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Word for the Wise June 26, 2007 Broadcast Topic: Fungo

With the major league baseball season in full swing, we can't pass up the opportunity to acknowledge the 1819 birth anniversary of Abner Doubleday. Although Doubleday was once credited as the man who invented baseball, these days that story is recognized as more myth than truth. (来源:最老牌的英语学习网站 http://www.EnglishCN.com)

Like baseball, the field of words is home to more than a few fanciful tales about origins. Consider, for example, a term from baseball: fungo. The fungo is a fly ball hit especially for practice fielding by a player who tosses the ball into the air and hits it when it comes down; the long thin bat used to hit fungoes is known as a fungo bat.

So does fungo have its origin in some sort of "that's the way the fun goes" phrasing? Does it come from the word fungible, suggestive of the interchangeability of fungo bats and regular bats? Is there some link between the feel of a fungo bat and the feel of fungus? Or does fungo come originally from either the German fang-en, meaning "to catch," or the Scottish fung, meaning "to pitch; toss; fling?"

Regardless of the fan support for any or all of these theories, they are all just a touch too off-pitch (and a tad too wild) to persuade lexicographers to remove the "origin unknown" label from fungo.

 
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