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May 19, 2019
This week’s theme
Portmanteaux (blend words)

This week’s words
hermaphrodite
meeple
cremains
shero
prissy

How popular are they?
Relative usage over time

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Tosspot words borrowed from other languages
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AWADmail Issue 881

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

Sponsor’s Message: Are you looking for the perfect present for know-it-all dads and grads? The Official Old’s Cool Education is “The Holy Trinity of wit, knowledge, and fun and games”, and is chock-a-block full of gee whiz, Shakespeare, history, soap-making, sports, anecdotes and quotes, Price’s Law, and diamonds and pearls of wisdom. We’re offering this week’s Email of the Week winner, Cathy Boettger (see below), as well as all the what-do-I-get-the-man-who-has-everything AWADers a “Buy Two, Get Three: special through midnight Monday. Gift problems solved >



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

Beware of “Snakes”, “Invaders” and Other Fighting Words
The New York Times
Permalink

A Startup Named “Their”
SMBC Comics
Permalink

France Asks: Can You Solve the Riddle of the Rock?
BBC
Permalink



From: Mani Menon (manimenon50 gmail.com)
Subject: hermaphrodite

In Hinduism, we have ‘Ardhanareeshvara’, an androgynous composite of the male Lord Shiva and his consort, Goddess Shakti. Many temples all over the country have temples where idols of Ardhanareeshvara are worshipped to this day.

Mani Menon, Chennai, India



From: Ken McKnight (molly7 cox.net)
Subject: hermaphrodite

There’s a scene in To Kill a Mockingbird (chapter 8) where Scout and Jem are building a snowman after a freak snowfall in Alabama. The result looks a little too much like one of their neighbors, Mr. Avery, so the kids add a hat and hedge-clippers from Miss Maudie. Later, Scout hears Miss Maudie describe the snowbeing with a word that sounds to her young ears like morphodite, a word she happily adds to her vocabulary for later use.

Ken McKnight, Scottsdale, Arizona



From: William Politt (william.03281 gmail.com)
Subject: Hermaphrodite

In American parlance it is sometimes (frequently?) corrupted to morphadite, described by Archie Bunker in his inimitable way as, “Too much of both and not enough of either one.”

William Politt, Weare, New Hampshire



From: Jon von Gunten (jon globescope.us)
Subject: Many types of gender ambiguity

This page points out there are several types of gender ambiguity, not just the one shown in the statue.

Jon von Gunten, Los Angeles, California



From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--hermaphrodite

The curious case of Caster Semenya... In the most strict definition of our word “hermaphrodite”... an individual having indeterminate genitalia, or characteristics of both male and female sex organs, the South African Olympic gold-medalist, middle-distance runner, Caster Semenya, does not meet that prescribed standard. She outwardly, clearly has female genitalia, yet she is defined as an “intersex” person, having the XY chromosomal genetic marker, and naturally producing an inordinate amount of testosterone (male sex hormone)...for a so-called “normal” woman. Excessive testosterone production is medically defined as hyperandrogenism.

Ms. Semenya’s consistently elevated testosterone levels have stirred up a hornet’s nest of long-standing protestations and controversy in her sport, where many of her fellow women competitors have argued that Ms.Semenya has had a decidedly unfair on-track advantage, claiming her testosterone boost makes her, in essence, quasi-male. To many, rivals and spectators alike, Ms. Semenya does have an androgynous, leaning toward masculine body type. This past May 1st, the International Court of Arbitration for Sport officially ruled that Ms. Semenya would have to somehow reduce her testosterone levels to a certain prescribed, “legal” number in order to compete, going forward. Ms. Semenya is clearly not “doping”, i.e., injecting herself, pre-race, with testosterone, which would be blatantly illegal. Like any natural attribute, or ability in the realm of sport that might potentially give a competitor an advantage over their opponent(s)... height, foot-speed, hand-eye coordination, dexterity, brute strength, Ms. Semenya has been blessed (some may say... cursed) with this hyper-testosterone trait, and IMHO, should not be penalized, or put in medical jeopardy, for what is a totally natural part of her very being. The debate roils on.

