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AWADmail Issue 1023

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

Sponsor’s Message: Quarantine, shmarantine? Try some intellectual distancing instead: The Official Old’s Cool Education is “A Wiseacre’s Delight,” three pocket-sized handbooks that are full of wonderment and glee, how-tos, history, recalcitrance and wit. Trivia too: What’s Cinderella’s last name? Who is the only US President whose mother tongue wasn’t English? A ludic and lovely call to intellectual adventure that’s perfect for lovers and word lovers: AWAD Special ends at midnight. Shop now.

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

New Gender-Neutral Pronoun Likely to Enter Norwegian Dictionaries
The Guardian

A Rare, Isolated Script Invented From Scratch Holds Clues to The Evolution of Writing

From: Robert Owen (BobPopeyeOwen hotmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--waffle

If I were to scoff a waffle, would that be a case of a homonym eating a homonym?

Bob Owen, Portsmouth, UK

From: Paul Kleyman (pfkleyman gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--waffle

It brings to mind one of my all-time favorite unintentionally funny headlines from the Margaret Thatcher era. She’d just launched a war against Argentina in England’s conflict over who held sovereignty over the Falkland/Malvinas Islands. Public sentiment so strongly favored her actions that Liberal leadership wavered from its usual anti-war leanings. The headline, which appeared in a now-forgotten American newspaper, drew this startling image:

British Left Waffles on Falklands

Presumably syrup ensued.

Paul Kleyman, San Francisco, California

From: Roberta Gledhill (easul80 gmail.com)
Subject: Waffle

About 50 years ago, a trainee chef of my acquaintance informed me that a waffle is a non-skid pancake.

Roberta Gledhill, Wellington, New Zealand

From: Jonathan Harms (jonathan.harms slu.edu)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--waffle

Facebook rules discourage raffles -- selling virtual tickets or chances to win a prize -- so some groups creatively skirt that prohibition by holding waffles instead. They look and operate exactly like raffles, but they can’t be raffles because ... they’re spelled differently? Talk about waffling ...

Jonathan Harms, St. Louis, Missouri

From: Hanne Boom (feline kattenhotellorenzo.nl)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--waffle

Quick comment from a native Dutch:

“Wafel” can also be used as a slang synonym for mouth: “Hou je wafel” = “Shut your mouth” meaning “Shut up” or even “Hou je grote wafel”, to give it extra emphasis: “grote” means “big”.

Hanne Boom, The Hague, The Netherlands

From: Christine Whittlesey (christine.whittlesey aon.at)
Subject: waffle

The German word for the meaning “to talk or write foolishly” is “schwafeln”. For the food meaning it is “Waffel”.

Christine Whittlesey, Graz, Austria

From: Carl Pearson (awad mcmlxi.org)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--waffle

At a local restaurant, now sadly closed, one nearby couple routinely packed up their scrabble board, walked a couple of blocks to eat, set it back up from a photo taken at the house, then played through dinner. When done, they’d take another picture, pile the tiles back into the box, and walk home.

Carl Pearson, Austin, Texas

From: Katherine Hoffman (kljhoff hotmail.com)
Subject: Scrabble waffle

We have a plastic Scrabble board that is like a waffle. Small, raised plastic ridges hold each letter in place. We purchased it to take on our sailboat, but it would be useful in many places.

Katherine Hoffman, Alexandria, Virginia

From: Janine Harris-Wheatley (janinehw20 gmail.com)
Subject: The Waffle Party

The Waffle was an offshoot of the social democrat New Democratic Party in Canada. It flourished briefly in the late 1960s/70s as the youth arm of the NDP, working first from within the Party, trying to push its goals further left, and then as a separate Party. Being a university student at the time and always a social democrat, I remember it well.

