Wordsmith.org: the magic of words


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


Today's Word

Yesterday's Word



Dec 31, 2017
This week’s theme
No el

This week’s words

How popular are they?
Relative usage over time

AWADmail archives

Next week’s theme
Blend words

Send a gift that
keeps on giving,
all year long:
A gift subscription of A.Word.A.Day or the gift of books
Bookmark and Share Facebook Twitter Digg MySpace Bookmark and Share

AWADmail Issue 809

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

Sponsor’s Message: What Stephen King said about books applies just as well to our wicked smart word game: “(One Up!) is uniquely portable magic.” It’s also way faster and funner than Scrabble. No board. No complicated rules. 20 or so cutthroat dynamite minutes where stealing is definitely the name of the game. Rinse (off your ego), and repeat. Congrats to Email of the Week winner, Cindi Jolene (see below), as well as all AWADers -- you’ll get ‘Free Sardines’ with every order of $25 or more. Brain up with the gang NOW.

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

Thousands Once Spoke His Language in the Amazon. Now, He’s the Only One.
The New York Times

Building Vocabularies and Libraries
India Live Today

From: Daryl Docterman (daryl.docterman ccuniversity.edu)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--quartziferous

Thanks for the No e_ ce_ebration. A__ _etters deserve a sabbatica_ once in a whi_e.

Daryl Docterman, Cincinnati, Ohio

From: Ned Harris (nedharris39 gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--quartziferous

No ‘l’? No “joyful, joyful”, no smiles, no laughter, no osculation below mistletoe ? No ‘l’ -- oh, hell!!

Ned Harris, Sunnyvale, California

Email of the Week brought to you by One Up!

From: Cindi Jolene (via website comments)
Subject: No el

On Dec 23, 1991, I gave birth to a daughter. We named her Briley Noel. The next day a family member asked the new baby’s name and I replied, “Briley Noel.” He looked at me with a confused expression and said, “How do you spell Briley with no el?” It is an oft-repeated family story now, as you can imagine.

Cindi Jolene, Amarillo, Texas

From: Peirce Hammond (peirceah.03.01 gmail.com)
Subject: Sarah Vowell’s brumination

Just the other day, I was in my neighborhood Starbucks, waiting for the post office to open. I was enjoying a chocolatey cafe mocha when it occurred to me that to drink a mocha is to gulp down the entire history of the New World. From the Spanish exportation of Aztec cacao, and the Dutch invention of the chemical process for making cocoa, on down to the capitalist empire of Hershey, PA, and the lifestyle marketing of Seattle’s Starbucks, the modern mocha is a bittersweet concoction of imperialism, genocide, invention, and consumerism served with whipped cream on top. No wonder it costs so much.
-Sarah Vowell, author and journalist (b. 27 Dec 1969)

In her reflections about consuming chocolate, Sarah Vowell articulates her particular version of putting into practice the admonition of Quaker activist and journal-keeper John Woolman, “May we look upon our treasure, the furniture of our houses, and our garments, and try to discover whether the seeds of war have nourishment in these, our possessions.”

Peirce Hammond, Bethesda, Maryland

From: Glen Toogood (gardenislandcanoe ontera.net)
Subject: bavardage

My wife’s family is Franco-Ontarien. At family gatherings, such as Christmas, there was a tendency to indulge in a significant amount of alcohol. After a certain point, when it was getting too noisy and such, she’d lay down the law and say, “All you baveurs go to bed!” (The feminine would be “baveuses”.) I’ve been using that word for at least twenty-five years now, it’s quite handy and descriptive.

Glen Toogood, Temagami, Canada

From: Peter Gross (plgrossmd gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--aciniform

The term “aciniform” or “acinar” is well-known in medicine, particularly in pathology. It describes the microscopic arrangement of the cells in most of the glands of the human body with the cells that produce a hormone, the grapes, and the ducts that transport it, the stems. This is true from the pancreas to the prostate, from the adrenals to the glands of Zeis on the eyelids.

Peter Gross, Falls Church, Virginia

From: Mark Chartrand (mrchartrand gmail.com)
Subject: Aciniform

Another word for the same shape is botryoidal, most commonly used to describe the shape of minerals. Of course, it would violate the noel rule of the week, but, what the L?

Mark Chartrand, Baltimore, Maryland

From: Brendon Etter (better carleton.edu)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--aciniform

I hope tomorrow’s word is jokewagon. It contains the j, k, and w you need while still having no el. It’s also a word I just made up, because I can’t think of another which has those letters.

