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1000th AWADmail
Aug 29, 2021
This week’s theme
Blend words

This week’s words

How popular are they?
Relative usage over time

AWADmail archives

Next week’s theme
Words with unusual pronunciations

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AWADmail Issue 1000

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

Sponsor’s Message: “Way more wicked fun than Scrabble.” One Up! is the unfair, frustrating, and fantastic cure for boredom: No board. No complicated rules. No mercy. Just quick, cutthroat thrills for everyone-mind-to-hand combat that’s guaranteed to completely ruin any family get-together or summer vacation... with impunity. Our classic wicked/smart word game, a cheap lesson in intellectual humility for sure, normally goes for a twenny. We’re offering an AWAD special: Get Two Classics for $30 Today Only. Ends at midnight. Game on!

From: Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)
Subject: 1000th issue of AWADmail

Welcome to the AWADmail 1000. That’s 1000 weeks of comments, stories, and anecdotes shared by our readers. We started A.Word.A.Day in 1994; AWADmail, a compilation of readers’ feedback, started a few years later. Read past issues of AWADmail here.

Stories readers shared were filled with joy and pain, they were heartfelt and thoughtful. It’s hard to pick just a few from tens of thousands of stories you shared. Here’s one:

Gigi Marino of Winter Park, Florida, now at (gmarino bucknell.edu) shared this in AWADmail 33:
As a bibliophile and a teacher, I try to teach my students vocabulary words whenever possible. Several years ago, I was teaching in the prison, and I would give my students weekly vocabulary tests. The first one focused on words with Greek roots. I explained to them what misanthrope meant; then I asked them if anyone knew what was the word for one who despised all of humanity. From the back of the room came, “Prison guard!” Incidentally, my student inmates took these quizzes quite seriously. I realized later, that for them, language was power, which put them in a higher echelon in the prison environment. Most of the corrections officers resented their education.

Words don’t exist in a vacuum. Words are how we express and make sense of the world around us. For example, see the Special Peace Issue after 9/11.

From time to time we manage to annoy some of our readers. For example, see this exchange with Mark Poore, a Trump supporter. Yet, this is another example of the power of words to effect change.

Thank you for being here. You are what makes Wordsmith.org. Keep your stories, comments, and words (of appreciation or of disapproval) coming.

Top 10 readers by the number of comments in AWADmail
208Andrew Pressburger, Toronto, Canada (andpress sympatico.ca)
101Eric Shackle, Sydney, Australia (deceased)
62Rudy Rosenberg Sr., Westbury, New York (rbrtrsnbrg gmail.com)
43M Henri Day, Stockholm, Sweden (mhenriday gmail.com)
41Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)
38Lawrence Crumb, Eugene, Oregon (lcrumb uoregon.edu)
37Michael Tremberth, St Erth, UK (michaelt4two googlemail.com)
36Peirce Hammond, Bethesda, Maryland (peirceah.03.01 gmail.com)
33Richard S. Russell, Madison, Wisconsin (RichardSRussell tds.net)
33Joel Mabus, Portage, Michigan (joel.mabus pobox.com)
31Bruce Floyd, Florence, South Carolina (brucefloyd bellsouth.net)

Words connect us. What better representation of that than a grid connecting the names of all the readers whose comments and stories have appeared in AWADmail so far. All 10,000+ of them. See it here.

Here’s another peek at our subscribers.

Top 10 Subscribers Among Universities

# of subscribersDomainUniversity
342umich.eduUniversity of Michigan
193cornell.eduCornell University
187harvard.eduHarvard University
186columbia.eduColumbia University
161mit.eduMassachusetts Institute of Technology
148umn.eduUniversity of Minnesota
125washington.edu/uw.eduUniversity of Washington
119yale.eduYale University
102wisc.eduUniversity of Wisconsin
100psu.eduPennsylvania State University

Top 10 Corporations

# of subscribersDomainCorporation

Top 10 Internet Service Providers

# of subscribersDomainISP
7377comcast.netComcast Cable Internet
3200sbcglobal.netSBC Internet
1242cox.netCox Communications
662charter.netCharter Communications
363optonline.netOptimum Online
Note: some of these domains may be owned by the same providers. Also, some Internet service providers do not use .net addresses.

