A WORD IN THE HAND: TRADE
Building riveting idioms without trade marks is just plumb crazy
A column to satisfy your inner grammar nerd
“Trade” is such a strong, honest, burly word (unlike “dabble”, which is a drippy, dilettantish sort of word). We all trade our skills for money or (more commonly) our money for other stuff, but only a handful of professions qualify as “the trades”.
Those who practise a trade are the noble, respectable souls who make our cars go, our cupboards shut and our houses not fall down around our ears. No matter how many financial analysts try to change it, a light bulb won’t turn on unless a tradesman or woman has sorted out the electrics. These heroes make spin cycles go round, and the world couldn’t function without them. (Tradesmen, that is. We’d probably survive without washing machines.)
It seems appropriate, therefore, that we have a shiny toolkit full of words borrowed from the trades, without which the English language would be much the poorer...