Words: aftermath, n.

AS PEOPLE wheezily explain that a cough is the aftermath of a cold, they do not ponder such paradoxical usage of the word.

Math has nothing to do with arithmetic or even celibate Hindu mendicants. It is, via Old English, from various Teutonic words of a m root for mow. Math survived until this century as mown grass and also a measure for the amount that a man could cut in a day (an acre). Although a slight cough is preferable to a virulent cold, an aftermath is, strictly, a second, inferior growth (or the act of cutting it back). It was first used metaphorically by John Cleveland in 1658 for a shallower love - on the rebound. Aftercrop did not rhyme, so aftermath it is. Aftermath quiche is accurately used: Dame Edna's recipe for leftovers.

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