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Oct 3, 2021
This week’s theme
Hand to mouth

This week’s words

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Words related to writing

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AWADmail Issue 1005

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

Sponsor’s Message: “You’ve got that right.” Our exclusive 100% cotton, Made in America OLD’S COOL apparel is clobber you might spy someone like Kendall Jenner wearing while zooming her 1956 Chevy Corvette around town -- because you can’t buy character, and the emphasis is always on the “cool.” Free Shipping* for all AWADers, today only. A fantastic gift!

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

Linguists Lament Slang Ban in London School
The Guardian

Why Learning a New Language Is Good for the Whole Family
National Geographic

From: Paul Calico (paulcalico gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--handmaiden

The term elbow clerk has a similar etymology. In the federal judiciary (from which I recently retired), each judge is assisted by law clerks who work closely with the judge in his/her chambers on a daily basis. Because of their close working relationship and proximity to the judge, they are called elbow clerks. Like handmaidens, their work is done in the chambers of the person they serve!

Paul Calico, Cincinnati, Ohio

Email of the Week -- Brought to you buy OLD’S COOL -- Wit that keeps upping the up.

From: Lawrence Crumb (lcrumb uoregon.edu)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--handmaiden

The word is also associated with the Virgin Mary, who said, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord” to the archangel Gabriel at the Annunciation. Many prayers refer to Christians as God’s “servants and handmaidens”, reflecting a distinction of gender in the Latin, where the words are famulus and famula. It is one of those words in the first and second declensions where there are corresponding feminine and masculine words with the same stem. Since the dative and ablative plural endings in both declensions are the same, a different ending is used in the first declension, -abus instead of -is.

There is a story about a monastery where the books had become corrupted with use, and they were praying “pro mulis et mulabus” (for mules and she-mules) instead of “pro famulis et famulabus” (for servants and handmaidens).

Lawrence Crumb, Eugene, Oregon

From: Debra Conrad (debrac7 msn.com)
Subject: Why I unsubscribed

I personally think a surgeon or any other physician that prays is a wonderful thing for they know their hands and mind are God’s instrument. Without Him, nothing is possible. I’ll find some other vocabulary building site.

Debra Conrad, Abernathy, Texas

Consider this thought experiment. If you were lying on the operating table waiting to have your kidney removed and your surgeon had only time to do one of the two things, which would you prefer, that they:

Pray to a god
Double-check which kidney to remove?

The benefit of a thought experiment is you get clarity, no sacrificing of an actual kidney required. Also, see this.
-Anu Garg

From: Andrew Pressburger (andpress sympatico.ca)
Subject: sticky-fingered

A simple solution to the problem of sticky fingers is to lick them.

Andrew Pressburger, Toronto, Canada

From: Pascal Pagnoux (pascal.pagnoux gmail.com)
Subject: Sticky-fingered

The first time we unAnglo boomers were exposed to the phrase sticky fingers was with the release of the 1971 Rolling Stones eponymous album whose cover featured a zipped jeans fly leaving little to the imagination as to why the fingers were sticky. And as if this wasn’t clear enough, it was also the first time the tongue and lips Rolling Stones logo, also known as Hot Lips logo, was introduced, adding a lascivious connotation -- unexpectedly inspired by the Hindu goddess Kali -- for the nerds who’d missed the first one :o)

Pascal Pagnoux, Saint Gaudens, France

From: M A Buckner (campodifiamme yahoo.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--sticky-fingered

Well, your references to beaks being ok, when I worked in Australia, being a sticky-beak was a nosey person.

M A Buckner, Pyeongtaek, South Korea

From: Pierre-Alexandre Sicart (PA_Sicart hotmail.com)
Subject: Il changeait la vie

In our world of big names, curiously, our true heroes tend to be anonymous. In this life of illusion and quasi-illusion, the person of solid virtues who can be admired for something more substantial than his well-knownness often proves to be the unsung hero: the teacher, the nurse, the mother, the honest cop, the hard worker at lonely, underpaid, unglamorous, unpublicized jobs. -Daniel J Boorstin, historian, professor, attorney, and writer (1 Oct 1914-2004)

Jean-Jacques Goldman wrote a poignant song on this topic: video (4 min.), lyrics and translation.

I think you’ll recognize yourself, Anu.

Pierre-Alexandre Sicart, Midi-Pyrenees, France

From: Katherine White (tokeland comcast.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--hardfisted

Just a note to let you know how much I appreciate your A THOUGHT FOR TODAY feature. I just forwarded today’s selection to my sons and their spouses: a self-employed event planner, a hairdresser, a fire captain, and a nurse.

