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Getting To The Root

May 01, 1994

It was pleasant for this 75-year-old to find that the word "scissorbill" (L.A. Speak, Palm Latitudes, March 27) is still in use. It was commonly used when I was young, but when I saw that it was defined as "origin unclear," I went to the unabridged version of Webster's Third New International Dictionary of the English Language and found: "Scissorbill/n. (trans of F. bec-en-ciseaux) 1. A skimmer. 2. chiefly West: an inferior or stupid person as a: a worker indifferent to the interests of the laboring class (as one unwilling to join a union) b: a worker learning to be a railway brakeman.

WENDELL PHILLIPS

Green Valley Lake

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