Top 10 .Organizations

# of subscribersDomainOrganization
104canterburyschool.orgCanterbury School, Fort Wayne, Indiana
86ieee.orgInstitute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers
71acm.orgAssociation for Computing Machinery
67mcn.orgMendocino Community Network
46stanfordalumni.orgStanford University alumni
42partners.orgPartners Health Care
37pittschools.orgPitt County Schools, North Carolina
35kp.orgKaiser Permanente
34worldbank.orgWorld Bank
32palmbeachschools.orgPalm Beach County, Florida

If you’d like to have your whole department or organization subscribe in one step, drop us a line at (words@wordsmith.org).

Longest email address: 53 characters (sandchopswheezekukufattietina nevereverbeordinary.com), belonging to Francis Weng of Tallmadge, Ohio
Shortest email addresses: 8 characters, belonging to readers in Canada (.ca), Denmark (.dk), Hungary (.hu), Norway (.no), and Rwanda (.rw)
Average address length: 21 characters

Besides comments and stories, I marvel at what readers come up with every week, week after week, in various art forms, limericks, puns, cartoons, anagrams, and more.

It’s AWADmail issue 1,000!
Thanks, Anu! Our brains you’re arousin’!
And my wife is just thrilled
At these lim’ricks I build;
She says, “Wordplay has stopped his carousin’!”

AWADmails have spewed forth in a fount;
At a thousand, their numbers still mount.
But my word-haters rally
Will challenge this tally;
Anu, we demand a recount!
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

AWADmail: the one-thousandth issue from Wordsmith.org = The aim: to immerse us in a world of words and thoughts. Ah!
-Robert Jordan, Lampang, Thailand (alfiesdad ymail.com)

The weekly compilation of readers’ comments - congratulations! = Lo, most cogitators knew Mr Anu reached an epic lofty milestone
-Julian Lofts, Auckland, New Zealand (jalofts xtra.co.nz)

From: Christopher Alden (calmichigan gmail.com)
Subject: Genre Portmanteau

Here’s a new genre for you. Horristorical Fiction. A genre that combines horror and historical fiction and leans toward the cheezy or terrible end of the spectrum like a really bad B movie. Titles could include:

I Was A Teenage Zombie in the War of 1812
Hamilton’s Ghost
The Blob Was A Greek God
The Iron Maiden’s Bed

Christopher Alden Lumpkin, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

From: Danielle Austin (danielle13 san.rr.com)
Subject: Cozhisime

Cozhisime: cozy historical crime, a historical study of a crime without highlighting the violence. A middle school teacher time travels his/her class to ancient crime scenes to study the facts before and after. The next episode is entitled, “Did Caesar Have to Die?” Parental permission required.

Danielle Austin, San Diego, California

From: Richard Allen (via website comments)
Subject: Movie genres

The world needs more swashpunk, i.e., futuristic dystopian pirate movies. In fact, are there any?

Richard Allen, London, UK

From: Joan Perrin (perrinjoan aol.com)
Subject: Movie Genres

Hystorical: hysterical + historical. Example: a humorous biopic about George Washington titled “First in War, First Wore a Piece”. A movie that spoofs our First President’s troubles with his wig and false teeth.

Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York

From: Lisa Lepofsky (bosch1500 gmail.com)
Subject: Portmanteau

Bloir: a musical crime drama depicting the bottomless and historic sadness of the blonde dame.

Lisa Lepofsky, Savannah, Georgia

From: Kate Thomas (kate_p sbcglobal.net)
Subject: Crimedy?

Lilyhammer might fit into that crimedy category. Or could it be a mafedy (mafia + comedy)?

Kate Thomas, Brentwood, California

From: Russell Lott (russellwlott comcast.net)
Subject: Genre portmanteau

Sci-fri: A particularly scary science fiction horror story. A blend of science fiction + fright. I’ve always referred to the movie Aliens and its ilk as sci-fri.

Mysternedy: A story set in the American West, between the time of the Civil war and the early 20th century, about an investigator attempting to solve a crime or puzzle that also includes a number of comic situations and wordplay. A blend of mystery + western + comedy. A prime example is the 1945 Gary Cooper movie Along Came Jones.

Russell Lott, Hattiesburg, Mississippi

From: Kimberly Hamilton (hkkimlaw aol.com)
Subject: portmanteau words

New movie genre: Traction, a combination tragedy and action flick that sadly requires medical intervention with a system of weights and pulleys to stabilize the displaced joints of the star as a result of a stunt gone horribly wrong.

