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We wish all our readers a joyous & peaceful new year.

Jan 2, 2022
This week’s theme
There’s a word for it

This week’s words
agathism
yesternight
quaestuary
habitus
eschatology

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Relative usage over time

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AWADmail Issue 1018

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

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

The Meaning of Words: Orwell, Didion, Trump and the Death of Language
Salon
Permalink

”Fighting To Reclaim Our Language: Māori Names Enjoy Surge in Popularity
The Guardian
Permalink



From: Gary Mengel (mengelji outlook.com)
Subject: Agathism

Agathism is embedded in modern-day storytelling. Strongly associated with it is what JRR Tolkien called eucatastrophe, where the joy of a happy ending in the face of the darkest skies is practically mandatory. See more here.

Gary Mengel, Westminster, Colorado



From: Hope Bucher (hopebucher gmail.com)
Subject: Comment about words

When I read your comment about words today (“they stand and wait”), I was reminded of an incident that occurred when I was a novice in the convent. We had to observe the Rule of Silence and were only permitted to speak to one another four times a day.

There were six or seven of us waiting in line to use the bathroom when our English teacher, a nun, passed by and said “They also serve who only stand and wait” quoting the last line of John Milton’s Sonnet On His Blindness. We all laughed uncontrollably which, of course, was not allowed. Fortunately for us the Mistress of Novices was not within hearing distance.

Hope Bucher, Naperville, Illinois



From: John Brownson (jhb johnbrownson.net)
Subject: Agathism

The word agathism comes close to my belief, in which I find some comfort -- but, of course, it begs the question: “good” for whom, or what? I have little faith that things will turn out well for our grasping, incautious species, and, ultimately, our planet and even our solar system will cease to be. So, I am left with the certainty that the universe is ticking along perfectly, and that, in that sense, things will turn out perfectly in the end, whatever that might be. This may not be what the Greeks had in mind, but it works for me.

John Brownson, Oakland, California



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

If you’ve ever seen the wounds that lamprey leave on fish, it’s impossible to think all will end well. Rather, it makes one think the very worst of agathism.

William Politt, Weare, New Hampshire



From: Jay Florey (jfflorey integra.net)
Subject: Agathism

This word reminds me of two quotations, one from history and one from the movies. From history:

“The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” -Martin Luther King Jr.

“Everything will be all right in the end and if it’s not all right, then it’s not yet the end.” quoted by Sonny who runs the hotel in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. (video)

Jay Florey, Olympia, Washington



From: Charlie Cockey (czechpointcharlie gmail.com)
Subject: agathism

Then christiesm would be the tendency of all things to have a complicated and cleverly obfuscated conclusion?

Charlie Cockey, Bilovice nad Svitavou, Czech Republic



From: Susan Lukesh (susanslukesh gmail.com)
Subject: Agathism

I recently published a book on my great aunt’s sketchbook from her 1912 tour of Europe. The sketches are mostly of people and her comments about them. I knew that Agatha was from the Greek for good and, if I had thought, I would have coined the word agathism for her comments. Here’s an example:

The man who swallowed the hatpin
The man who swallowed the hatpin

Susan Lukesh, New York, New York



From: Andrea Heid (aheid uoregon.edu)
Subject: Agathism

I’ve been pondering how to write a holiday letter summing up this last year, and while there have been so many challenges -- some weather-related, others on the national or international scene, and a few (but only a few) personally -- your A.Word.A.Day today perfectly describes how I feel at this end of December. I must be an agathist! Seems to me that there are echoes of Julian of Norwich embedded here too. Thank you for all you do to educate, entertain, and encourage us to be our better selves.

All the best for 2022,

Andrea Heid, Aurora, Oregon



From: John McLaughlin (johngmclaughlin hotmail.com)
Subject: Agathism

The word agathist richly deserves a pithy antonym. May I suggest kakathist?

John McLaughlin, Exeter, UK



From: Marcia Wilton (gracie126 centurylink.net)
Subject: Yesternight

As a child I called yesterday lasterday. Thanks for this word. It brought back smiling memories.

Marcia Wilton, Bainbridge Island, Washington



From: Bas van Elburg (elburgersb gmail.com)
Subject: yesternight

Interesting to read that “yesternight’ goes back to Old English “giestran/gierstan”. The Old English words look like Dutch “gisteren” (= yesterday).

Bas van Elburg, Maarssen, Netherlands



From: Kristine Danowski (silver_kd yahoo.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--yesternight

Yesternight reminds me of prevening, a new time period coined by double-doc and eventual Nobel laureate Shelton Cooper on The Big Bang Theory to describe the interval between late afternoon and evening. It seems like a useful word, and it’s a shame it never became popular in real life.

