Sir: Does a person "graduate high school" and "graduate college"? I've been hearing this phrase and I'm wondering if it's correct. I thought one graduated from high school and from college.
- Karen W.
Answer: And you're right. People who left either place triumphant should say they graduated from it. Some go too far, of course, and say they were graduated, but you can forget that. And always remember that anyone who says "I graduated high school" or "I graduated college" should be required to go back and take the whole thing over. It'll be good for them.
Sir: You said the term "spittin' image" means like something spit out of the mouth, but that conveys a not very-nice-image. I have read somewhere that "spittin' image" is a corruption of "spirit and image," which sounds much better. What about it?
- Jim K.
Answer: Fay L. had a similar comment, and I'm glad to say you're both within your rights. The theory I cited is much, much older and presumably more authentic, but if you prefer spirit to expectoration, it's perfectly all right with me.
Sir: Recently I read an article that contained this statement: "Style, of course, is common currency in Milan, where the bravest face auditions at a Memphis mirror . . . ." What is a Memphis mirror?
Answer: As I understand it, a style of furniture known as Memphis was developed in Italy north of Milan in recent years. It is known for revolutionary design, bright colors and geometric shapes. Memphis furniture got its name, strangely enough, because when the design group was sitting around one night a record kept playing "Memphis Blues." So to face auditions at a Memphis mirror means to compare a style with that of Memphis furniture.
Sir: I recently heard on public radio that "they striked a deal." I always thought "struck" was the past tense of "strike."
- Mary L.
Answer: It is, too. It appears that even public radio struck a snag there.
Too-Busy Student of the Week, reported by Edward M.:
"My newspaper, writing about a lad who played on two school teams and was a member of the student council and various organizations, said he was `involved in many extra-circular activities.' Being involved in so many extra-circular activities must have made him dizzy!"