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Unix Frivolities and The Language of Flowers


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We all know Unix, even with the very user-friendly OS X GUI, is the realm of the serious user, especially when it comes to using Terminal, the OS X application for using a command line interface. But thank goodness that along with all the Unixy goodness OS X inherited from BSD, we also got the Unix joi de vivre. Yes, you can do Stupid Terminal Tricks in OS X. As far as I know, none of the following is specific to OS X; just use the local command line for your particular flavor of Unix.

  1. Open the Terminal application (Applications / Utilities)
  2. type

    cat /usr/share/misc/flowers
  3. Press Return.
  4. You should see a list of flowers, and what they mean.

In the Victorian era, suitors wooed by encoding messages in bouquets and nosegays of flowers; each flower conveyed a particular meaning or sentiment. Sometimes suitors communicated by the simple if somewhat daft system of listing flower names verbally—assuming, of course, that both suitors were using the same codebook for the language of flowers. If you haunt used book stores, you can find many guides from the era, some of them with the “sentiment” and either a hand-colored image of the flower, or a pressed flower, or a space for the young lady to press a keepsake from her wooer’s floral message.


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