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AWADmail Issue 1010

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

Sponsor’s Message: “Yes it is!” This teen on a bicycle skids right in front of me on lower Thames, a rascally twinkle in his eye. He looks down at my OLD’S COOL t-shirt, snickers, and then looks back up at me dead in the eye. He shakes his headful of fusilli curls, contemptuously. “No it isn’t.” Fits traditionalistas to a tee. A fantastic gift! Shop Now.

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

Germany Debates How to Form Gender-Neutral Words Out of its Gendered Language
Nationa Public Radio

Indigenous Languages Project Urges COP26 Leaders to Rethink Ties to the Land
The Guardian

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

Last Monday I featured the word charientism and invited readers to send examples. Well, we have been flooded with charientisms. Thank you for writing -- we enjoy reading them, even though we couldn’t include everything here. Enjoy this small selection.

You look great in a mask!
-Chris Milburn, Cape Breton, Canada (milburn.chris gmail.com)

While working in construction we would often say “Good enough for who it’s for.”
-W. Dan Houck, Yorkville, California (wdan48 gmail.com)

In yesterday’s The New York Times, an article about David Graeber and David Wengrow’s new book The Dawn of Everything contained a wonderful charientism: “Graeber recalled how a friend, after reading his similarly sweeping Debt: The First 5,000 Years, said he wasn’t sure anyone had written a book like that in 100 years. ‘I’m still not sure it was a compliment,’ Graeber quipped.”
-Jerry Delamater, New Haven, Connecticut (comjhd hofstra.edu)

Maybe a self-directed charientism, I’ve always been fond of declaring “I am not your average idiot!”
-Paul Garfinkel, San Francisco, California (paul.garfinkel gmail.com)

I can’t tell you how much I’ve enjoyed reading A.Word.A.Day!
-Jay Liverman, Falls Church, Virginia (jay.liverman gmail.com) A pharmacist friend once told me about a “We dispense with accuracy” overhead shown by one of her profs on the first day of her orientation.
-Lori Provenzano, Cranbrook, Canada (silk3.14 gmail.com)

When someone is proud of their “perfect” lawn, I say, “Wow! Your lawn is completely weed-free”. They think that I am admiring their lawn. In fact, I am saying how much I despise them. I know that the only way they can do this is to use herbicides. They are willing to pollute the planet and poison wildlife (and any children or pets that venture onto the lawn) just for a nonsensical goal, and they waste a large amount of time and money to do so.
-Tom Pedretti, Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin (motmai9195 gmail.com)

“There may be something in what you say.”
-Joyce Green, Salt Lake City, Utah (jebgreen yahoo.com)

To my friend when he voices a good idea: “Wow, you are smarter than you look!” Usually augmented with, “No, seriously, a LOT smarter.”
-Steven Lipschultz, Truckee, California (mrweevy yahoo.com)

I can’t wait to say nice things about you at your funeral.
-David Jensen (via website comments)

I’m a Jazz musician. Here are two from the bandstand; one before and one after the gig.
“Tonight I want you to play like you’ve never played before.”
“I really liked what you were trying to do tonight.”
-Reade Whitwell, Seattle, Washington (yestertek gmail.com)

You never looked better!
-Patricia Skidmore Pierce, Cleveland, Tennessee (p2pierce bellsouth.net)

Whenever I hear the Flashdance song “Maniac”, the line “And she’s dancing like she’s never danced before” makes me smile. It probably isn’t meant to be a charientism, but it sounds like one!
-Katherine Harper, Rocky River, Ohio (kharper4 gmail.com)

From the movie Men in Black after testing (and failing) “the best of the best” from the military: “Congratulations gentlemen, you’re everything we’ve come to expect from years of government training.”
-Michael Parks (via website comments)

From a job website commercial, some secretary quitting her job by saying:
“I can’t tell you what a pleasure it’s been working for you. Really, I can’t.”
When I quit working as a cashier at McDonald’s in high school, I changed “Can I help you?” to “Can you be helped?” and it took at least half a dozen customers before one of them realized something was off.
-Glenn Glazer, Felton, California (glenn.glazer gmail.com)

Several years ago, my wife and I met a couple whose friendship we did not particularly want to pursue. They told us that they would call us when their schedule was free for a dinner out but that they would not be available for a while. I answered them saying, “We’d be more than happy to wait.”
-Kenneth Graiser, Sandy Springs, Georgia (kenn_grai yahoo.com)

