Words: aye, int.

CHAIN OF association from yesterday's "awe" makes one wonder about aye aye, whose origins prove obscure. It first appeared at the end of the 16th century, when it was spelt I and defined in an early grammar as "I for Yes, is used in a hasty or merry Way, as I Sir, I Sir." Johnson's supposition that it comes from the Latin aio is fanciful but his definition is neat: "it is a word by which the sense is enforced". It is possible that, through a path of dialects, it derives from ay, whose meaning slid from always to a mere certainly or yes.

Aye is the spelling used by Parliament, but the antipodean, squirrel-like animal the aye-aye was not named after that baying crowd but the sound it makes. The New Yorker once reviewed a Barry Manilow show: "The noes have it."