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May 29, 2022
This week’s theme
Words that sound dirty (but aren’t)

This week’s words
nudum pactum
cock of the walk

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Relative usage over time

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Portmanteaux (blend words)
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AWADmail Issue 1039

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

Chimpanzees Have Their Own Language

Is Quebec About to Push canada Into Another Language War?
Toronto Star

From: John Carver (john.carver obloketure.ca)
Subject: nudum pactum

Last week in Canada’s House of Commons a petition was read calling for repeal of the section of the Criminal Code outlawing public nudity. If passed into law, would charges of indecent exposure become nudum pactum?

John Carver, Duncan, Canada

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

From: Virginia Glover (dvglover101 gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--nudum pactum

When I married my beloved Don (as his third and ultimate wife), I insisted that we would have breakfast together every day, and that a clause to that effect should be included in our marriage contract. His lawyer fell about laughing, asking, “How do you enforce that?”

Virginia Glover, Brockville, Canada

From: Jim Tang (mauijt aol.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--nudum pactum

It’s been 30 years this month since I took my contracts final with the legendary Prof. Claude Rohwer, but I have a feeling the Latin term was considered too prurient for first-year law students. The term we applied to this concept was an illusory contract, and the lack of consideration meant that either contracting party failed to provide a legal detriment in return. The detriment can be either doing something you don’t have to do (e.g., promising to pay the agreed amount), or not doing something you are entitled to do (e.g., not offering the goods to anybody else in the meantime). I still remember my classmate Carla providing the consideration definition while in Prof. Rohwer’s hot seat, a moment comparable to Eliza Doolittle reciting “The rain in Spain falls mainly in the plain” perfectly for Prof. Higgins.

On the other hand, you could also say that a nudum pactum fails as a binding contract due to lack of “skin in the game”. So calling it an illusory contract due to lack of consideration might be a reasonably dignified attempt to discourage snickering in the courtroom.

Jim Tang, Kula, Hawaii

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

In Gilbert and Sullivan’s operetta The Mikado, Ko-Ko, the Lord High Executioner, sings a song to a bird named tit willow (here performed by Rowlf the Dog and Sam the Eagle of the Muppets: video, 2 min.)

Not only does the listener get one, but three supposedly dirty words: tit, dick (as in dicky bird), and poo (name of the character who is singing the song). Such innocence deserves appropriate merit.

Andrew Pressburger, Toronto, Canada

From: Peirce Hammond (Peirceah.03.01 gmail.com)
Subject: Harry Emerson Fosdick quotation

No horse gets anywhere until he is harnessed. No steam or gas drives anything until it is confined. No Niagara is ever turned into light and power until it is tunneled. No life ever grows great until it is focused, dedicated, disciplined. -Harry Emerson Fosdick, preacher and author (24 May 1878-1969)

Harry Emerson Fosdick is wrong about horses (they ate, drank, bred, and thrived without being harnessed), about gas (it drives volcanoes to escape confinement), about Niagara (it powers a river with no tunnel and sparkles light from the sun), and life in the wild can be great (take Denali or a buffalo herd).

Peirce Hammond, Bethesda, Maryland

From: David Rogers (davidrogersbooks gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--titubation

Fosdick? Thanks, but no. Surely there are thoughts more worthwhile from better thinkers than that apologist for the military-industrial-animal-cruelty complex.

David Rogers, Cave City, Kentucky

From: Steve Robinson (spr lawrobinson.com)
Subject: Today’s ATFT

Today’s ATFT is hopelessly anthropocentric, stripping horses of any agency.

Steve Robinson, Glendale, California

From: Adrien Peu (sub.intelligitur sonic.net)
Subject: Quotations

We always enjoy AWAD. To us you are as important and worthy of support as Wikimedia, MSF, and Wait But Why. Your quotations challenge us, on a daily basis, to think, and are usually celebrated by our mind-weave. But since everything in the mortal world is partial and temporary, your thoughts are intended to make us analyze, not merely make us smile. This one, in our perception, is an unfortunate choice for these times.

Fosdick chose religion as his master and his tool for dominating others, and devoted mind and pen to its service. In this quotation, the horse, the steam, the gas, the waterfall, and the life are presented in the objective case. Many humans make that choice, saying that unless they want to be subjugated, they must rule.