Kimberly Hamilton, Boalsburg, Pennsylvania

From: Jack Colldeweih (jcoll6 yahoo.com)
Subject: New film genres suggestions

Hiction: history + fiction : false history (as most is)
Romstern: romance + western : love on horseback
Fance: fantasy + romance : crazy love
Romiller: romance + thriller : exciting love

Jack Colldeweih, Spring Lake, Michigan

From: Samuel Jay Keyser (keyser mit.edu)
Subject: Portmanteau

Satedies, satirical comedies only shown on weekends.

Samuel Jay Keyser, Cambridge, Massachusetts

From: Antony Cecil-Wright (antony.cw gmail.com)
Subject: Blend Words

Mockumentary: Blending mock, as parody, with documentary.

Antony Cecil-Wright, Southampton, UK

From: John Craw (thecrawh gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--splurge

The OED’s WOTD is a portmanteau:

irritainment, n. Broadcast material which is irritating yet still entertaining; irritating entertainment.

John Craw, Glenford, Ohio

From: Robert Wilson (wilson math.wisc.edu)
Subject: Self-made man

There is no such thing as a ‘self-made’ man. We are made up of thousands of others. Everyone who has ever done a kind deed for us, or spoken one word of encouragement to us, has entered into the make-up of our character and of our thoughts. -George Matthew Adams, newspaper columnist (23 Aug 1878-1962)

I can’t disagree, but that seems to me to be just half of the story. The people who have treated us evilly, spoken discouragingly, etc., have certainly also contributed to what we are. Difficult as it might be, I think we owe them some credit also.

Bob Wilson, Oregon, Wisconsin

From: Glenn Glazer (glenn.glazer gmail.com)
Subject: meld

The first time I heard this word was as a kid watching Star Trek. Spock’s famous mind meld was a form of telepathy.

Glenn Glazer, Felton, California

From: Andrew Pressburger (andpress sympatico.ca)
Subject: meld

In German, the word means to report (similar to declare or make known); as in “Ich melde gehorsam,” meaning “I beg to report.” This phrase is always used when a subordinate has something to tell to his superior officer in a military context.

In Jaroslav Hasek’s novel The Good Soldier Svejk, set in WWI, the good (?) soldier constantly uses the phrase to introduce the biggest idiocies with which to satirize with pretended humility the entire officer corps.

Andrew Pressburger, Toronto, Canada

From: Donna Buchanan (donnabuchanan earthlink.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--greige

I am familiar with greige from working in fabric printing for over twenty years. We use it to identify unbleached/unprinted/undyed fabric. We pronounce it identically to the way the color gray is pronounced, not sounding the “ge” at the end.

Donna Buchanan, Johnson City, Tennessee

From: Cynthia Costell (flossyrabbit earthlink.net)
Subject: egotesticle

A portmanteau: my best friend and I were discussing men we knew. “I don’t like him much,” she said of one of our acquaintances. “He’s too egotesticle!” At the time, it was just a mispronouncing on her part, but that was 1973. These days, apparently, it is actually a word.

Cynthia Costell, Palo Alto, California

Email of the Week -- Brought to you by One Up! -- Steal Two Today.

From: Mariana Warner (marianaw6002 gmail.com)
Subject: Blended words

Decades ago we met a sweet elderly couple. I’ll call them Maynard and Elsie Harper. They were welcoming neighbors when we moved to Arizona in 1989, and they gave us delicious vine-ripened tomatoes from their garden. We hit it off with them right away, and since they mentioned that they enjoyed playing bridge, as we did, we invited them over for a casual foursome soon after we had unpacked.

Before they arrived Friday evening, I suggested to Ted that he might clean up his language a bit, out of consideration for the possibility that Elsie might be offended by even a mild oath like “doggone it,” since “goodNESS!” was the strongest exclamation I overheard Maynard use, when he was upset that the feral kitten Elsie rescued had hidden or swallowed the smallest of their nesting Russian dolls, a gift from their adult son. The Harpers were devoutly religious, especially Elsie, and I didn’t yet know her well enough to judge the limits of her language comfort zone.

After the usual greetings, we started our bridge game by drawing for partners, drew our own spouses, shuffled, cut the cards, and bid. Ted and I were vulnerable, he was the declarer, and he needed for a finesse to work to make our four-spade contract. When his finesse didn’t work, he exclaimed “HEL... K!” trying quickly, mid-word, to blend “hell!” into “heck!” as he recalled my earlier recommendation. Maynard and I both burst out laughing. Elsie, who was hard of hearing, asked what we were laughing about, and we didn’t tell her. We just kept laughing, and Ted joined in with hearty laughter too, relieved that apparently she had neither heard nor got it, though she joined in the laughter anyway. Thereafter, Ted’s blended word helk became a delightful permanent part of our family’s vocabulary and lore, and we became close friends with the Harpers.