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California



From: Julian Thomas (jt jt-mj.net)
Subject: Herm

Also used in technology for a cable with both male and female connectors on one end.

Julian Thomas, Rochester, New York



From: David Micklethwait (micklethwait hotmail.com)
Subject: hermaphrodite

When I was learning to be an engineer (nearly sixty years ago) I was introduced to calipers, some of which had legs pointing outwards, for measuring inside diameters. Others had legs pointing inwards, for measuring outside diameters. There were also “hermaphrodite” calipers (also known as “oddlegs”), which had one straight leg with a little spur at the end, and one bent leg with a sharp point, used for scribing a line a set distance from a straight edge.

David Micklethwait, London, UK



From: Allen T Coffey (atcoffey gmail.com)
Subject: meeple

Would a single meeple be a merson? That’s what I’m going to call it.

Allen T Coffey, Victoria, Texas



From: Janet Stecher (rebelvoz aol.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--meeple

Carcassonne is our household’s favorite game. We probably play 800 games a year. We learned it from Canadian friends who sold us an extra set they had in a flannel bag and taught us the rules, but we never saw the box or instruction booklet. Being mostly feminists, we didn’t want to call the little wooden game piece a “man”, so we called it a “betty”.

Even after we learned the proper nomenclature, we still use “betty” ‘cause it’s more fun than “meeple”.

Janet Stecher, Seattle, Washington



Email of the Week brought to you by The Official Old’s Cool Education -- Wit. Grit. Grad. Dad. Gift. >

From: Cathy Boettger (glen.boettger shaw.ca)
Subject: Cremains

This is a timely word as my beautiful 96-year-old mother died a few weeks ago. She had saved my dad’s cremains so they could be scattered at sea together. On Mother’s Day, with arrangements made with the Neptune Society, we fulfilled their wishes and set them to rest just outside the Golden Gate Bridge.

Both my parents were avid readers with a love of words. My dad was a stickler for proper pronunciation. I can still hear him telling us to “Enunciate!”

Cathy Boettger, Blackfalds, Canada



From: Andrew Ruddle (aprapr aprapr.plus.com)
Subject: Cremains

It probably doesn’t have an equivalent in other languages, but ... a lot of British hotels and up-market restaurants do a good trade in after-funeral catering, with anything from a tea-and-sandwich buffet to a sit-down “do”. As readers are no doubt aware, many such places offer “Cream Teas” in the afternoon, a slightly expensive and sickly (but very enjoyable) treat ... in the business, the specific post-funeral trade is referred to as “Crem Teas”.

Andrew Ruddle, West Molesey, UK



From: Libby Durbin (ldbelle embarqmail.com)
Subject cremains vs ashes

I refused to sign papers at the funeral home after my father’s death until they changed the word “cremains” to “ashes”.

Libby Durbin, Otis, Oregon



From: Bob Richmond (rsrichmond gmail.com)
Subject: More on cremains

This elderly pathologist knows more about the subject than you probably want to hear about. The funeral director removes metal prosthetic material (such as hip joints), grinds the calcined bones to powder, and puts the powder in a container.

The word “cremains” first struck me as barbarous, but the word “ashes” really doesn’t quite cover it.

Bob Richmond, Maryville, Tennessee



From: David Bean (beandk rcn.com)
Subject: Cremains

I bought a car a few years ago and when I got it home, what did I find in the glove box? A big baggie full of coarse grey dust. It turned out to be the previous owner’s sister!

David Bean, Arlington, Massachusetts



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

I’m planning to donate my body to science to please my mother. At last! I’ll be in medical school.

Glen Toogood, Temagami, Canada



From: Paul Castaldi (paulcast55 verizon.net)
Subject: shero

In Philadelphia, PA, the word shero will always and forever evoke the memory of Frederick Alexander “The Fog” Shero, the Hall of Fame hockey coach, who led the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers to Stanley Cup victories in 1974 and 1975.

