Its Enemies (in two volumes: ``The Spell of Plato'' and ``The High Tide of Prophecy: Hegel, Marx, and the Aftermath''). It was issued in various editions. George Soros fancies himself a philosopher and is a disciple of Karl Popper. Well, he's a follower, anyway, at least in the sense that he came afterwards. None of those who can think much think much of George Soros as a philosopher, but everyone recognizes that he has a lot of money. He has published a book with the title Open Society [Reforming Global Capitalism Reconsidered]. ``The concept of open society is based on the recognition that our understanding of the world is inherently imperfect....'' Well isn't that deep.

Open Systems Interconnection. See the elucidation from FOLDOC, or from whatis.com.

A seven-layer model defined by ISO as a reference for standardization of electronic communication systems. The seven layers are

  1. Physical Layer
    Defines the physical connections over which data are transmitted.
  2. Link Layer
    Mode of transmission of bits, the code, including error, parity bits.
  3. Network Layer
    The arrangement of the physical connection into a circuit.
  4. Transport Layer
    Control and error-handling.
  5. Session Layer
    Host-to-host message ritual.
  6. Presentation Layer
    The kinds of data objects that are commonly understood.
  7. Application Layer
    User application.

Origination Signaling IDentifier.

Optically Stimulated Luminescence. Some folks at Dalhousie University Division of Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology have an interesting application.

Optically addressed Spatial Light Modulator (SLM).

NASA Office of Safety and Mission Assurance.

Operating System with Multiple Virtual Storage.

OverSize/OverWeight permit.

On-line Service Provider.

Official SCRABBLE Players' Dictionary. In its domain, this dictionary has greater authority than any other dictionary. To find out what that domain is, geographically, see the SOWPODS entry.

The first edition of the OSPD was produced by the NSA in 1978 and listed all of the rules-acceptable 2- to 8-letter words found in five popular American collegiate (i.e., abridged) dictionaries. Allowed inflections of the base words were mostly listed in the entries for the base forms. (In my opinion, however, it is missing a great many of the -ly adverbs.) This list was published as a Scrabble dictionary by Merriam-Webster. M-W produced a second edition at some point, which included words that had been added to a later edition of Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary (the MWCD8 had been one of the five originally consulted); it seems that the other four were largely ignored in this revision.

The first two editions had both been valid in North American tournament play. The third edition added further new words, but was also, controversially, expurgated of some ``objectionable'' words. (Missing are at least three obvious four-letter words, and tournament-valid pejorative terms for members of various racial and ethnic groups.) The OSPD3 was not used for tournament play. Instead, a supplementary list of words was used with the OSPD2 (see OSPD2+). Eventually (1998), an Official Tournament and Club Word List (OTCWL or, for short, TWL, q.v.; also abbreviated OWL) was created by the NSA as the official arbiter for word rulings at North American clubs and tournaments. Following the publication of OSPD4 (still expurgated) in 2005, a second edition of the TWL was created (available at the beginning of 2006). M-W has been the publisher for both editions of the TWL.

All editions of the OSPD have maintained the restriction of listing base words no longer than eight letters. Although a rack only holds seven tiles, it is possible to construct words longer than eight letters by connecting different letters already on the board. To establish the validity of a longer word that is not an inflected form of an 8-letter-or-shorter base word, there is a designated official dictionary. For OSPD1, that was the MWCD8 and then the MWCD9. For subsequent editions of the OSPD, it has usually been whatever was the latest edition of the MWCD.

Official SCRABBLE Players' Dictionary 2nd edition PLUS. The OSPD second edition had been the official dictionary for North American tournaments, but the third edition was published with expurgations. In reaction, the National Scrabble Association created a (vide OSPD supra), An updated but expurgated version of the OSPD2, not valid for tournament play. This webpage lists words that were new in the OSPD3 (i.e., added since the OSPD2).

Official SCRABBLE Players' Dictionary (vide OSPD supra), 3rd edition. An updated but expurgated version of the OSPD2, not valid for tournament play. This webpage lists words that were new in the OSPD3 (i.e., added since the OSPD2).

Official SCRABBLE Players' Dictionary (vide OSPD supra), 4th edition, new in 2005. ``More than 100,000 playable two- to eight-letter words including 4,000 new entries.'' Sure, it's ``endorsed by the National SCRABBLE® Association,'' but the official list of words valid in NSA tournament play is the TWL. The NSA serves a list of two- and three-letter words that were new in the OSPD4.

Although this is the second expurgated edition, it still contains the words gyp and slave, which were originally ethnic slurs. (I've actually met some of the people who object to the time-honored master-slave terminology. I understand that some people view that as racially offensive; I view that view as insufficiently historically broad-minded, but I suppose context matters.) Of course, the Scotch brand name for adhesive tape originally arose from an ethnic stereotype. Oh look, the verb scotch is in the OSPD4, and the payment-arrangement adjective Dutch. (I think that's still capitalized; Scrabble tiles don't care.) That doesn't offend anyone? They should raise their consciousness! Get outraged, people! It's your right and responsibility to be maximally aggrieved! To say nothing of all the Indian tribes named after other Indian tribes' uncomplimentary epithets for them.

FWIW, growing up in Germany in the 20's and 30's, my mother learned the common expression ``das kommt mir spanisch vor,'' meaning roughly `it's Greek [i.e., incomprehensible] to me,'' but extending to actions and situations rather than just language. This Wikipedia entry lists comparable phrases in many other languages, yet a page for the expression is apparently only available in six languages: English, German, Hebrew, Hungarian, and Korean (all added some time before mid-2011), and Chinese (added some time between mid-2011 and early 2013).

These pages contain lists of similar expressions in various languages, with what we will call home and difficult languages. By home language I mean the language in which the expression is uttered or written, and by difficult language the one that serves as metonym for incomprehensibility, the ``Greek'' language. Of the five languages that parallel the Greek-to-me wikipedia page in English, only Korean seems to lack its own version of the phrase. (That is, only Korean does not serve as a home language for a version of this expression. Doubtless, other languages may lack such an expression, but I wouldn't count its absence on another language's webpage as strong evidence for the possibility.)