Janine Harris-Wheatley, Tottenham, Canada

From: Eugene Mahon (ejmahon8 gmail.com)
Subject: Zane Grey

To bear up under loss, to fight the bitterness of defeat and the weakness of grief, to be victor over anger, to smile when tears are close, to resist evil men and base instincts, to hate hate and to love love, to go on when it would seem good to die, to seek ever after the glory and the dream, to look up with unquenchable faith in something evermore about to be, that is what any man can do, and so be great. -Zane Grey, author (31 Jan 1872-1939)

Zane Grey should not be included in your usually classy quotations. Anyone who suggests that grief is weakness (the weakness of grief!) has exposed a weakness of character that is shallow at best and offensive at worst.

I love your quotations except for this one.

Eugene Mahon, New York, New York

From: Davide Migliaccio (dcmiglia gmail.com)
Subject: A Thought for the Day

Zane Grey’s quotation reminded me of lyrics from The Impossible Dream (written by Mitch Leigh and Joseph Darion), from the musical Man of La Mancha:

To dream ... the impossible dream ...
To fight ... the unbeatable foe ...
To bear ... with unbearable sorrow ...
To run ... where the brave dare not go ...
To right ... the unrightable wrong ...
To love ... pure and chaste from afar ...
To try ... when your arms are too weary ...
To reach ... the unreachable star...
And the world will be better for this... More.
(video, 2 min.)

Davide C. Migliaccio, Colorado Springs, Colorado

From: Gavin Kreuiter (kreuiter gmail.com)
Subject: taw

This brings back memories of my childhood, more than 50 years ago. We call them goens in South Africa, although I lever learnt the origins of the word. The number of synonyms is astounding; according to Wikipedia:

Any marble larger than the majority may be termed a boulder, bonker, cosher, goen, masher, plumper, popper, shooter, thumper, smasher, goom, noogie, taw, bumbo, crock, bumboozer, bowler, tonk, tronk, godfather, tom bowler, fourer, giant, dobber, dobbert, hogger, biggie or toebreaker.

Gavin Kreuiter, Johannesburg, South Africa

From: Sylvia Reid (shevra verizon.net)
Subject: Taw

When I went square dancing in college, the caller would sometimes refer to a man’s partner as his taw. I never saw this in print, just heard it called:

Turn to the right and swing Sally Goodin!
Swing your taw!
turn to the left and swing that gal from Arkansas!
Now cross the hall and swing Grandma!
She ain’t been swong since late last fall!

Sylvia W. Reid, Wilmington, Delaware

Email of the Week -- Brought to you buy The Official Old’s Cool Education -- “How do you get down from an elephant?”

From: Luke Sherwood (lr_sher5 hotmail.com)
Subject: Taw

Decades ago my dad exercised his creative side by being a square-dance instructor and caller, the person with the microphone and turntable who leads the crowded hall of dancers through their steps. It was the custom to make fairly permanent name badges for everyone to pin on their shirts or dresses -- dancers, everybody. (Very binary crowds, these were, as were almost all social groups during these years.)

As one of the ranking members of the club, my dad, as the caller, hung a little ancillary sign on his name badge that identified him as Caller. My mom had a little added sign attached to her badge that said Caller’s Taw.

Luke Sherwood, Arvada, Colorado

From: Bill Venables (bill.venables gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--chum

In Australia the second meaning of chum is known as berley/burley and the process of using it is “burleying”. See here, for example.

Bill Venables, Dutton Park, Australia

From: Patricia Irving (patriciairving hotmail.com)
Subject: Chum

In Scotland it would often be used like this:

“Chum me to the shops?”
“Do you want to chum me tomorrow?”

A request of someone considered suitable or worthy to go with you somewhere.

Patricia Irving, Edinburgh, Scotland

From: Anuja Churi (anuja.churi1 gmail.com)
Subject: chum

Well, one meaning of chums is menstruation or monthly periods that women go through.

Anuja Churi, Mumbai, India

From: Jodi Ettenberg (jettenberg gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--chum

Chum here in Quebec is also joual, a local French dialect, for boyfriend. For a girlfriend, people here say “ma blonde”.