When I worked in a hospital in England, a Nursing Officer was notorious among her underlings for her interference in everything. One of my fellows started referring to her as Miss Management and shared this with the woman thus designated, who preened herself greatly at this mark of appreciation. (I don’t think she ever worked out the true import.)
-Denise Thorn, Grantown-on-Spey, Scotland (denisethorn gmail.com)

Thank you for your suggestion. I shall give it all the consideration it deserves.
-Judy Malkin, Toronto, Canada (jgmalkin rogers.com)

My dad used to tease me with:
“I almost got into a fight over you the other day.”
“Why, Dad?”
“I was talking to a man who said you weren’t fit to live with the pigs! But I said you were.”
-Tracy Johnston, Vista, California (trackyj att.net)

The late John Bustin, a theater and music critic in Austin, Texas, was known for saying to performers after less than stellar presentations, “Well, you’ve done it again.”
-Laura Burns, Galveston, Texas (laurab12 sbcglobal.net)

To a performer after a concert:
Oh, my dear, “superb” isn’t the word!
You couldn’t have played better!
-Bernard Jacobson, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (bernardijacobson comcast.net)

My stepmother, Adrienne Block, was a musician and musicologist, and sometimes went to concerts by people she knew - and didn’t enjoy them. She had a collection of things to say, like “Only you could have done it!”
-Elizabeth Block, Toronto, Canada (elizabethblock netzero.net)

Upon receiving a useless gift, my husband frequently wrote the following in his thank-you note: You can’t imagine how often we have used your gift.
-Helen Dickerson, Poughkeepsie, New York (helen_dickerson hotmail.com)

In the movie Shakespeare in Love, Shakespeare says to Marlowe “I love your early work,” which is a charientism because it implies that Marlowe’s recent work has suffered a decline.
-Michael Klossner, Little Rock, Arkansas (klossner9 aol.com)

In a referee report: This paper fills a much needed hole in the literature.
-Sigurd Angenent, Madison, Wisconsin (angenent math.wisc.edu)

In a book review: These authors couldn’t have written a better book.
-Tom Louis, Washington, DC (tlouis jhu.edu)

When asked to give recommendation for a potential hire: “I can’t say enough good things about him.”
-Hedy Witte, Fredericksburg, Virginia (hswitte msn.com)

I once hit a beautiful golf shot that landed on the green. One of my playing partners exclaimed, “Wow! Nice shot. That’s way beyond your ability.”
-Tom Lund, Minneapolis, Minnesota (tomelund aol.com)

The cognitive psychologist Prof. Philip Johnston-Laird, when introducing a (well-known to him) visiting lecturer to undergrads at Sussex Uni, declared, “We could not find a better speaker on this subject.”
-Peter Daw, Salisbury, UK (petersdaw gmail.com)

A Southernism that is understood by nearly every American southerner is “Bless her/his heart.” As in, “She’s put on a few pounds, bless her heart.” It’s a criticism disguised as an endearment, I guess to exonerate the speaker from being catty.
-Tappy Phillips, Naples, Florida (tappyp aol.com)

After attending a play, the comment: “You don’t know what you’ve done!” was made with much emotion and wringing of hands. The director thought he had a hit. Not so.
-Linda Allen, San Diego, California (lindaja mac.com)

A friend of mine had made strudel for the first time. My father, on finishing his piece, remarked, “Well, there’s nothing wrong with that!”
-Judith Singer Swartz, Marietta, Georgia (kelev52 gmail.com)

One vain old actress introducing another: “Jane is my OLDEST friend.”
-Dawn Drzal, New York, New York (dawndrzal aol.com)

My former brother-in-law, a minister and very picky eater, was often presented with baked goods from the women in his congregation. Repulsed by many of those dishes, he would often say truthfully, “My, my! That sure won’t last long at my house!”
-Russell Lott, Hattiesburg, Mississippi (russellwlott comcast.net)

Reminds me of Kennedy’s observation about Washington: Northern charm and Southern efficiency.
-George Hawkins, Houston, Texas (hawkinsgeorge3 gmail.com)

In college, my ex-husband used to sit in his physics class and each time the professor would ask him a question, he would reply, “I don’t know” (even when he did -- he didn’t like being called on). Finally the professor said, “Kaminsky! What you don’t know would fill volumes!”
-Ivy Kaminsky, Houston, Texas (ivykaminsky yahoo.com)