I think it's cute that Esperanto uses good old Volapük as the difficult (proverbially incomprehensible) tongue. Volapük was an earlier artificial language, based very loosely on English vocabulary, that was very successful for a few years among the people who like that sort of stuff, until it was swept away by Esperanto itself. The Volapük community (of many thousands of speakers and number of publications) shattered as a dozen or so improved (i.e., more Esperanto-like) versions were invented in reaction to that tidal wave. I'm amazed and impressed that Danish also memorializes that dead artificial language in such an expression.

Greek, Spanish, and Chinese all enjoy widespread status as ``difficult languages'' for these expressions. English is only listed as difficult for one home language (Cantonese), but having the language described as `chicken intestines' goes a long way to make up for this. The only inconsistency I noticed among the pages (apart from limited language coverage) is that the (all very similar) English, German, and Hungarian pages list only Chinese as the difficult language for French, but the Hebrew page lists Hebrew and Javanese as alternate difficult languages. They seem to be right about l'hébreu: when I checked in 2009, one characteristic phrase got 188k ghits for Hebrew, as against 555k for Chinese; Javanese only got 6.3k, though. Related information can be found at the gringo and b. entries.

Once, in the crowded dining room of a Jerusalem hotel, I ate breakfast with an Italian tourist who told me she didn't speak Hebrew or English. Astonished, I asked her how she communicated. She knew French. Sometimes my foolishness amazes me, but mostly I don't notice it.

The other day, I was over at Gary and Susan's, and I started to tell a story about something stupid and insignificant that I did in graduate school. Then I stopped myself and said that it's a low-yield story, not very interesting. But Gary coaxed it out of me. In that spirit, I'm going to just blather on now. I won't be offended if you browse to another page. I may not even notice.

About ten miles south of Florence along E35, there's a village called I Cappuccini with a bed-and-board conference center where I stayed for a week in 1987. A proceedings volume eventually came out of that. We conferees ate all our meals in a common room, at round tables seating six to eight, served by a crew of, iirc, three waiters. One of them was an older fellow, and one day this old waiter started talking to one of my table mates. She happened, like most of the conferees, to not understand Italian, so I started translating to her.

[Let me interrupt myself here to point out that this whole conference-center-with-room-and-board-on-premises deal seems, in my limited experience, to be more common in continental Europe than in the US or the UK. I suppose that's partly because conferees can generally only be counted on to have some facility in the conference language, and the conference language for international meetings is very frequently English. (I count the following as corroborative of the hypothesis: I've also encountered the room-and-board thing in northern England. Also in -- Manchester, actually -- I've had one-way conversations in which the only way I could tell that the [apparently native English] cabbie had understood me was by arriving at the correct destination.) But Quebec and Japan seem to follow the US/(southern) UK plan, and in Japan you can't always count on finding a passable English-speaker, so I don't know.]

Anyway, the old fellow noticed that I was translating and addressed me directly, so I put down my silverware and spoke to him directly in Italian. It turned out that he wanted to know if she was Chinese (which, not to get into definitional details, she is). Once he got this little drib of information, he said triumphantly, ``Ho indovinato!'' (`I guessed it!') and trotted off. We were all like, that was it? Das kam uns spanisch vor.

Open Shortest Path First. The name of and strategy implemented by an Interior Gateway Protocol (IGP).

Operating System-directed configuration and Power Management.

On-Site Program Review Instruments.

Office of Scientific Research. One of the OXR's. Short for (US) Air Force OSR (AFOSR), but you really don't need to know that, because they're out of money. When you call to beg for money, they can feel your pain because they're feeling it too. (That's what they tell me, anyway, but maybe they're just trying to tell me something.) Budget cuts are really just a way of fostering human understanding that cuts across organizational lines.

OSRAM diadem
Car lights that look clear when they're off but amber when on. Available from P.G. Performance.

Online Services Reference Manual.

Occupant Safety Research Project.

Office of Strategic Services. WWII organization that became the CIA.

Operations Support System[s]. A decision-making component of Telecommunications Management Network (TMN).

Office of Space Science and Applications.

Oregon State System of Higher Education.

(White House) Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP).

Ohio State Trappers Association.

ostensive definition
A definition based on the enumeration of representative examples.

Medical and anatomical Latin for an opening or passage. This usage extends the classical Latin senses of the word (`door, opening of a river'), so the word qualifies as New Latin even though the word is old. The seaport (now mostly ruins, except for the stadium) that served ancient Rome is called Ostia.

Implicitly, the term ostium seems to be used exclusively for natural or normal openings. Accidental openings may be perforations or stomata, and artificial ostia are now called ostomies. For openings in plants, the Greek stoma seems to be preferred. For a bit more on the -stom- terms, see ostomy.

If you hear a Spaniard exclaim ``¡Ostia!'' what he's probably saying is ``¡hostia!'' Hostia (from the identically spelled word in Latin), means `sacrifice offering.' (The aitch is silent in Spanish.) In Roman Catholic ritual, hostia is also the name of a round wafer of unleavened bread, which serves the same purpose. Please don't ask me what I mean by ``the same.'' Somehow, hostia has also taken on the slang sense of a blow (as with a fist), and ¡hostia! has become an expression of surprise or frustration. I've heard Spaniards use this interjection, but never any Latin Americans.

Someone who has had an ostomy. In contrast to an astomate -- someone or something not having a mouth. Not to be confused with an estimate (of your auto repair bill), which might also leave you speechless.

A new word whose prevalence, if not exactly popularity, has grown with the frequency of the procedure. First attested in the 1950's, it meant stoma in the sense of an artificial opening like a colostomy, ileostomy, etc. -- words from which the word was abstracted in a back-formation. The situation is similar to that of ologies -- a jocular term alluding to various mostly academic disciplines (like thinkology or sociology). In both cases, the initial o is a little lexical mortar that was left behind when the Greek brick of stoma (`mouth') or logos (`word, reason') was broken off for reuse, although the formation of ostomy was probably influenced by ostium, q.v. There don't seem to be any particular ostomies that don't have an o before the stomy. (No, vastomy is not an exception.) (Contrast the common words genealogy, mammalogy, and mineralogy. See also nealogy.)