Thank you for jogging my pleasant old memory with your blended-words theme!

Mariana Warner, Asheville, North Carolina

Grum and Grumer
From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: Grum and greige

Tex Avery’s sad sack bloodhound, “Droopy”, meets Walt Disney’s “Grumpy”, one of the seven dwarfs from the classic film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Hmm... misery loves company? My caption... “Grum and Grumer”, might ring a bell, echoing the goofball live-action comedy feature Dumb and Dumber?

Earthy Delights
British figurative painter Lucian Freud, grandson of Sigmund Freud, largely focused on reclining nudes as his primary subject matter, dominated by a palette of earth tonalities. This family of pigments are basically sourced from special soils and mineral complexes. Some critics viewed Freud’s nudes as works reflecting “flesh and mud”, not “flesh and blood”. Froggy’s suggested use of greige would still be in the realm of earth tones, with its touch of beige.

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California


This week’s theme: Blend words
1. grum
2. meld
3. splurge
4. greige
5. rumption
= 1. grim-glum, dreek
2. help him wed
3. spend-surge, bets grew
4. stone
5. turmoil
     This week’s theme: Blend words
1. grum
2. meld
3. splurge
4. greige
5. rumption
= 1. grim
2. merge
3. spend, spends more; “The works!”
4. her dull beige wig?
5. tumult
-Julian Lofts, Auckland, New Zealand (jalofts xtra.co.nz) -Dharam Khalsa, Burlington, North Carolina (dharamkk2 gmail.com)

Make your own anagrams and animations.


“Daddy, why are you looking so grum?”
“It’s a parenting thing. Ask your mum.”
So, I did. She replied,
“Daddy’s naughty. He lied.
I found out. Now he knows I’m not dumb.”
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes btconnect.com)

I know I’ve displeased my dear Mum;
I can tell by her face she’s quite grum.
I was sent to the store
To buy five, not just four,
But the extra plum’s now in my tum!
-Sondra Landin, New York, New York (sunnytravel att.net)

Wise butterfly comforts young chum,
“Though life as a larva is grum,
in just a short while
you’ll leave it in style,
a beauty like me to become!”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

He wasn’t likely to win many friends,
Till in his bearing he made amends.
So from ever looking grum,
He became a smiling chum;
And it paid him rich dividends.
-Shyamal Mukherji, Mumbai, India (mukherjis hotmail.com)

Sometimes difficult words make me grum,
But I handled today’s with aplomb.
AWAD limerick writing
Is always exciting;
My mornings are never humdrum.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

It is widely accepted and held
That the English today are a meld.
Viking-Normans have been
With the Saxons mixed in,
And then left to mature till they jelled.
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes btconnect.com)

The miserly chef tried to meld
stale items with fresh. Guests rebelled.
They left without paying,
complaining and saying
it tasted as bad as it smelled.
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

The boy felt extremely compelled
To kiss all the girls who rebelled.
To his glee, one fine day
Some good luck came his way,
As his lips with another’s would meld.
-Judith Marks-White, Westport, Connecticut (joodthmw gmail.com)

As music of Pachelbel swelled,
The couple’s two lives soon would meld.
It then came to pass --
They stepped on the glass,
And “Mazel Tov!” everyone yelled.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

“The American way we’ve upheld,
For their cities we’ve thoroughly shelled.
We’ve given ‘em freedom!
Send soldiers -- they’ll need ‘em!”
Thought Dubya, in Cheney’s mind-meld.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“You are haunted, you say, by this dirge?”
“It’s my husband’s revenge and my scourge.
He was mean to the end.
Now he’s gone, I can spend.
I inherited all -- and I splurge.”
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes btconnect.com)

I recall that I once had the urge
To hear Chopin’s sad funeral dirge.
But what made me weep?
Ticket prices were steep,
And this cheapskate for once had to splurge.
-Rudy Landesman, New York, New York (ydur36 hotmail.com)

“My wedding,” says she, “will diverge
from the norm, be a beautiful splurge.
I’ll make it first-rate.
But meanwhile, I wait
for a suitable groom to emerge.”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

