AWADmail Issue 384
November 8, 2009
A Weekly Compendium of Feedback on the Words in A.Word.A.Day and Tidbits about Words and Language
From: John Evans (btradish earthlink.net)
Subject: acnestis (ak-NEES-tis)
Def: The part of the body where one cannot reach to scratch.
I don't know about anyone else, but I'm flexible enough to scratch any part
of my back, and I haven't even had any gymnastic training.
From: David Anders (anders andersusa.com)
The presence of the acnestis - that area of the back which cannot be
scratched - can be helpful to dermatologists trying to diagnose patterns of
rashes or redness which appear on the back. Sometimes it is the absence
of a finding, i.e., the absence of redness at the acnestis, that gives
dermatologists a valuable hint as to why the other area has become irritated
(as the result of scratching). In Sherlock Holmes's story Silver Blaze,
it was the absence of the dog's barking in the presence of the criminal
that tipped Holmes off to the identity of the guilty party. "The Sign of
the Silver Blaze" at the acnestis continues to help diagnosticians today.
From: Janice Brien (hjbrien hotmail.com)
Def: A terrifying experience, similar to a nightmare, felt while awake.
We have a folkloric myth here in Newfoundland called 'the hag' in
which one sees an old woman and one is paralysed to move or call out.
It happens during the night but one feels this phenomenon happens when we
awake. I've had it happen to me and while I did not 'see' the old woman
I certainly saw a shadow of one moving down the hallway. I couldn't scream,
make a sound, or move a muscle. It lasts for a a few seconds and then our
bodies just melt and all rigidity passes, as does the terror. Well-known
in these parts!
From: William Schmidt (BSchmidt727 yahoo.com)
Interesting. Don't know that I've ever had a daymare. I have experienced
a night stallion. Not my term, but one I saw written by Piers Anthony,
a fantasy-fiction writer. Believe the night stallion oversees all the
nightmares. Occasionally the night stallion will take a mare's place to
deliver a really bad night-time experience.
From: Meredith McQuoid (mcquoidm si.edu)
Def: Covered with freckles.
The photo that accompanied lentiginous is a beautiful face! Why oh why did
you select a usage example that portrays the beauty of freckles in such
negative light? Aren't we beyond the need to portray such superficiality
as covering up what one is born with? My mother is a redhead with lots
of freckles and thus suffered as a child in the 1940s from teasing about
her freckles, as did several archetypical characters from books I read as
a young teen in the 1970s. It seems there was a time when having freckles
meant open season for bullies. Wanting my daughters to avoid feeling such
torment and loss of self-esteem, I told them both when they were young
that each freckle came from an angel's kiss. If they ever got teased
about their freckles, at least they had an automatic retort to counter
the insulter. Because girls spend so much time worrying about what they
look like, and given how many teens read AWAD as part of their education,
your example sentence unfortunately continues to propagate the notion that
their natural selves are at best not good enough. That is a shame. I'm
sure the cosmetics industry is ecstatic.
From: Ken Brodey (kbrodey alice.it)
I've been an American in Milan for nearly 25 years now. I remember when
I first started stumbling along in Italian how I had the sensation that
the Italians were, well, kind of, pompous. The reason is that many common
words in Italian -- but certainly not all -- are Latin in origin, and
many of these words also appear in English. When in English however, they
have a snooty feel about them. For example, the Italian 'lentigginoso' would
best be translated by 'freckled' or 'freckly' and not by the high-falutin'
From: Hillary Rettig (lifelongactivist yahoo.com)
Def: One who does useless work.
In the activist world a nihilarian does what the late, great animal activist
Henry Spira called "hyperactivism", meaning "busy work" that is done in
the absence of a strategic plan, and therefore highly unlikely to result
in social change.
From: Sean Parker (metsgotows comcast.net)
Def: A wooden stick for stirring porridge.
I never knew spurtles were for porridge. My mother used hers for spanking.
From: Frank Griffin (ftg roadrunner.com)
Cooking show host Graham Kerr
(the Galloping Gourmet) was fond of this tool, and used and referred to it
on TV often. I believe his Galloping Gourmet line of cookware included one.
From: Eric Hoy (eric.hoy utsouthwestern.edu)
I remember my first visit to Scotland, some 20 years ago. At breakfast
I bravely worked my way through haggis and blood sausage. On the table,
I discovered a canister that contained discs that had the appearance and
flavour of building material. The waitress explained to me that these
were oat cakes, and gave me some Marmite to spread on them. She said that
the combination improved both Marmite and oat cakes. She was right. They
went from inedible to merely awful, but I was determined to eat a real
Scottish breakfast, so I forged ahead. By this time, however, the porridge
had congealed. I was poking at it with my spoon when the waitress came
by and introduced me to today's word. However, she used it as a verb.
"Don't just spurtle around there. Put some cream and sultanas in the
porridge." Since then, whenever I encounter a thick mass that requires
stirring, I spurtle it.
A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
You live a new life for every new language you speak. -Czech proverb