The existence of two words for what was a surgical sense of the word stoma allowed a divergence into two sharper senses: an ostomy now refers to the surgically created opening, while the stoma is the end of the ureter or small or large intestine that can be seen protruding through the abdominal wall. Okay, that's enough of that. We don't want to drive away our readers. If you want to know more, try the UOA.

Stoma, of course, is Greek for `mouth.' Another technical use of the word is in botany: stomata (plural of stoma) is the name given to pores on the surface of a leaf that are the main avenue for exchange of gas with the surrounding air. The rate of gas flow through stomata is regulated by guard cells that adjust the size of the opening. In addition to admitting oxygen for respiration and CO2 for photosynthesis, stomata also allow water vapor to escape. Higher CO2 levels allow the guard cells to close up and so decrease water loss, enabling the plant to survive in more arid environments.

In Latin the sense of stoma slid down a bit -- from opening of the gullet to the gullet itself, hence our word stomach and cognates in all the major Romance languages. For an instance of a semantic shift in the opposite direction, see the boca entry.

(White House) Office of Science and Technology Policy (US Government). Founded in 1976. There used to be a legislative-branch counterpart -- Congressional Office of Science and Technology (OTA) -- it's been abolished.

Ostwald-Lussac Rule of Stages
In crystallization, the least stable phase forms first, then transforms. There's probably more to it than that, but the important thing is to begin. Now that there's an entry for this, I'll probably ask for clarification the next time an appropriate person shows up at Stammtisch, and the entry will probably improve. In the meantime, you've been delayed in your net search for real information...

Ostwald process
A process for the generation of nitric acid from ammonia. The key step is the first, in which platinum or platinum-rhodium alloy (in the form of a gauze mesh to maximize surface exposure to the gases) catalyzes the reaction of pressurized ammonia and oxygen (800-900°C) to produce nitrogen monoxide:
               4NH  + 5O       -->    4NO + 6H O .
                  3     2   (Pt, Rh)          2
The subsequent steps can be conducted in a single vessel. They are an addition reaction to produce nitrogen dioxide,
               2NO + O   -->  2NO  ,
                      2          2
and further oxidation and dissolution in water:
               4NO  + O  + 2H O  -->  4HNO  .
                  2    2     2            3

Ostwald's Rule
The same thing as the Ostwald-Lussac Rule of Stages. It seems that Ostwald's rule is particularly applicable to the process of condensation from the vapor. Thus, phosphorus vapor condenses first to yellow phosphorus instead of the more stable red-phosphorous allotrope.

{ Ohio | Oklahoma (Stillwater) | Oregon } State University.

One Station (fighting) Unit Training.

On-Site User { Training | Test }.


Official SCRABBLE® Words. Used in Britain; see SOWPODS.

Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response.

Official SCRABBLE® Words, International. Used in Britain; see SOWPODS.

OS/2, OS2
IBM's multitasking operating system rival to Microsoft's Windows NT. OS/2 had a much smaller, much more corporate user base than Windows, and since at least 2000, IBM has been phasing it out, as usual providing a soft landing and available-for-a-price legacy support. All of the web pages about OS2 that I used to link to are 404 now. A search of IBM webspace still yields plenty of articles for the antiquarian.

[I think:] Optimized Server (for the AS/400 computers). Originally for host-centric computing, later versions are a code substrate for server software.

Occupational Therap{ ist | y }. The rehab people use the term to refer to the recovery of manual dexterity, regardless whether the skill would be used in work or not.

Internet resource list at O.T. Online. UB's OT Dept. has a homepage here. There's also something there called Rehabilitation Rehabilitation Science.


Oedipus Tyrannus. An ancient Greek tragedy. Spelling usually given in this Latinized form. Title sometimes approximately translated to Latin Oedipus Rex (Oedipus the King). Last of three plays that constitute Sophocles's Theban Cycle.

[Football icon]

Offensive Tackle. Football position, role, or action.

Off-Topic. Characterizes postings and threads conducted in a (usually electronic) discussion group that are outside the established subjects of the forum. Could be misunderstood as On-Topic, in principle, but the point is rarely to clarify but only to emphasize, so this misunderstanding is unlikely. Or so I would have thought. Others know better, and realizing that the abbreviation is ambiguous, clarify it by writing ``OT Topic[s].'' Cf. TAN:, AFLAC.

OT, O.T.
Old Testament. Hebrew Bible. Mostly in Hebrew, a few parts in Aramaic; Maccabees was preserved only in Greek (LXX), IIRC.

OverTime. Time worked or played in excess of regular hours. If this occurs in or to break a tie, the persons involved are professionals or amateurs, and will in either case not be paid for O/T.

Office of Technology Assessment. Created in 1972 to advise the US Congress, sort of like CBO. It doesn't maintain its own web site because it went out of existence in 1995 (here's how). There's a memorial site from Princeton. Looking on the bright side, what's the use of solid technical information that legislators are going to ignore? Vide IATAFI, executive-branch OSTP, British legislative POST and German legislative TAB.

Operational Transconductance Amplifier.

Oxford Text Archive. A repository of electronic text for use in humanities research, founded in 1976. It currently contains about 2500 (literary, linguistic, and reference) texts in 26 languages (but mostly English), variously encoded (but moving toward SGML).

Organización de Tratado del Atlantico Norte. Spanish for `North Atlantic Treaty Organization' (NATO). Also French: Organisation du Traité de l'Atlantique Nord.

otan jobi omedato [gozaimasu]
Japanese: `happy birthday [sir/ma'am].'

Off-Track-Betting. Betting on races (usually horses) that takes place away from the racetrack premises. Usually involves an electronic communication technology. Haven't seen an EE course listing for it, though.


Over-The-Counter. Refers to stocks traded outside of a stock exchange. This does not necessarily, or even usually, mean ``directly''; the stock usually goes through a stockbroker. In principle, a holder of commercial stock who knows a potential purchaser can always make a sale directly. ``OTC stocks'' are those not listed on a major exchange. Timely information on broker-handled OTC trades is available from OTCBB.