With a grateful heart,

Katherine White, Tokeland, Washington

From: Steve Kirkpatrick (stevekirkp comcast.net)
Subject: cardboard -- mouth connection

What connection is there between the mouth and cardboard? Rugae are those wrinkles or folds of gum tissue behind the upper front teeth. Corrugated cardboard is cardboard which has been co-rugated or wrinkled together. That etymology came to mind one day, so I had to look it up. I read there are rugae in the urinary bladder, too, though I never plan to see those.

Steve Kirkpatrick, DDS, Olympia, Washington

Adonis & Aphrodite: A Snoutfair Pair
From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: snoutfair and handmaiden

Seeing our word snoutfair, meaning a good-looking person, I harkened back to the quintessential prettyboy of Greek mythology, mere mortal, Adonis, who, as fate (The Fates?) would have it, was wooed and won-over by the equally attractive, goddess Aphrodite Froggy is suggesting that the two lovebirds move to private quarters. Making out in the agora is just so déclassé.

Atwood's Eureka Moment
Our word handmaiden reminded me of author Margaret Atwood, whose dystopian novel, The Handmaid’s Tale, became a hugely popular TV series. Here, Froggy imagines the lead actress Elizabeth Moss, portraying the rebellious handmaiden, Offred, who along with her fellow “fertile” peers is forced to bear the offspring of a despotic Commander. She does not go gentle into that good night.

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California


This week’s theme: Hand to mouth
1. handmaiden
2. snoutfair
3. sticky-fingered
4. gobsmacked
5. hardfisted
= 1. chambermaid
2. handsome shine
3. thief, takes stuff
4. disarmed, knocked out
5. tightwad, denying others
     Hand to mouth
1. handmaiden
2. snoutfair
3. sticky-fingered
4. gobsmacked
5. hardfisted
= 1. amah
2. handsome
3. crooked
4. dumbstruck
5. stingy, hands of a fighter, did define titan
     This week’s theme : Hand to mouth
1. handmaiden
2. snoutfair
3. sticky-fingered
4. gobsmacked
5. hardfisted
= 1. host’s kinky charwomen
2. handsome mutt deified
3. she snatched the tinted bag
4. off-guard kid
5. a miser
-Dharam Khalsa, Burlington, North Carolina (dharamkk2 gmail.com) -Julian Lofts, Auckland, New Zealand (jalofts xtra.co.nz) -Shyamal Mukherji, Mumbai, India (mukherjis hotmail.com)

Make your own anagrams and animations.


“When I fired my handmaiden -- she stole --
I promoted my spouse to the role.
He was clumsy at first,
But we’re over the worst,
So, it’s turned out quite well, on the whole.”
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes btconnect.com)

If labor you tend to eschew,
A handmaiden’s perfect for you!
Your chores you can trade in,
And just leave her laden
With work you would rather not do.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

If you are a big star’s handmaiden,
With many odd jobs you are laden.
But, perks that you get
May cause you regret,
For sometimes that’s all that you’re paid in.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“A wife ought to be a handmaiden,”
Cooed the starlet, a wedding band cravin’.
My astrologer says
That with me, you’d be Prez,”
She intoned as she gently fanned Reagan.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“Yes, she pleases the eye, that I grant ...
But pray, banish such thoughts -- she’s my aunt.
I don’t care she’s snoutfair --
I demand you forswear!
No, I will not explain. You just can’t.”
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes btconnect.com)

You say Cyrano looks like a creep?
That schnozz on his face makes you weep?
Though no snoutfair is he,
To be fair, you must see
That beauty is only skin deep.
-Rudy Landesman, New York, New York (ydur36 hotmail.com)

When asked why he goes ev’ry day
to the girls’ dormitory, he’ll say,
“This place is no doubt where
I’ll meet a nice snoutfair,
and college chicks never say nay!
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

A fellow from Norway named Sven
So snoutfair that he’d rate a ten
By women was swarmed
Till they were informed
He really preferred other men.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

The new date was one her parents chose;
But she found when with him up-close,
(Though he was a snoutfair
and a rich man’s heir),
his dull mind a big con ‘gainst the pros.
-Shyamal Mukherji, Mumbai, India (mukherjis hotmail.com)

Her mum said, “When you search for a date,
Don’t exclude those whose looks aren’t great.
If he is without hair,
Or not very snoutfair,
He may still be your one perfect mate.”
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

Said the Tortoise, “I won, but don’t pout, Hare;
Although lazy and dim, you’re a snoutfair.
With your looks you’ll go far,
On Fox News be a star;
Just make sure that no facts loonies doubt air.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“I can’t ‘elp it, your honour -- God’s truth!
Started nickin’ way back in my youth.
An’ once sticky-fingered
It sorta jus’ lingered --
I can’t stop, I’m too long in the tooth.”
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes btconnect.com)

