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Dec 26, 2021
This week’s theme
No el

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Relative usage over time

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AWADmail Issue 1017

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

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From: David Micklethwait (micklethwait hotmail.com)
Subject: No H2O

I am reminded of a most ingenious crossword clue: “A-G, P-Z. Neat! (9)” The answer was UNDILUTED, as in “neat whisky”, because the alphabet had no H to O.

David Micklethwait, London, UK

From: Billy Rainbow (billyr cruzio.com)
Subject: Missing Letter

Every Xmas I’ve made No El cookies. They are any of many different kinds of cookies, with white frosting and the “red circle-bar”, international signage symbol drawn in red frosting over a green frosting L.

Billy Rainbow, Santa Cruz, California

From: Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)
Subject: No el

What other words could they coin on the pattern of No L = Noel? This was the challenge this week and here are some creative answers they came up with.

Ban an A: Banana.
-David Goldberg, Pinckney, Michigan (montedoro44 gmail.com)

B leave: Believe.
-David Goldberg, Pinckney, Michigan (montedoro44 gmail.com)

Nody (no-d) : Well-provided with nodes
-Michael Poxon, Norwich, UK (mikethestarman gmail.com)

Un D: Chanukah came at the regular time on the Jewish calendar this year, but early on the Julian calendar. When we were kids my sisters and I usually got necessities most of the 8 nights of Chanukah, such as socks, flannel pajamas, and white cotton Carter’s spanky pants, also known as undies.
-Stephanie Newman, Bozeman, Montana (stephnewmanmt gmail.com)

Not E: Naughty!
-Danny D’Souza, Pune, India (danny23 gmail.com)

Retire E: Retiree.
-David Goldberg, Pinckney, Michigan (montedoro44 gmail.com)

Nogee: A flat edge to your countertop, i.e., without an ogee or S-shaped curve to the edge.
-Jennifer Arthur, San Francisco, California (jennifer arthurassociates.net)

No J: Dead bluejay.
-Kathy Duby, Petaluma, California (kduby1 yahoo.com)

Nokay: Not ok.
-Bruce Ultsch, Maui, Hawaii (bultsch maui.net)
(also many other readers)

Dies el: Diesel.
-David Goldberg, Pinckney, Michigan (montedoro44 gmail.com)

Less N: To shrink, reduce, or decrease.
-Liz Nelson, West Glover, Vermont (lizinvermont gmail.com)

Nopee: Over-medicated for incontinence.
-Sue Hand, Beverly, Massachusetts (suehand nii.net)

Can O P: Canopy (zap two letters at once!)
-David Goldberg, Pinckney, Michigan (montedoro44 gmail.com)

No q: Paid Ryan Air quite a bit more for boarding pass.
-Peter Richards, UK (aprichards54 btinternet.com)

NoTee: 1. A very busy musical score. 2. The 19th hole at the golf course.
-Billy Kemp, Liberty, Tennessee (lifesaverbridge protonmail.com)

Not Yeti: An abominable snowman who joins an Abstinence Club.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Nay V: Navy.
-David Goldberg, Pinckney, Michigan (montedoro44 gmail.com)

No-ex: Someone who has remained married to the same person.
-Peter Richards, UK (aprichards54 btinternet.com)

Nowhy: Mansplainer.
-Cathoel Jorss, Berlin, Germany (cathoel.jorss gmail.com)

Y not: A child asking why they couldn’t do what they want to do.
-Susannah Garboden, Framingham, Massachusetts (susannahgar gmail.com)

Nozee: Asking saucy questions.
-Alex Pimentel, Richmond, California (pimentelconstruction.ap gmail.com)
-Marjorie Mota, Lakewood, California (mmarjorie386 gmail.com)

No-a : The bloke with the ark
Nobee: Local dialect version of nobody
nosee: Lacking observation
nodee: Pretentious way of pronouncing Noddy
noee: Around about now
noef: Failed attempt at Shakespearian version of knowing. “I noef it”
nogee: What you experience in space
no-ah: Bloke with the ark again
noaye: Not them, me
nojay: A really gentle nudge
nokay: Opposite of OK
noel: As defined before
noem: Yes, I am acquainted with this male person
noen: See noef
no-oh: Like oh-no, but exclaimed presciently, before the bad news
nopee: Drink plenty of water or see a doctor
noqueue: Something very unlikely in England
noar: The bloke with the ark
no-es: I noef, they noes
notee: The person we are taking notes about
noyou: Not me
novee: A novice novice
noweh: It’s that bloke again
noex: The chickens have failed
nowhy: Australian version of no way
nozee: Question to which the answer is noem
-Pip Meadway, Haywards Heath, UK (pipmeadway me.com)

From: Jim Mulrooney (jmulr0120 gmail.com)
Subject: banjax

From my early days this word was used in Ireland to describe somebody who was inebriated: “He was totally banjaxed.”

