Wordsmith.org: the magic of words


A.Word.A.Day

About Us | What's New | Search | Site Map | Contact Us  


Home

Today's Word

Yesterday's Word

Archives

FAQ


AWADmail Issue 566

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

Sponsor's message: On this special Sunday we're offering our Email of the Week winner Vaughn Hathaway (see below), as well as all AWADers, the mother of all deals: One Up! -- The Wicked/Smart Word Game. It's a steal at $15; how about 2 for $25, including free shipping*? Hurry, sale ends at midnight tonight!


From: Dermot Moriarty (dmoriarty safefood.eu)
Subject: New definition of mojo

I attended a media conference last week in Dublin, Ireland. One of the speakers was the editor of one of our national newspapers -- he used the term 'mojo' to describe the new breed of print journalists for the 21st century; who write their own copy, often take their own pictures and frequently upload it directly to the newspapers' websites -- they are MO-bile JOurnalists or mojos. Personally, I prefer your definition!

Dermot Moriarty, Dublin, Ireland


From: Andrea Moss (milesah20 hotmail.com)
Subject: re: mojo

The word mojo was posted all over Seattle a few years ago. It's our baseball team's slogan. The Mariner's stadium is south of downtown (sodo). So all over Seattle, there were signs announcing SODO Mojo!.

Andrea Moss, Seattle, Washington


From: Kaitlin Kemp (littlebird.kemp gmail.com)
Subject: Mojo

Mojo in certain countries is also a delicious sauce made with oil, fruit juice, garlic, and spices. I made some yesterday in my Spanish class, as a dressing for fried plantain chips, but ended up putting it on everything else as well. Although I have little idea if I did it right, I have to say it was an awesome sauce.

Kaitlin Kemp, Decatur, Georgia


From: H.M. Krisch (kriburg gmail.com)
Subject: Mojo

I first encountered the word mojo in the early 1970s in various rants by Hunter S. Thompson who used "mojo machine" or "mojo wire" as his name for the then relatively new fax machine. HST apparently claimed to have invented this magical name for the fax which may or may not be true. More certainly, he was the first to implement the original and interesting practice of just shooting the mojo machine with a large bore pistol to prevent it from transmitting further annoying and unwanted magic.

H.M. Krisch, Sierre, Switzerland


From: Ted Zahn (ted zahns.us)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--boondocks

Like a considerate call from a old friend, I daily welcome your AWAD. I enjoy the tickle of a gray cell or two, that today, too often goes ignored.

Some days I feel the warm assurance that I have picked up a few things, and on other days I recognize that even while I have lived long and even paid attention for much of that time -- I still have not heard it all (or at least have forgotten some of it).

This morning was a little different.

As a son of a WWII veteran, the term boondocks was a term very familiar to us, so when it arrived in AWAD, it was as if that old friend had tossed a pebble at my mind's window.

What I did not expect was to connect the dots from my childhood to my adulthood and between my US Navy boots ("boondockers" or the more familiar "boondocks" for short) and the location of part of my Vietnam era service: the Philippines. While there, I picked up some Tagalog, but missed the connection until you made it for me today. For that I say, salamat po!

Ted Zahn, Westminster, California


From: Ken Doran (kendoran execpc.com)
Subject: boondocks

Down In the Boondocks was a hit song on the American charts in 1965. (video).

Ken Doran, Madison, Wisconsin


From: Chris Brown (chris.brown laposte.net)
Subject: gam

Never heard of gam for a leg but to have a gammy leg in Britain is frequent. The American equivalent would be to have a gimpy leg. I think it comes from 'game' which as an adjective also means 'lame'.

As far as gam is concerned, here in France we have the familiar expression gambette usually used for a woman's leg and generally for a pretty one.

