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Mar 20, 2022
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AWADmail Issue 1029

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

Sponsor’s Message: What men or gods are these? What pipes and timbrels? What wild ecstasy? The Official Old’s Cool Education is ‘The Smart Aleck’s Bible,’ three pocket-sized handbooks that are full of poetry and Damn!, how-tos, history, and wit. Trivia too: What’s Sleeping Beauty’s real name? Or, How is the cow? A ladies and gentlemanly call to intellectual adventure that’s also a wicked bargain: Beauty=Truth Special extended until midnight. Learn more.

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

Poems in a Time of Crisis
The New York Times

Rules for Teaching Grammar in Schools
The Economist

From: Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)
Subject: Guess-the-words contest

This week I asked readers to guess what words I had selected. I had given a number of hints. One hint was: All are five-letter words. Another hint was a goddess from Greek mythology.

A reader who shall remain nameless sent: “Aphrodite.” Well, we have done Aphrodite twice (1, 2) in the last few weeks. She deserves a little rest.

Besides, unless you are really close to her and call her Afrie, her name doesn’t fit the first criterion: five-letter words.


Within an hour of the mailing Sudhir Pohankar (sudhirpohankar gmail.com) of Mumbai, India guessed one of this week’s words: vesta.

Robert Jordan of Chiang Mai, Thailand (alfiesdad ymail.com) figured out all four remainings words just a couple of hours later. He also anagrammed them (see below).

The two winners receive their choice of either of the following: A signed copy of any of my books or a copy of the word game One Up!.

Honorable Mentions

Two more readers guessed the four remaining words on the first day:
Sally N., Ridgefield, Connecticut (sallyn476 gmail.com)
Suhail Nazir Khan, Kupwara, India (snkhan1007 gmail.com)

Many readers guessed vesta on the first day. By Tue, the following readers had identified the remaining three words of the week:
Dharam Vir, Pune, India (babita.dharam gmail.com)
Lynne Scott, Wellington, New Zealand (lynne scott.gen.nz)
Cary Eskow, San Diego, California (acroscopic yahoo.com)
James Bosworth, London, UK (james_bosworth hotmail.com)
Aidan Tolhurst, Coggeshall, UK (atolhurst honywoodschool.com)
Lew Burrus, Richmond, Virginia (lburrus gmail.com)
Mike Smith, Hampton, UK (mike.j.smith1 btinternet.com)
Bret Sutton, Seattle, Washington (oldcootonabike gmail.com)
David Blagg, Silver Spring, Maryland (davidblagg gmail.com)
Gary Jones, Sydney, Australia (gary.jones bigpond.com)
Achille Martin, Southampton, UK (kaiser.chiefmail gmail.com)
Brad Russell, Kent, Washington (pseudo1of500-1 yahoo.com)
Eliana Du, Cranbury, New Jersey (carameldu.cat gmail.com)
Sheena Mak, Baltimore, Maryland (sheena.mak gmail.com)
Steven B. Schoenly, South Riding, Virginia (sbs304 yahoo.com)
Lynn Mancini, Newark, Delaware (mancini dtcc.edu)
Don Smith, Indianapolis, Indiana (dsmith iupui.edu)
Greg Galperin, Cambridge, Massachusetts (grg csail.mit.edu)
Phil Nicholls, Great Yarmouth, UK (phil.magpie virgin.net)
Ken Williams, Greensboro, North Carolina (KenWilliamsGSO gmail.com)
Steve Rowe, Renton, Washington (sarowe4rjrowe gmail.com)
Steve Kubick, Collierville, Tennessee (steve.kubick autozone.com)
Michelle Barkes, Langley, Canada (michelle.barkes icloud.com)
Ken Giesbers, Burien, Washington (juno.com)
tao, Setúbal, Portugal (kreelah gmail.com)
Roger Kilgore, Placitas, New Mexico (kilgore swcp.com)

A reader who shall remain nameless wrote “I think this week’s theme is words related to starts or beginnings of things or events.”

Well, you are right, but that’s not what the contest was. In the past we have had contests where you had to guess the common theme, but still this reader is correct in a way. The last two and the first two letters of successive words are the same.

Congrats to all for taking part in the contest. What to call this game? Arthur Jaffe of Portland, Oregon (artjaffe gmail.com) wrote: “I promise to work on your game. But first, your game needs a name. To keep with the spirit of the (T)imes, I suggest Gargle.”

From: Frances Selby (fks6 cox.net)
Subject: Words

I am so delighted that you love words. I do as well. I turned 97 last month and have loved words as long as I can remember. Please keep them coming.

Frances Selby, Escondido, California

From: William Rowland (rowland sancb.org.za)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--antre

I am a blind person living in Pretoria, South Africa. I greatly look forward to receiving my daily word, which I study in Braille under my fingers. Thank you for much knowledge and pleasure given.

