AWADmail Issue 382
October 25, 2009
A Weekly Compendium of Feedback on the Words in A.Word.A.Day and Tidbits about Words and Language
From: Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)
Subject: Interesting stories from the net
Non-traditional Names Linked to Teacher Discrimination
In Chinatown, Sound of the Future Is Mandarin
The New York Times
From: Thea E. Smith (thea.e.smith gmail.com)
Def: 1. Superfluous. 2. Futile. 3. Indolent.
The word otiose reminds me of a game my parents played, wherein
they'd try to think of words that contained silent -- or otiose (as in
"lacking use or effect") -- letters. E.g., subtle, gnu, knife,
and many more-interesting ones that I can't think of right now.
From: Christer Norrlof (christlof hotmail.com)
In Scandinavian languages, we don't use the form otiose, only the word that
it derives from -- otium. It is typically used concerning retirement age,
when you, after a life full of hard work, can enjoy doing the things that
you always wanted to do while you were still working and not able to do
it. The expression in Swedish is "njuta sitt otium", meaning enjoy/relish
one's otium", to have a good time (when being retired).
From: Dannie Walker (huskstang mindspring.com)
Years ago the mini-donut shaped, oat-based breakfast cereal, Cheerios,
was invented and became a huge success. One wonders what other names were
considered for this morning repast. One also can be fairly certain that
"Oatey Os" was summarily rejected forthwith!
From: Hal Collard (hal.collard ucsf.edu)
Def: A beggar.
Mendicant is one of my favorite words. When I was a boy, my father would
meticulously record expenses. One day, looking at his notes, I saw "gift to
mendicant" and asked what that meant. He explained and I remember thinking
how nice it was that he had given money to someone in need. Only later
did I learn that "gift to mendicant" was his code phrase for my allowance!
From: Linda Owens (lindafowens netzero.net)
We had a stray cat named Qutals, and he was always begging, since he'd
nearly starved as a kitten. Of course, we called him "The Mendicat".
He also had a bad habit of vomiting on things, so we used to give him
"degrees of difficulty in cleaning" points for items like the fringe of
a rug, down a stack of records, etc. He also enjoyed spraying on my art
portfolio, so I called him "my art critic". Nevertheless, my kids loved him,
so he lived with us for over 10 years. What was I thinking?
From: Paula D. (via Wordsmith Talk, bulletin board)
Subject: Mendicant as a type of chocolate confection
Regarding the word mendicant, meaning beggar and also referring to four
Catholic monastic orders. Mendicant (French: Mendiant) is also the name
of a small disk or bar of chocolate which has been sprinkled with dried
fruit or nuts. In France, chocolate mendicants are part of the 13 desserts
of Noel. From the site Chocolate & Zucchini:
"Among these are the four 'mendiants' (beggars), symbolizing four mendicant
monastic orders and the color of their robes: raisins for the Dominicans,
hazelnuts for the Augustins, dried figs for the Franciscans, and almonds
for the Carmelites."
Also see Wikipedia.
From: Hari Krishna (harimocherla gmail.com)
Def: Glowing praise.
Encomium is a wonderful soothing enzyme. Generally when an employee is being
relieved on transfer or retirement, all his superiors and colleagues indulge
in 'customary exaggeration' of the abilities of their outgoing colleague
and shower profuse encomiums. Perhaps on that day only they remember how
good a worker he had been during his tenure.
From: Kathleen Beattie (kathleenbeattie1302 hotmail.com)
Def: 1. Dictatorial. 2. Expressing command or urgency. 3. Not admitting any question or contradiction.
When selecting jurors in Canada and, perhaps, in other jurisdictions,
the peremptory challenge allows the defence and Crown to reject an equal
number of potential jurors without having to give a reason. The other type of
challenge stipulated in our Criminal Code, the challenge for cause, requires
a reason to be given such as deeming the potential juror not to be impartial.
From: Gregg Farrier (gjf mindspring.com)
Def: Something cheap and showy, of little use.
The old song De Blue Tail Fly comes to mind. There has been much debate
over the meaning of "Jimmy Crack Corn". To note, in the original version
the lyrics read "Jim crack corn". "Jim crack" has traditionally been used
in reference to shoddily built items. Additionally, "corn" is considered
an American euphemism for "corn whiskey". Other possibilities include:
"Gimcrack corn" cheap corn whiskey; That it refers to "cracking" open a jug of corn whiskey;
A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
A man who uses a great many words to express his meaning is like a bad
marksman who, instead of aiming a single stone at an object, takes up
a handful and throws at it in hopes he may hit. -Samuel Johnson,