Kristine Danowski, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania



From: M.M. Serpento (mmserpento earthlink.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--quaestuary

Interesting that Gene Roddenberry picked the name Questor for his original version of Star Trek’s Mr. Data. A real shame that The Questor Tapes and Genesis 2 shows didn’t make it.

Mary Margaret Serpento, Farmington Hills, Michigan



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

In fact, the Protestant Reformation resulted from just such an incident when professor of theology Martin Luther of Wurttemberg published 95 theses (i.e., debating points), raising his voice against the false promises made by Johann Tetzel, a Dominican friar and unscrupulous indulgence salesman, in the length and breadth of Germany. One of these indulgences promised the buyer eternal forgiveness not only for past but for future errors as well. Tetzel’s famous (or infamous) line was: “As soon as a coin in the coffer rings, the soul from Purgatory springs.”

Andrew Pressburger, Toronto, Canada



From: Tom Nelson (tn tnphoto.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--habitus

In anatomy class we learned the varieties of body habitus: asthenic, hypostenic, sthenic, and hypersthenic. Sthenic literally means strong, but here refers to the combination of bone structure, musculature, and fat that makes a person thin or chunky. Among other things, body habitus determines the position of the stomach. An asthenic body is your typical 0-1 dress size and their stomach is almost vertical. A hypersthenic individual might be obese or Spider-Man’s Kingpin, and their stomach is nearly horizontal.

Tom Nelson, Minneapolis, Minnesota



Email of the Week -- Brought to you Buy The Official Old’s Cool Education III -- “Way more knowledge than college.”

From: Gayle Muller (gayle.muller gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--eschatology

I really appreciated your note with the word eschatology. My husband died the Saturday before Christmas. The nurse who sat with me, talking after he died, asked me about our religious beliefs. I told her we had none. She was concerned and asked what we thought happened to him when he died. I told her, nothing happens; he died; that’s the end.

I like your explanation of going back to the Earth where we came from. In his case, he donated his body to the local medical college so students could benefit by working on a cadaver. After his leg goes to podiatry students, his brain to neurology, etc., he’ll be returned to the Earth.

Gayle Müller, North Abington Township, Pennsylvania



From: Pierre-Alexandre Sicart (PA_Sicart hotmail.com)
Subject: Anu, the optimist

You wrote:
If you need more eschatology, the Earth itself gets burned in about five billion years when our Sun runs out of juice and burns out and expands taking down its planets. Meanwhile, let’s enjoy a few rides on our planet around our Sun, take good care of this ride and everyone traveling with us.

Quelle surprise! Anu was secretly an optimist all along! Personally, I wouldn’t bet on the human species not killing itself long before the sun burns out. Maybe even before the end of this century. We’ve been evolving technologically much faster than we have socially/morally.

Pierre-Alexandre Sicart, Midi-Pyrenees, France



From: Nicolas Ribet (nickribet gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--eschatology

Interestingly, the French word scatologie refers to excrement, so yes, another “ultimate matter”.

Nick Ribet, Tūranganui-a-Kiwa, Aotearoa/New Zealand



From: Don Fearn (pooder charter.net)
Subject: eschatology

If things work how I suspect they do, after I’ve died I expect to feel just how I felt before I was born ... and I don’t think I felt anything so that’s the eternity I expect to have. Meanwhile I’ll enjoy the life I have and at least try to be a decent person.

To everyone reading this: HAPPY NEAR YOU!

That’s how my nephew said “happy new year” when he was small and it really seemed to fit ‘cause I AM happy to be near the people close to me.

Don Fearn, Rochester, Minnesota



From: Steve Benko (stevebenko1 gmail.com)
Subject: Some more eschatology

We needn’t worry too much about the sun swallowing us up in five billion years, because in just one billion, the Earth’s molten iron core will have cooled enough for the magnetic field that protects us from the solar wind to dissipate. The atmosphere will thin out and the oceans boil off until we become a lifeless desert planet like Mars.

And, should some of us somehow survive in habitat bubbles, let’s not forget that the Andromeda galaxy is headed our way. In four billion years, it will collide with the Milky Way. Since galaxies are 99.9% empty space and dark matter, there’s little risk of a direct hit of Earth by any large objects, but the gravitational disruptions will likely rip us out of solar orbit -- or into the sun.

Happy New Year -- enjoy it as there are only a billion or so left!

Steve Benko, New York, New York



Beatles Redux
From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: yesternight and habitus

The word yesternight conjured up The Beatles’ ballad “Yesterday”, penned and sung by Paul McCartney. I thought it would be fun to have 79-years-young Sir Paul and his former bandmate, octogenarian Ringo, playing an alternative version. So, “Yesternight” it is! Hmm... what’s next, “Farthing Lane”, “Rocky Raku”, “When I’m Eighty-Four”, “She Hates Me”, “Eleanor Ridley”? Let’s not go down that “long and winding road”. Ha!

