AWADmail Issue 372
August 16, 2009
A Weekly Compendium of Feedback on the Words in A.Word.A.Day and Tidbits about Words and Language
From: Monique Reed (monique mail.bio.tamu.edu)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--ort
Def: A scrap of food left after a meal.
Needleworkers often use "ort" to describe the little bit of thread left
in the needlle after the work is done, a piece too small to be used for
anything else. These can be corralled in an ort port, a jar, or other
vessel, so that they do not stray onto clothing and so the cat does not
eat them. Some stitchers I know use the clear, hollow Christmas tree
ornaments as ort ports -- the finished ornament, with all of its colorful
and/or shiny bits, becomes a reminder and record of what was stitched
during the year.
From: Edmond Spaeth (edspaeth aol.com)
As the spouse of a passionate needleworker, I learned the word "ort" via
my wife who calls the scrap threads left over from her stitchery just
that, "orts". I have also learned to look before sitting down as there
just might be a sharp needle inadvertently placed on the couch.
From: Scott W. Langill (slangill dcaccess.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--ort
To me this is the meaning of ort.
From: Wayne Dam (wayne.c.dam gmail.com)
Subject: The word "Ort"
Interesting. I've never heard of "ort" for small scraps of food before.
But when I saw it in your post what immediately jumped to mind was the
From: Jo Sack (Josack hotmail.com)
ORT also stands for oral rehydration therapy! This is a simple solution
(sugar, salt, and water) that treats dehydration from diarrhea and saves
millions of children's lives around the world every year. Until this
was discovered, diarrhea was the leading cause of death, now it's only
second. In the US where not so many die, it saves families dollars from
having to hospitalize their children. CeraLyte and Pedialyte are two
of the brand names of this product, but it can be made at home: visit
childhealthfoundation.org for the recipe.
From: Douglas Zullo (zullod hartwick.edu)
Subject: fug's homonym
Def: Stale, humid, and stuffy atmosphere, as in a crowded, poorly ventilated room.
Before they would publish Norman Mailer's The Naked and the Dead,
Rinehart Press convinced the author to replace the expletive "fuck" with
"fug". Legend has it that when Dorothy Parker first met Mailer she quipped,
"So, you're the man who can't spell 'fuck'."
From: J. Jarvis (jay.jarvis gmail.com)
I am sure that most of your subscribers had the same reaction I did
upon seeing this word. They thought of either Norman Mailer or that
venerable rock group, The Fugs.
As stated by Ed Gardner in his history of The Fugs:
"The term 'folk-rock' had not been invented in late-1964 when I approached
Tuli, after a poetry reading, about forming a rock group. Tuli eagerly
assented, and was the one who came up with the name, the Fugs, borrowed
from the euphemism in Normal Mailer's novel, The Naked and the Dead."
From: Jenny Wolahan (wolahan gmail.com)
For many young people these days, the word "fug" has little to with stale
air and a lot to do with stale clothing. As far as I can tell, it's a
derivative of the adjective fugly, which means sartorially ugly (as
opposed to physically ugly, which most aspiring fashion plates are not).
There's a voluntary aspect to it, as in, "Why would someone so beautiful
want to make herself look so fugly?" The word "fug" itself is usually
a noun ("There was so much fug going on at the teen choice awards last
night"; "She needs to banish the fug and start dressing well again"), but
thanks to gofugyourself.com, it can also be a verb, meaning to criticize
someone's fug on the website ("We fugged Beyonce's crazy costumes three
times last week, but we fear she's not taking the hint.").
From: Chips Mackinolty (manbet174 yahoo.com.au)
Def: To spin or rotate.
There is a peculiarly Australian meaning for the word birl, also spelt
burl, first recorded among Australian troops in World War I but still
common. "Give it a birl" means giving something a go, or a trial. The
spelling is said to be the same as the Scots dialect, birl, to spin or
twirl, which is what you have supplied. I'm not sure if it is related,
or rhyming slang, but there seems an obvious relationship with "giving
(something) a whirl", with a similar meaning to giving it a birl.
