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AWADmail Issue 246

January 28, 2007

A Weekly Compendium of Feedback on the Words in A.Word.A.Day and Other Interesting Tidbits about Words and Languages


From: Anu Garg (garg wordsmith.org)
Subject: Discover the theme

What did the five words featured last week -- livid, vim, vivid, dilli, and immix -- have in common? Readers sent thousands of answers: wild guesses, intelligent deductions, and everything in between. For those who have not figured it out yet...

Maybe writing them in uppercase will help: LIVID, VIM, VIVID, DILLI, IMMIX.

Perhaps this will ring a bell: All the words used only these letters: MDLXVI.

The answer is: Words made from Roman numerals.

The prize, an autographed copy of my book Another Word A Day, goes to the winner, randomly selected from all the correct answers: Rita Scranton (aprilfule aol.com) of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

The first person to send the correct answer was Michael Blue (ajahraus telus.net) of Calgary, Canada, whose response came within minutes of the first word (livid) being published on Monday. He will receive an autographed copy of my book A Word A Day.

Thanks to all for participating. Here's a handy Roman number converter and here's a rundown of the week:

Monday: livid

Most popular answer:
Words that denote a color as well as an emotion.

Silliest:
All the words this week are palindromes.

Most creative:
Using scrabble scoring the word has a total score of 9, which just so happens to be the total sum of the numbers in the year 2007.

Honorable mention:
Hi, Anv -- It's ivst a gvess, bvt hovv abovt: VVords vsing nothing bvt the letters of the Roman nvmerals (IVXLCDM)? Best vvishes for a ioyovs MMVII,
-Dave Zobel (zobeldave aol.com)

Tuesday: vim

Most popular:
Strong human emotions.

Most creative:
Perhaps the theme is open-source software; at least, both Monday's and Tuesday's words fit this motif: livid (LInux VIdeo and DVD project), vim (vi improved)
-Peter Gilman (pgilman p3t3.net)

Almost got it:
Five days, five words - all words contain the Roman numeral for five: the letter v.
-Name withheld.

Honorable mentions:

The selection criterion is words having letters used for representing Roman numerals. Since x and c are yet to make an appearance, this is jumping the gun, but it is said that in science, an approximate answer to an interesting and important question is better than an exact answer to a boring and unimportant one -- and both the question and answer satisfy at least these criteria.
-N.V. Joshi (nvjoshi ces.iisc.ernet.in)

So far, LIVID and VIM -- I'M rather DIM, but my LID CLIX on words spelled with Roman numerals?
-Steve Benko (steve.benko gecapital.com)

Omnia verba de numeris Latinis construita sunt.
-Henry Willis (hmw ssdslaw.com)

Wednesday vivid

Most common:
Words having only one vowel i.

Almost saw it:
All of the words contain IV to mark the beginning of the fourth week of the new year.
-Name withheld

Honorable mentions:

They all appear in Chapter One of Christian Bök's epic poem Eunoia.
-Christina Storey (christina.storey pmg.ie)

It looks like you're using words that can all be spelled in Roman numerals. Please don't think that my name, in this case, is giving me a leg up!
-Roman Olynyk (roman.olynyk mail.wvu.edu)

Their only vowel is I. Does that make them narcissistic?
-Richard Beigel (yvnhs8x02 sneakemail.com)

Thursday: dilli

Most succinctly put:
Malformed Roman numerals.
-Chris Warrington (chris.warrington fuse.net)

Words used to describe things you may see at Australia Day fireworks:

  • a livid policeman
  • much vim in the party goers
  • a vivid outlook on life after a few beers
  • and fireworks which could just be called dilli
-Kaleb Phipps (trois_sept iinet.net.au)

Almost got it:
Words that are formed using the letters MDLVI.
-Name withheld.

Trying too hard to find a pattern:
The middle letter of the first word is the first letter of the second word. The second letter of the second word is the second letter of the first word. The third letter of the second word is the middle letter of the last word. The first letter of the third word is the middle letter of the first word. The second letter of the third word is the second letter of the second word. The middle letter of the third word is the middle letter of the first word, etc.
-Name withheld

Misc:

Are they words to describe the personality traits of a redhead? Just seems as though each day, the word was describing one of my many moods of the day.
-Shannon Pelletier Swanson (sps966 yahoo.com)

Years ago, I played in a band called the Mix; I had written the band name in block capitals on a cassette cover, and one of my fellow students at the time quizzed me as to why my band was called "1009"!
-Will Blair (will avondata.co.uk)

Roman numerals, although not arranged in such a way as to be real numbers.
-Sandy Kimble (kimps cox.net)
[But they are all integers. -Anu Garg]

They are autobiographical words: no other vowels but i!
-Mila Steele (mila.steele sagepub.co.uk)

They all contain an unsettling number of 'I's. And since the theme from this week is *mine* to discover, *I* say that I'm right.
-Mike Darnell (mrdarnell uwalumni.com)

The theme is necessary elements of a cooking show seen on television.
-Dan Gallagher (climbik hotmail.com)

My guess at this week's theme: Words to describe my two ex-wives - always livid with anger for no reason, yelling with vim over something that THEY did wrong, dilli would apply to how it was to leave them, vivid would apply to how they were up until the day each of them married me, and immix describes the bi-polar personalities they exhibited.
-Name withheld

Friday: immix

Guessing the common trait of this week's words brings back a quotation from the comedian Steven Wright who was confronted by a friend saying "Your socks don't match!" Steven responds "Yes they do. I was going by thickness." This week's words have many things in common:

  • they lack the letter "Q"
  • they contain a prime number of letters
  • none of the letters extends below the line
  • the number of consonants is one more than the number of vowels
  • oh, and by the way, each word uses only the vowel "I"
It is a serious issue in science, trying to unravel the causative agents from the correlated or merely coincidental.
-Michael Sivertz (sivertz bnl.gov)

The pattern seems to be univocalic, strictly using 'i'. Anyway, univocalics can be fun - some years ago we rewrote Mary's long-suffering lamb with A, E, I and O (Martha had a small lamb, that was as wan as wax ... Meg kept the wee sheep, the sheep's fleece resembled sleet .... Jim's kid isn't big - its skin is whitish ... Moll's got two wool-shod stock, who both sport wool of snow, etc.). Great fun, although you have to change gender, species or number of animals occasionally. The one that stumped all was `U' - I only got as far as deciding that the lamb will have to turn into a bull or a gnu, belonging to Lulu. But I digress.
-Johan Viljoen (johan.viljoen za.saabgroup.com)


One must be drenched in words, literally soaked in them, to have the right ones form themselves into the proper patterns at the right moment. -Hart Crane, poet (1899-1932)

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