Just a Hunch
When I saw the word habitus, including the snippet “especially relating to disease”, I came up with this WANTED poster scenario featuring the fictive criminal-on-the-lam Doris “Dromedary” Dixon. Her most distinguishing physical feature is a dowager’s hump, aka kyphosis.

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California



Anagrams

   
This week’s theme: There’s a word for it
1. agathism
2. yesternight
3. quaestuary
4. habitus
5. eschatology
= 1. it ends ok
2. The two am garb
3. e-cash heist
4. she is querulous, shirty, tight
5. my way to a hereafter stage
     This week’s theme: There’s a word for it
1. agathism
2. yesternight
3. quaestuary
4. habitus
5. eschatology
= 1. theory that assumes the best
2. nostalgia
3. hey, I work for riches!
4. image, weight status
5. death query
     This week’s theme: There’s a word for it
1. agathism
2. eschatology
3. yesternight
4. quaestuary
5. habitus
= 1. use a messiah’s quirky theology term
2. yes ditto
3. what was the night before
4. get rich
5. has a stature
-Shyamal Mukherji, Mumbai, India (mukherjis hotmail.com) -Dharam Khalsa, Burlington, North Carolina (dharamkk2 gmail.com) -Julian Lofts, Auckland, New Zealand (jalofts xtra.co.nz)

Make your own anagrams and animations.



Limericks

If you’re starting to feel kinda pissed
With your fingers curled up in a fist
Try a healthier view
Agathism will do
Then relax as your knickers untwist.
-Joel Holtz, Rancho Palos Verdes, California (planetholtz cox.net)

From agathism can we take heart
That from this Covid thing we soon depart?
It has been too long,
It has all gone wrong.
For much too far we’ve stayed apart.
-Joanne Coleman, Mississauga, Canada (jcwoodcarver gmail.com)

Oh, ‘im -- ‘e’s as gloomy as sin.
Likes of ‘im cause the chaos we’re in.
Denies agathism,
Promotes pejorism,
An’ believes it, so no, he won’t grin.
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes btconnect.com)

“I like to think positively,
so all’s well that ends well,” says he.
“That old aphorism
is my agathism.
It’s working quite nicely for me.”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

Dr. Pangloss did not have a clue.
Agathism, he thought, was quite true.
Pangloss, get a life,
Division and strife
And evil are in our milieu.
-Sara Hutchinson, New Castle, Delaware (sarahutch2003 yahoo.com)

My friend’s family collectively sighed --
The fish in their fishpond had died.
But innate agathism
Prevented a schism
When Mom, chuckling, asked “Boiled or fried?”
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

“Though we lost and I spat and got pissed,
I’m a dyed-in-the-wool agathist!
We’ll rob states that are blue
Of their votes with a coup,”
Said Josh Hawley with raised MAGA fist.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


I’m informed by my wife: yesternight
I was late coming home. I was tight.
Of my sins this was least.
I behaved like a beast,
Which is why I’m shamefaced and contrite.
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes btconnect.com)

Sir Lancelot woke with delight
Thoughts of Guinevere and yesternight
For he’d wooed her his best
But without much success
‘Til last eve she’d said “Yes” to ‘er knight.
-Joel Holtz, Rancho Palos Verdes, California (planetholtz cox.net)

‘Twas yesternight, candlelight, you!
And love was awakened and grew.
But now on the morrow,
To my very great sorrow,
You tell me that we are now through.
-Rudy Landesman, New York, New York (ydur36 hotmail.com)

Declares Baby Bear, “Yesternight
that Goldygirl gave me a fright.
On my porridge she fed.
Then she slept in my bed.
Such trespassing just isn’t right!”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

She thought of the serious fight;
The one that they had yesternight.
Could this be the one
That means they are done?
She prayed they could make things right.
-Lois Mowat, Orinda, California (lmowat1810 gmail.com)

All yesternight she lay awake
With thoughts that she just couldn’t shake.
She planned with great care
The meal she’d prepare,
Which now she’s too weary to make.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

Graduation took place yesternight,
Robed in black polyester -- a fright!
We got those at school,
How I’d wished for a rule:
“Wear anything -- just not too tight!”
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

Not sure what went on yesternight,
He guessed, “Could’ve been a fist fight.”
A black eye and caked blood,
His clothes soaked in the mud --
New Year’s Eve hadn’t ended quite right.
-Shyamal Mukherji, Mumbai, India (mukherjis hotmail.com)

