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Dec 19, 2021
This week’s theme

This week’s words
apple knocker
banana oil
sour grapes

How popular are they?
Relative usage over time

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AWADmail Issue 1016

A Compendium of Feedback on the Words in A.Word.A.Day and Other Tidbits about Words and Language

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From: Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)
Subject: Interesting stories from the Net

Languages Could Go Extinct at a Rate of One Per Month This Century
New Scientist

Don’t Blame the New French Pronoun on Americans
The Web of Language

Email of the Week -- Brought to you buy The Official Old’s Cool Education III -- “A fantastic gift.”

From: James Courter (je-courter wiu.edu)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--apple knocker

In 1964, the men’s basketball team from the tiny southern Illinois town of Cobden made it to the state championship game. The team name was and still is the Appleknockers. This was before Illinois went to a class system in basketball (among other sports), meaning small schools and big schools competed for one championship. Cobden’s unlikely success has worked its way into Illinois basketball lore. (Far southern Illinois is to the state as Appalachia is to the country.) They lost the title game to the Pekin Chιnks. You read that right. Pekin’s team has since been renamed the Dragons.

I was in attendance at that game as a junior in high school. It was played at the University of Illinois Assembly Hall, which looks like a spaceship. See more here.

Jim Courter, Macomb, Illinois

From: Michael Jordan (mykolai msn.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--apple knocker

When I was in college in Upstate New York some, ahem, years ago, apple knocker was a term applied to upstate New Yorkers by students from “The City”, people who apparently knew of no other city but New York City.

Michael Jordan, New York Mills, New York

From: Norma Meyer (nsophm gmail.com)
Subject: Apple knocker

As a child and young adult, I lived in the Bronx in NYC. I always connected the expression apple knocker as a form of derogatory comment on the people who decried the “tawdriness of the city”. “He’s just an apple knocker. Has no notion of how family friendly Times Square is now.”

Norma Meyer, Charlotte, North Carolina

From: Billy Fudge (billy.libil gmail.com)
Subject: Apple knocker

My grandmother liked to preserve tree-ripened apples by putting them in the root cellar. She explained that for them to last for extended periods of time, they should not be bruised in any way. So, to get them off the tree without bruising, she attached a pound coffee can to the end of a long, slender pole. One of us would extend the pole into the tree where we would push the can up and around the target apple. Usually it took only a gentle wiggle to loosen the apple which was then resting in the can, unbruised and ready to transfer into a bucket.

Subsistence farmers were very aware of the nuances of the natural world that sustained them and adept at their continuing mantras, “waste not, want not” and “the early bird gets the worm”!

Billy Joe Fudge President, Homeplace on Green River, Inc., Retired District Forester, Kentucky Division of Forestry, Columbia, Kentucky

From: Andrew McPhate (phateful1 gmail.com)
Subject: apple knocker

The California version is almond knocker.

AJ McPhate, Baton Rouge, Louisiana

From: Anne Lustig-Picus (anne.picus gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--apple knocker

You wrote “In both languages the words mean both a pomegranate and a grenade.”

True also in Hebrew! (רימון “ree-MOHN”)

Anne Lustig-Picus, Shorashim, Israel

From: Agnes Stieda (agnesvstieda gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--apple knocker

So glad you chose pomegranate and SPELLED it out today. I always had trouble with pronouncing it right, although in German, which was my first language, it is the same word, Granatapfel, but the emphasis is on a different syllable. But seeing the wonderful fruit being spelled, the pronunciation becomes very clear. Thank you.

Agnes Stieda, Victoria, Canada

From: Steve Achtenhagen (steve_the_professor yahoo.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--banana oil

We senior men of age 90 or so know banana oil as the stuff we painted on our carefully constructed balsa-wood model airplanes -- after building the framework, we had to cover the frame with tissue paper, then paint the tissue with banana oil to make it shrink and be taut.

Steve Achtenhagen, Palo Alto, California

From: David Scoins (david scoins.net)
Subject: razz

In parts of Britain “to go on the razz” is a form of pub crawl. Quite why we seek to chase oblivion escapes me entirely.

David Scoins, Porthpean, UK

From: Bob Patetta (summitauc aol.com)
Subject: Peachy

Interesting coincidence that the word “peachy” was the AWAD choice on the same day that it was a clue in the New York Times crossword: “Just peachy.” (Answer: “Lovely”)

Bob Patetta, Tallmadge, Ohio

From: Jeb Raitt (jbrmm266 aol.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--peachy

Peachy is one of those words whose actual meaning is largely dependent on the tone in which it is spoken or the way in which it is written.

Said in a particular tone of voice, the word refers to something that is most definitely NOT excellent or highly desirable.

Jeb Raitt, Norfolk, Virginia

From: Bill Strong (ncbill273 yahoo.com)
Subject: Other peachy words

I hope you’re aware of the Peachoid, a water tower in Gaffney, SC, in one of the South’s biggest peach-growing areas (more than in Georgia).

