Today’s extremely versatile word is ‘dash’. At its most basic, it’s this: a – or a hyphen. Well known as dot’s more elongated half in morse code. But it’s so much more. You can dash off to the shops because you’re in a hurry, or dash off a letter excusing your child from gym (dash as in a hasty stroke of a pen). You can make a mad dash to catch a train or bus and your hopes will be dashed if you miss it.
You can be dashed if you’re going to give in, if you prefer not to say ‘damned’ though I’ve never heard this be extended to apply to ‘dashed if you do and dashed if you don’t’. In olden times, a man could be dashing (even if he wasn’t in a hurry) if he was good-looking. Women couldn’t be dashing like that, but then they didn’t have the time! In newen times, ‘dash’ is digital cash apparently.
The word ‘dash’ is probably Swedish or Danish in origin and meant ‘to strike or beat’ which is clear in the sentence: The small wooden boat was dashed to pieces on the rocks’. You can dash down a drink (but don’t do that with Laphroaig) or add a dash of water and sip it slowly (do that with Laphroaig).
And lastly, you can cut a dash, which basically means to be showy, or act brilliantly.