Source:New Oxford Dictionary
New words for June 2009
Bailouts of banks and other institutions have been prominent in the news recently, but the word has a long history, dating back to 1939. Although a more general sense exists, meaning a rescue of any kind, from the very start the context was financial; our first quotation comes from an article in Time discussing arrangements for a payment of $40,000,000 earmarked to help the tobacco industry (perhaps less likely to be the recipient of a bailout today), after a bad crop. Although the derivation of the noun bailout is straightforward, from the phrasal verb to bail out (also included in this release), the metaphor underlying this is unclear; whether the idea is that money is provided to ‘get someone out of jail’, or that metaphorical water is being bailed out of a ‘sinking ship’. It is possible that two originally distinct idioms have merged to create this sense.
Although arguably a perfectly transparent compound (at least to a British person), this is a nice demonstration of the ways in which a logically formed word can appear baffling to someone who does not share the cultural background from which it comes. A person who kicks cars? Or (at a stretch) starts them, as one would boot a computer? Without prior knowledge of the existence of car-boot sales (and indeed that the rear storage compartment on a British car is a ‘boot’ not a ‘trunk’), one might not guess that this is simply a word for a person who attends them.
A coming together of three words and of three birds. As a blend of the nouns duck and chicken are affixed to the first part of the word turkey, so a boned chicken is used to stuff a boned duck, which is in turn used to stuff a partially boned turkey. The result, in both cases, might equally be regarded as inventive, elegant, and appetizing, or as an ungainly way of overdoing things somewhat