at great speed; rapidly.
The adverb lickety-split, “at great speed; rapidly,” was originally and remains mostly a colloquialism. The origin of lickety is fanciful—an extension of lick “to move quickly, run at full speed.” And split means “fraction,” as in split second. Lickety-split entered English in the first half of the 19th century.
Well, pretty soon, after we had got down to level country and were making the speedometer earn its board, I happened to look around and, good night, there was an automobile coming along lickety-split, about a quarter of a mile behind us.
You will pay very little, and your coffee, pancakes or waffles will arrive lickety-split on your red-checked tablecloth. At the next table may be a tug crew, a film company or even the First Lady.
utterly bewildered, confused, or puzzled.
Flummoxed, “utterly bewildered or confused,” ought to leave you flummoxed. The word is a colloquialism, the past participle or adjective of the verb flummox, where the trail turns cold. Flummox has no firm etymology, but it may come from or be akin to British dialect (Herefordshire, Gloucestershire, Cheshire, all of which border on Wales) flummox, flummocks “to hack, to mangle,” or the noun flummock “a sloven,” or the verb flummock “to confuse, bewilder.” The verb, spelled flummux’d, first appears in 1833 in England with the meaning “backed down, backed out of a promise, disappointed.”
The lost hour of morning light meant they had to rush to get their crops to market. Dairy farmers were particularly flummoxed: Cows adjust to schedule shifts rather poorly, apparently.
But scientists here are flummoxed. While they presume green turtle numbers are declining, they have no idea how quickly, or where, or how best to protect them.
a minor weakness or failing of character; slight flaw or defect.
Foible, “a minor weakness of character, a slight flaw or defect,” comes from the noun use of the obsolete French adjective foible “the weak point of the blade of a sword” (the strong point of a sword blade is the forte). Foible is first recorded in Old French about 1175; it derives from Vulgar Latin febilis, from Latin flēbilis “lamentable, worthy of tears, causing tears,” a derivative of the verb flēre “to weep, cry, lament.” In French, foible was replaced by faible, another derivative of febilis, and the source of English feeble. Foible, in the sense “the weak point of the blade of a sword,” entered English in the first half of the 17th century; the sense “defect in character” arose in the second half of the 17th century.
Though it has its darker moments, no Bergman venture has ever been so warm, so understanding, so forgiving of human foibles.
I thought of it as just evidence of a very familiar human foible. Most of us can’t later account for why our egos sometimes get the best of us.
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