From: D. Edwards (dickon dickonedwards.co.uk)
A birl is also recent gender identity slang for an androgynous girl who
looks like a boy - deliberately, willingly so.
From: Patsy Le Vann (levann peak.org)
This is a word I have heard only in Scotland where I grew up - we birled
our tops, hoops etc. In the west of Scotland at least, it is always
pronounced with two syllables; birull - the i as in bit. Girl got a
similar sound; girull!
From: Peter Cound (peter.cound bsmht.nhs.uk)
This is also the name of a note played on the Great Highland Bagpipe. It
is played by moving the little finger of the left hand down and up over
the "Low G" note hole of the Chanter.
See any bagpipe tutor, such as the Glasgow College of piping green cover
From: Michael Lawson (michael.a.lawson conocophillips.com)
Subject: A log driver's waltz pleases girls completely!
When AWAD sent 'birl' as the word of the day, I was immediately transported
to the lazy Saturday mornings of my childhood. You see, the National Film
Board of Canada created an animated short to the song The Log Driver's
Waltz by Wade Hemsworth. It tells of the lightfooted log driver and how
birling down white-water gave him the skills to win over the ladies. I've
included the link to the film, and I highly recommend you watch a classic
piece of Canadiana. It remains the number one requested film of the
National Film Board. Enjoy!
From: Ann Andrusyszyn (aandrusyszyn barrie.ca)
Def: A soft, round bread roll.
I grew up in Yorkshire I Northern England where Yorkshire Teacakes were
the soft bread "bun" of choice. But yes, baps were the smaller round
"dinner bun" type bread rolls - and that bap was the Scottish name for them.
From: Joyce Haley (djhaley gci.net)
I remember that when I was growing up my parents would lightheartedly use
the phrase "I'll bap you upside the head". I always thought it meant a
slap on the back of the head but now I have the image of being swatted
with a nice soft breadroll. I'm not sure that my parents were aware of
"baps" to eat though.
From: Richard Mackay-Scollay (business pica.org.au)
Bap is also Northern British slang for breast, particularly female,
presumably by association with shape.
From: Sylvia Curtis (curtis library.ucsb.edu)
Another bap definition: Black American Princess usually capitalized BAP
a quick definition from Wikipedia:
Black American Princess (BAP) is a term that refers to black women of
strong social lineage and proper breeding.
Better is this page.
From: Chuck Altvater (greenman rocketmail.com)
Bap is also the Korean word for rice.
From: Mike Ciaraldi (ciaraldi ciaraldi.com)
Subject: A Use For Cwm
Def: A steep bowl-shaped mountain basin, carved by glaciers.
When I was quite young I memorized what is supposed to be the shortest
sentence in English which uses all 26 letters:
"Cwm fjord bank glyphs vext quiz."
In exactly 26 letters it means: "Statues in the bowl-shaped valley at
the edge of the fjord annoyed the old man."
From: Kathy Harper (kharper4 gmail.com)
Aha! This word explains a reference in the fantasy novels of Terry
Pratchett. His fictional trolls and dwarves both originated in a certain
mountainous region of the Discworld. Their mutual animosity stems from the
pivotal Battle of Koom Valley centuries before (and their unwillingness
to admit that their own side may have started the fight).
From: David Hatcher (hatch landabooks.com)
Subject: Untruth about Crwth
It may be technically accurate to say that a crwth is a crowd, but it's
seriously misleading -- especially to non-British people.
A crwth is a stringed instrument, similar to a fiddle. A British term for
the instrument is "crowd". As far as I know, crwth has nothing to do with
a large group of people -- unless they're at a fiddlers' convention.
A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
Words are chameleons, which reflect the color of their environment.
-Learned Hand, jurist (1872-1961)