All of the above information is a guess. You get the information you pay for.

Non-prescription drugs are also referred to as ``over-the-counter,'' which suggests that prescription drugs, by contrast, are sold under the counter. As for the acronym OTC itself, I've only seen it used in this sense in FDA documents.

Ozone Transport Commission. ``... comprised of government leaders and environmental officials from 12 Northeast and mid-Atlantic states, the District of Columbia, and the United States Environmental Protection Agency [EPA].''

Over-The-Counter Bulletin Board. ``[A] regulated quotation service that displays real-time quotes, last-sale prices, and volume information in over-the-counter (OTC) equity securities. An OTC equity security generally is any equity that is not listed or traded on NASDAQ or a national [US] securities exchange. OTCBB securities include national, regional, and foreign equity issues, warrants, units, ADRs, and Direct Participation Programs (DPPs).''

Official Tournament and Club Word List. I've also see ``OTaCWL'' used by a member of the NSA dictionary committee. Usually called TWL (which see) or OWL.

On-Time Delivery. A part of Just-In-Time (JIT) production.

Optical Time-Domain Reflectomet{er|ry} (TDR).

Operational Test and Evaluation Plan.

Optical Transfer Function.

Over-The-Horizon (Backscatter) Radar. Radar using long-wavelength beams bounced off the ionosphere. Intended for military early-warning systems.

We are here on earth to do good to others.
What the others are here for, I don't know.

-- W. H. Auden

``OTIS is an acronym for Operative Term Is Stimulate and has changed its name to SITO because of a trademark dispute with [a litigious art school].'' The web site SITO is an art resource on the web.

Optimal Trajectories by Implicit Simulation. A general-purpose program that is used to perform trajectory performance studies.

Output-TransformerLess. That is, without an output transformer.

Out To Lunch.

Office of Transportation Materials (of the DOE).

Other Than Mexican. A handy acronym in discussions of US border control and illegal aliens. Mexicans who cross the southern land border of the US illegally and are caught tend to be repatriated more quickly.

OrthoTOlidine. An organic test reagent that turns yellow-green in the presence of a halogen.

OTOH, otoh
On The Other Hand.

President Truman used to wish for a ``one-handed economist.''

To judge from some discussions, every second person is an avatar. Where are the elephant heads?

One-Time Programmable. Characterizes EPROM or EPLD without the erase window. This can be put in a plastic plackage, rather than the more expensive ceramic-with-window package. (In principle, the term might refer to fuse-based programmable chips, but as used it does not.)

Ortho TerPhenyl. Ortho refers to position on a benzene ring, abbreviated o: ``o-terphenyl.''

One-Time Programmable ROM. EPROM without the erase window. (In principle this might, but in usage it does not, refer to Bipolar PROM, which is usually programmed by selectively blowing fuses.)

Ontario Teachers Pension Board.

Over The Road. Surface transport. Truckin'.

Oxygen Transmission Rate. Used in packaging industry to characterize the properties of films for sealing/storing/transporting perishable products.

Ozone Transport Region.

One True Shatner. Of course you knew that, you were just checking that the SBF glossary had it right. Oh you of little faith!

Österreichische Turner-Syndrom Initiative.

Office of Transportation Technologies (of the DOE).

Over The Top.

Office of Travel and Tourism Industries. An office within the International Trade Administration of the US Department of Commerce.

Looks a bit like Ötzi the iceman.

Off The Top Of My Head.

If the Canadians had chosen this name for their national capital, would it be more or less frequently misspelled or misspelt than Ottawa?

Yow! Make a parallel universe and test the hypothesis.

Orbital Transfer Vehicle. NASA acronym.

Ancient Greek: `no, not.' Pronounced ``ooh.'' Just so you know there's at least one Indo-European language in Europe whose ``no'' doesn't begin in en. It's pretty typical of Greek to be the outlier, probably for reasons having to do with the early migration and spread of IE-speaking peoples. There are three closely related forms: ouk, ouch, and ouchi. Note that ``ch'' here, as is usual in Greek transliteration, represents the letter chi, pronounced as an aspirated version of kappa. Ouk and ouch are the forms used when the word is followed immediately by a word beginning with a vowel. If the vowel has rough breathing (represented by a diacritical mark in Greek and an initial aitch in Latin and English) then ouch is used. Otherwise (smooth breathing, no initial aitch) ouk.

Ouchi (pronounced approximately ``oo-kih'') is just no. I didn't say okay -- I said no. FWIW, ``okey'' is a common Spanish spelling of okay (an American English loan, of course). This reminds me of the Portuguese expression pois não, which has its own entry não.

Hoo, mi?

Orthodox Union. That is, the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, founded in 1898. Their server is up on Saturday. This is ``modern Orthodox,'' so some people who want to keep so-called ``glatt'' kosher disdain the little U-in-a-circle symbol.

University of Oklahoma, at Norman. For my convenience, there's a link to the OU Press at the OU Press entry For an incomplete list of ``universities of'' with the U transposed in the abbreviation, see this U entry.

A form of the word for no or not in Ancient Greek. See ou. If you actually wanted to say ouch in Ancient Greek, you'd exclaim papai! This is probably the appropriate place to mention that the Stoic movement in philosophy traces its origins to two followers of the Ancient Greek screwball Parmenides -- Zeno and Democritus (the latter is the Romanized form of Demokritos). The word stoic is derived from stoa, loosely translated as `porch' (more at stoep). I hope you are thoroughly confused and entertained.

Organised Unitary Content Hypothesis. Unified model for various patterns of impaired semantic memory, proposed in 1990 by Alfonso Caramazza, Brenda Rapp, Argye E. Hillis, and Romani.

I don't want to put in any spoilers here, so just go to the ou, oo-kay?

ought to

Operating Under the Influence. Look, surgeons are paying malpractice insurance out the wazoo -- is it really necessary to criminalize a little nerve-steadying self-medication? I guess the answer is `yes.'