Likewise, we would say “He had been into the banjax” which we understood to be another word for the poteen, the booze made from potatoes and distilled.

Jim Mulrooney, Toronto, Canada

From: Hugh Eckert (hugh_eckert yahoo.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--banjax

I wonder if it’s related to the Scots slang meaning of banjo: to hit someone.

Hugh Eckert, Arlington, Virginia

From: Alan Rogoff (alanrogoff aol.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--banjax

Zombieland, 2009
(video, 2 min.)

Alan Rogoff, Trumbull, Connecticut

From: Bob Stein (stein visibone.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--zoophobia

That mishmash pair of definitions is a problem for me. I’m one but not the other. I love many animals. I love many pets. I love many pet owners. But I have deep contempt for most pet ownership.

Bob Stein, Brushton, New York

From: Michael Bucher (mcbucher me.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--zoophobia

One of the words in your zoö- examples, zoöphyte, seems to break the mold cast by the others that use “animal” as a descriptor of the noun particle that follows. Zoöphyte ought to mean “animal-like plant”, not “plant-like animal”. This likely reflects a time when corals and such were thought to be plants and not sessile animals -- another mythconception preserved in the amber-like ambit of English.

Yes, I did always use the dieresis over the second O in zoölogy, as part of a partly successful campaign to break students’ habit of pronouncing both Os as a long U and pulling an extra O from somewhere for the second syllable.

Michael Bucher, San Mateo, California

From: Paul Basile (basilepaulm gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--zoophobia

With the four words so far we have A, B, D, E, G, H, I, J, K, N, O, P, Q, R, S, U, W, X, Y, and Z down.
C, F, M, T, and V to go.

That’s a lot of letters to stuff into one obscure word, but if anyone can pull it off, Anu can!

Paul Basile, Skokie, Illinois

From: Andrew Lloyd (knockroe gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--mundificative

Mundificative is some word. After Thursday the missing letters were C, F, M, T, and V. My daughter and grand-daughter put their heads together for “confirmative”.

Andrew Lloyd, Knockroe, Ireland

From: Amy Unfried (amyunfried3 gmail.com)
Subject: mundificative

Yesterday I checked what letters were still missing and came up with “imperfective”, which at twelve letters is one shorter than “mundificative”, and equally obscure. It’s a grammatical word, describing verbs of uncompleted action (also described as “progressive”), and apparently Slavic languages have a particular affinity for imperfective verbs. “Mundificative” may, however, be more readily interpolated into daily conversation.

I won’t say Nowell or Good Yule, but Merry Christmas fits the requirements.

Amy Unfried, Wilson, Wyoming

From: Dave Campbell (museumofdave gmail.com)
Subject: The Thought For Today

No one else sees the world the way you do, so no one else can tell the stories that you have to tell. -Charles de Lint, writer (b. 22 Dec 1951)

It’s true that each of us leads distinctive lives. At the risk of sounding curmudgeonly, however, based on personal experience in far too many book clubs that choose half-baked misery memoirs to slog through, I think of Fran Lebowitz, who succinctly opined “Your life would not make a good book. Don’t even try.”

Dave Campbell, Red Bluff, California

From: Garry Schaeffer (gms4lafs gmail.com)
Subject: Your puns

Your puns are terrible and beneath you. I would omit them. Thanks and happy holidays.

Garry Schaeffer, San Diego, California

You made my day with “Your puns are terrible and beneath you.” Thank you. This brings us to the question...
  What does the playwright do when his play’s reviews begin to come out?
  He shakes fear.
Happy holidays to you too!
-Anu Garg

Some Departure
From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: No el and zoophobia

In keeping with this week’s No el word-theme, I came up with this slightly far-fetched, but droll, scenario. One of our orthodox Jewish gents is perplexed by the obvious logo change, whilst the other appears to have an inside track on Israel’s signature airline El Al’s renaming move. If Facebook (aka Meta) and Google (aka Alphabet) can do it, why not El Al?

