Wordsmith.org: the magic of words


About | Media | Search | Contact  


Today's Word

Yesterday's Word



Jul 3, 2022
This week’s theme
Words originating in the hand

This week’s words

How popular are they?
Relative usage over time

AWADmail archives

Like what you see here?
Send a gift subscription

Next week’s theme
Blend words
Bookmark and Share Facebook Twitter Digg MySpace Bookmark and Share

AWADmail Issue 1044

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

Sponsor’s Message: Want the perfect getaway? Try some intellectual distancing this summer instead: The Official Old’s Cool Education is “A Wiseacre’s Delight,” three pocket-sized handbooks that are a ludic and lovely call to intellectual adventure, full of wonderment and glee, how-tos, history, recalcitrance and wit. Trivia too: What’s Sleeping Beauty’s real name? Complete this series: 14, 34, 42, 72...? Smart-Aleck Special ends at midnight. Shop now.

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

From Aardvark to Woke: Inside the Oxford English Dictionary
The New Statesman

Google’s Powerful AI Spotlights a Human Cognitive Glitch: Mistaking Fluent Speech for Fluent Thought
The Conversation

From: David Mezzera (damezz comcast.net)
Subject: All hands on deck!

When I saw the basis for this week’s words (hands), I was reminded of my high school English teacher who used the phrase “all hands on deck” to illustrate a synecdoche, the figure of speech we were studying that day. I’m looking for more hand-y words from you this week. Gotta hand it to ya!

David Mezzera, Vallejo, California

From: Elizabeth Block (elizabethblock netzero.net)
Subject: Openhanded

The Harvard Hymn, which is in Latin (of course), includes

Integri sint curatores,
eruditi professores,
largiantur donatores
Largeantur donatores

which I would translate roughly as: May the trustees be honest, the professors learned, and the alumni openhanded.

Elizabeth Block, Toronto, Canada

PS: I just missed the great Latin riots of 1961, when Harvard undergraduates protested their diplomas being now printed in English instead of Latin.

From: Roy Meals (rmeals ucla.edu)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--openhanded

As a hand surgeon, I particularly like this week’s theme. I am sure you are saddened that AWAD only covers five themed words, because for hand, there are far more. The following is excerpted from my book, The Hand Owner’s Manual.

The Greeks never invaded England, but their language did. Cheir is Greek for hand, leading to chiropractor, chirography (hand writing), and chiromancy (palmistry). Ergon is Greek for work. Cheir and ergon added together, cheirurgos, means working with the hand. The Romans messed with the spelling and turned it into chirurgia. In Old French that is cirurgie, and in Middle English, surgerie. So hand surgery is literally and accurately hands working with hands!

Roy Meals, Los Angeles, California

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

From: Sam Long (gunputty comcast.net)
Subject: light-fingered

Some superheroes in comic books or movies can emit light or other “beams of power” from their fingers, so they could, I suppose, be called light-fingered, couldn’t they?

Sam Long, Springfield, Illinois

From: SarahRose Werner (swerner nbnet.nb.ca)
Subject: Southpaw

Wouldn’t a photo of cat have been a better choice to illustrate southpaw? Dogs are more likely to be right-handed. According to Psychology Today (“Findings from the Largest Study on Left-Handedness in Dogs”) 60.7% of female dogs and 56.1% of male dogs prefer their right paw. So do 52.0% of female cats (“Is Your Cat Left-Handed?”).

Among male cats, however, 52.3% are southpaws. I’ve observed this in both my neutered male cats. They use their left paws to pull food closer, pull open doors that have been left ajar and cover up in the litter box. I jokingly tell friends that my cats take after their mom, as I’m a southpaw myself. We’re a gauche family, perhaps even a sinister one.

SarahRose Werner, Saint John, Canada

From: Karen Folsom (kgfols yahoo.com)
Subject: Light-fingered thumbsucker

Light-fingered: With many years of significant experience, our ex-pres has perfected the art of the steal
Thumbsucker: It's Tucker Carlson sitting on his thumbs peddling his "soft squishy doughy" news
Thumbsucker: It’s Tucker Carlson sitting on his thumbs peddling his “soft squishy doughy” news

Karen Folsom, Santa Barbara, California

A League of Their Own
From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: southpaw and light-fingered

The three superstars of the Italian High Renaissance... Michelangelo, Leonardo, and Raphael were polymath southpaws. They mastered almost every discipline they’d tackled. So, I thought, let’s dabble in a little exercise in time travel, transporting this trio into our modern-day baseball era, where they’d represent the core of the fictive FIRENZE Sinistras’ lefty pitching rotation. Some might argue that they would be more at home tossing bocce balls. Left-handed, for certain.

Sleight of Hand
Dickens’s Oliver Twist character, Fagin, who corrupted the wayward street urchins of early-19th-century London, specialized in pick-pocketing, and then fencing his ill-gotten gains. Fagin taught Oliver and other street kids the art of picking pockets.

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California

From: Kath O’Sullivan (pudsyduck gmail.com)
Subject: Re: Thank you for your contribution!