Jodi Ettenberg, Quebec, Canada

From: Dick Klass (rklass62 gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--chum

Chum is also an election word referring to political signs, buttons, bumper stickers, etc.

Richard L. Klass, Colonel, USAF (retired), Arlington, Virginia

From: Yoav Luria (yoavtalitami gmail.com)
Subject: Gertrude Stein was a Nazi collaborator

It takes a lot of time to be a genius, you have to sit around so much doing nothing, really doing nothing. -Gertrude Stein, novelist, poet, and playwright (3 Feb 1874-1946)

And the quotation is unwise and not funny.

Yoav Luria, Jerusalem, Israel

[See the follow-up comment in AWADmail 1024.]

From: Robert Payne (dziga68 sbcglobal.net)
Subject: marl

A well-known use of the word is in Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, when Beatrice, talking of her unwillingness ever to get married, says:

Not till God make men of some other metal than earth.
Would it not grieve a woman to be overmastered with a
piece of valiant dust? To make an account of her life to a clod
of wayward marl? No, uncle, I’ll none. Adam’s sons are my
brethren, and truly I hold it a sin to match in my kindred.

Robert Payne, Los Angeles, California

From: Bob Leedom (Bob bobleedom.com)
Subject: grouse

Years ago, we stayed at an inn in Chester, England, in which our room had a very low beam in the ceiling. It was difficult to remember to watch your head in the middle of the room, but there was a sign on the beam to remind you: “DUCK or GROUSE”.

Duck or grouse!

I took the photo of my buddy Fred; he and his wife were traveling with my wife and me. He’s OK with publicizing the photo showing the bottom half of his face -- and not the bump on his head!

Bob Leedom, Ellicott City, Maryland

From: Rob McKay (mckayrob bigpond.net.au)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--grouse

The word grouse is historically a Victorian expression, which when used elsewhere in Australia, particularly in NSW, only serves to highlight the user as a Victorian. In NSW, (which, being a Sydneysider, is where I am), I would consider grouse as almost archaic.

Rob McKay, Sydney, Australia

From: Jonathan Sims (profitpie aol.com)
Subject: Grouse

The morning show on Melbourne’s 3AW radio used to have a feature called Shouse or Grouse. It might still be running. Listeners could call in with complaints or praise. Shouse was an abbreviation of sh*thouse which couldn’t be said on air.

Jonathan Sims, St. Teath, UK

From: Paul Hoffman (paul hoffman.im)
Subject: Homonyms

In the 1960s, when I was a practicing dentist, it occurred to me, when asking a patient if his lip was numb enough or if he needed it to be number, that that word had a doppelgänger, used for enumeration. After having come up with several more such examples, I put this phenomenon to an etymological friend in the 1970s. In turn, he wrote to the editor of Verbatim Quarterly, Laurence Urdang. Urdang thought it was an interesting enough phenomenon have its own term of reference and suggested eye-homograph. (I don’t know why he felt he needed the eye in that word.) Every once in a while since then, I idly wondered if I should have somehow claimed credit! ;-)

Paul Hoffman, New York, New York

Johnson's Guilty Pleasures
From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: Waffle & grouse

Riffing off our second usage example for our homonym “waffle” referencing perpetual bedhead and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s penchant for vacillating, i.e., waffling and fudging, particularly over the contentious, protracted Brexit issue, I thought I’d infantilize Boris, pictured literally consumed in a waffle/fudge fest. No egg on his face this time... just chocolate fudge. Ha!

A Grouse in the Hand
OK! Quit grousing! So, you birders out there in AWADland might argue that no field guide to birds would focus exclusively on a singular species, and further, most field guides are small and compact, while mine would hardly offer ease in portability. But it’s a cartoon, folks. Under the rubric of “grouse”, I could arguably include other common upland game birds, including quail, partridge, ptarmigan, chukar, bobwhite, greater prairie chicken, ring-necked pheasant, and for good measure, throw in an “exotic”, the guineafowl. Cluck! cluck!

