I was delighted by Mary Schmich's column in the Sunday, Aug. 30, Chicago Tribune, headlined "9 things to love right now."
The best, to me, was "2. The word 'punnet.' " One of Schmich's readers, Fritz Plous, called it to her attention. A punnet is "a small container or basket for berries or other fruit," Schmich wrote.
A caption on a picture of farmstand peaches in punnets, accompanying the column, describes punnet as "a word to be championed."
Of course, I like the word champion, but it's unusual to see it as a verb.
That drove me to my dictionary, where the definition looked familiar. As a noun, it's "1. One who comes forward in defense of another or for a cause; one who defends or maintains; a protector or vindicator. 2. the victor having acknowledged superiority in certain matters; a winner of first place or first prize in a competition."
As a verb, champion is "1. to challenge to a combat (Obs.) 2. to maintain or support, as a cause or individual; to protect; to defend."
I suppose you'll remember that I'm not always happy with words being used in too many different ways. On the other hand, I like this rare use of "champion."
If you buy your fruit in punnets, don't just use the word -- champion it!
Meanwhile, champion the word "champion," too. Maintain and protect its ability to be a verb.
"Champion" needs defending.
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Filed under: Words Worth Defending