Brendon Etter, Northfield, Minnesota

From: Robert Delius Royar (r.royar moreheadstate.edu)
Subject: No el

Thus far, no w, j, or k. Perhaps Friday’s word will be one of the following: jawbreaker, journeywork, jayhawker, jabberwocky, or whipjack.

Robert Delius Royar, Morehead, Kentucky

From: Gigi Gottwald (gottwalds axxess.co.za)
Subject: crackjaw

German, a crackjaw language? Not in the least! I really have to defend my mother-tongue here! German is much easier to pronounce than, say, Danish (just try to say “Rod grod med flode”, making it sound, as a Dane would, as though you want to vomit up this delicious dessert!) or isiXhosa or isiZulu with their numerous click-sounds, not to mention the Khoisan languages. Listen to Miriam Makeba singing the isiXhosa “Click Song”, correctly titled “Qongqothwane”, and you’ll never call German a crackjaw language again!

Gigi Gottwald, Polokwane, South Africa

From: Kathryn Smith (via website comments)
Subject: hypercathexis

Hypercathexis adequately describes my state of mind over the last week and a half or so before Christmas -- so hyper-focused on completing gifts for family that even sleep didn’t stand a chance against it!

Kathryn Smith

What's this invasive species called?
From: Vicky Edwards (achicvic aol.com)
Subject: Is there a word for it?

I would love to know what this invasive species is called. Having just had extended family opening gifts here, I’ve noticed a gender tendency for these plastic attachments: men just rip them apart from whatever they are attached to and women cut them off (and also pick up the ones the men’s method has left on the floor). I like having a word for things that are annoying so I know how to direct my displeasure.

Vicky Edwards, Lombard, Illinois

Well, what you need here is an entomologist, not an etymologist. That said, with my limited knowledge I can hazard a guess that this species belongs to the phylum Plasticae. From what I know, this organism reaches its peak numbers in late December. While it can exist almost everywhere, a strong correlation has been found with subjects afflicted with oniomania.
-Anu Garg

From: Lynn Abrams (butterflystampede2 gmail.com)
Subject: quotations

Just wanted to compliment you on, and thank you for, another year of thought-provoking quotations. (I look forward to them as much as I do the word of the day.) You certainly have a gift for finding quotations that both stimulate contemplative thought and evoke deep visceral responses. They have made me laugh, weep, feel light-hearted with joy, and experience anguish that seems as though my heart is being ripped out. Your selection of quotations keeps me from sinking into the emotional catatonia that is so often induced by the troubling current state of our world. Thank you!

Eden Prairie, Tallahassee, Florida

From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: Noel & aciniform

Noel Aciniform
Autocrat Donald Trump signs yet another executive order (Ugh!), declaring “Merry Christmas!” as the “official” seasonal greeting of the land. Rumor has it that Democratic Senate Minority Leader, Chuck Schumer, an observant Jew, took immediate umbrage, arguing... “So, what’s Hanukkah ... chopped liver?”

I’ve been both intrigued and slightly puzzled by the multi-breasted depiction of the ancient Greek goddess Artemis in arguably her most overtly fecund state, namely, as most overtly exemplified in the famed marble statue, Artemis Ephesia, discovered at her honorific temple at Ephesus, Asia Minor, now Turkey.
Her aciniform breasts have been interpreted by scholars of ancient antiquity as symbolic eggs, or fruit... perhaps outsized pomegranates, figs, or grape clusters.

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California

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

1. quartziferous
2. hypercathexis
3. bavardage
4. aciniform
5. crackjaw
= 1. quartz w/ i-suffix
2. rack a brain
3. secrecy? ha!
4. grape (jam?)
5. hard to voice
= 1. onyx-rich a facet
2. tic (a quirk)
3. gab (jawed)
4. uvas form
5. crazier phrase
    -Dharam Khalsa, Burlington, North Carolina (dharamkk2 gmail.com)   -Robert Jordan, Lampang, Thailand (alfiesdad ymail.com)

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

With the chance of logistics gone dry,
He puts on his knee-length red tie
And his quartziferous ring
(It’s his favorite bling),
Then he waves all discretion good-bye
-Gayle Tremblay, Saint John, Canada (gayletremblay hotmail.com)

Anu, I don’t think you can tell us
A quartziferous mineral’s el-less.
It’s crystal and chiral --
Conchoidal (not spiral) --
An ‘ell of a rock. Don’t be zealous.
-Phyllis Morrow, Fairbanks, Alaska (phyllismorrow1 gmail.com)

The children were agape with admiration
For the quartziferous gems of every nation.
In the “Scratch Patch” they played
With Rose, Amethyst, and Jade,
And made mosaics of the trees of creation.
-Monica Broom, Morogoro, Tanzania (monicabroom2015 gmail.com)