Spiders, bats, snakes, and crocs could head a list of most universally feared creatures. Spiders, ‘cause they’re literally just plain creepy, and some are poisonous... the black widow and brown recluse, for starters. Bats are the only mammalian species with wings, have flat, homely faces, and are saddled with the notion that they can create havoc if tangled in one’s coif. Snakes, footless cold-blooded slithery reptiles, some venomous and others bone crushers, have had a bad rep since Biblical times. Crocs, and their cousins, gators, are really scary looking, and can do serious damage to life and limb. Yet those who study these feared creatures tend to respect and love them, and through educating the public as to their value in the grander scheme of our living planet, urge us not to be such fraidy cats.

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California


This week’s theme: No el
1. Skewgee
2. Banjax
3. Surquedry
4. Zoophobia
5. Mundificative
= Joy, a gem to solve, eh!
1. Um, quite askew, huh?
2. Nix
3. Wicked pride
4. Fear beasts
5. Benzoin
     Oh, this week’s theme is no el?
1. skewgee
2. banjax
3. surquedry
4. zoophobia
5. mundificative
= 1. F**k! Joe in two minds
2. I shove, knee, execute
3. Meth=hubris
4. Go away, she zebra!
5. Liquid soap
     This week’s theme: No el
1. Skewgee
2. Banjax
3. Surquedry
4. Zoophobia
5. Mundificative
= 1. Mixed up
2. Brutalize
3. Ego motives
4. When a jockey shows equine fear
5. Bathed skin
-Julian Lofts, Auckland, New Zealand (jalofts xtra.co.nz) -Shyamal Mukherji, Mumbai, India (mukherjis hotmail.com) -Dharam Khalsa, Burlington, North Carolina (dharamkk2 gmail.com)

Make your own anagrams and animations.


“If the earth were not slightly skewgee,
Then we wouldn’t have seasons.” “I see.”
“We’d have summer year-round
Or snow, thick on the ground.”
“Think how boring our weather would be.”
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes btconnect.com)

An eruption of dormant Mount Fuji
Spewed lava on me and on you. Gee!
What’s with this volcano?
The Gods, maybe they know.
That mountain’s behavior is skewgee.
-Rudy Landesman, New York, New York (ydur36 hotmail.com)

While driving wrong way, very skewgee,
she’s stopped by a cop who’s on duty.
He bids her good morning,
gives only a warning.
Says she, “Saved again by my beauty!”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

An amateur artist was he,
Of limited talent, you see.
He painted Mt. Fuji,
Alas, slightly skewgee --
It looked more like ice cream to me.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

My friend who loved a smoke or three
Knew a weed (that in the wild grew free).
It turned a skewgee mind
to one that was quite aligned
with the warmth of a dreamy glee.
-Shyamal Mukherji, Mumbai, India (mukherjis hotmail.com)

Covid -- in hopes to forestall it,
I got shot. Where’s my -- whatchamacallit?
Oh gosh, I’m skewgee
Where on earth can it be?
Ah! Here’s that vaxx card, in my wallet!
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

“Last night with the ghosts I was skewgee,
But now I’m awake to your beauty,”
Ebenezer revealed.
Mrs. Dilber, oh yield
To my charms, and please, dear, call me Scroogie.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Up the creek without paddle or helm.
In these moments bleak thoughts overwhelm.
Since the rescue’s been axed,
And the motor’s banjaxed,
We’re all headed for Hades’ dark realm.
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes btconnect.com)

In poker you’ve just bet a grand
With not the best pair in your hand.
That pair’s lower than jacks
And you bluff to banjax
Those timorous players as planned.
-Rudy Landesman, New York, New York (ydur36 hotmail.com)

Says he, “I am truly undone!
I was threatened by thieves with a gun.
My house has been ransacked,
and I have been banjaxed.
Perhaps I should call nine-one-one!”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

Joe Biden’s agenda’s been scotched --
All bungled and banjaxed and botched!
While Democrats cry,
Joe Manchin’s the guy
Opponents have happily watched.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