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California


This week’s theme is about: Homonyms
1. Waffle
2. Taw
3. Chum
4. Marl
5. Grouse
= 1. Hem & haw
2. Tan
3. Toss gumbo feast, wow fish
4. Lime & clay OK
5. Murmur, seethe
     This week’s theme: Homonyms
1. Waffle
2. Taw
3. Chum
4. Marl
5. Grouse
= 1. How sweet, Mum!
2. Leather mfg work
3. The man’s homie
4. Clay
5. Fuss
     Bambina! This week’s theme is homonyms
1. Waffle
2. Taw
3. Chum
4. Marl
5. Grouse
= 1. We ramble
2. Wow! He tans goatskin
3. I’m his mate
4. From clay
5. Hush mum’s beef
-Julian Lofts, Auckland, New Zealand (jalofts xtra.co.nz) -Dharam Khalsa, Burlington, North Carolina (dharamkk2 gmail.com) -Shyamal Mukherji, Mumbai, India (mukherjis hotmail.com)

Make your own anagrams and animations.



A waffle or pancakes for brunch?
He waffled, but I have a hunch
That he’ll order neither.
He’ll take a short breather
And later will have a big lunch.
-Rudy Landesman, New York, New York (ydur36 hotmail.com)

Nervous students await judgment day
when their grades will be put on display.
Those who know say the prof’ll
quite frequently waffle
but never deliver an A!
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

“I’m wild about waffles!” I said.
This failed to impress my friend Ed
“I don’t understand
What it is you find grand.
I think they’re just pancakes with tread.”
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

My interviews start any day
But I’m nervous -- gee, what will I say?
If I waffle, digress
Or refuse, it’s a mess!
“You’re hired!” Let me hear, and “We pay!”
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

To which Belgium town should he go?
The traveler just didn’t know.
To Brussels or Ghent?
But nowhere he went
For his Belgian waffle made it so.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“In Damascus I’ll have a falafel,
Then make the arrests -- I won’t waffle,”
Said Paul. But a vision
Reversed that decision,
And soon he became an Apostle.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


In anger, he clenches his jaw
and glares at his mother-in-law.
She insists marble games
are for kids, and she aims
to stop him by hiding his taw.
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

It had been many years since he saw
Anything that resembled a taw.
When he was shown one
By his sweet young son,
He simply looked at it with awe.
-Lois Mowat, Orinda, California (lmowat1810 gmail.com)

The boys are comparing their taws,
The larger ones getting applause.
In the pocket of Paul
Is the best one of all --
Amazed, all the boys drop their jaws.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

Now all of Tim’s friends gasped in awe
When proudly he showed his new taw.
They cried, “What a whopper!”
When they viewed that popper.
The biggest one they ever saw.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

Little Donald his marble would taw
And declare, “They’re all mine; it’s the law.
Though today I’m a kid,
I will soon grow an id,
And then win when at women I paw.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


The event promised plenty of rum.
But where was my best drinking chum?
Alas, some bum blokes
Had deemed it a hoax,
So he missed a great party, by gum!
-Sondra Landin, New York, New York (sunnytravel att.net)

Says parrot to pirate, “Well, chum,
this day has been pretty humdrum.
A tankard of beer
would bring us some cheer.
Or better, a barrel of rum!”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

I’m hoping the day will soon come
When I can hang out with my chum.
I’m longing to be
In person, mask-free --
For life lived on-screen leaves me glum.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

My brother-in-law is a bum!
No prob -- until sometimes he’ll come
With another in tow
To be fed, don’tcha know?
Yeah, the both of them -- him and his chum.
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

The sea dog, he drank too much rum.
Quite drunk he behaved rather dυmb.
And, while others snored,
He fell overboard,
So now he’s become just shark chum.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

For years I enjoyed drinking rum
With my cousin, a very close chum,
Till my girl said, “You sot,
Go to bed I will not
With a guy who just sits on his bum.”
-Janice Power, Cleveland, Ohio (powerjanice782 gmail.com)