If you’re wearing a watch that’s quartziferous,
You can keep to a schedule rigorous.
You’ll know when it’s time
To descend from a climb
And avoid the fate suffered by Icarus.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Our president concentrates on nada.
When he talks it’s pure yadda yadda.
So, no hypercathexis?
Well, he is quite a sexist,
Obsessed with Marco’s enchilada.
-Joe Budd Stevens, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico (joebuddstevens gmail.com)

Hanukkah hypercathexis is bad,
Fixating on latkes is driving me mad.
It starts with the tater:
Food processor? Grater?
Debate rages on -- which one will be rad?
-Judy Distler, Teaneck, New Jersey (jam1026 aol.com)

I googled hypercathexis.
What I found merely perplexes.
There is mention of Freud
And that theme he enjoyed:
The focus, as always, sex is.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

When her husband struck oil in Texas,
It resulted in hypercathexis
For girls by the dozen
Including her cousin.
She’s now got the house, kids, and Lexus.
-Janice Power, Cleveland, Ohio (janicepower25 gmail.com)

The eve of the new year connects us
In a curious hypercathexis.
Our hopes are united
In headlines proportioned like Texas.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

In Marseille, out in his garage,
Pierre worked on his huge assemblage.
He loved art, but to be fair,
The real reason he was there?
By himself there was no boring bavardage.
-Charlie Cockey, Brno, Czech Republic (czechpointcharlie gmail.com)

While people hurried, almost ran to work,
we strolled to the park with a supercilious smirk.
Time hung heavy on our withering hands,
we granddads relaxed on the stands.
As we reminisced, juicy bavardage was the bonus perk.
-Shyamal Mukherji, Mumbai, India (mukherjis hotmail.com)

If talking with friends is pure bavardage,
Consider a change to your entourage.
For gossip and drivel,
Though passing as civil,
Won’t build true connection -- just cheap mirage.
-Anna C. Johnston, Coarsegold, California (ajohnston13 gmail.com)

Executing post-battle triage,
we’re enjoined to eschew bavardage.
For the wounds we observe
shake us down to the nerve;
we must soothe our stress with strong breuvage.
-Brenda J. Gannam, Brooklyn, New York (gannamconsulting earthlink.net)

Said the Viceroy in charge of the Raj,
“This Gandhi is all bavardage.
Non-violence is meek.
He’ll be gone in a week.
Independence is just a mirage.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Cries the judge in surprise, “I was misinformed!
Rules say they’re okay if within the norm:
girls shaped like a pear
or an apple. But ne’er
did anyone mention aciniform!”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

The young girls in the old college dorm
Followed protocol, as was the norm.
They would gather en masse
As they ran off to class,
A large group that was aciniform.
-Judith Marks-White, Westport, Connecticut (joodthmw gmail.com)

The part of a man that’s aciniform
Is found just beneath his pet unicorn.
Together the two
A fair lady may woo
But too often consent’s been a missing norm.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Peter Piper picked pickled peppers:
Words for all those verbal high-steppers;
Crackjaw phrases
Shouldn’t faze us;
Word-lovers all are go-getters!
-Marcia Sinclair, Newmarket, Canada (marciasinclair rogers.com)

My friend speaks crackjaw a great deal.
I say to him, “Come on! Get real.
You’re talking to me,
Don’t be so fancy.
Lighten up a little on your spiel.”
-Lois Mowat, Orinda, California (lmowat1810 gmail.com)

This week’s words were just the last straw,
Quartziferous made sore my maw.
And, hypercathlexes,
Bavardage, perplexes,
Aciniform all a crackjaw.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“Though ‘Sacajawea’s’ a crackjaw,
She cuts through these woods like a hacksaw,”
Said Lewis to Clark,
“When she talks, we should hark.
If she left, we’d end up in Zimbabwe!”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

For more limericks, check out this NYT article.

From: Phil Graham (pgraham1946 cox.net)
Subject: What the L?

We’ll put the cook’s fire out with gallons and quartziferoustulation continues. (ustulation)

I told the Dallas barista, “Hypercathexis-sized latte, please.”

When our parents died I said, “Barb, bavardage; I’ll have his Corvette.”

Frozen wine aciniform few people have ever seen.

“I dare ya to repeat that crackjaw’ll said about my wife!”

Phil Graham, Tulsa, Oklahoma

The only way human beings can win a war is to prevent it. -George Marshall, US Army Chief, Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense, Nobel laureate (31 Dec 1880-1959)

We need your help

Help us continue to spread the magic of words to readers everywhere


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

© 1994-2018 Wordsmith