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AWADmail Issue 777

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

Sponsor’s Message: One Up! is way faster and funner than Scrabble. No board. No complicated rules. A fast 20 or so wicked fun cutthroat minutes. Rinse (off your brain), and repeat. Congrats to Email of the Week winner, Cleve Callison (see below), as well as all AWADers: you get a yuge brain boost bargain. Buy One Up! Now.

From: Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)
Subject: Interesting stories from the Net

Ill-Gotten Gains -- Why Americanisms Are a Boon for the British
The Guardian

Speaking in Fascism’s Tongues
The New York Times

From: Ray Dobson (raydob gmail.com)
Subject: sadiron

I remember these. My Mother had one in the 1930s and 40s. The detachable handle allowed it to be put on a coal stove for heating. We children were never allowed to touch it in case we got burnt.

Ray Dobson, Christchurch, New Zealand

From: Gary Muldoon (gmuldoon muldoongetz.com)
Subject: sadiron

In the first book of Robert Caro’s wonderful biography of Lyndon Johnson The Path to Power, he devotes a chapter on sadirons, emblematic of the hardships of rural American life in the early 20th century.

Gary Muldoon, Rochester, New York

Email of the Week brought to you by One Up! -- A way better buy than Bananagrams.)

From: Cleve Callison (callistc gmail.com)
Subject: “Sadiron” -- is “sad” obsolete?

For today’s word sadiron, the meaning of “sad” as “heavy, solid” is termed obsolete. Not so in the part of the South I grew up in (upstate South Carolina). My mother was a good cook and prided herself on her light and fluffy pound cakes. But I preferred the ones she called sad, the term for ones which had fallen during the baking. I loved the sad ones and would jump up and down in front of the oven to try to make them fall. Dense, and so delicious!

Cleve Callison, Wilmington, North Carolina

From: Burt Humburg (humburg.burt gmail.com)
Subject: Adoral and aboral

When describing anatomical relationships, terms like left/right, anterior/posterior, deep/superficial, etc. are necessary. So how does one compare the relationship between the cecum and the sigmoid, which can be so floppy as to be unpredictable in their location in the abdomen? Simple! Provide directional or relationship guidance without ever leaving the gut: use adoral or aboral.

Burt Humburg, Mason City, Iowa

From: Andrew Pressburger (andpress sympatico.ca)
Subject: lust-house

Beware of false friends. The German word Lust is not synonymous with the English lust. Vid. the title of the famous Franz Lehar operetta of 1905, Die lustige Witwe, in which the adjective lustige does not denote a lusty widow, but one who is merry. Hence the English title The Merry Widow. The name of Smetana’s opera The Bartered Bride is based on a similar misconception, the direct translation of the adjective from the Czech or German being sold, not bartered. The alliteration must have certainly helped the impresarios in promoting such a peculiar story.

Andrew Pressburger, Toronto, Canada

From: Hannah Kruse (c-kruse t-online.de)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--lust-house

I immediately drew a line to our German word (we borrowed it, as so many “cultivated” words, from the French) -- it is Lustschloss or, in its often used diminutive, Lustschlösschen.

Here are some photos of such Lustschlösschen (today often used as museums or hotels).

Hannah Kruse, Gera, Germany

From: Susan Saunders (susansaunders2008 btinternet.com)
Subject: bodkin

Bodkin is a word which has always been part of my vocabulary in sense 2: born in the 40s I learned from my mother how to rethread pyjama cord and knicker elastic back into garment waistbands using a blunt needle with a very large eye. I realised recently at a haberdashery counter that the word had fallen out of use when I asked the young counter-assistant for a bodkin and had to explain what I meant. They didn’t have any. (I wanted it to help my grandchildren to make woolly balls.)

Susan Saunders, Teddington, UK

From: Kathy Borst (kborst mcn.org)
Subject: bodkin

As an older seamstress, I know what a bodkin is. When I went looking for a new one in a large fabric and crafts store a couple years ago, they had to find the person working there who was about my age to figure out what I was talking about. I thought perhaps my brain had scrambled the word or something. But no, it was just another great old tool falling into disuse and obscurity in a modern world where people don’t do things for themselves.

Kathy Borst, Yorkville, California

From: Grahame Young (gyoung francisburt.com.au)
Subject: Bodkin

I still have a lawyers bodkin, a small wooden knob at one end and a sharp point with a large eye at the other. In the past they were used to bind legal and other official papers, usually with green satin tape. The lawyer's file was bound with pink cotton tape as were files of public servants, no doubt the origin of “red tape”.

They can be used for many things other than their official use and are still available at some stationers.

Grahame Young, Wembley, Australia

From: Patty Parsons Andersen (andpatti gmail.com)
Subject: bodkin

How about Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Act 3, Scene 1? When I visited my old Professor uncle once, he quoted this line

When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin?

and he wondered aloud about the word’s meaning. I mentioned that I used my own bodkin for sewing and explained what it looked like. He was taken aback! How could I, a mere youngster, know anything about that? Funny.

