The word ‘pole’ is unique in the English language in that it is the only word that refers both to a person from a particular country and an inanimate object, or rather several different inanimate objects. “Swede” comes close since it is the word for a person from Sweden as well as a delicious root vegetable, but only in British English (apologies to Scots readers for whom they are neeps) . “Turkey” is an excellent word that manages to encompass an entire West Asian nation and a flightless bird that goes rather well with cranberry sauce, but that’s not quite the same thing.
In written English there is little opportunity for humorous misunderstanding since the person has a capital ‘P,’ but in spoken English the possibilities for infantile punning are endless. As a black-belt in infantile punning I can do little to resist the temptation to put together an entire post taking full advantage of this linguistic quirk.
The many meanings of ‘pole’
Noun 1. A long slender usually cylindrical object.
In a sentence: “Adam used a metal pole to get the polecat out of the tree”
A pole. Rather a nice oak one at that.
Noun 2. An historical unit of length or area.
In a sentence: “Adam’s pole was a least two poles long”
A pole vaulter. One of multiple opportunities in this post to show images of women gripping stiff elongated objects.
Noun 3. The inside front row position on the starting line of a race.
In a sentence: “Adam would have been in pole position if the Pole hadn’t beat him to pole in the qualifying lap.”
A pole dancer who could, conceivably, also be a Pole.
Noun 4. Either end of the axis of a sphere.
In a sentence: “Adam beat the Pole to the pole by a pole’s length.”
A fireman’s pole. I’m fairly sure that outfit represents a health and safety issue.
Noun 5. Either of two related opposites.
In a sentence: “Adam and the Pole were poles apart.”
Maypole dancers. Amazing what these pagans get away with.
Noun 6. Either of the two terminals of an electrical system.
In a sentence: “Each pole of a magnet is attracted to the opposite pole of another magnet” said Adam.
A switch rotary 75a s-pole, apparently.
Verb 1. To act upon with a pole.
In a sentence: “Adam poled the Pole to within an inch of his life following the pole position debacle.”
A polecat. We mentioned this already in noun 1.
Verb 2. To impel or push with a pole.
In a sentence: “Adam poled his way upriver to Poland from Germany.”
The North Pole. There is another one you know.
Verb 3. To use ski poles to increase speed.
In a sentence: “Adam poled himself to a last minute victory over the Pole in the downhill race.”
Storks on a telegraph pole. A Polish symbol that makes sense.