{ Organization-Unique | Organizational Unit } Identifier.

`Yesyes,' in FrenchGerman (oui and ja, resp.). According to an expert interviewed on May 12, 2007 (i.e., that Saturday morning), on C2C, Ouija boards don't work so good during rainy weather. You tend to get a meaner sort of spirit. I never knew. She pointed out about these spirits that ``half the time, you don't even know who you're talking to.'' I must admit, I never had this pointed out to me in such stark quantitative terms. ``You have to ask yourself, `Why are they hanging around?'  [As opposed to going to some other, better place that they might or might not be eligible for, I think she meant.]'' Some time later in the show, callers-in complained that their Ouija board spelled out stuff that ``didn't look like any known language.'' I imagine that they were expecting English. You probably have to be an accomplished linguist to use these things.

It sounds like Alley-Oopianese, but it's really Ancient Greek. See ou, see me.

IATA code for airport in Oulu, Finland.

Oxford University Library Services.

Oxford University Library Services (OULS) Payment Card. This glossary is the place to find out what acronyms like this mean, because the editors of Outline, the house organ of the Oxford University libraries, try to avoid expanding their common acronyms but once every four or five issues.

Optical Unidirectional Line-Switched Ring network.

A measure of copper foil thickness. One-ounce foil is 0.0014 in thick. I.e., one-ounce foil has a density of one av. ounce per square foot.

Oxford University Press has WWW sites in the UK and in the US.

Many of the better out-of-print OUP books reappear in quality, low-cost editions from Sandpiper books. Also, apparently a division of the same company is PostScript, a warehouse of ``[p]ublishers' overstocks, reprints and remaindered editions from major publishing houses and independent and university presses'' sold by mail order.

OU Press
University of Oklahoma Press. The university press of the University of Oklahoma at Norman (OU).

Portuguese for `gold.' From the Latin aurum (source of the chemical symbol Au) and cognate with the French or. There's also a cognate in Spanish and Italian, but you don't want to go there.

outcry witness
A witness who encounters the complainant shortly after the time that a sexual assault is alleged to have occurred.

outer-ear infection
Children get inner-ear infections (frequently, in many cases). They grow out of that in time. Adults are more likely to get outer-ear infections. If you're into pain but want to avoid any unsightly physical trauma, this is the ticket, the primo stuff! I can't recommend it highly enough! More than an ear ache, this will radiate over your face to all the places where evolution has thoughtfully (okay: adaptively) provided a high density of nerve endings. There's interesting variety too: from discomfort, stuffiness, and dull pain to throbbing and sudden piercing jabs that stagger you. Don't worry about the treatment. Ear drops for topical antibiotic and a little ineffective cortisone -- you'll continue to have swell pain for a week (after having waited a pain-filled week or two expecting it to go away on its own).

Go swimming today in a warm public pool with insufficient chlorine.

Some of you pain amateurs are probably scoffing -- ah, what's a little ol' ear ache? Exactly! The problem with most other painful ailments is that one way or another they elicit sympathy. Other people have had it, or it's well-known to be bad, or it's unknown but sounds or looks terrible. And sympathy is soothing, which is counterproductive of really intense suffering. For the pain aficionado, the special attraction of ear ache is that it sounds minor, so you seem like a whiner to complain about it at all and you get hurtful contempt instead of sympathy. (Whine to someone who's had a heart operation, if you're not getting enough contempt.) It's great!

Bonus misery: you have to eat mushy foods or have pain with every bite.

It is a charming feature of baseball (or an irritating one, if that's how you feel) that it is played on a field whose dimensions are only partly specified by the rules of the game. (And I'm not even talking about the strike zone.) The cricket outfield is likewise of variable dimensions.

Okay, I've said enough about that. My real motivation for this entry is to point out that while the Japanese adopted the word out when they adopted the game (it gets transliterated back as auto), they coined gaiya for outfield. That's a two-kanji word, and the first kanji (with sound gai and corresponding to `out') is the same one that occurs in gaijin (`foreigner'). Gaikan means `surface, exterior.' (Gaiken means `outline.' No cigar, though: it's a different kanji.)

out of your element
But we have something similar (though heavier) just below it on the periodic table.

output impedance
| VOUT / IOUT | and/or | dVOUT / dIOUT |. Output impedance on an amplifier or gate is generally intended to be low. The reason is that the output signal is generally encoded as a voltage, and one wants current draw by any following input stage to have the smallest possible effect on that voltage level. Methods to diminish output impedance include emitter followers and Darlington pairs. Cf. input impedance.

outreach specialist

out years
Years further into the future.

Organización Vecinal. (Plural: Organizaciones Vecinales. Spanish, `neighborhood organization[s].'

Original Video Animation.

Organic VCSEL.

Outside Vapor-Deposition Process.

Hello, boys and girls! Today we're going to learn an important fact about ovens! When the oven in the kitchen is ``on,'' the door of the oven is warm. Sometimes very warm, sometimes not so warm. Meanwhile, the inside of the oven is hot! Very hot! Here is the important fact: when we say that ``the door of the oven is warm,'' we mean that the outside of the oven door is warm. The inside of the oven door is very, very hot, just like the other parts of the inside of the oven. When daddy forgets this and brushes the inside of the door with his elbow, he may scream some unusual words. We should forget those words.

Overcoming Writing Blocks
It's the title of an old paperback I have. It's got a clever cover: yellow lined paper as a background, with a fountain pen twisted into a pretzel. Do you know what a fountain pen is? It's a pen that shows your age. No, it doesn't have a digital display, and it's not short for ``Fountain of Youth'' pen. The one on this cover shows that it's an old book. I've had it for a long time. I've been planning to get around to reading it, also for a long time. Not that I plan to take a long time to--

Oh alright: it's by Karin Mack, Ph.D. and Eric Skjei, Ph.D., ©1979. It wasn't published by an academic press, so there's a chance it's readable. Personally, I don't really have writing blocks to overcome. At any given moment, I usually have at most one writing block to overcome. Unfortunately, that one block is the one that prevents me from writing the project I'm trying to work on. While I'm blocked on that, though, I can ``work on'' any other writing project, so long as I don't make any actual progress.