“I’m only the court jester, right?
Not a warrior, nor erudite,”
Said the Camelot clown.
“Hey, don’t put yourself down,”
Answered Gwen. “You were great yesternight.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


“What I do, I do solely for gain.”
“Purely quaestuary?” “Curb your disdain.”
“A vocation it ain’t!”
“But then, I ain’t no saint
An’ it pays very well, in the main.”
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes btconnect.com)

She did it for love, so she said.
Entertaining some friends in her bed.
But quaestuary need
Has made her, indeed,
Decide to get married instead.
-Rudy Landesman, New York, New York (ydur36 hotmail.com)

Some quaestuary questions arise
Pertaining to tax-filing lies.
These queries are mounting;
We want an accounting!
“Political witch hunt!” he cries.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

The former guy’s questuary aim
Was the primary source of his fame
Then he ran on the con
His whole life was based on
To enrich himself more, without shame.
-Joel Holtz, Rancho Palos Verdes, California (planetholtz cox.net)

A congressman -- maybe a senator --
Their job is not ‘sposed to be meant a tour
Unending for glory
But the questuary story
Means many now plan to have that occur.
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

“When I wrote of the smith’s chestnut tree,
Did I think of concerns quaestuary?”
Said Henry. “No way!
But it’s great art, I say,
If my paychecks the true measure be.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


“I thought losing weight would be good,”
says she. “But I misunderstood.
Now guys find my habitus
creepy, cadaverous.
Lost a bit more than I should!”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

The doctor with gravitas said,
“I don’t like your habitus, Fred.
A belly like that,
So terribly fat,
Means trouble awaits you ahead.”
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

See, kid, grandpa’s all twisted and bent
Because of one time when he went
And shoehorned right through
A door shorter than you
And his habitus changed subsequent!
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

There are those who have and have not,
The needy and those with a lot.
Can the rich habitus
Be more magnanimous,
Share some of the bounty they’ve got?
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“Being dead’s not a suitable habitus,”
Said Jesus. “I’ll raise you up, Lazarus.”
The young fellow awoke
And said, “Good of you, bloke!
Now let’s eat! It’s been days, and I’m ravenous!”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

It’s now staring us right in the face:
The demise of the whole human race.
It’s humanity’s crimes
That have hastened end times;
Eschatology’s gathering pace.
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes btconnect.com)

Concerned with the world’s eschatology?
I suggest that you study astrology.
Yourself then you’ll gird
For the world’s final word
With your very own psychopathology.
-Rudy Landesman, New York, New York (ydur36 hotmail.com)

To the pastor she offers apology.
“No time to discuss eschatology.
I must ascertain
if it’s going to rain.
Have you knowledge of meteorology?”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

Eschatology fascinates some;
They wonder just what’s yet to come.
While some of them dwell
On features of hell,
This thinking leaves others quite glum.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

Said Ezekiel, “Hear ye my prophecy;
It’s what Anu would call ‘eschatology’.
In sin you’re engrossed,
So Jerusalem’s toast!
But this word makes for good lexicography.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)



Puns

Dame Christie was known for writing a well-worded agathism.
-Jim Ertner, Greensboro, North Carolina (jde31459 gmail.com)

“Of course I weel find out who deed eet. Zat ees Agatheesm 101,” said Hercule Poirot.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

The old vampire answered, “Yesternight is the best time to find nourishment. Keep your teeth sharp.”
-Ray Pasinski, Downers Grove, Illinois (rayomic yahoo.com)

“Sven, ze answer vas ‘no’ last veek but it’s yesternight,” said Ingrid.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Being drawn to what sparkles like silver is a habitus magpies have.
-Janice Power, Cleveland, Ohio (powerjanice782 gmail.com

“This new habitus really chafing,” said the nun.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“The verdict of this quaestuary is that your grail is a fake,” the foreman announced.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“I study the physics of moving staircases,” said the eschatologist.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)



The Gods Must Be Wheezy
From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: The Gods Must Be Wheezy

In recent years, New Delhi and Beijing have been vying for the dubious prize of the most air-polluted major city in Asia. The bulk of their electricity is generated by the burning of fossil fuels (coal and natural gas), contributing to dangerously declining air quality. Here, three Hindu gods, Ganesha, Krishna, and Hanuman, are suffering in New Delhi’s highly polluted atmosphere. Gasp! My caption is a wordplay on the 1980-debuting film The Gods Must Be Crazy.

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California



A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
I believe in evidence. I believe in observation, measurement, and reasoning, confirmed by independent observers. I’ll believe anything, no matter how wild and ridiculous, if there is evidence for it. The wilder and more ridiculous something is, however, the firmer and more solid the evidence will have to be. -Isaac Asimov, scientist and writer (2 Jan 1920-1992)

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