THE NICE THING about words relating to heat is that when it's hot it's not necessarily hot, as when jewels are hot, meaning stolen. Jewels themselves are often called ice, so it is possible to have a situation where the ice is hot. Isn't that interesting? And then there's hot as in hot time, as in hot time in the old town tonight. There, of course, hot means cool, as it does in hot jazz or hot hitter.

A hot hitter is said to be on a hot streak, which is not to be confused with a heat wave. Heat itself is a synonym for pressure, and when someone says the heat is on, you know that something's cooking. Whatever's cooking, on the other hand, may not be a burning issue, as buring means intense, except when you're burning up with desire or anger, or merely doing a slow burn, like a hothead. When you're burned in basketball, you're in hot water.

Which is merely to prove that being hot-blooded does not mean that you have a high temperature, nor is a hot rod necessarily a car that burns rubber, for it may also be a stolen pistol, although a hot house is not. And if you're hot as a pistol, you can still be cool as a cucumber - at least you can if you live outside Washington these days, the hot seat of government, where the temperature can make you hot under the collar and is, therefore, no so hot.