Saturday, 10 March 2018

Walking the streets in fits and starts

My dog Penny and I set off briskly. After all, we hadn't had breakfast yet, but given the prediction of a hot day, we were trying to beat the heat. What was this? Oh yes, an interesting tree to sniff, and grass that might contain some recent pee-mails by local dogs.

We proceeded. And stopped again. Lamp-posts are always fascinating.

And so it  went, around the streets.

This surely must be the definition of  a walk that proceeds in fits and starts. Literally.

The Concise Oxford English Dictionary: Luxury Edition defines this phrase as with irregular bursts of activity.

Yep. That's how it went.

The Word Detective looks at the phrase in some depth. In part, he says:
"Fits and starts" does indeed mean "intermittent" or "off and on, spasmodically, not making  steady progress."

Spot on!

The writer explains that the expression 'by starts' probably appeared around 1421, and the expression 'by fits' can be dated to 1583. Joining the two is described as a more-is-better model, like similarly redundant phrases such as 'in leaps and bounds.'

Once I had mentioned to Penny that breakfast awaited us in the kitchen, the pace picked up amazingly. Vertical surfaces lost their appeal. We raced home.

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