What is the difference between ‘make a pitch for someone’ and ‘make a play for someone’?

(Madhusudhan, Salem)

When you ‘make a pitch for someone’, you speak in support of the individual. During elections, for example, the president of a political party makes a pitch for the local party candidate. He makes a determined effort to promote the individual, and in the process tries to persuade the people to vote for him. It is also possible to ‘make a pitch for something’. When you do this, you try to promote something — an idea, a product, etc.

*As usual, the selectors made a pitch for players from their zone.

*I lost respect for the star when he started making a pitch for a fairness cream.

When you ‘make a play for someone’, you do things to attract the attention of another person; perhaps you wish to have a romantic relationship with him/her. When you ‘make a play for something’, you do everything to get what you want — an important job, assignment, etc.

*Nageshwar made a play for the Director’s post.

*The manager made a play for the young secretary.

How is the word ‘finagle’ pronounced?

(Nandini Das, Cuttack)

The first syllable is pronounced like the word ‘fin’, and the following ‘a’ is like the ‘ay’ in ‘pay’, ‘day’ and ‘say’. The final ‘gle’ sounds like the ‘gle’ in ‘angle’, ‘bugle’ and ‘juggle’. The word is pronounced ‘fi-NAY-gl’ with the stress on the second syllable. It is mostly used in informal contexts in American English to show disapproval. When you finagle someone into doing something, you trick or deceive him into doing it; you get what you want by cheating or conning someone. A person who dupes others is called a ‘finagler’.

*Ritika finagled a discount on the textbooks by claiming to be a teacher.

*Gitesh has the reputation of being a finagler.

What is the meaning and origin of ‘fag end’?

(Usha Ramani, Chennai)

When you talk about the ‘fag end of something’, you are referring to the most uninteresting part of an event; it is usually the last part of something, and is always the most boring or the least significant part.

*A few students walked in at the fag end of the Principal’s speech.

*Harish becomes slightly depressed during the fag end of the cricket season.

We know that cigarettes are informally referred to as ‘fags’, but the ‘fag’ in ‘fag end’ has nothing to do with ‘cancer sticks’ or cigarettes.

The frayed end of a long piece of rope or a long piece of cloth was usually called the ‘fag end’. According to scholars, the word ‘fag’ was a corruption of the word ‘flag’. In the past, one of the meanings of ‘flag’ was to ‘droop’ or hang down limply. Since the frayed end of a rope or cloth hangs limply, they began to be called ‘fag end’. Later, the term ‘fag end’ began to be used to refer to a cigarette butt. With the passage of time, the ‘end’ was dropped and the word ‘fag’ began to be used to refer to cigarettes in general.

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“If you wish to smoke, please take your butt outside.”Anonymous

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