Wednesday, June 6, 2012

A is for Alibi

In an attempt to kick-start my blogging and produce more than an entry or two per month, I've decided to try a new writing gimmick. I've seen others use the alphabet for inspiration, and it seemed like a good idea, but I needed an angle. For that angle, I am turning to my friend Google. For each letter of the alphabet, I'm going to type the phrase "[letter] is for " into Google. I'll write an entry about (spoiler alert!) the first match in the drop-down list from the Google search box. Every once in awhile, I assume, this will be interrupted by actual things to write about.

If you type "A is for " into the Google search box, the first match is alibi. A is for Alibi seems to be the first book in a series by Sue Grafton, which I have not read, so I've got nothing there. It did, however, start me thinking about the word alibi. What are its origins? It doesn't sound like most English words. At first I wondered if we stole it from Arabic, but then I realized I was just conflating alibi and Ali Baba. Yes. Let's find out the real story! Back to Google!

Aha: alibi is from Latin. In Latin it means "elsewhere." Perfect. Its use as a noun in English dates from the late 18th century, so I guess before then people didn't have alibis. Perhaps they had excuses or justifications.

I don't think I have any personal alibi anecdotes. Not being involved with the justice system, the word just makes me think of books, TV, and movies. A thousand Law and Order episodes, detective dramas, you name it. Oh, that does remind me that I've been catching up on the BBC series Sherlock lately. I'm almost through Series 2, which isn't that difficult because each series is three episodes long. Benedict Cumberbatch: best name ever? He's a definite contender. My favorite detective series ever, though, was Veronica Mars. I wish I could watch the first season of that show all over again for the first time. Sigh.

Okay! I think we have plenty of evidence now that my experience with alibis comes from television and not real-life adventure. And that I'm the kind of person who looks up word origins. What will the letter B bring? Stay tuned! (Actually, it's pretty easy to find out what the letter B will bring. But not what I'll say about it!)

No comments: