The Journal Gazette
 
 
Saturday, August 01, 2020 1:00 am

Whole cast of definitions from one single word

Curtis Honeycutt

I've been thinking about the word “cast” lately. You see, my son and I recently took up fishing.

After he saw some fishermen catching fish on a pier on Lake Michigan, he has insisted that I teach him how to fish. Apparently it's better to teach a kid to fish than to merely provide him with all-you-can-eat fish sticks.

As the new school year has been rapidly approaching (with plenty of health-related issues to worry about), I wanted to make good and take Miles fishing. We borrowed some fishing gear from my friend Geoff and headed out to the White River, just north of Indianapolis.

Soon Miles and I were putting grubs on hooks and detangling fishing lines. I taught him how to cast his line, which got the word “cast” stuck in my head.

It has many uses. Let me explain.

The cast of “Friends” is going to do a reunion show on HBO. I think it's going to be called “The One Where Phoebe Gets COVID-19.” Ellie Kanner was the casting director for the show. She cast the actors in their now-famous roles. Did you know that Courtney Cox was originally cast as Rachel, but opted to play Monica? She believed Monica's character was a stronger female role.

You get a cast on your leg if you fall out of a tree and break your leg. I have never broken a bone, nor have I had a cavity, for that matter. Don't cast any aspersions on me for my exceptional bones.

When you stand in the sun, you cast a shadow on the ground. If you stand there long enough, your shadow gets longer and eventually disappears as the sun sets. There's a metaphor for life in here, but I'm trying not to overthink it.

Of course, these types of words (such as “cast”) are called “homonyms.” These are words that are spelled the same and sound the same but have different meanings. Words that are spelled the same and sound different, and have different meanings are called “homographs.” Examples include “bass,” “lead,” “tear” and “wind.”

In all, dictionary.com provides 66 different definitions for the word “cast,” all of which are either nouns or verbs. Who knew that definition No. 66 of “cast” is “a low-grade, irregular wool” or that definition 64 is a falconry term for “a pair of hawks put in flight together”?

Leave it to me to find such nerdy joy from one word. After all, it's my cast (definition No. 55: “tendency, inclination”). The die is cast.

Curtis Honeycutt, aka The Grammar Guy, is a Noblesville-based syndicated humor columnist. He is the author of “Good Grammar is the Life of the Party: Tips for a Wildly Successful Life.” Find more at curtishoneycutt.com.


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