William Rowland, Pretoria, South Africa

From: Robert Carleton (enchanted128 outlook.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--reeve

Reeve, as in shire reeve = sheriff. Back in the day (King Alfred’s day, late 9th century), the shire reeve was the highest official in a county and was responsible to collect taxes and enforce edicts. Still, today, the sheriff (in the U.S.) is the highest law enforcement official in the county and is elected directly by voters; this means that there is no higher elected official to whom the sheriff is responsible. This unique status is a perfect setup for political conflict. The sheriff in some locations may also be charged with enforcing evictions and conducting court-ordered sales and other such events for which the sheriff receives commissions; one Midwestern sheriff told me that the salary was small beans compared with his commissions and other revenue sources.

Bob Carleton, Albuquerque, New mexico

From: Robert Hamlin (comingdetractions gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--reeve

For many years, the town of Cornish, New Hampshire, would elect a newcomer to the exalted position of Pig Reeve. That was the person you’d call -- in theory -- in the event that a pig escaped your pen and you needed help catching the critter. This didn’t really happen. The election was just a way of welcoming a new resident to the community.

Bob Hamlin, Wilder, Vermont

From: Fred F Perri (f.b1 verizon.net)
Subject: Vesta

They sure weren’t virgins for lack of a matchmaker.

Fred Perri, Scituate, Rhode Island

From: Anna Baggallay (abaggallay gmail.com)
Subject: Oranges and seeds

You can sometimes count every orange on a tree but never all the trees in a single orange. -A.K. Ramanujan, poet (16 Mar 1929-1993)

A lovely quotation, but sadly of no relevance today, when so many oranges are seedless! What have we done to the natural world? Why do we WANT seedless oranges? Are we really so physically idle that we cannot be bothered to remove the pips as we eat them? One cannot use such oranges to make marmalade, as it doesn’t set without the pectin contained in the pips. The human race is definitely on the way out as it becomes lazier and lazier, as seems to be the case, and as our overwhelming numbers consume and destroy our natural world.

Anna Baggallay, Johannesburg, South Africa

From: Richard Ball (richball comcast.net)
Subject: paean

The North Korea story reminds me of prisoners held by the Japanese in WWII. They were obliged to broadcast favorable messages about their captors. So they said nice things followed by “Tell this to the Army and the Navy, and most of all ‘tell it to the Marines’.” The last phrase was slang at the time for “don’t believe a word of it.”

Rich Ball, Oak Park, Illinois

Lest We Forget
From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: paean and vesta

In these worst of times, with the war in Ukraine raging on, I felt this poem penned in a mere twenty minutes on the WWI battlefield at Ypres* in May of 1915 by Canadian army medic Dr. John McCrae (no relation) is a paean to those who made the ultimate sacrifice. It’s a cautionary message that the casualties of war should never be taken for granted, or forgotten. McCrae died in 1918 of pneumonia and meningitis. *On a personal note, my granddad, Nicol McCrae, fought in the WWI Ypres campaign. He was wounded by shrapnel and mustard gassed while fighting for the Canadian/Allied forces. He passed away in 1945, a year prior to my birth. I regret never knowing him.

Hymen Says
Ancient Rome’s vestal virgins venerated the goddess Vesta, protector of hearth and home, keeping the sacred flame ever-lit, symbolizing that the Eternal City continued to thrive and endure. Here, suspicions are piqued, as rumors of the vestal virgin rekindling the sacred flame may not be what she claims to be.

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California


Great! this week’s chic theme is: You guess the words
1. Antre
2. Reeve
3. Vesta
4. Talpa
5. Paean
= 1. So a shut recess
2. Thread a velvet rope
3. I seek a match
4. A wen
5. Yet tweet gushing praise
     This week’s theme: You guess the words
1. Antre
2. Reeve
3. Vesta
4. Talpa
5. Paean
= 1. Deep gate - snakes?
2. Host, usherette
3. Vesuvian
4. What a mole!
4. Sweet prayer
-Shyamal Mukherji, Mumbai, India (mukherjis hotmail.com) -Dharam Khalsa, Burlington, North Carolina (dharamkk2 gmail.com)
This week’s theme: You guess the words
1. Antre
2. Reeve
3. Vesta
4. Talpa
5. Paean
= 1. The deepest grotto
2. Take a hawser, ease thru eyes
3. Vesuvian
4. Wen
5. Psalm
     This week’s challenging theme: You guess the cryptic words
1. Antre
2. Reeve
3. Vesta
4. Talpa
5. Paean
= Aha!
1. Cave
2. We’d put rope through
3. Match, virginal teenage sweetness
4. Cyst
5. Let’s praise keenly
-Robert Jordan, Lampang, Thailand (alfiesdad ymail.com) -Julian Lofts, Auckland, New Zealand (jalofts xtra.co.nz)

Make your own anagrams and animations.