That sentiment posits that all the dynamic forces in existence must be subjugated and serve the will, whim and purpose of a confining, dominating other. What if instead it was allowed to exist in peace and carry out the destiny of its own creation?

Adrien Peu, Berkeley, California

This quotation spoke to me because it talked about the importance of self-discipline. I did pause at the initial part (“No horse gets anywhere until he is harnessed”) because no animal needs or deserves to be harnessed, but I chose to overlook it in the service of the bigger point. Thanks to everyone who wrote in response to this quotation. As a counter to the initial part of Fosdick’s quotation, here’s one I featured last year:
The animal shall not be measured by man. In a world older and more complete than ours, they move finished and complete, gifted with extension of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren; they are not underlings; they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendor and travail of the earth. -Henry Beston, naturalist and author (1 Jun 1888-1968)
-Anu Garg

From: Paul Castaldi (paulcast55 verizon.net)
Subject: Twattle? Tosh!

I usually see this word spelled as twaddle. Here is a short but hilarious (to me, anyway) relevant excerpt from a Cheers (24 sec.) episode involving a very American character’s affected British speech.

Paul Castaldi, Havertown, Pennsylvania

From: Carolanne Reynolds (cr carolanne.ca)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--cock of the walk

“Father, that woman is so bossy. She thinks she’s the cock of the walk.”
Shirley J. Mize; Hell at Tannehill; Infinity; 2006.

She’s the hen of the pen!

Carolanne Reynolds, West Vancouver, Canada

From: Johnson Flucker (johnson.flucker yale.edu)
Subject: “I’m especially good at expectorating.” -Gaston in Beauty and the Beast (2017)

So nice to read the incomparable Howard Ashman’s words from Gaston’s song. The other zinger line from the same item is, “I use antlers in all of my decorating.”

Also, I am honored to have been a chorus member in the 1991 animated version of Beauty and the Beast.
Though now retired, I was a classically-trained professional singer. Due to NY-based lyricist Howard Ashman’s failing health, the “Beauty and the Beast” soundtrack was recorded in New York rather than Los Angeles. Classically-trained singers were added to the largely musical-theater-voiced vocal ensemble to lend more oomph. Based in New York, I was known to the good folks who were doing the hiring and the rest, as is said, is history.

Disney artists also used me as a model for one of Gaston’s henchmen. How about that?!

Johnson Flucker, Trumbull, Connecticut

From: Kath O’Sullivan (pudsyduck gmail.com)
Subject: Compassion is not weakeness or socialism

Compassion is not weakness and concern for the unfortunate is not socialism. -Hubert Humphrey, US Vice President (27 May 1911-1978)

Please tell this to the opposition party here in New Zealand! You published it whilst our compassionate Prime Minister is visiting your country. Thank you, it hit the nail on the head.

Kath O’Sullivan, Auckland, New Zealand

From: Wade Douglas (wadedouglas42 gmail.com)
Subject: dirty words

Interesting that our culture still views sex as “dirty” or thoughts of sex as being “in the gutter”.

Wade Douglas, South Salem, Ohio

From: Susan Turansky (catsmeowsusan gmail.com)
Subject: “dirty” words

I wonder why you consider body parts and sexuality “dirty”. To me, dirty words are those words that imply that some humans are better than others, that our body parts are something to be ashamed of, that sexuality is something not to mention. I still find it sad that the people who put out A.Word.A.Day and seemingly are trying to make language more interesting and well-rounded have such a reactionary attitude toward bodies and sexuality.

Susan Turansky, Montreal, Canada

We had said “Words that sound dirty (but aren’t).” It’s not us who consider such words dirty. We use and show words as they are treated in the language. Words, in turn, show who we are as a society. That’s why we had said on Monday that email systems at some organizations were going to reject email this week. Sure enough, we received a whole bunch of bounces like this: “This message has been rejected due to objectionable content. The message may be resent with the objectionable content removed.” Sometimes we replace a letter with something from the Greek alphabet, for example, breαst. Unfortunately, many of the email filters have become “smart” and catch even those.
-Anu Garg

From: Karen Folsom (kgfols yahoo.com)
subject: Cock of the walk and penetralia

Cock of the Walk
Cock of the walk: Add pomposity to arrogance and you get turkey cock of the walk. Why not go for broke on imperiousness!

