Wednesday, March 15, 2017


I used the phrase "out of whack" this morning. Then it occurred to me: Has anything ever been in whack? For that matter, has anything ever been on kilter? Or in of kilter?

When you whack an object, it is certainly going to be out of something, I suppose. The etymology of "kilter" comes from "keiter" which meant, healthy, or in good condition, but is now like the word "gruntled," which is never used in positive form.

"Out of sorts?" That's easy for a former printer--sorts are punctuation marks, dingbats and decorations in a type font. When you're out of them you can't complete the job. Of course, that never happens nowadays when typefaces are all digital, but when you only had so many pieces of lead in your type case, you were in trouble when you ran out.

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