We began in an antre, you know.
That was really so long, long ago.
Yes, we have evolved.
Most wants have been solved.
Yet still there is more room to grow.
-Lois Mowat, Orinda, California (lmowat1810 gmail.com)

Recording a song in a cave
Could earn the contralto a rave.
And that’s why the cantor
Has entered an antre,
Although a few bats she must brave.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

There once was a young gallivanter
Who happened upon an old antre.
He said, “I’ll be brave
Spelunking this cave,
But first a sip from my decanter.”
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“To get woman to come to my antre,”
Said Oog, “me found ways to enchant her.
Me make fire, use wheel;
This impress her for real.
But she talk too much. Me no like banter.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


There’s much that he hoped to achieve
Once chosen to serve as a reeve.
Political frays
Now fill up his days --
And scandals you wouldn’t believe!
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

When you grow up, what will you be?
No one ever would ask that of me
Since my dad was a reeve
Why would I not achieve
A similar proud destiny?
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

A limerick writer named Steve
Always has a few tricks up his sleeve.
For seven years now
He’s done every word. Wow!
What? Breaks rules? Who appointed you reeve?
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


“Some matches I struggle to light,
While others I manage all right.
A vesta’s the best,”
The fellow confessed
When nabbed for an arson that night.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

Pyromaniacs seemed to be rife
In the place where I spent all my life.
Cops would sometimes arrest a
Man found with a vesta,
As though ‘twere a gun or a knife.
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

To democracy Trump lit a vesta;
How come he’s not under arrest, huh?
When that day finally comes,
Let’s all turn up our thumbs,
Don sombreros, and throw a fiesta!
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


A mole on a young lady’s cheek
Was seen in the past as très chic.
That great beauty spot,
In truth, was it not
A talpa, that should have caused pique?
-Rudy Landesman, New York, New York (ydur36 hotmail.com)

There certainly once was a day
A talpa would burrow its way
Around in my yard,
Which made it so hard
To grow flowers and make a bouquet.
-Lois Mowat, Orinda, California (lmowat1810 gmail.com)

The talpa resides underground
And tunnels his way all around.
Since this takes a toll,
I’d call pest control
If moles in your yard you have found.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

The farmer while taking a stroll,
Stepped into a talpa’s deep hole.
His ankle he twisted,
And so he insisted,
“I must put an end to this mole!”
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“It’s Teguci-, I think, and then -galpa,”
The gopher explained to the talpa.
It replied, “Oy, Honduras!
Such names give me tsuris;
Let’s dig, though. I just saw a raptuh.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


I’m inspired to sing a fond paean
To the isles of the blue Caribbean,
Where coconuts grow
And hurricanes blow
And the tourists are mainly plebeian.
-Rudy Landesman, New York, New York (ydur36 hotmail.com)

Zelensky I’ll praise with a paean
For standing his ground and not fleein’.
In danger quite grave,
He’s steadfast and brave --
This mensch is a great human bein’!
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

Words like paean give me a fright--
I find it hard to spell them right.
Rarely when they’re duly penned,
my orthographer friend
Is all praise in genuine delight.
-Shyamal Mukherji, Mumbai, India (mukherjis hotmail.com)

In summer an island Aegean;
In winter to Aspen for skiin’.
No taxes we pay
Thanks to Donald; Hooray!
Billionaires, let’s all sing him a paean!
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


“Melania’s over 50 now,” thought Donald. “Time to find a younger woman to suppl-antre.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“Oh boy, a stick! C’mon, throw it so I can ret-reeve it!” said the dog.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

She said, “The blue vesta-t the garage sale was too expensive.”
-Ray Pasinski, Downers Grove, Illinois (rayomic yahoo.com)

He wanted to in-vesta small sum of money in Bitcoins, but didn’t know just what they were.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

My father was strict...when my boyfriends came, they had to wait for me in the vesta-bule.
Janice Power, Cleveland, Ohio (powerjanice782 gmail.com

“Talpa to come in for supper,’ Ma told the young’uns.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“I’ll be paean you in all the old familiar places,” sang the urologist.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“Quick, I’ve been stung by a jellyfish. Paean my leg!”
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

Dr. Strangelove / Redux
From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: Dr. Strangelove / Redux

As he continues his assault on Ukraine, a frustrated and irate Putin has threatened to deploy nuclear warheads. The insanity of even considering them brought to mind the satirical Cold-War era Stanley Kubrick film, Dr. Strangelove / How I Stopped Worrying and Loved the Bomb. Peter Sellers’s Dr. Strangelove, one of three roles he played, was stellar in its fiendish intensity and borderline campiness.

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California

We live in a world in which we need to share responsibility. It’s easy to say “It’s not my child, not my community, not my world, not my problem.” Then there are those who see the need and respond. I consider those people my heroes. -Fred Rogers, television host, songwriter, and author (20 Mar 1928-2003)

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