Patty Parsons Andersen, Avon, Illinois

From: Joel Mabus (joel.mabus pobox.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--bodkin

I am sure that many of your readers will see bodkin and think of the bare bodkin in Hamlet’s soliloquy. I know I did. It made me want to look up quietus to confirm my knowledge of that word, too (visiting fardels along the way). I laughed out loud when I googled quietus -- it seems there is an over-the-counter preparation with that brand name, an ad for which popped up immediately. It promises to help with tinnitus.
And, of course, Quietus comes as ear drops!
Ah, yes, Hamlet -- the play’s the thing!

Joel Mabus, Kalamazoo, Michigan

From: David Santangelo (dcsantangelo2005 comcast.net)
Subject: Bodkin

Today’s word reminded me of a stencil I saw of “to sleep, perchance to dream” above a bed. Given that in the complete passage Hamlet contemplates suicide, I am fairly certain those who put it up did not realize what he intended to do with his “bare bodkin”. Just goes to show how important context truly is!

David Santangelo, Indianapolis, Indiana

From: Audrey Shabbas (audreyshabbas gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--bodkin

Also the arrow point -- the bodkin point -- of the Welsh archers... who won the Battle of Agincourt over the French. Just taught Henry V again last week in my Shakespeare class!

Audrey Shabbas, Belize

From: James Ramey (jamestramey yahoo.com)
Subject: Missing definitions of bodkin

In his 1962 novel Pale Fire, Vladimir Nabokov plays with the word “bodkin” in a very unusual way, and I believe he plumbed the entry for that word in his 1957 Webster’s Unabridged to put several of its more surprising definitions of the word into play. In 2004 I published an article that goes into some detail about how I think Nabokov used bodkin and its obsolete variant “botkin”. Two definitions I think he deployed that you didn’t mention are:

“a person closely wedged between two other persons.”

“a sharp tool, like an awl, sometimes used for pushing out letters from a body of set type in making corrections.”

My reading of the novel has evolved since that article was published, but my thoughts on Nabokov’s use of that particular word, with its remarkable baggage of peculiar definitions, have remained more or less intact. It is indeed a word that isn’t what it appears to be.

James T. Ramey, PhD, Profesor Investigador Titular, Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana, Cuajimalpa, Mexico City, Mexico

From: Melissa Mudd (melissa.mudd matsuk12.us)
Subject: Odd Bodkins

My only exposure to this word was from the animated Disney version of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow: “Odd Bodkins, gadzooks, look at that old spook of spooks!” referring to Ichabod Crane. Great cartoon. Brilliant, even.

Melissa Mudd, Palmer, Alaska

From: Ron Balut (ronbalut optimum.net)
Subject: odds bodkins

“Odds bodkins” is a phrase which has stuck inside my head since probably high school English. Thanks to this post and the Internet I googled it.

Ron Balut, Flanders, New Jersey

From: Ken Kirste (kkkirste sbcglobal.net)
Subject: bodkin

The word bodkin took me back into the 1960s when The San Francisco Chronicle debuted a comic strip named Odds Bodkins, created by Dan O’Neill. Common wisdom held that it meant “God’s needle” and referred to the pointed barbs of the strip’s creator.

Ken Kirste, Sunnyvale, California

From: Richard Stallman (rms gnu.org)
Subject: Atrophy

I broke the world record for lying in bed. Instead of a trophy, I got atrophy.

Dr Richard Stallman, President, Free Software Foundation, Boston, Massachusetts

From: Jim Geiwitz (geiwitz telus.net)
Subject: words that aren’t what they appear to be

I hope Thursday’s or Friday’s word in the week of “words that aren’t what they appear to be” will be fulsome, my favourite among such words, ever since I watched a Republican hack stand next to Ronald Reagan and shout “I have nothing but fulsome praise for this man.” Right on, brother!

Jim Geiwitz, Victoria, Canada

From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: lust-house and atrophy

French Post-Impressionist artist Toulouse-Lautrec had a reputation for often finding inspirational subject matter for his engaging paintings, drawings, and poster art in some of the seedier neighborhoods of gay Paris. He would frequent popular local brothels, befriending many a “Madame” and their “working girls”, who were likely flattered to have the Toulouse-Lautrec sketch them in various stages of undress. Oooo-la-la!

So in my illustrated scenario for the word “lust-house” we find a slightly miffed Toulouse-Lautrec leaving what he had assumed from its signage to be a house of ill-repute, when, in point of fact, it’s a totally above-board tavern.

My captioning for this trio of signature Alberto Giacometti cast-bronze sculptures is an admittedly rather lame pun on the title of Irving Stone’s highly acclaimed historical novel, The Agony and the Ecstasy, chronicling the life and times of the Italian Renaissance creative genius, Michelangelo.

As a lapsed sculptor, and sculpture aficionado, I’ve often questioned the impetus for Giacometti’s creating these seemingly emaciated, dare I say, atrophied, figurative sculptural works, where he appears to pare down human (and animal) form to its literal bare bones. Perhaps he is trying to express the core essence of flesh-and-blood physical beings in the third dimension?

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California

From: Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)
Subject: Anagrams of this week’s words

The text in each box is an anagram of the text in other boxes.