An Oxford don, famous for (and proud of) never writing a bad student recommendation, was asked to write one for the laziest student he had ever taught. After giving the matter considerable thought -- since neither did he wish to lie -- he wrote to the potential employer: “Dear Sir, If you can get him to work for you, you will be lucky!” (This putatively true story was told to me by a former colleague of his.)
-Eric Miller, Norwich, Vermont (ericmiller1957 gmail.com)

Nobody would be better in this job than him.
-Ron Johnson, Penticton, Canada (ronjohnson telus.net)

In response to a request to do something, my response is typically “Nothing would make me happier.” I generally acquiesce to the request, but reserve the right to consider it worse than doing nothing at all.
-Jeff Sconyers, Seattle, Washington (sconyers.jeff gmail.com)

Oh, you look nice today; that dress is very slimming.
-Mi Dama, New York (midamayo hotmail.com)

My brother, a mathematician, in a conversation with my mother, expounded at length on an esoteric concept totally out of her realm of knowledge or understanding. At one point, he paused, and she said, “You must find that fascinating.”
-Will Hobbs, Portland, Oregon (willhobbs01 hotmail.com)

My wife’s grandfather was gifted in charientism. He once had an unexpected visitor who overstayed his welcome. When the man finally left, he said in a very cheery voice, “George, it’s been great seeing you today. Any time you’re passing by, please do!”
-Peter Scandrett, Eastwood, Australia (scandrett optusnet.com.au)

The phrase “with all due respect” (mentally italicizing “due”).
-Chamundi Sabanathan, Kauai, Hawaii (chamundi sonic.net)

As a young teacher many years ago, taking up my first high school teaching post, I found it a challenge coping with one class of particularly spirited young students. The group ringleader and self-appointed class clown, a bright young fellow named William, was especially troublesome, always attempting to disarm and embarrass me in front of his lively classmates by posing awkward and disconcerting questions whenever the opportunity arose. I wondered what comment would be appropriate to record on the report card to be sent to his parents: after all, despite his antics he had actually completed all of his classwork satisfactorily. In the end I wrote: ‘William is trying’.
-Beverly Bird, Cape Town, South Africa (bevbird me.com)

He’s a legend in his own mind.
-Glenn Cheney, Hanover, Connecticut (glenn cheneybooks.com)

Long ago, a tutor of mine would say of something awful: “It is a splendid example of its type.”
-John Hall, Kirklington, UK (john hallborders.com)

Thank you for your support. I know you’ll always be behind me.
-Daniel Kennedy, Vienna, Austria (dkennedyco aol.com)

An actor friend of mine knows what to say when she has seen a less than wonderful performance: Darling! Marvellous isn’t the word.
-Yan Christensen, Berkhamsted, UK (briar9 btinternet.com)

Prior to about 1970 if someone said they had an exceptional child it meant they were gifted. Then the term took on a new meaning “An exceptional child is one who deviates physically, intellectually, emotionally, and socially so markedly from what is considered to be normal growth and development.” I was unaware of that the first time someone told me they had an exceptional child. I’m glad I didn’t cause a scene when I said “That’s nice” or something to that effect.
I can now use the term as a charientism as in “My! What as exceptional person you are!” or when it is pointed out that the US is the only industrialized western country without maternity or family leave, national healthcare, etc. I just say, “That’s American Exceptionalism for you.”
-Charles E. Steele, Jr., Leyte, Philippines (c-steele onu.edu)

Is there a word for a compliment phrased as an insult? For instance, Max Beerbohm’s description of his heroine Zuleika Dobson, in the novel of the same name: “Zuleika was not strictly beautiful. Her eyes were a trifle large, and their lashes longer than they need have been ... The mouth was a mere replica of Cupid’s bow ... Her neck was imitation marble. Her hands and feet were of very mean proportions. She had no waist to speak of.”
-Joan Biella, Kensington, California (jbiella2632 gmail.com)

Email of the Week -- Brought to you buy OLD’S COOL -- Look 10 lbs younger.

From: Melinda Sherbring (melinda.sherbring verizon.net)
Subject: There’s a word for it

A word my family has made up: sother. It is short for significant other, as in, my sister Mary and her sother Mike have lived together for over 50 years. It seems inadequate to call Mike her boyfriend, and common law husband is unnecessarily cumbersome. Sother also works like brother and mother, so I can refer to Mike as my sother-in-law. It is a gender-neutral term, so Mary is his sother, and I am Mike’s sother-in-law.

