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According to the New Penguin English Dictionary (1986) an aerie is an eyrie. That is all. Well that’s one hell of a lot of help, isn’t it?

The New Oxford American Dictionary that comes bundled with Mac OS/X is a lot more helpful. According to that dictionary, an aerie is a large nest of a bird of prey. An aerie is usually built high off the ground, in a tree or on a cliff. Aeries are particularly popular with eagles.

Eagles are majestic, masterful, powerful birds. I wonder how they feel about their homes being called aeries. You’d think they’d want a more august name for their dwellings, something along the lines of the words for impressive human homes, such as castle or palace, or at least manor or mansion. In contrast, aerie sounds so, well, airy fairy.

Upon rereading the last sentence of the previous paragraph, I realized that it could be misunderstood. I didn’t intend the word fairy in an disgustingly denigrating, politically incorrect way. On the contrary, I am very pleased to live in a country that protects people within its borders from discrimination on the basis of, among other things, sexual orientation.

Instead, I meant airy fairy in the way that rightwing nut jobs, rightly or wrongly, accuse leftwing nut jobs of having “airy fairly” ideas. Although, considering that some rightwing nut jobs are irreconcilable bigots when it comes to sexual orientation, and might mean fairy exactly that way, maybe I should have avoided the expression altogether. Sorry about that.

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