It's interesting that they call these monsters ``writing blocks'' instead of ``writer's blocks'' or ``writers' blocks,'' but it does avoid the problem of where to put the apostrophe, if you insist on discussing these monsters in the plural. Before we get into that, however, I ought to mention that demonstrate, monitor and monster all have a common Latin root. Frankly, I thought I already had. You know, I really don't feel like doing all that etymological research again, now, so what say I leave the demonstrate/monitor/monster discussion for later. There, I feel much better already. Actually, it's explained at the epenthesis entry. What the heck, let's peek inside and see if they explain why they use the plural and the present perfect. Hmm. They don't say, immediately. I notice that this is another one of those books that I don't and likely won't feel like summarizing into an entry. So from your point of view, my reading this book (if that comes to pass) is a waste of time. To say nothing of this entry.

overnight success
In show-biz, some people say it takes years to become an overnight success. Those people are called optimists.

Overseas Contingency Operation
War. A particular one (but not just any particular one) that has not attained to a permanent name.

The Washington Post reported on March 25, 2009, that a memo recommending this term had been emailed during the previous week to Pentagon staff members. The Defense Department's Office of Security Review noted that ``this administration prefers to avoid using the term 'Long War' or 'Global War on Terror' [GWOT.] Please use 'Overseas Contingency Operation.' ''

The memo said the direction came from the Office of Management and Budget, the executive-branch agency that reviews the public testimony of administration officials before it is delivered. (No, I don't understand that.) Not so, said Kenneth Baer, an OMB spokesman. ``There was no memo, no guidance... This is the opinion of a career civil servant.''

Coincidentally or not, senior administration officials had been publicly using the phrase ``overseas contingency operations'' in a war context for roughly a month before the email was sent.

Ontario Volunteer Emergency Response Team.

An overtone is a harmonic with frequency above the fundamental. Because both harmonics and overtones are labeled by ordinal numbers, the correspondence between harmonic and overtone names can confuse. Pay close attention:

The first harmonic is the fundamental frequency itself. The first harmonic has a frequency that is an integer multiple of the fundamental frequency, but it happens that the multiplication factor is unity.

The second harmonic has twice the frequency of the fundamental. This is the first overtone.

The third harmonic (thrice the fundamental frequency) is the second overtone.

In general, the nth harmonic has n times the frequency of the fundamental and is also called the (n-1)th (or ``n minus first'') overtone.

When people talk about the harmonics of a tone, they are often implicitly excluding the fundamental. In other words, they mean the overtones (also ``the overtone series''). The usual way this sort of distinction is made in mathematics is with the qualifier ``proper.'' For exaple, a proper subset of a set is a subset other than the whole set itself or the empty set.

Yes, of course there's a zeroth harmonic. The term is used to refer to the constant term in a Fourier expansion.

Despite the use of ordinal naming (``second harmonic'' instead of ``double harmonic,'' etc.), when push comes to shove harmonics are really thought of as general multiples of a fundamental frequency. Hence ``half harmonic'' for a signal with twice the period of the fundamental. The ordinal naming is thus unfortunate, because in English most fractions share a name with an ordinal (compare ``one third'' and ``the third''). The same is often true in the ordinary sloppy usage of languages like Spanish that maintain a distinction (``un tercio'' vs. ``el tercero'' corresponding respectively to the last English example).

Overtone and harmonic are words that tend to be used to refer to individual tones in relation to another often implicit tone (the fundamental). Another set of terms exists in music to describe pairs of tones (whether sounded simultaneously or sequentially). The same words are used to refer to the separation (``interval'') of these pairs. (I know -- a distinction only a lexicographer might care about.) Obviously, since one tone may be expressed as the harmonic of another, the terminology of individual harmonics/overtones has a natural relation to this interval description. However, because instrument tuning usually involves a compromise among incompatible goals for frequency ratios of different pitches, the precise sense of most of these terms is an involved matter to discuss. The two unambiguous basic terms are the unison (two sounds at the same pitch) and the octave (one sound at twice the pitch of the other).

overweaning pride
You can hardly get any more Freudian than that.

Open Verilog International.


Probably another town in upstate New York, just NW of Ithaca, where Ulysses made his home. There's a public discussion forum on Ovid accessible from Sean Redmond's Homepage. He also serves a page of Recent Ovidian Bibliography.

OVerLay. Overlay in olde-tyme computing days referred to the patching together of code when a program or its data was too large to keep entirely in the CPU's RAM (usually core). The idea was that the program would be separated into relatively independent pieces that could be loaded sequentially, with data discarded when possible or stored elsewhere if necessary (typically in sequential-access files). The program ran as an overlay of the separated pieces. By the 1970's this process had become essentially transparent to the user, done automatically by the compile-and-load sequence. On some minicomputers, it was still necessary to do it by hand. In 1979, for example, I had to hand-overlay a Fortran program that had previously run on a mainframe, in order to get it to run on a Data General Nova.

In current use, overlay normally refers to partial or complete overlap of 2D graphical information. See, for example Brad Hansen's definition.

{ Ohio | Oklahoma | Oregon } Veterinary Medical Association. See also AVMA.

Ontario Veterinary Medical Association. See also this CVMA and CVO

Objeto Volador No Identificado. Spanish for `Unidentified Flying Object' (UFO).

Office of the Vice President. Albert Gore, US Vice President from 1993 to 2001, was regarded by himself as an expert in technological issues. Dick Cheney, US Vice President from 2001 to 2009, was regarded by everyone as an oil-industry executive. (It was thus just a short step, for those so inclined, to eventually regard him as Satan.)

German, Österreichische Volkspartei. `Austrian People's Party.'

Over-Voltage Protection. Transient suppression.

Oregon Veterinary Technician and Assistant Association. Formed in June 2005. ``Our mission is to promote the profession of veterinary medical support staff and foster recognition and understanding of the roles of Veterinary Technicians and Assistants in the State of Oregon.''

