Wordsmith.org: the magic of words


About | Media | Search | Contact  


Today's Word

Yesterday's Word



Mar 27, 2022
This week’s theme

This week’s words

How popular are they?
Relative usage over time

AWADmail archives

Send a gift that
keeps on giving,
all year long:
A gift subscription of A.Word.A.Day or the gift of books

Next week’s theme
Clothes (or lack of them)
Bookmark and Share Facebook Twitter Digg MySpace Bookmark and Share

AWADmail Issue 1030

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

Sponsor’s Message: “Way more wicked fun than Scrabble.” One Up! is the marvelous, Machiavellian cure for boredom: No board. No complicated rules. No mercy. Just quick, cutthroat thrills for everyone -- high-minded combat that’s guaranteed to completely ruin any family party or get-together, including Easter... with impunity. Buy one of our classic wicked/smart word games and get another FREE. A fantastic gift. Shop now.

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

Shifting Identities in Sanaz Toossi’s “English”
The New Yorker

Magic in the Tiles

What Makes Learning a New Language Hard?
The Christian Science Monitor

From: Jane Freeman (wordplayjane yahoo.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--rusticate

My favorite use of rusticate: Arthur Conan Doyle, A Study in Scarlet; Watson, who has not yet met Holmes:

“So alarming did the state of my finances become, that I soon realized that I must either leave the metropolis and rusticate somewhere in the country, or that I must make a complete alteration in my style of living.”

Jane Freeman, New York, New York

From: Sandeep Prasanna (s.a.prasanna gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--rusticate

As an (Indian-)American, I learned this word relatively recently while watching 3 Idiots, a Bollywood movie, in which one of the heroes, an unruly student, is threatened with rustication. I followed along using context clues until I finally picked up my phone mid-movie and looked it up in the dictionary. (It became a big plot point!) It seems that the word was adopted into Indian use from British private universities. It used to be common in the United States, too, until schools started using the word suspension.

Sandeep Prasanna, Los Angeles, California

Email of the Week -- Brought to you buy One Up! -- Stealing is the name of the game.

From: Mo Doyle (momcdo gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--flagellate

flagellate: I went through a terrible decade of deep depression from PTSD. During then, I would cut and burn myself. Then, I’d be locked away for a while, let out, and start the mutilating again. I promise you, God was nowhere in that mess. I have never felt further away from the divine than during that decade.

I found during my bad times that many (more often women, but not exclusively) shared this drive to eradicate ourselves. Many had been molested. For years afterwards, I kept no matches or knives in my home. My guests and I had to use scissors to cut our food.

How people can think it has anything to do with the sacred is crazier than I was.

Maureen Doyle, Boston, Massachusetts

From: Dave Horsfall (dave horsfall.org)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--flagellate

Fans of Monty Python’s Life of Brian will relate to this scene (video, 1 min.), with a line of flagellants walking through a village whilst whacking themselves on the forehead with a plank of wood.

Dave Horsfall, North Gosford, Australia

From: Brenda J. Gannam (gannamconsulting earthlink.net)
Subject: flagellate

I can’t help but wonder what Freud, Jung, et al., would have to say on this subject.

Brenda J. Gannam, Brooklyn, New York

From: David Studebaker (das42dc gmail.com)
Subject: Fleer

Here’s another use of fleer, relating to the bubble gum manufacturer. I know it from its position as a competitor to Topps bubble gum in the baseball trading card craze in the 1950s when I was in high school.

David Studebaker, Ellison Bay, Wisconsin

From: George Dunlap (dunlapg umich.edu)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--flagellate

My take is similar to the Apostle Paul’s: “These [things] may seem wise because they require strong devotion, pious self-denial, and severe bodily discipline. But they provide no help in conquering a person’s evil desires.”

George Dunlap, Ann Arbor, Michigan

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

In the gravedigger scene of Shakespeare’s Hamlet (Act V, Sc.1), presumably holding the skull of a lawyer, Hamlet teases it with the words: “Where be his quiddities now, his quillities, his cases, his tenures, and his tricks?”

Andrew Pressburger, Toronto, Canada

Man Cabin
From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: rusticate and flagellate

Ah!... the call of the wild! In this scenario, Marge’s hubby, Harry, has opted for a man-”cabin” as opposed to a man-cave, rusticating one spacious room in their McMansion, reflecting his backwoods upbringing. Needless to say, Harry’s wife Marge is a more than understanding and accommodating spouse.

Egged On
There will be NO blood! I could have gone the more obvious route and depicted a scene of ritual self-punishment from some religion, but opted for the far less sanguine tack, namely a charging school of human spermatozoa, exemplars of both the noun and verb forms of our word flagellate. It will take but one of these determined swimmers to penetrate the awaiting ovum to initiate the moment of conception.

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California


This week’s theme: Verbs
1. Rusticate
2. Flagellate
3. Mollify
4. Quillet
5. Fleer
= 1. Evict
2. Flog; his wife may feel the belt
3. Lull, settle
4. Quarrel
5. Smirk, tease
     This week’s theme: Verbs
1. Rusticate
2. Flagellate
3. Mollify
4. Quillet
5. Fleer
= 1. Bar, flee
2. Strikes
3. Quell, mellow
4. Tiff
5. Ere they emit vile tactless laugh
     A noun? No, this week’s pop theme: Verbs
1. Rusticate
2. Flagellate
3. Mollify
4. Quillet
5. Fleer
= 1. Out from college, quit
2. Whip self
3. Placate the beef
4. Cavil re: Ken’s rise
5. Sly men lol, taunt
-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.