1. sadiron
2. adoral
3. lust-house
4. bodkin
5. atrophy
= 1. ah, press doubly!
2. orad
3. a saloon
4. dirk
5. thin out
= 1. a ‘Salter’ do?
2. as a lip?
3. uh, dunno
4. kris
5. oh, body rot
    -Dharam Khalsa, Burlington, North Carolina (dharamkk2 gmail.com)   -Robert Jordan, Lampang, Thailand (alfiesdad ymail.com)

From: Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)
Subject: Limericks

Because of their great heaviness
They bring you strain and some distress.
Though sadirons
Aren’t bad irons,
I still prefer permanent press.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

Cries the entrepreneur, “Heavy sadirons
are hard on the housewife; they’re bad irons.
Let’s make one that’s lighter --
surprise and delight ’er.
We’ll market the thing as gladiron!”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

Said Shelley to Keats and Lord Byron,
“To your shirts you should take a sadiron.
My wife seems benign
But she wrote Frankenstein
And as dinner guests you she’s requirin’.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Adoral: a word that’s confusing.
On its possible uses, I’m musing.
Unlike other forays
From A.Word.A.Day,
This is not a new one I’ll be using.
-Judith S. Fox, Teaneck, New Jersey (Jsfoxrk aol.com)

If you’re losing at poker don’t quarrel
With a player who’s large and immoral.
A fight will ensue
And you’ll lose quite a few
Of the teeth in your cavern adoral.
-Janice Power, Cleveland, Ohio (jpower wowway.com)

Like an evil society choral
Their hymns aren’t truthful or moral.
At Kellyanne, Sean,
And Ms. Sanders I yawn
When they open their fissures adoral.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

A young lady with low-cut blouse
Gave new meaning to old lust-house.
Though in a place rural,
Would men’s lust sure cure all,
But stopped when she became spouse.
-Chris Papa, Colts Neck, New Jersey (doxite verizon.net)

So Mar-a-Lago is really a lust-house.
It’s an oh-so-often discussed house.
Are its adverts in breach?
Another cause to impeach?
Or fine promotion of this upper-crust-house.
-Kathy Deutsch, Melbourne, Australia (kathy deutsch.net.au)

At a peaceful bucolic lust-house
You begin by undoing her blouse.
The birds and the bees
All her tension will ease.
Just be sure back to town’s gone your spouse.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

An Olde English oath is, “Odd’s bodkin”,
Spoken by yokel or a clod in
Some of Shakespeare’s plays.
They will turn that phrase
So they don’t say the name of G-d, sin.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

Poor Hamlet, distressed, racked his brain
For the types of revenge he could rain
For solace, ablution.
Was “bare bodkin” the solution?
No - too harsh for the wavering Dane.
-Anna C Johnston, Coarsegold, California (ajohnston13 gmail.com)

“I could end it all with a bare bodkin,”
Thought Hamlet, “This play, though, I’m rockin’.”
He mused with a chortle,
“It’s made me immortal,
Perhaps it’s a plus having odd kin.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

I await his next outburst most anxiously,
praying he will, for once, act responsibly;
that he’ll show sense and tact --
that he’ll stick to the fact
so my hopes may not totally atrophy.
-Zelda Dvoretzky, Haifa, Israel (zeldahaifa gmail.com)

We’re in a state of cacophony
With a Prez who inflicts agony.
Lest we change the game plan
By impeaching Da Man,
Our nation will certainly atrophy.
-Judith Marks-White, Westport, Connecticut (joodthmw gmail.com)

When intolerance reaches its apogee
Our freedoms will rapidly atrophy.
Let’s not act like pigeons
Towards other religions.
(I’m making a statue analogy.)
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

From: Phil Graham (pgraham1946 cox.net)
Subject: Puns that may puzzle

Shoulda stayed in school; I’m sadiron so little money.

Adoral keep kids from playing in that abandoned shed.

“Leave the door unlocked when you leave, lust house I gonna get in?”

A model’s bodkin make her lots of money.

That hooker is so popular atrophy is $2,500 an hour!

Phil Graham, Tulsa, Oklahoma

From: Mary Hubbard (hubbard.me gmail.com)
Subject: Thank You!

Just wanted to let you know how A.Word.A.Day came to the rescue a few weeks ago.

The River Center, which supports communities in the Monadnock region of New Hampshire with parental support and economic opportunity, was holding their annual fundraiser -- a spelling bee. Seven rounds of words had been chosen along with extra words and championship words just in case the competition got fierce.

It wasn’t long into the event before we realized that the teams were going to exhaust the supply of words. No one had ever seen anything like it. We were headed for an awkward moment with four teams still in contention and no more words.

That is when I thought of A. Word. A. Day and your archive of words with all the necessary pieces - pronunciation, derivation, definition, and usage in a sentence neatly available. I found a laptop and showed the presenter how to scroll and find the great words for our excellent spellers.

We can’t thank you enough for this amazing resource. It literally saved our spelling bee!

Mary Hubbard, New Hampshire

Be thou the first true merit to befriend, his praise is lost who stays till all commend. -Alexander Pope, poet (21 May 1688-1744)

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