Old Westminster. A former pupil of Westminster School (The Royal College of St. Peter at Westminster, in London). The plural form is OWW.

One Way (ticket).

Oxford World's Classics. An OUP imprint established in 1901. ``Making available popular favourites as well as lesser-known books, the series has grown to 700 titles - from the 4,000 year-old myths of Mesopotamia to the twentieth-century's greatest novels.''

Original Water Depth Mine.

Office of War Information. A US WWII organization. Pierre Lazareff directed OWI's program of broadcasts to France. Claude Lévi-Strauss spent the war years in New York, and he worked for OWI to pick up some extra money. He and some other exiles would show up two or three times a week to read news and propaganda texts issued by Lazareff's office. He was usually chosen to do Roosevelt's speeches because it seemed that his voice could be heard best over the jamming.

Operating (a motor vehicle) While Intoxicated. (Intoxication by the Holy Spirit, Love, etc. don't count. We're talkin' chemicals ingested or injected here.)

That's the Indiana State acronym. Other states use DWI, DUI, etc. I think some state should use OUI.

Online Writing Lab. The English Department at Purdue University offers one. It seems they're not alone, but... teaching engineers to write! What a wonderful idea! Why didn't anyone think of this before?

Official Tournament and Club Word List. A list defined by the NSA (no, not that NSA), and better known as TWL (q.v.). The second edition, promulgated in 2006, is called OWL2 or, more commonly, TWL06.

The second edition of OWL.

Office of War Mobilization. Created in Spring 1943 to coordinate the activities of various US institutions created during WWII to distribute manpower and strategic materials (let's not call it ``central planning,'' okay?). Those other institutions included the NWLB, WMC, and WPB. The OWM was headed by former senator and Supreme Court justice James F. Byrnes.

owned by the people
Operated by bureaucrats accountable to no one. In the case of news organizations, it means the lunatics are running the asylum.

Optical-disc WORM.

Ohio Weslyan University. In Delaware, Ohio. That's the town of Delaware, not the state, in the state of Ohio.

Established in 1842, like three other institutions mentioned here.

Old WestminsterS. Plural of OW, q.v. The TLA is used both for all former students of Westminster School collectively, and for plural but proper (oh, very proper!) subsets thereof. Former pupils of Westminster School (The Royal College of St. Peter at Westminster) in London.

That hurt!

Castrated adult male bovine. Plural form: oxen. Until VAX (or should that be ``until and since''?), ox was the only common Modern English word using the -en plural (-an in Old English, regular nominative plural ending for weak-declension nouns).

ox, Ox
Popular semiconductor industry morpheme for silicon dioxide. Vide thinox, thickox. Forms uncountable (`mass') noun: no plural form. The materials are frequently used in electronic isolation. The morpheme is not used in isolation; use ``oxide.''

Hug (``O'') and kiss (``X''). Plural form: OOXX.

Ottawa eXchange or something else.

Outlook eXpress. Not a common abbreviation for Outlook Express (see OE or OLE) among native English speakers, despite the fact that oxen are also stupid.

Overnight eXpress. A truck freight company.

oxalic acid
A complexing agent for Zr and Mo. There's more to know, but I don't know it.

A term used to refer collectively to England's OXford and CamBRIDGE universities. It was reported on December 5, 2008, that one Sally Adams, in her fifties, was appealing for an egg donor to help her to have a child. She was reported as having asked that only women who are Oxford or Cambridge graduates come forward. As India Knight wrote in the Sunday Times (Dec. 7), ``the donor must have gone to Oxbridge. The egg must be bright. The egg must know its quads.'' Ms. Adams, described in some articles as an academic, explained that ``Oxford is a very good catchment area. Many of my roots are there, I own a house in North Oxford of which I am the landlady, and I studied at Oxford University. Oxford and Cambridge are the seats of people [sic] who are both academic and intellectual and often very altruistic. An egg donor needs to be under 32 years old and I am looking for someone who is educated, intellectual and possibly has a connection with the colleges.''

Adams has already found a sperm donor (they're always easier to find, aren't they?) from London, but has not yet acquired an ``appropriate'' egg donor. She said she would fund the IVF treatment using the rental income from that house she owns. In the UK it is illegal to pay egg or sperm donors, but Adams has said she would pay for all medical expenses. (The NHS will only provide for a limited number of IVF attempts, and Adams long ago exhausted that number.)

News outlets that felt like putting a negative spin on the story had no difficulty finding people with Oxbridge pedigrees (pardon the expression) to wring their hands and bloviate on the ethical dangers of amateur eugenics. Some commentators, like India Knight, found the choosy ``egg-shopping'' creepy. So Adams should just take pot luck? (Knight's reaction just goes to show how far we've come. Gamete-shopping is as old as sexual selection; yet IVF is now less controversial.) Mark (don't bother looking; he's not identified in or anywhere near this entry) thinks that it's at least kind of weird: ``If she wants someone else's sperm and someone else's egg, why bother with pregnancy?'' Who knows? Maybe Adams already has a surrogate uterus lined up. Personally, given her associations, I just think it's very open-minded of Adams to consider Cambridge donors. I guess she wants to avoid inbreeding.

Coming eventually: an entry for the Repository for Germinal Choice (a/k/a the Nobel Prize Sperm Bank). FWIW, that bank, which operated from 1979 to 1999, did not supply sperm to single women or lesbians. (This was at the insistence of founder Robert Graham's wife.)

Oxford unit
A measure of the quantity of penicillin, assayed in terms of its antibacterial activity. One Oxford unit is the
amount of penicillin which, when dissolved in 50 cubic centimeters of meat extract broth, just completely inhibits the growth of the test strain of Staphylococcus aureus.

That's the apparently standard definition, quoted by Donald G. Anderson, M.D., in his article ``Penicillin'' in The American Journal of Nursing, vol. 45, no. 1, pp. 18-20 (Jan. 1945); see ftnt. 1 on p. 18. By late 1945 it was possible to grow pure crystals of penicillin, and it was found that one milligram of penicillin corresponded to about 1,650 Oxford units (see this page, browsed 2007.07.12).