Bill Strong, Davidson, North Carolina

From: Anne Hodgkinson (annechodgkinson gmail.com)
Subject: peachy

Today’s word “peachy” has made my day. I live in the Netherlands, where the word for peach is “perzik”, so it all fell into place when I read about the name coming from “persicum malum”. I have always wondered where “perzik” came from (and with the current lockdown I might even have found the time to look it up myself...). Interestingly, the Dutch word for “orange” is “sinasappel” meaning “Chinese apple”. You might expect potatoes to be “Peruvian apples” but no, they’re just “earth apples” (aardappelen).

Anne Hodgkinson, Utrecht, Netherlands

From: William Pease (peasewmj gmail.com)
Subject: Peachy

Sign on a fruit stand: “Have one berry peachy day! Better yet, have a pear.”

Bill Pease, San Diego, California

From: Dave Horsfall (dave horsfall.org)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--peachy

You wrote: “Why peachy to refer to something excellent, as opposed to, say, appley? Well, peaches are apples too, etymologically speaking.”

Funny you should say that; in Australian slang, “She’s apples” means “it’s great.”

Dave Horsfall, North Gosford, Australia

From: Rakatansky, Herbert (herbert_rakatansky brown.edu)
Subject: Fruits

New word definition by myself (a gastroenterologist), in honor of a fruitful week.
tooty-fruity: the sound one makes after eating too many prunes.

Herbert Rakatansky, MD, Providence, Rhode Island

From: Jenny Hurth (hurthfam earthlink.net)
Subject: Word meanings

When we don’t know the meaning of a word we Gargle it.

You’re the best,

Jenny & Mark Hurth, Oakland, California

Apple Knocker
From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: apple knocker and razz

Take me out to the ballgame/ take me out to the crowd/ give me some peanuts and apple jacks... Huh? Apple jacks? Meet Charles Rennie Mackintosh, star apple knocker for the new MLB team, the AWAD Apple Polishers. Not to be confused with turn-of-the-last century Scottish architect of the same name. A dash of suspended disbelief is warranted here, as one would expect with such a Mackintoshian blow that the apple/ball would be smashed to smithereens. But we are playing hardball here... make that “hard apple” ball.

Fosse and Verdon: All That Razz
In light of the recent passing of lyricist Stephen Sondheim, I couldn’t resist this homage of sorts to two past Broadway greats -- the husband and wife dance/choreography team of Bob Fosse and Gwen Verdon. My caption is a play on their Broadway smash hit musical, “All That Jazz”. I’m sure these two super talents had their moments of marital discord. Yet a raspberry, or two between spouses was hardly a deal, or marriage, breaker.

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California


This week’s theme: Fruits
1. Apple knocker
2. Banana oil
3. Razz
4. Sour grapes
5. Peachy
= 1. Shows ignorance
2. Malarkey
3. Buzz; heckle, poke
4. Rash upset trait
5. Appears fine
     This week’s theme: Fruits
1. Apple knocker
2. Banana oil
3. Razz
4. Sour grapes
5. Peachy
= To paraphrase Anu:
1. Hick
2. Swizz, hokey
3. Tease
4. Bile
5. Perfect or, um, slang -- “spanker”
     This week’s theme is based on fruits
1. Apple knocker
2. Banana oil
3. Razz
4. Sour grapes
5. Peachy
= 1. U artless rich!
2. Prate upon
3. Tease
4. Pekoe-bliss beyond reach
5. Kazak wiz pines for Ms. Ghana
-Dharam Khalsa, Burlington, North Carolina (dharamkk2 gmail.com) -Julian Lofts, Auckland, New Zealand (jalofts xtra.co.nz) -Shyamal Mukherji, Mumbai, India (mukherjis hotmail.com)

Make your own anagrams and animations.


Apple knockers are roughly hewn brutes
Who delight in the baser pursuits.
They have no time to waste
On acquiring good taste,
Or on sampling life’s daintier fruits.
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes btconnect.com)

“I’m changing my sport,” declares he.
“Alas, no more baseball for me!”
Says ex-apple-knocker,
“I’m now playing soccer.
My bat has gone missing, you see!”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

There’s an athlete, and he’s a real rocker,
Who made quite a big name in school soccer.
He won medals galore
For how well he would score,
But with smarts he’s a real apple knocker.
-Judith Marks-White, Westport, Connecticut (joodthmw gmail.com)

Good judgment that girl seems to lack.
She’s dating a fellow called Jack,
A dυmb apple knocker
Who’s half off his rocker
But said to be great in the sack.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

Sunshine was my sister’s dumb Cocker;
She dubbed her a sweet apple knocker.
She would not move a bit,
Only lie down or sit,
Which made it so tough just to walk her.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“It makes you a true apple knocker,”
Said the Brit, “if football you call soccer.
And you Yanks throw a pitch?
That’s the field! Oh, how rich!
But we both put our clothes in a locker.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

It’s the toady’s emollient of choice
When his egotist snaps and gives voice.
The banana oil “balm”
Will, with luck, restore calm,
And said toady can smugly rejoice.
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes btconnect.com)