Paul Castaldi, Havertown, Pennsylvania



From: Bruce Floyd (brucefloyd bellsouth.net)
Subject: A Thought for Today

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
How simple life becomes when things like mirrors are forgotten. -Daphne du Maurier, novelist (13 May 1907-1989)

Some might say that life would be simpler if we saw things as they are, as reflected in the faithful mirror rather than in the glowing aurora of specious and mendacious illusions. Some truths, no doubt, such as the one revealed to the woman in Plath’s poem Mirror, are hard to take. I hear a small voice reminding me that sometimes vanity can entice one to a mirror. A few days ago an elderly gentleman, speaking to the human condition, asseverated that no life is ever simple. I don’t know.

Bruce Floyd, Florence, South Carolina



From: Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)
Subject: Anagram of this week’s words
Portmanteaux (blend words):
1. hermaphrodite
2. meeple
3. cremains
4. shero
5. prissy
=
1. intersex at birth (rare)
2. people model chessmen
3. dry ashes
4. proud woman
5. prim
-Dharam Khalsa, Burlington, North Carolina (dharamkk2 gmail.com)



From: Phil Graham (pgraham1946 cox.net)
Subject: Limericks

Leslie warned, “Now before you make plans:
I’m not gay, I’m not bi, I’m not trans.”
“I’m a hermaphrodite.
I hope you won’t take flight
and that you’ll become one of our fans.”
-Zelda Dvoretzky, Haifa, Israel (zeldahaifa gmail.com)

“My nickname sounds like a hermaphrodite,”
Said Bonnie Prince Charlie, the Jacobite.
“But it won’t stop the clans
From becoming my fans;
For rebellion, they’ve got quite an appetite.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Oh, the evening was sultry and bright,
As the nymphs sang and danced through the night.
The grand music would soar,
Filling rooms by the score
With girls, boys, and a hermaphrodite.
-Judith Marks-White, Westport, Connecticut (joodthmw gmail.com)

Re: gender there’s too much ado.
Who’s female, who’s male -- even who,
perhaps, hermaphrodite.
Stop all this blatherskite,
keep certain things just entre nous!
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

It’s told of hermaphrodite snails
That some females once lived as males.
It would surely appear
That the concept is clear,
But the devil is in the details.
-Gordon Tully, Charlottesville, Virginia (gordon.tully gmail.com)

He spends all his time watching cable
And says he’s a genius so stable.
His hermaphrodite brain
Keeps causing us pain
And his ego’s so big it’s a fable.
-Gayle Tremblay, Saint John, Canada (gayletremblay hotmail.com)

Hermaphrodites have to decide
If they’ll be the groom or the bride,
Which pronouns to choose,
Which bathrooms to use --
Life’s tough when you’re oversupplied.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)


Said The Donald, “Here’s how I view people:
In my mind every person’s a meeple.
They are pawns I control
With my own vitriol,
And an ego as high as a steeple.”
-Judith Marks-White, Westport, Connecticut (joodthmw gmail.com)

Boasts the old autocrat, “My success
comes from ruling as though playing chess.
Each one of my people
I treat as a meeple,
maneuvering all with finesse!”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

My friend’s robot, a member of tweeple,
was causing much sorrow to people.
Kings and Captains it mocked
‘til its handle was blocked
for treating Don Trump like a meeple.
-Shyamal Mukherji, Mumbai, India (mukherjis hotmail.com)

He carved chess pieces delicately.
Both the king and queen more carefully.
Like playing with people,
He would move each meeple.
To win games was pure ecstasy.
-Lois Mowat, Orinda, California (lmowat1810 gmail.com)

If an avatar you must select,
Find one without flaw or defect.
Decide on a meeple,
Do pick pretty people,
Which many folks do, I expect.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

I found that this word sorely tried
All my etymological pride.
Though the people can mingle,
A meeple is single
And merson was tossed to the side.
-Gordon Tully, Charlottesville, Virginia (gordon.tully gmail.com)

In the Board Game of Life we all fumble,
When the dice show our number, we grumble;
We may loathe the Board Master,
A meeple, moves faster:
All hopes, plans, intentions just crumble.
-Marcia Sinclair, Newmarket, Canada (marciasinclair rogers.com)


“My wife’s and my children’s cremains
Should be kept somewhere far from McCain’s,”
Said the Donald, “They’ll pass
Just like humans en masse;
I’m forever, though, thanks to my brains.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

