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AWADmail Issue 457

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

From: Ruth Burns (rbfreelance hotmail.com)
Subject: Gluteus Maximus (Re: accolade

Who was Gluteus Maximus? A character in Asterix cartoons!

Ruth Burns, London, UK

From: Mark McSwain (mpm82 aggienetwork.com)
Subject: Gluteus

For those less-versed in anatomy, it can be a surprise to discover that there are three Glutei, and the naming is based on dimension of the muscles. They are the G. Minimus; G. G. Medialis, and, of course, G. Maximus.

While most people know that hindquarters are G. maximus, it is the other two Glutei which define the shape of the human behind.

Mark McSwain, Bryan, Texas

From: Michael Huston (madmice yahoo.com)
Subject: Gluteus Maximus

Gluteus maximus should be in everybody's fundamental vocabulary.

Michael Huston, Joplin, Missouri

From: Frances Gillespie (gillespi qatar.net.qa)
Subject: elbow grease
Def: Hard work; vigorous exertion.

When I started primary school in 1949 in Cambridge, UK, the first thing we had to do was to polish the lids of our desks -- long, heavy wooden affairs that may well have dated from the late 19th century when the school was built. I can remember trotting home after school and telling my mother, 'The teacher says we have to bring a rag tomorrow and plenty of elbow grease.' When she had finished laughing she took pity on my bewildered expression and explained what it meant.

Frances Gillespie, Qatar

From: David Calder (dvdcalder gmail.com)
Subject: elbow grease

A memory was stimulated by this entry, told to me as a boy by my late father, who studied pharmacy in the 30s when medicines were made up from jars and bottles labeled in Latin. When he was a junior or apprentice, his senior chemist listed some ingredients for an ointment to be made up, concluding with Oleum ulnaris. After a fruitless search for this last, Dad said he asked his boss where the heck the stuff was. The latter smirked as he translated -- literally, 'oil of elbow-bone' -- and Dad realised the crucial ingredient was the labour with mortar and pestle.

David Calder, New Plymouth, New Zealand

Email of the Week - (Sponsored by Comeuppance - Just Desserts in a Can.)

From: Helene Larson (helene.larson gmail.com)
Subject: elbow grease

My dad had a "sports shop" in a small rural town. In addition to the wide range of sports equipment, from roller skates to hunting gear, he had a joke section - which I loved. My first experience with elbow grease was finding a tube of it for sale there. Ah, were it that easy!

Helene Larson, Incline Village, Nevada

From: Claudine Voelcker (claudine.voelcker googlemail.com)
Subject: elbow grease

That's just like in French: huile de coude, or Italian: olio di gomito, or German: Armschmalz (they use the whole arm).

Claudine Voelcker, Munich, Germany

From: Bruce Brashear (BBrashear nflalaw.com)
Subject: Elbow grease

This always makes me think of the old commercial for Ajax cleanser:

You'll stop paying the elbow tax
When you start using Ajax

Bruce Brashear, Gainesville, Florida

From: Jane Meyerding (mjane u.washington.edu)
Subject: cows and horses

March 29 Thought: No cow's like a horse, and no horse like a cow. That's one similarity, anyhow. -Piet Hein, poet and scientist (1905-1996)

Oh, but have you seen this?

Jane Meyerding, Seattle, Washington

From: Robert Galli (rbrt.galli gmail.com)
Subject: bumf
Def: Unwanted or uninteresting printed matter.

One of my all-time favorite words, having dealt with considerable bumf over the years, not only in my profession but continuously in news reports, especially regarding politics! How did it become a favorite? I first learned the word from AWAD when it first appeared in June of '03. I printed and framed the definition and prominently displayed it in my office. Many colleagues agreed it is a most useful word.

Thanks for an exceptional continuum of enjoyment.

Robert Galli, Edison, New Jersey

From: Janice Ritter (jritter53219 aol.com)
Subject: Trivial Pursuit

I love AWAD and not just because it helped my team win a game of Trivial Pursuit! It was the classic battle between the sexes -- the girls against the guys. It was our turn (the girls). We needed one pie wedge to win the game. The question was: "What does 'AWAD' stand for?" I almost jumped through the roof. My brother, the more cerebral of the members of the boys' team, was disgusted. I loved it.

Janice Ritter, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Prolonged study of the English language leaves me with a conviction that nearly all the linguistic tendencies of the present day have been displayed in earlier centuries, and it is self-evident that the language has not bled to death through change. Vulgarity finds its antidote; old crudities become softened with time. Distinctions, both those that are useful and those that are burdensome, flourish and die, reflourish and die again. -Robert W. Burchfield, lexicographer (1923-2004)

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