“We’ve left Padua lately to rusticate.
You once were my querulous lusty mate.
What has happened to you?
You’re no longer a shrew.
Your sharp tongue has become very rusty, Kate.”
-Rudy Landesman, New York, New York (ydur36 hotmail.com)

The couple just couldn’t agree.
“Let’s rusticate somewhere,” said he.
But she would reply,
“I cannot see why --
Manhattan’s the best place to be!
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

From the time that Diane and I dated
I knew life would be rusticated.
Not for her were the malls --
Her attire? Overalls.
For her, city life? Much overrated!
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

The City Mouse met Country Mouse.
He showed him his big city house.
“It’s so overrated.
I’ll take rusticated.
I’d rather go home to my spouse.”
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

A lothario married a busty mate,
Thinking surely this way his great lust he’d sate.
Alas, although blessed
By her fabulous chest,
Before long, in her doghouse he’d rusticate.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


A masochist out on a date
With a sadist she just loved to hate,
On further reflection,
Enjoyed his rejection
And opted to self-flagellate.
-Rudy Landesman, New York, New York (ydur36 hotmail.com)

Since self-flagellation’s no fun,
Explain to me, please, why it’s done.
There must be a reason
That some find it pleasin’ --
Let’s go ask a guru or nun.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

My head is a hodgepodge, you bet,
So often the source of regret!
I will self-flagellate
After some awful date:
Moaning, “Is that the best I can get?”
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

What she wrote in a poetic way
was open to critics’ survey --
for validation
or verbal flagellation
if rhyme or meter went astray.
-Shyamal Mukherji, Mumbai, India (mukherjis hotmail.com)

“It isn’t myself I should flagellate,”
Henry sighed. “Any man she would aggravate.
Though I once was all in
For the young Miss Boleyn,
My dear wife it’s come time to decapitate.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


My heart is enslaved by desire,
And my soul is consumed by your fire.
You must set me free
Or mollify me
And join me on love’s flaming pyre.
-Rudy Landesman, New York, New York (ydur36 hotmail.com)

If as a top judge you do qualify,
The Right and the Left you must mollify.
It’s so hypocritical
When it gets political,
For justice, we all must by golly try.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“As a country,” said Vlad, “you don’t qualify;
Don’t look West, for it’s me you must mollify.”
But we’ve got Ukraine’s back;
Russia’s will we will crack!
No more Netflix, McDonald’s, or Spotify!
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


He would quillet with her all the day,
Not stopping ‘til he got his way.
She had only one course,
Which was get a divorce.
That would give her the final say.
-Lois Mowat, Orinda, California (lmowat1810 gmail.com)

The couple would quillet a lot,
And peaceful their marriage was not.
But full of remorse,
They’d kiss, and of course,
Their quibbles they promptly forgot.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

See that innocent creature? Don’t kill it;
Instead, try wheat, barley, or millet.
And veggies and fruit;
Give meat-eating the boot!
Go cold turkey (ha ha), and don’t quillet.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


I know you love caviar, my dear.
But I prefer lox with a schmear.
You do give me a pain
When you’re sipping champagne
And give me a pitying fleer.
-Rudy Landesman, New York, New York (ydur36 hotmail.com)

Her boyfriend, otherwise such a dear,
Would too often break into a fleer.
Was it more than a whim
To think of leaving him?
She’d muse, then decide maybe next year
-Lois Mowat, Orinda, California (lmowat1810 gmail.com)

Her middle school classmates would fleer;
They’d sneer at her clothes, and they’d jeer.
Those kids could be cruel
And not just in school --
On Twitter their comments appear.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

“Say buddy, will ya buy me a beer?”
“You bum! Get yourself out of here!”
Why not: “Here, my good sir,
You are thirsty, I’m sure!”
With a kind word instead of a fleer!
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

When speaking in public it’s clear,
That sometimes the people will jeer.
Just plow straight ahead,
And get your words said.
You’ve nothing to fear from the fleer.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“At the Senators, Brett, you just fleer,”
Said his coach, “and explain you like beer.
Say your drunken assault
On that girl was her fault;
The Repubs will all stand up and cheer.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


The farmer fixed the latch on the rusticate.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

Said Tracy to Hepburn the first time she proposed a tryst, “It’s been a long time and I’m a bit rusticate.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Her days of running up the hill with Jack were a distant memory. Now she was an old lady who swallowed strange things. One day it was a flagellate.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“Go back to look for survivors? Mollify on you!” said the others on the Titanic lifeboat.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“Would I be a gun mollify had a choice?” pondered Bonnie to Clyde.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“Don’t ballpoint it, quillet!” said the calligrapher.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Steer clear of any porcupine you find in the woods. A quillet will hurt.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“You have nothing to fleer but fleer itself,” said the comic channeling Roosevelt.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

Said Woody Allen, “I’m not a passive resister, I’m an active fleer!
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

The Worst of Times
From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: The Worst of Times

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness.” Dickens’s opening line of his “Tale of Two Cities”. Arguably, we could now be living in the worst of times. It’s difficult to find a silver lining as we enter the third year of pandemic, a war in Ukraine with the potential to morph into WWIII. And climate change continues to be the elephant in the room. Even the glass-half-full optimists are turning into negative Nellies.

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California

History is a novel whose author is the people. -Alfred de Vigny, poet, playwright, and novelist (27 Mar 1797-1863)

We need your help

Help us continue to spread the magic of words to readers everywhere


Subscriber Services
Awards | Stats | Links | Privacy Policy
Contribute | Advertise

© 1994-2024 Wordsmith