“Dear Santa, please bring a new sax,”
Wrote Bill, “and Ken Starr please banjax.
When his work you’re done blocking,
Please fill up my stocking
With White House interns and Big Macs.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

All that surquedry gives us the clue
To what’s buried deep down -- the real you.
You’re a small boy betrayed,
Who’s in pain and afraid:
This is why you behave as you do.
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes btconnect.com)

“It seems I have little recourse,”
says she, “but to file for divorce.
I can’t stand his surquedry.
Lately, there’s perfidy,
too, and he shows no remorse.”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

His surquedry shows in his smirk;
The man’s a self-satisfied jerk.
That look on his face
I’d like to erase --
His arrogance drives me berserk.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

Most mothers, it appears to me,
Certainly practice surquedry.
So proud of a son
They go on and on
How he does it all perfectly.
-Lois Mowat, Orinda, California (lmowat1810 gmail.com)

When a ‘uge built-in layer of surquedry
Is part of a president’s circuitry,
His electoral ills
Mean let’s head for the hills,
For there’s soon bound to be an insurgency.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“Sorry, people, but filming’s delayed:
David Attenborough says he’s afraid.”
“Zoophobia?” “Sheep
He was counting to sleep
Took to chasing him. (Sheep have since strayed.)”
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes btconnect.com)

A tiger with known vestiphobia
Has sensed your instinctive zoophobia.
He’s looking askance
At your shirt and your pants,
But he’d rather just eat than disrobe ya.
-Rudy Landesman, New York, New York (ydur36 hotmail.com)

Says Pogo, “Come visit us. We
is in no kind of captivity.
In Okefenokee, ya
see, zoophobia
don’t apply nohow. We’s free!”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

A young man from far off old Cambodia,
Suffered greatly from a wicked melancholia.
He feared animal sounds --
Made him jump leaps and bounds,
He had such bad bouts of zoophobia.
-Judith Marks-White, Westport, Connecticut (joodthmw gmail.com)

How cute is a pup or a kitten!
Yet somehow my friend isn’t smitten.
Zoophobia’s why
She is animal-shy --
I think at one time she was bitten.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

Said Plato, “We’ll hold some symposia,
And decide how we’d make a utopia.”
“Birds and beasts in a cage
Are a moral outrage,”
Answered Anu. “Let’s have zoophobia!”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Mundificatives, wine or saline,
Were most used by the ancients to clean.
When a wound must be dressed,
They knew honey was best,
As it cleans out those poisons unseen.
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes btconnect.com)

Mundificative items like soap
Help doctors in hospitals cope.
Some sort of detergent
For surgeons is urgent --
Their hands they have washed, I would hope.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

Said Oog to the salesman, “We primitive;
No buy your so-called mundificative.
Wash our clothes? Thank you, sir,
But we like grimy fur;
Try next cave. For us, cost is prohibitive.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


Apologized the husband to his wife: “I hung the picture a-skewgee I’m sorry.”
-Jim Ertner, Greensboro, North Carolina (jde31459 gmail.com)

“Wow. I’ve never seen anyone skewgee to the right and h to the left,” said the handwriting analyst.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

His mother would banjax climbing of the beanstalk.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

They shouldn’t banjax just because a toddler swallowed one.
-Janice Power, Cleveland, Ohio (powerjanice782 gmail.com

“It plays bluegrass music and chops wood! Order your Banjax now for free shipping!” said the ad.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Said the White House TV repairman, “President Trump, I’m afraid your overloaded surquedry has blown out all of Washington, DC.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“Tiny one-celled creatures swimming around inside me? Ewwww!” said the spεrmato-zoophobic girl.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Said the dung beetle, “Thank goodness a couple of ex-lax finally made that nearby hu-mundificative.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Biden, Telling It Like It Is!
From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: Biden, Telling It Like It Is!

Pres. Joe Biden, a born storyteller, often brings up significant events and personages from his past, injecting a folksy, personal touch to his speeches. Here, taking a page out of Dr. Seuss’s “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”, Biden addresses two future voters, telling the true-life tale of how Grump Trump tried to steal democracy by fomenting a violent insurrection on the Capitol. Frighteningly, he almost pulled it off.

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California

A book lying idle on a shelf is wasted ammunition. Like money, books must be kept in constant circulation. Lend and borrow to the maximum. -Henry Miller, writer (26 Dec 1891-1980)

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