Said Charlie the Tuna, “Oh, yum!
In the water they’ve thrown some fresh chum!”
But StarKist declined
His approach, so we dined
On his cousins, or maybe his mum.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


“While creating my fall wedding gown,
I have diligently searched up and down
for a suitable marl,”
says designer Jean-Carl,
“but there’s none to be found in this town!”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

When shopping for gifts you’d be wise
To learn the recipient’s size.
A sweater of marl
I purchased for Carl
Could hold up to two other guys.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

My husband and I rarely quarrel
But we sure did today -- over marl!
I’d bought some to make
Him some socks -- big mistake!
One look, and, oh boy, snit and snarl!
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

She knitted to help her relax;
It lessened her panic attacks.
She told her spouse, “Carl,
I must buy more marl,
Then I can make you warm slacks.”
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

Said Friedrich one evening, “Hey Karl,
With capitalists I’ve a quarrel.”
“I know, right?” answered Marx.
“We could set off some sparks;
Workers’ minds with a pamphlet we’ll marl.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


My property used to be prime;
It’s now covered with much grime and slime,
But I don’t need to grouse,
It’s no longer my house;
I sold it for big bucks in time!
-Sondra Landin, New York, New York (sunnytravel att.net)

I hope you won’t think me a louse
If again I must grumble and grouse.
I won’t here get chatty.
My computer’s gone catty
And again has disabled my mouse.
-Rudy Landesman, New York, New York (ydur36 hotmail.com)

Whenever the two rendezvous
there’s always a great deal ado.
“You’re just an old souse,”
the lady will grouse.
“And you,” he’ll retort, “are a shrew!”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

At closing hours in the alehouse,
We had one last ere meeting the spouse.
Thus suitably armored
And Dutch courage garnered,
We were set to sympathize with her grouse.
-Shyamal Mukherji, Mumbai, India (mukherjis hotmail.com)

“Again with the clock?” said the mouse.
“I just gotta find some other house.
This nursery rhyme
Is a waste of my time,”
As he ran up and down he would grouse.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


How waffle, he couldn’t decide what to eat for his breakfast.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“Ze Luft-waffle soon make ze British surrender,” Goering assured the Fuhrer.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“I tawt I taw a puddy cat!” said Tweety.
-Janice Power, Cleveland, Ohio (powerjanice782 gmail.com)

“Don’t you dare taw-lk to me that way!”
-Lois Mowat, Orinda, California (lmowat1810 gmail.com)

“If anybody tries to come between us, I’ll bewit-chum,” said Samantha to Darrin.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

In Jamaica, there is a life-sized clay statue of Reggae musician Bob Marl-ey.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“Oh no, how could I have gotten cancer?” moaned the Marl-boro Man.
-Steve” Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“These are the worst vegetables you have ever delivered!” complained the green grouse-r to the farmer.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“Birds fly in from all over to hear my songs,” chirped Alison Grouse.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Immaculate Conception
From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: Immaculate Conception / PETA’s Revenge

A team of geneticists led by the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance recently announced that female California condors can reproduce without having sεx. The technical term for this rare phenomenon is parthenogenesis, or asεxual reproduction. In humans, females have two X chromosomes, whilst males have an X and Y chromosome. With birds, it’s the opposite... males have two Z chromosomes, while females have a Z and a W. This means that an unfertilized egg already has the genetic material to form a male chick... without having done “the wild thing”. Who knew?

PETA's Revenge
Medicine gone hog-wild? In light of the recent transplant of a pig heart into a human, I thought I’d turn the tables (the operating table?) with a porcine surgeon transplanting a human heart into a pig. PETA has already spoken out, claiming, “Animal-to-human transplants are unethical, dangerous, and a tremendous waste... Animals aren’t tool sheds to be raided, but (are) complex, intelligent beings.”

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California

True religion is the life we lead, not the creed we profess. -Louis Nizer, lawyer (6 Feb 1902-1994)

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