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This page was last updated on January 06, 2009 .

Grazing: What is in a Word?
by: Larry Walker, 5/13/05

I periodically compile "RangeTree County" which I describe as: "... the cyberspace equivalent of a "clipping service" providing a periodic sample of news believed to be of interest to RangeBiome's audience."

I find most of the articles that I link from RangeTree County by using Google's news search to search for a few key words and phrases.

One of those key words is "grazing". Computers being perfect idiots that do exactly what you tell them to do, and only what you tell them to do, I end up scanning through something on the order of 500 news articles per week where the word "grazing" was used - regardless of context.

The use of the word "grazing" in those articles usually falls into one of three general contexts:

  1. The act of animals moving about and consuming the herbaceous parts of plants, such as "cows grazing in a meadow".

  2. Some kind of a light or glancing blow, such as "a bullet grazing a person".

  3. A current human dietary fad of eating lightly and selectively over a period of time, such as "grazing from the salad bar".

Today, I came across an article that uses the word "grazing" in an interesting way that does not seem to fit particularly well with the more common usages. That article is "In memory of Dr. Farrokhrou Parsa" in the May 12, 2005 edition of Persian Journal.

While the article has obvious political overtones, it leaves little doubt that Dr. Parsa was a leading advocate for women's rights who paid the ultimate price for her activism, and who may be little known outside of Iran and Islam.

The interesting use of the word "grazing" appeared in a sentence that reads: "Twenty-five years on, Dr. Parsa's murderers are still grazing carelessly in the country, while the world believes appeasement could be a new taming method."

I speculate that the word "grazing" in that sentence means something like "freely moving about without fear or threat", but I still find it interesting. Not being familiar with the intricacies of Arabic Middle Eastern languages nor Islam, I have to wonder if there is some more specific context or meaning that I am missing.

If so, I would appreciate receiving your email at <> with "Meaning of grazing" in the subject line. If it appears appropriate, I will post your response as an addendum to this editorial attributed to "anonymous" - unless you specifically request your identity to be posted.

Thank you,

Larry Walker


Response #1:
But as your essay at shows, the word was used in the context of commemorating an Iranian activist, which means that you're dealing with Persian, not Arabic, here. These are two different languages. So you may want to seek someone who knows Persian. But interestingly enough, this word may indeed be used in Arabic with rather a similar meaning--at least in Syria, where it is a derogatory, and rather rare, slang.     Anonymous