The young boys were approaching the verge
When their healthy libidos would surge.
On occasion they’d find
Girls who just didn’t mind,
This is when they would eagerly “splurge”.
-Judith Marks-White, Westport, Connecticut (joodthmw gmail.com)

In eulogies here’s what emerges:
This rich man avoided all splurges.
Now gone to his grave,
For what did he save?
His heirs will indulge all their urges.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

There are times when I get the urge,
To go through my closet and purge.
If it just doesn’t fit,
Or I’ve never worn it,
Then on a new wardrobe I’ll splurge.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“For some romance at sea I’ve an urge,”
Said John Jacob Astor. “Let’s splurge.”
His new wife, just nineteen,
Said, “Sounds sexy, old bean!”
Little knowing their ship would submerge.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“Oh, that color is perfect! Sooo you.
From the moment I saw it, I knew.
You’ve been greige all your life
I should know, I’m your wife.
If you find it too bold, try ecru.”
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes btconnect.com)

The bedsheets I’ve used for an age
Have discolored and look mousy greige.
They once were all white,
But that’s quite all right.
Colored bedding is now all the rage.
-Rudy Landesman, New York, New York (ydur36 hotmail.com)

You are stressed when world shockers unfold;
You feel fear but you try to be bold;
You should maybe unwind
To a greige state of mind,
If you truly do want to grow old.
-Sondra Landin, New York, New York (sunnytravel att.net)

Combining a beige and a gray,
The room’s painted greige, just like clay.
I certainly think
It beats a bright pink --
It’s soothingly dull you could say.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

Sometimes I wake up and the world
Resembles a flag still unfurled ...
Kinda greige in its hue
No bright future in view --
I want to stay fetally curled!
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

“Should our baby wear pink, or sport blue?”
“I don’t want to be sexist, do you?”
So we settled on greige
To our worries assuage,
Because kids these days grow up and sue.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

I am one of those folks who can’t function
Without causing a rip-roaring rumption;
In stores or at pools,
In museums or schools,
My dysfunction pervades ev’ry junction!
-Sondra Landin, New York, New York (sunnytravel att.net)

“Our kids are so noisy and bad,”
mom admits. “That it’s driving us mad.
But I haven’t the gumption
to muzzle this rumption,
and neither, alas, does their dad.”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

My neighbor is at it once more --
He’s making a rumption next door.
I can’t stand that creep
Who costs me my sleep,
But that is what earplugs are for.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

At The Capitol there was a rumption,
That was fueled by the Trump false assumption.
At the White House was he,
And was glued to TV,
Was delighted by all. Oh, what gumption!
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

Said Mary, “No need for a rumption;
It’s cool that today’s my Assumption.
Up to heaven I’ll fly,
Where I’ll meet the Big Guy
And sit down with my son for a luncheon.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


The pessimist was so gloomy that he continually grum-bled about something.
-Jim Ertner, Greensboro, North Carolina (jde31459 gmail.com)

Gloomy Gus’s favorite candy was Grum-my Bears.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“I’ll truly be a Grum-man if our new bombers miss their targets,” joked the defense contractor’s CEO.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Spock, I want to meld in your mouth, not in your hands,” the girl pleaded.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

The hospital spent lavishly to attract specialist doctors and a top-notch splurge-on.
-Jim Ertner, Greensboro, North Carolina (jde31459 gmail.com)

“When I drink too much, my bullets only greige the bad guy,” said Clint Eastwood.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

In his familiar Scottish accent, Sean Connery said his favorite medical TV show was Greige Anatomy.
-Jim Ertner, Greensboro, North Carolina (jde31459 gmail.com)

“Pardon the inter-rumption” quipped Fred, when he had disturbed the meeting with his whoopee cushion.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

I tried SoulCycle, but the next day, I couldn’t move. Every part of my lower body -- calf, thigh, knee, rumption -- was too sore.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Uphill Battle
From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: Uphill Battle

Between a rock and a hard place? Playing off the Greek myth of Sisyphus, king of Ephyra, I’ve tried to convey the vaccinated folks’ attempt to push the Covid-19 virus beyond its peak spread, ideally arriving at a steady downhill trajectory heading toward herd immunity. With the latest Delta variant, it’s now morphed into the pandemic of the anti-vaxxers, who selfishly deny science and the efficacy of the vaccines.
Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California

Our incomes are like our shoes; if too small, they gall and pinch us; but if too large, they cause us to stumble and to trip. -John Locke, philosopher (29 Aug 1632-1704)

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