Melinda Sherbring, Los Angeles, California

From: Trudy Stevenson (latintrudy gmail.com)
Subject: Synchronym

Recently, I asked our Dutch language association Onze Taal if there’s a word for hearing and reading a word at the same time, e.g., while reading the paper and listening to the radio. It happens more often than one would expect (at least to me), and often these words are not common ones: how likely it is hearing and reading countryside at the same time? The answer I received was that they had asked the readers of their magazine some years ago, and the word synchronym was proposed.

Trudy Stevenson, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Before the Fall
From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: caducous and balter

Autumn leaves turning myriad shades of orange, red, golden, and yellow, ultimately falling to the ground, is one of the surefire harbingers of winter. Prompted by our word “caducous”, I arrived at this scenario of father and son raking and gathering up fallen leaves. Yet there’s nary a golden, yellow, red, nor orange one in the lot. For some inexplicable reason these leaves have fallen, still verdant.

Walk the Line
Inspired by our word “balter”, meaning to walk clumsily, I pictured a traffic cop “road testing’” a suspected drunk driver, having him “walk the line”. You balter... you falter. Can we say upcoming DUI citation, boys and girls?

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California

This week’s theme: There’s a word for it
1. charientism
2. oracy
3. haecceity
4. balter
5. caducous
= 1. comedic wisecracks
2. to orate
3. her core attribute
4. uneasy rhythm
5. leaf shed, as with ice
     This week’s theme: There’s a word for it
1. charientism
2. oracy
3. haecceity
4. balter
5. caducous
= 1. critic seems nice
2. say with ease
3. heart
4. wreck the rhythm, clot, oaf
5. deciduous arboreta
     This week’s theme: There’s a word for it
1. charientism
2. oracy
3. haecceity
4. balter
5. caducous
= 1. Hey! You are on time!
2. witter
3. hairless, cut-brow
4. a sick chef tottered
5. as: reach iced chasm
-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.


He’s much given to charientism.
Compliments to disguise criticism.
Don’t be fooled by the smile,
It’s a cover for guile.
It’s the principal cause of our schism.
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes btconnect.com)

When it isn’t directed at me,
Charientism can often be
An amusing jest
And, when at it’s best,
It zaps someone hilariously.
-Lois Mowat, Orinda, California (lmowat1810 gmail.com)

An insult disguised as a jest,
A zinger delivered with zest!
That’s charientism,
A sweet criticism,
My mother could do it the best.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

The professor would use witticism,
To temper his tough criticism.
And, each little zinger,
Would be a humdinger,
From the master of charientism.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

A devilish charientism
Can be used for avoiding a schism.
If they don’t get the gist,
Then the insult is missed
Like a light wave dispersed through a prism.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Said the man to the genie, “Just one?”
“Yes, and please make it quick. I must run.”
“Well, in that case, let’s see ...
If I wish oracy,
I can gain fame and riches ...” “Right, done!”
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes btconnect.com)

Having oracy isn’t a joke,
When it’s used to incite and provoke
As Donald has done,
And not just for fun.
His Big Lie is all mirrors and smoke.
-Rudy Landesman, New York, New York (ydur36 hotmail.com)

The fairy was dainty and small,
just barely a foot or so tall.
With fauna and flora she
spoke, and her oracy
proved a delight to them all.
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

The Blarney Stone some people kiss,
For eloquence follows from this.
Though oracy’s swell,
I want to stay well --
The germs there I’ll just give a miss.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

“With a brain, he’d be better at oracy;
Please help the poor scarecrow,” said Dorothy.
“He’s already clever!
The broomstick endeavor
Has proved it!” said Oz categorically.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“Navel-gazing -- he’s clearing his mind.”
“And just what is he hoping to find?”
“His essential ‘this-ness’,
Till it’s found, he’ll obsess.
His haecceity must be defined.”
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes btconnect.com)

I must ask with bemused spontaneity:
“A thing’s what it is, that’s haecceity?
Does existence come first?
Is my essence reversed?”
Ask Sartre, not some bossy deity.
-Rudy Landesman, New York, New York (ydur36 hotmail.com)