Banana oil, nonsense, and hooey --
We do not believe it, now do we?
B.S. we detect
And always reject.
To claptrap from Trump we say, “Phooey!”
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

Politicians today cause turmoil.
From their lips just drips banana oil.
So nothing gets done
To benefit anyone;
They just to their party stay loyal.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

From coupling “banana” and “oil”,
Chiquita and Dole both recoil.
“It insults our poor fruit!”
They say. “Give it the boot,
For it isn’t according to Hoyle.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

In the ‘Burgh he’s known simply as Maz.
Played second, with no razzmatazz.
Then he hit that big fly
That made Yankee fans cry,
Cuss and moan, weep and wail, jeer and razz.
-JW Miller, Rixford, Pennsylvania (jmakalefty yahoo.com)

I’m a martyr to flatulence, so,
I’m embarrassed wherever I go.
And at every event
There’s a joker, hell-sent,
Who will razz me with, “Ah, thar she blow!”
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes btconnect.com)

“Instead of reacting with fright,
all you do is make fun of my bite,”
says the vampire. “This razzing
is terribly frazzling,
you know. And it’s most impolite!”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

The baby will coo, and she’ll razz.
A smile on her face she now has.
Her mother, though drained,
Is most entertained --
For hers is a child with pizzazz!
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

An old comic I know always has
A quick comeback on hearing a razz.
“The bouncer,” he said,
“is an ex-con named Fred
And a graduate of Alcatraz!”
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“Dear Mom, you’ve got so much pizzazz,
That your child I hope you won’t razz,”
Said the note, “for I’m changing,
My parts rearranging,
From Chastity Bono to Chaz.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Sour grapes? Not at all for the prize
Wasn’t really worth winning. The size
Of the cup -- and the cheque --
Were a joke. What the heck!
I allowed her to win -- damn her eyes!
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes btconnect.com)

When told that he couldn’t partake
of the fabulous chocolate cake,
said the young jackanapes,
who was good at sour grapes,
“It would give me a bad bellyache!”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

When Anu does not like my verse,
I shrug “Sour grapes” yet a grudge nurse.
But on the rare day
My work’s on display,
I tell the entire universe.
-Shyamal Mukherji, Mumbai, India (mukherjis hotmail.com)

“Who needs houses and cars?” said the apes.
“Through the jungle it’s better to traipse.
Our cousins have stuff,
But it’s never enough,”
They declared, but ‘twas just sour grapes.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

My dear, you just know how to reach me.
Your dancing is sεxy and peachy.
And most of the fun’s
In watching your buns,
The way that you shake them. Please teach me.
-Rudy Landesman, New York, New York (ydur36 hotmail.com)

A young man who could often get preachy
Liked to quote the philosopher Nietzsche.
Such a scholar was he
Who, his class would agree,
Had a way which made lectures so peachy.
-Judith Marks-White, Westport, Connecticut (joodthmw gmail.com)

“I really don’t want to be preachy,”
The minister said, “I beseech ye.
For I have to relate,
‘Twas no apple they ate,
But a pom’granate, yes, oh so peachy!”
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

Thought Friedrich, “I hate to sound preachy,
But I’ve got an idea that’s just peachy.
It’s called Übermensch;
When we conquer the French,
On all Germany’s lips will be, ‘Nietzsche!’”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


She needed help with her computer, but her techie brother was an Apple knocker.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“Eve is so irresistible I guess I’ll eat the apple, knocker up, and hope for the best,” thought Adam.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Popeye was sometimes known to date Olive’s sister, Banana Oil.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

Said the ex-New Yorker running the Chiquita plantation, “Down heah dey treat me like minor royalty, some kinda banana oil.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

A derisive sound emanated from a Russian monastery, and the culprit was Grigori Razz-putin.
-Jim Ertner, Greensboro, North Carolina (jde31459 gmail.com)

He razz-le-dazzled the audience with his comedic performance.
-Ray Pasinski, Downers Grove, Illinois (rayomic yahoo.com)

“Hey y’all, Ah got razz-urrected,” says Jesus in the New Texas Version.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

What word did the congressman mean when he accused the president? It was im-peachy meant.
-Jim Ertner, Greensboro, North Carolina (jde31459 gmail.com)

While beer and coffee make you peachy-z has a constipating effect.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Warts and All
From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: Warts and All

Trump toadie Devin Nunes is going to be the CEO of Trump Media & Technology Group and head of his Truth Social platform, launched on Oct 21. That latter site recently went dark in response to claims of impropriety cited by the SEC and the FCC. Nunes will start Jan ‘22 calculating that he’d likely lose his House seat in the 2022 midterms due to redistricting. Being Trump’s lackey was a far safer bet. If Trump’s record is any indicator, the company (formed under a questionable setup) will soon go bankrupt, losing investor/subscriber money, while Trump moves on to some new scam.

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California

And the evil is done in hopes that evil surrenders / But the deeds of the devil are burned too deep in the embers / And a world of hunger in vengeance will always remember. -Phil Ochs, folksinger (19 Dec 1940-1976)

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