Her habit amassed quite a pile
of treasures. In jew’lry store aisle,
this sly, sticky-fingered
young chick often lingered
awhile, then emerged with a smile.
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

‘Twas a case on which wise Sherlock lingered.
He brought Watson along and they tinkered.
With impressive aplomb
They caught the sleazy bum,
Stealing cash, he was so sticky-fingered.
-Judith Marks-White, Westport, Connecticut (joodthmw gmail.com)

Towards customers they show disdain.
We’re not to be trusted, it’s plain.
Suspicions have lingered
That we’re sticky-fingered --
The pen in the bank’s on a chain.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

Would Dick take the last piece of pie?
On the shelf, the prize he did eye.
As the young Dickie lingered,
He became sticky-fingered,
And grabbed it as he shuffled by.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

As he slept, she became sticky-fingered,
So after the cheap quickie lingered.
Donald’s wallet and watch
Raised her fee up a notch;
She ran out when his not-bigly thing stirred.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“You were gobsmacked, you say?” “And dismayed.
He has never before disobeyed.
We agreed when we wed
He would do as I said.”
“And men wonder why wives feel betrayed!”
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes btconnect.com)

“The election was rigged, you have heard.
To think that I lost! That’s absurd!
I was totally gobsmacked
To be from my job sacked.
I’ll be back. You can all take my word.”
-Rudy Landesman, New York, New York (ydur36 hotmail.com)

A life-saving jab they refuse;
Instead ivermectin they choose.
Their health they would bet
On meds from a vet --
I’m gobsmacked by some people’s views.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

My boyfriend, so shocked he looked ill,
Stammered, “What? You are taking the pill?
We can really have sex,
Not become nervous wrecks?”
And fell backward, gobsmacked, down the hill.
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

He cried, “My computer’s been hacked!”
It left him completely gobsmacked.
He lost all his work,
And felt like a jerk;
His files, you see, were not backed.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

Liza’s father, who even two bob lacked,
By her diction was utterly gobsmacked.
“And Lerner and Loewe
Say to church I must go!”
He exclaimed, “and thenceforth like a snob act!”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“That’s a hardfisted man, I must say.
You’ve heard mention of looks that could slay?”
“His expression was tense --
Must have taken offence?”
“All I said was, ‘It’s your turn to pay.’”
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes btconnect.com)

Said the woman who lived in a shoe,
“If only I’d known what to do,
I’d have been more hardfisted
with lovers, resisted,
and thus not be stuck with this crew!”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

That hardfisted fellow’s a schmuck,
Reluctant to part with a buck.
You’ll go out to eat
And think it’s his treat,
But then with the bill you’ll be stuck.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

Said William, “It’s cruel and hardfisted;
Someone’s gotten their leotard twisted.
Didn’t write them?’ What knave
Makes me roll in my grave?”
And the eyes of our greatest bard misted.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

A sticky-fingered snoutfair is he.
Stole my handmaiden. Then tried to flee.
Thinks he’s cute. (I don’t lie.)
But hardfisted I
Am gobsmacked and mad as can be.
-Rudy Landesman, New York, New York (ydur36 hotmail.com)


The doll’s foot and handmaiden China were of shoddy workmanship.
-Jim Ertner, Greensboro, North Carolina (jde31459 gmail.com)

The corner tailor guarantees all his custom shirts are handmaiden 24 hours or less, or they’re free.
-Ray Pasinski, Downers Grove, Illinois (rayomic yahoo.com)

Said the excited archaeologist, “I found more of the Venus de Milo! Look at this handmaiden ancient Greece!”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

His Roman nose won first place in the snoutfair.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

The vet cleaned the skunk-sprayed dog’s filthy snoutfair-ly well.
-Jim Ertner, Greensboro, North Carolina (jde31459 gmail.com)

Is ridiculing his snoutfair to a man with a large nose?
-Lois Mowat, Orinda, California (lmowat1810 gmail.com)

“Lord above, is my getting this snoutfair?” wept young Barbra Streisand.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“Maybe me can make fire by rubbing two of these together?” thought Oog as the sticky-fingered.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Said Ace Ventura to the tribal chief, “Your gobsmacked me right in the eye!”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

The boxer caught with brass knuckles in his gloves was charged with being hardfisted.
-Jim Ertner, Greensboro, North Carolina (jde31459 gmail.com)

Trump Dump
From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: Trump Dump

Trump and the Republican Party are now virtually one. Aside from the slim opposition GOP minority who haven’t swallowed Trump’s Big Lie, most Republicans see Le Grand Orange as the de facto leader of their party. The party would be better off if it took a dump and just dropped him.

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California

Loneliness... is and always has been the central and inevitable experience of every man. -Thomas Wolfe, novelist (3 Oct 1900-1938)

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