He grins, and says, “Oh, by the way,
I met a cute chick yesterday.
Her haecceity
seemed sexy to me,
and I feared she might lead me astray!”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

Haecceity makes you unique
And gives you a certain mystique.
You’re one of a kind
In body and mind;
You’re simply the soulmate I seek.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

Now Trump still maintains his Big Lie,
Which did cause some people to die.
This vile proclivity
Is his haecceity.
Yet Donald folks still glorify.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“If you’re fooled by some cheap two-bit deity,
You’ll find I act quite disagreeably,”
Said Yahweh. “My clout
Means flood, fire and drought,
For omnipotence, that’s my haecceity.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

When you’re born with two sinister feet,
You don’t party but still need a treat.
So, alone, though I falter,
I dress up and balter.
It’s my furtive delight. (I’m discreet).
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes btconnect.com)

As a child still wearing a halter,
My desire to dance did not falter.
Did a solo fandango,
For trying to tango
Takes two, and with Mommy I’d balter.
-Rudy Landesman, New York, New York (ydur36 hotmail.com)

On the dance floor old Herman would balter,
but never, no not ever falter;
asking babes by the score
to waltz around the floor,
hoping some day to lead one to the altar!
-Mariana Warner, Asheville, North Carolina (marianaw6002 gmail.com)

The bachelor party was great,
but he’s left in a hung-over state.
En route to the altar,
he can’t help but balter,
and fears that he’s gonna be late.
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

Though lame, he tried hard not to balter
As he met his sweet girl at the altar.
He stood there with pride,
With deep love for his bride,
But despite all attempts he did falter.
-Judith Marks-White, Westport, Connecticut (joodthmw gmail.com)

Although her beloved might balter,
There’s nothing about him she’d alter.
He’s no Fred Astaire,
But she’s well aware
A wonderful fellow is Walter.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

On the dance floor, my best is to balter;
If my partner walks off, I can’t fault her.
In my youth, though, I’d cater
To all her needs later;
“Your willy,” she’d squeal, “is Gibraltar!”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“You can cross high trapeze off the list.
In addition, strike funambulist.”
“Caducous -- what a curse!”
“Don’t get mad. Could be worse.
You’ll be great as a clown -- I insist!”
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes btconnect.com)

I fell for my wife at first sight.
She was wearing her jeans very tight.
When she gave me the eye,
So caducous was I,
That she easily got me to bite.
-Rudy Landesman, New York, New York (ydur36 hotmail.com)

Said Caesar, “Oh, no. You too, Brutus?
The Senate has made me caducous.”
They answered him, “Dude,
We know stabbing you’s rude,
But your dictator tendencies spook us.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


As a firm believer in charientism, I only pack bags I can bring on the plane.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

We hope our kid gets an A, but a B oracy wouldn’t be terrible.
-Janice Power, Cleveland, Ohio (powerjanice782 gmail.com

You can call it an ocean oracy. Either is okay with me.
-Lois Mowat, Orinda, California (lmowat1810 gmail.com)

The psychic declared, “We all have an oracy.”
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“It’s me, Paul,” said Jesus. “You can tell by my oracy?”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Said Achilles to Hector as he pulled the driver from his golf bag, “Hey hecceity anywhere? I must have left it at the last hole.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Though Thomas Macaulay called other people’s writing balter-dash, last week an AWAD reader pointed out that he was full of it himself.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

The coach said, “Throw the balter her first and then we’ll take a break.”
-Ray Pasinski, Downers Grove, Illinois (rayomic yahoo.com)

Said the deceived woman’s friend, “You think by swearing at him that that caducous is going to behave better?”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Fueling the Beast
From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: Fueling the beast

Post the recent G-20 summit in Rome and the Glasgow conference on climate change, there appeared to be a consensus amongst most attendees at both confabs that the continuing consumption of fossil fuels is a recipe for disaster. But the stark reality remains that both India and China still rely on coal to produce electricity, sending tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Curiously, China attended neither conference.

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California

Humanity also needs dreamers, for whom the disinterested development of an enterprise is so captivating that it becomes impossible for them to devote their care to their own material profit. Without doubt, these dreamers do not deserve wealth, because they do not desire it. Even so, a well-organized society should assure to such workers the efficient means of accomplishing their task, in a life freed from material care and freely consecrated to research. -Marie Curie, scientist, Nobel laureate (7 Nov 1867-1934)

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