Informal generic term for the research funding agencies US military (AFOSR, ARO, ONR; ARPA/DARPA, DOD).

Occidental College.

Vital for life of most organisms you can think of, apart from anerobic bacteria, which lack just a couple of necessary enzymes. Some anaerobic bacteria die on exposure to air. But then, so do fish. If the air you breathe has an oxygen partial pressure substantially less than 1/5 atmosphere, you will lose consciousness. Then it will be very difficult to do whatever it was you had planned to do with that gas-handling equipment, but that will no longer be your biggest problem. Oxygen gas is molecular oxygen -- O2.

A word or more usually a term that is self-contradictory. From the Greek oxy- (sharp) + môrón (dull).



A (Gk.) word with an acute accent on the ultima. Some extend this definition to include barytone (grave accent on ultima).

Cf. paroxytone and proparoxytone, and -- what the hey, while you're at it -- perispomenon and even properispomenon. Ancient Greek doesn't have an exclamation mark, and I think you can see why.

Optimum Yield.

Option Year.



Japanese: `boss, superior.' Cf. kobun.

Japanese term for a foreigner (especially a foreign teacher), employed by the (Japanese national) government.


Ornstein-Zernike (equation). An exact relation satisfied by the pair correlation function and the direct correlation function in (as normally formulated) a homogeneous fluid.

Observe that by using the numerical correspondence associated with alphabetical order (collating sequence), we have the gematria:

O - Z = 15 - 26 = -11
P - Y = 16 - 25 = -9

Well, something to think about, anyway, I guess. Close, but not equal.

oz., Oz.
Ounce. The troy and apothecary ounce are equal to each other and to one twelfth of the corresponding pound. A fluid ounce is one sixteenth of a pint and an avoirdupois ounce is one sixteenth of the corresponding pound. A pint of water weighs about one av. pound.

ozone cracking
Elastomer CRACKING caused by OZONE (O3). Concentrations of a few parts per hundred million in air are enough to produce noticeable effects. Ozone attacks double bonds on the surface of bulk elastomer (rubber).

Troy Ounce.

Chemical formula for molecular oxygen, the stable form of oxygen at anything like normal conditions. Atomic oxygen, O, is a free radical. Sounds revolutionary, doesn't it? In chemistry, as in many scientific fields, radical has its etymological meaning of `root.' The idea is, a radical is not a chemical species normally found free, but in combination. A free radical like O is highly unstable and therefore occurs only in small concentrations. When two oxygen radicals collide, they have a high cross section for combining.

The symbol of an anti-Nazi resistance movement in WWII Austria. The symbol is a roundabout way of representing Ö (o-Umlaut): the letter o represents itself, and 5 represents the fifth letter of the Roman alphabet; together they represent oe, which is the way one represents Ö typographically when the appropriate single symbol cannot be produced. The Ö, of course, is the initial of Österreich, the name of Austria in the language of Austria (namely German). I suppose the 5 also can be taken to represent the letter ess that follows. The word Österreich means `eastern realm.'

Austria was Adolf Hitler's birthplace. He came to power in Germany in the early 1930's, and in the last free elections there before the war, his Nazi party won about a third of the vote. My mother recalls from that time how, as a child, she was told by my grandfather that he was about to cast his last vote in Germany. His expectation was correct. In 1938, Hitler scored his greatest electoral triumph when Austrians overwhelmingly approved a referendum on Anschuß -- amalgamation into the German Reich. Austrians were among Hitler's most enthusiastic supporters during the Nazi era. As WWII ended, Austria was occupied by both democratic and Soviet Allied troops, and Vienna was temporarily partitioned like Berlin. It was decided among the Allies that Austria would be treated as a liberated country rather than as a part of conquered Germany. At the time, this didn't fool anyone who didn't want to be fooled, but in the long run, the memory of the elderly is no match for official history, ignorance, and consoling myths.

The Anschluß made the very name of the country a protest against Nazism, hence the force of ``o5.'' The symbol appeared during the war as a graffito on walls around Vienna, and such graffiti were allowed to remain afterwards. Maybe a few more were added for good measure. At least one guidebook mentioned that the symbol was carved near the main entrance of a cathedral in Vienna. However, when an SBF investigator visited in 2002, he was unable to find it.

The Austrian filmmaker Frederick Baker made a five-minute documentary entitled ``Austria o5 2000'' (16mm, color, 2001) which shows various graffiti around from around Vienna. It received an honorable mention at the 40th Ann Arbor Film Festival (in 2002).

The following is not directly related to o5, but it continues, unfortunately, the story limned a couple of paragraphs back. In October 1999, Austria's far-right Freedom Party dramatically increased its share of the vote in general elections and became the second-largest party (Social Democrats 33.3%, Freedom 27.2%, People's Party 26.9%). The Freedom Party had been moving toward the center until 1986, when Jörg Haider became party leader. Haider had a long history of nice things to say about Nazism and Nazis, coupled with less-prominent and not especially convincing denunciations of Nazism. The entire performance looked to be qualified and calibrated to skirt effective opposition to fascism while tapping certain unsatisfied sentiments of the electorate. These included a genuine nostalgia (among some) for authoritarianism (or what they understood or liked or thought was the essence of it), resentment of the politically correct suppression of profascist expression, measured or not, and resentment of the related ``Shoach business,'' as it is called in Germany (exploitation of dominant antifascism for gain, political or otherwise).

In 1991, Haider was forced to resign the governorship of Carinthia, Austria's southernmost province, after praising Hitler's orderly employment policies. Later he gave a speech before a meeting of Waffen SS veterans and praised their contribution to building a modern Austria. One might regard these as tactical rhetorical errors, or as laying a strategic groundwork. People who harbor half-century-old resentments might be expected to remember a balm of words administered a decade previous. In any case, over the following decade Haider's speeches were a little more careful and mentions of Hitler suppressed. He did a Le Pen, basically, focussing on immigration and patriotic issues, and criticizing corrupt practices of the coalition of Social Democratic and People's parties, which had ruled nationally since 1986 (also).

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