It struck me that this latest fad use of do was rooted in the stern warning of the prospective maid (later domestic servant, later domestic worker, now cleaning lady): “I don’t do windows.” I ran this speculation past Ben Zimmer of visualthesaurus.com, who replied: “I think your hunch is correct about the provenance of the ‘I don’t do X’ phrasal template. There must have been a major influence from the stereotypical maid’s stipulation, ‘I don’t do windows,’ which attained catchphrase status by the mid-1970s as a staple of sitcoms and cartoons.”Each time Safire consults a real expert, I'm torn between being glad he's getting help and being disappointed that the actual expert doesn't have his high-profile slot. But at least we have visualthesaurus.com, which brought this yesterday:
Word Nerd Word of the DayImage from, where else?, MIT.
If you can make this one slide off your tongue without blinking you're probably a genuine word nerd: it denotes the quality (in words) of having more than one sense or meaning. The Greek roots (poly, "many," and sema, "sign") are scattered all over English.