Penetralia: Into the spine of the secret deep

Karen Folsom, Santa Barbara, California

Warner Bros. Trials and Titubations!
From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: titubation and cock of the walk

Stutterers and stammerers have been mocked and maligned for their speech impediments for a long time. Yet in the cartoon character realm, the golden-era Warner Bros. animation scribes and cartoonists used the titubations of Daffy Duck and Porky Pig to their comedic advantage. Daffy was even saddled with a lisp. Here, Froggy steals Porky’s signature parting refrain... “Tha-tha-tha-that’s all folks!”

Cock of the Walk: Trump Courts The Big Lie
Trump relished being the Prevaricator-in-Chief, the Cock of the Walk. His Big Lie that he’d won the 2020 election is a doozy, and he’s still milking it for all its worth (frankly, not that much). Considering his penchant for discarding wives for younger women, he’s not wedded to The Big Lie. He’ll ultimately find a new one when this lie gets old.

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California


This week’s theme: Words that sound dirty (but aren’t)
1. Nudum pactum
2. Titubation
3. Twattle
4. Cock of the walk
5. Penetralia
= 1. Contract, naked promise
2. How unsteady
3. Two talk idle tattle
4. Dumb fat butt twit Trump in White House, kahuna
5. Secret
     This week’s theme: Words that sound dirty (but aren’t)
1. Nudum pactum
2. Titubation
3. Twattle
4. Cock of the walk
5. Penetralia
= 1. Low-faith worthless contract
2. Unsteady, weak
3. Committee talk, but what bunkum!
4. Pretentious attitude
5. Hidden part
     So theme is those words that sound dirty (but aren’t)
1. Nudum pactum
2. Titubation
3. Twattle
4. Cock of the walk
5. Penetralia
= 1. Tut-tut breakable pact
2. A few pints, I lurch! -- humorous
3. Idle nutty chatter
4. Wow! tames, dominates, tonks
5. Hidden tattoo
-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.


Nudum Pactum

Mr. Devil, that contract, though signed
By my client Dr. Faust, does not bind;
Just observe the loophole:
It says “his worthless soul” --
No value, nudum pactum, you’ll find.
-Duncan Howarth, Maidstone, UK (duncanhowarth aol.com)

“Nudum pactum, indeed. Ruddy cheek!”
“Who said that, then?” “That saucy old beak.
Said I ain’t got no case
There’s no contract in place,
Cos I didn’t respond, so to speak.”
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes btconnect.com)

A lot of regrets has he had
At signing a contract so bad.
Good lawyers -- he lacked ‘em
And hence nudum pactum --
He’ll never get paid, and that’s sad.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

Now they sealed the deal just with a shake,
And we know that it was a mistake.
For it wasn’t a factum,
But a nudum pactum.
Since his partner was truly a snake.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

The vote he declared nudum pactum;
Those who told him the truth? Hah! He sacked ‘em.
But Rudy and Bannon
Found every loose cannon,
And said, “On Jan 6 we’ll attract ‘em.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


Long ago in our youthful gambolling
We loved shaking and rattling and rolling:
Vibration, gyration --
Controlled titubation --
But the shakes are now past our controlling.
-Duncan Howarth, Maidstone, UK (duncanhowarth aol.com)

“Titubation quotidian, eh?”
“Comes on round about nine every day.
I step out of the bar,
To walk home -- it’s not far --
And I stagger and lurch all the way.”
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes btconnect.com)

Says cop to car driver, “I think
that you’ve had way too much, sir, to drink.
It seems the causation
of your titubation.
I’m taking you, sir, to the clink!”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

He overindulged in libation --
He couldn’t resist the temptation.
And now you know why
That hiccuping guy
Is walking with such titubation.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

Post a thunderous ovation,
when he rose to speak to the nation,
The teleprompter froze,
and President’s prose
was mangled by titubation.
-Shyamal Mukherji, Mumbai, India (mukherjis hotmail.com)

Democracy’s sad titubation
Spells trouble ahead for our nation.
“Who needs an election?
I’ll make the selection!”
That’s Doug Mastriano’s fixation.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


“He’s a writer -- an erudite geek.”
“Wouldn’t know it to hear the chap speak.”
“Whilst he’s hitting the bottle
He’s apt to talk twattle.”
“In that, sir, he isn’t unique.”
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes btconnect.com)

