What is the meaning and origin of ‘hang up one’s gloves’?

(K. Kanchan, Cochin)

It has the same meaning as ‘to hang up one’s boots’ — in other words, to retire. The ‘gloves’ used in the expression refer to the ones that a boxer wears during a bout. In the past, ‘hang up one’s gloves’ was used whenever a boxer decided to call it a day. Nowadays, of course, the idiom is used to refer to any individual who is retiring. Similarly, the expressions ‘hang up one’s fiddle’ and ‘hang up one’s sword’ were used when a musician and someone from the military retired. They are seldom heard today.

*Meera says she will be hanging up her gloves soon.

What is the difference between ‘stare’ and ‘glare’?

(CN Anurag, Kolkuta)

When you ‘stare’ at someone, you look at the person rather intently; your eyes are wide open and you keep looking at the individual for some time. There may be several reasons why you stare at someone or something — it could be one of admiration or amazement. Fear is another reason why a person may stare at something or someone. Parents often tell their little ones not to stare at others. When you ‘glare’ at someone, you look at thewm angrily or threateningly — there is no other emotion involved here. You don’t glare at someone in amazement. Glaring suggests hostility, and unlike staring, the look that you give the individual may not last very long.

*Would you please stop staring at the pimple on my nose?

*Mala glared at Vatsan, but he pretended not to notice.

How is the word ‘hubbub’ pronounced?

(Avinash, Vizag)

The ‘ub’ in the first and second syllable sounds like the ‘ub’ in ‘tub’, ‘pub’, and ‘sub’. The word is pronounced ‘HUB-ub’ with the stress on the first syllable. Scholars believe that it comes from the Irish ‘ababu’; a blood curdling battle cry that Irish soldiers employed to intimidate their enemies on the battlefield. In everyday contexts, ‘hubbub’ is normally used to refer to a loud noise, usually unpleasant, that is created when a lot of people get together.

*The hubbub at the ceremony gave me a splitting headache.

The word can also be used to mean a noisy, but exciting situation.

*Even today, there is considerable hubbub surrounding Tendulkar.

What is the meaning of ‘honestly’ in the following sentence: “Honestly, I don’t understand why she just doesn’t fire Rahul”?

(CK Tara, Madurai)

The word ‘honestly’ is frequently used in speech to indicate one’s emotion or mood. In the example that you have given, it suggests that the speaker is angry or irritated. The person is unable to understand why Rahul’s boss hasn’t given him the pink slip. ‘Honestly’ is used in everyday conversation to convey a range of emotions — mild disapproval, disgust, surprise, etc.

*Honestly, look at the mess that woman has made.


“There’s one way to find out if a man is honest — ask him. If he says, ‘Yes’, you know he is a crook.”Groucho Marx