The Don sits his kids down and explains:
“When I’m gone, and I know that thought pains ...
For a nice wad of cash,
You can each take some ash
And send Vlad and Jong-un my cremains.”
-Judith Marks-White, Westport, Connecticut (joodthmw gmail.com)

“Of Father now all that remains
Is barely a pound of cremains.
I’m sorry to say
That one icy day
The walk needed salt,” she explains.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

If interments are not to their liking,
and through graveyards they don’t enjoy hiking,
see your fam’ly retains
your urn with cremains.
Choose a funeral fit for a Viking.
-Zelda Dvoretzky, Haifa, Israel (zeldahaifa gmail.com)

“I’m selling this vase,” she explains.
“But first, I’ll remove his cremains.
My husband, you know,
was rolling in dough,
and I’d hate to pay capital gains!”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

Trophy hunters are people to shun.
Shoot them all with an elephant gun
And toss the cremains
Down waste-water drains.
If we do this, then wildlife has won.
-Sara Hutchinson, New Castle, Delaware (sarahutch2003 yahoo.com)

As all of us watch from afar,
We’re concerned with the crude avatar.
All his logic remains
In a crock of cremains
With ideas and words so bizarre.
-Gayle Tremblay, Saint John, Canada (gayletremblay hotmail.com)

When the cook, with an excess of zeal,
Put cremains in the stew with the veal,
It seemed only fair
That the mourners should share
The deceased unexpected last meal.
-Gordon Tully, Charlottesville, Virginia (gordon.tully gmail.com)

Oh, my Uncle Carbunkle abstains
though his bad gout no longer detains
him. He’s dry as a bone
needing no chaperone,
for he’s gone with the wind, as cremains.
-Mariana Warner, Asheville, North Carolina (marianaw6002 gmail.co)


For her courage, she ought to receive
recognition, we truly believe --
though perhaps not as shero,
but rather as hero.
(She looks more like Adam than Eve!)
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

When the temperature plunges to zero,
I just snuggle in bed with my shero.
Though she’s out of my league,
I enhance the intrigue
By pretending I’m Robert De Niro.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

My shero is Ruth Bader G.
Who else is as gutsy as she?
A wonderful sage,
She’s reached ripe old age;
Her health is important to me.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)


Unless people agree, kissee-kissee,
he will throw a big snit or a hissy --
“Toss them under the bus,
throw a tantrum and cuss.
Acting grown up is just being prissy.”
-Zelda Dvoretzky, Haifa, Israel (zeldahaifa gmail.com)

“What’s that outfit you’re wearing, young missy?”
Asked Donald, increasingly pissy.
“No daughter of mine
Hides a body that fine;
You’re too hot to be looking so prissy.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Concerning his looks, he’s quite prissy.
On finding his hairdo amiss, he
gets very excited.
Unless it’s soon righted,
he might have a terrible hissy.
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

Sir Percy was known as a prissy
English fop, and an awful big sissy.
But ‘twas all just charade,
A part that’s well-played,
And the French had some fits that were hissy.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

I’m prissy, and so I bewail
The lack of a loo on this trail.
I hate to go pee
Behind some old tree;
It’s simpler sometimes to be male.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

Priscilla, a shero renowned,
Leaped tall buildings at only a bound.
She could bench-press a ton
And her nickname, for fun,
Was Prissy, -- she just liked the sound.
-Sara Hutchinson, New Castle, Delaware (sarahutch2003 yahoo.com)



From: Phil Graham (pgraham1946 cox.net)
Subject: Blend words, bland puns

Having only 50% of the cash he owed Herman, the mineralogist asked, “May I pay you, Hermaphrodite?”

After their pancake breakfast Sir Up and Sir Down began a board game. Sir Down said, “Pass the meeples, Sir Up.”

Exactly where we will scatter Mom’s ashes cremains to be seen.

Kim Brennan won gold in Rio. My, could shero!

At the drag Olympics RuPaul prissyded me on the runway.

Phil Graham, Tulsa, Oklahoma



A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
Red roses for young lovers. French beans for longstanding relationships. -Ruskin Bond, author (b. 19 May 1934)

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