Says she to her mate, “You appear
to be overly-talkative, dear,
when hitting the bottle.
Enough of your twattle!
Such nonsense I’d rather not hear!”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

The nonsense that comes from Ted Cruz
Is constantly making the news.
He’s no Aristotle;
He’s just full of twattle --
I’m not much impressed with his views.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

He and I (when our lives were at ease)
met quite often to shoot the breeze.
What we talked was twattle,
re: sports and Aristotle;
Missed the forest we did, for the trees.
-Shyamal Mukherji, Mumbai, India (mukherjis hotmail.com)

He drank quite a bit from the bottle,
Then started to weave and to waddle.
Said he with a snicker,
“I can’t hold my liquor?”
And, adds, “Just ridiculous twattle.”
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“Hey Plato,” complained Aristotle,
“That stuff you’ve been teaching is twattle.
A philosopher king
Isn’t really the thing;
All your theories I’ll need to remodel.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Cock of the walk

He wasn’t just talking the talk
Henry VIII walked the ‘cock-of-the’ walk.
No Lady-in-Waiting
Would turn down his dating --
When you’re King you have no need to stalk.
-Duncan Howarth, Maidstone, UK (duncanhowarth aol.com)

“Yes, ‘e thinks hisself cock o’ the walk.
Watch ‘im struttin’ ‘is stuff. (‘E’s all talk.)
When a real tough come by
An’ put one in ‘is eye,
Feathers flew then, and ‘ow ‘e did squawk.”
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes btconnect.com)

There once was a young farmerette
who declared, “I will never forget
when our cock of the walk
was defied by a hawk,
and each hen began placing her bet!”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

Have you seen how that bloke struts about?
He’s a cock of the walk, there’s no doubt.
He’s so self-impressed --
He thinks he’s the best,
And his chest all puffed up he thrusts out.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

Now Trump thinks he’s cock of the walk.
It shows in his acts, and his talk.
A celebrity schmoozer,
The real “Biggest Loser,”
And just a big, mean chicken hawk.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“Other birds call me ‘cock of the walk’?
I’m deeply in shock,” said the hawk.
“That’s only a chicken!
Some butts I’ll be kickin’;
Who dareth me mock with such talk?”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


He thought that his own genitalia
Would match with his date’s penetralia.
They soon tried it out,
And both gave a shout,
And called it their best saturnalia.
-Lawrence Crumb, Eugene, Oregon (lcrumb uoregon.edu)

Aboriginal lads are sent out
To survive -- and prove manhood, no doubt --
The deep penetralia
Of wildest Australia
For their coming-of-age walkabout.
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes btconnect.com)

Down deep in the cave’s penetralia,
I hope that your lantern won’t fail ya.
For it’s darker than night,
And you’ll need that light --
Your cellphone, you know, won’t avail ya.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

I wonder how deep you must go
In the world of political woe
To learn, inter alia,
The dark penetralia
That lurks in a candidate -- whoa!
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

“Boys, we’ll head for the hills’ penetralia,”
Said Sundance and Butch. “We won’t fail ya.
We’ll make homes for us all
In the Hole-in-the-Wall,
And bring train-robbing paraphernalia.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


“I quack, therefore I mus-twattle,” said René Duckartes.
-Janice Power, Cleveland, Ohio, (powerjanice782 gmail.com), in collaboration with Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“Down, boy. My twattle be open for business after dinner,” Stormy scolded Donald.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“If only I could fly the whole way, we’d get there so much faster,” said the cock of the walk.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

The movie star thought he would be a great director, and called himself the Hitch-cock of the walk.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“I’m writin’ down every word ya say,” said the secretary. “I’m right behind ya and with a penetralia.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Pelosi Tells It Like It Is
From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: Pelosi Tells It Like It Is

San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone (not to be confused with fictive Godfather Vito Corleone) has denied devout Catholic, Nancy Pelosi, Holy Communion. He claimed, “My motives were pastoral, not political.” Maybe he should be sent out to pasture? It boggles the mind that these clergymen feel they have the ultimate moral authority. As George Will wrote in The Washington Post: “The Church’s crime wave is global.

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California

Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought. -John F. Kennedy, 35th US president (29 May 1917-1963)

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