Chris Brown, Touraine, France


From: Mary Hill (jasaala aol.com)
Subject: Gam

My mother, born in 1917, was not allowed to use the word leg as a child, as it was considered dirty by her mother, and, apparently, those of the day. Instead, the proper term was gam. It mattered not whether it was the leg of a lady, a chicken or a horse. While she did pass along her aversion to red food-coloring because of the toxic ingredients from which it was made when she and her mother were young, she did not continue to spurn the usage of the word leg.

Mary Hill, Yakima, Washington


From: Iain Stewart (iaindstewart yahoo.com)
Subject: Gam

This can be a very rude word in Scots English.

Iain Stewart, Barcelona, Spain


From: Rudy Rosenberg Sr (RRosenbergSr accuratechemical.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--gam

I was first introduced to the word around 1955 when Rita Gam had a respectable run in the movies. A quick look in the dictionary confirmed that Rita Gam was perfect, not only in her gams but for her entire anatomy. I seem to recall that the term gams was a favorite gangster word uttered at least once by George Raft. I thought (erroneously) that this was a clever movie name. Ms. Gam had the distinction of having been "killed" by Jack Palance in one of the biblical epics.

Thank you for reminding me of an attraction to a 15-year-old.

Rudy Rosenberg Sr., Westbury, New York


Email of the Week (Brought to you by One Up! - Momster Fun.)

From: Vaughn Hathaway (pastorvonh bellsouth.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--gam

It was the movie Saving Private Ryan that introduced me to gam.

There is a scene in SPR in which the squad runs up against a German radar site and loses a couple of men in the ensuing firefight. In the aftermath, one of the German soldiers, now as a POW, is forced to dig a grave apparently for himself. In view of his anticipated execution, he begins a stumbling rendition of the National Anthem and then expresses his admiration for Betty Grable and her "nice gams" (video). Such are the strange places in which our language is cultivated!

Vaughn Hathaway, Charlotte, North Carolina


From: Jim Scarborough (jimes hiwaay.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--mammonism

"The IOC is just another rapacious, money-making corporation like any other, but it conceals all this behind the smokescreen of 'Olympian' values and sporting heroism. It's worse than any investment bank for mammonism and is seemingly oblivious to the supreme irony of the world's foremost sporting spectacle being sponsored by McDonald's and Coke."
Heroic Ideals; Euroweek (London, UK); Jul 27, 2012.

I had the privilege of attending a small slice of the 1996 Olympic games, and it changed my perspective of the event for similar reasons. The purveyors of junk food were not yet fully vilified, but there was astounding money grubbing both inside and outside the venues. I came home with a new understanding of the underlying mammonism. That quotation you included transcends perfection.

Jim Scarborough, Cary, North Carolina


From: David Mezzera (DaMezz comcast.net)
Subject: Leviathan

Thomas Hobbes's seventeenth century work, commonly referred to as The Leviathan, argues for a social contract by the populace and rule by an absolute sovereign. After today's entry, I can now understand the illusion of the sovereign to the monster and the creature's qualities!

David Mezzera, Vallejo, California


From: M Henri Day (mhenriday gmail.com)
Subject: leviathan

I believe a leaf of grass is no less than the journey-work of the stars.
-Walt Whitman, poet (1819-1892)

Walt Whitman was indeed right -- all elements heavier than hydrogen, helium, and isotopes of lithium have been forged in their thermonuclear furnaces.

M Henri Day, Stockholm, Sweden


A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
"The question is," said Alice, "whether you CAN make words mean so many different things." "The question is," said Humpty Dumpty, "which is to be master -- that's all." -Lewis Carroll, mathematician and writer (1832-1898)
May 5, 2013
This week's theme
Words borrowed from other languages

This week's words
mojo
boondocks
gam
mammonism
leviathan

AWADmail archives
Index

Next week's theme
Terms that appear offensive but aren't

Make a gift that
keeps on giving,
all year long:
A gift subscription of AWAD
Bookmark and Share Facebook Twitter Digg MySpace Bookmark and Share

Subscriber Services
Awards | Stats | Links | Privacy Policy
Contribute | Advertise

© 2014 Wordsmith