Long long ago someone gave me gift of your site. On the 18th of this month I turn 96. Your site teaches, teases, torments, and amuses me.

I follow you daily and learn something new each day.

I find the quotations fascinating.

Thank you,

Kath O’Sullivan, Auckland, New Zealand


This week’s theme: Words originating in the hand
1. Mainpast
2. Openhanded
3. Light-fingered
4. Thumbsucker
5. Southpaw
= 1. Benignant
2. We work up at house, maid
3. Dishonest wag, roguish pest
4. Think piece
5. Left-hander, hmm isn’t right-handed
     This week’s theme: Words originating in the hand
1. Mainpast
2. Openhanded
3. Light-fingered
4. Thumbsucker
5. Southpaw
= 1. Household
2. Kind; wide hit
3. Wants that thing free
4. Kindergartener; shaming the newsman
5. Dubious; Pop’s game pitch
-Julian Lofts, Auckland, New Zealand (jalofts xtra.co.nz) -Dharam Khalsa, Burlington, North Carolina (dharamkk2 gmail.com)

Make your own anagrams and animations.



Since the paterfamilias rules
In the mainpast, dissenters are fools.
Every anarchic son
Is deprived of all fun,
And the worst fill the milit’ry schools.
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes btconnect.com)

A shower just now has begun.
“I don’t think our drought is yet done,”
says she to a mainpast.
“We can’t make this rain last,
but some is much better than none!”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

Most mainpasts have chores to be done,
And nobody finds these jobs fun.
We each do our share,
And that makes it fair --
So take out the garbage, my son.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

This morning my sink was a mess --
H2O went down one inch or less
To get it to drain fast
Had to call on the mainpast
Ah! Finally now, some success!
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

“Add marriage and kids to your mainpast,
And you’ll surely be driven insane fast,”
Said Higgins. “Shakespeare?
The whole evening you’ll hear,
“Dad, how long will this play about Danes last?”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


“Be more openhanded,” I said,
“You can’t take it with you when dead.”
He retorted, “Nice try,
But I’ve no plans to die,
So I think I’ll keep hoarding instead.”
-Duncan Howarth, Maidstone, UK (duncanhowarth aol.com)

“Openhanded in thought, word, and deed,
All assumed I was bound to succeed:
But the thing with largesse,
If indulged to excess,
Is it leaves the donator in need.”
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes btconnect.com)

“You stink of cheap whiskey and gin!
So where in the world have you been?”
she inquired, and landed
a mean openhanded
slap on the poor fellow’s chin.
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

How shocking it was, I’ll be candid,
To watch Will Smith’s slap openhanded.
Chris Rock simply made a
Bad joke about Jada --
The next thing you know that blow landed.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

“I admit I’m obsessed, to be candid;
Catch him, lads, and I’ll be openhanded.
Anu’s theme for this week
Stirred up memories bleak,”
Hook continued, “of what Peter Pan did.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


Her chin had a cute little cleft,
Her movements were supple and deft,
So lithe and light-fingered
The touch of her lingered
When she with my wallet had left.
-Duncan Howarth, Maidstone, UK (duncanhowarth aol.com)

“Caught red-handed, my light-fingered friend,”
Said the copper. “Oh, heaven forfend!
Now the judgement will be
That it’s Sing Sing for me ...
Could I promise I won’t re-offend?”
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes btconnect.com)

Oh, to my masseuse do I say,
“Reduce all my tensions today!
I am counting so much
On your light-fingered touch
To make all of my cares melt away.”
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

With their money he’s rather light-fingered,
Yet they wish in the White House he’d lingered.
“We attempted a coup,
But, oh Donald, boo hoo!
You’re still gone!” Yes, he STILL has them blinkered.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


In an infant his habit was fine;
In a teenager, odd but benign,
But to be a thumbsucker
Wasn’t good in a trucker
When his rig veered across the white line.
-Duncan Howarth, Maidstone, UK (duncanhowarth aol.com)

“I’ve hot pepper sauce here with me.
Just give me your thumb now,” says she
to the little thumbsucker
who’s trying to duck her.
“One taste, and you’ll soon be set free!
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

The man has sought help for his wife,
A thumbsucker all of her life.
But change she’s resisted --
Her habit’s persisted,
A succor for her when there’s strife.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

I savor Fox News’s thumbsuckers
Just about like the food at Fuddruckers.
With the thoughts that are Sean’s
You could fertilize lawns,
And no words are as tasteless as Tucker’s.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


A young southpaw, who played as a Met,
Was as good as a pitcher can get.
His curve ball was devious,
Each more than the previous.
Underhanded of him? Yes, you bet!
-Rudy Landesman, New York, New York (ydur36 hotmail.com)

At her seat-mate she looks with disdain.
“His arm’s in my private domain!
We need a new law
that makes a southpaw
sit all by himself on a plane!”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

A southpaw is likely to find
For righties the world’s been designed.
And though it’s unfair,
The lefties out there
Have also been greatly maligned.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

The best pitcher I ever saw
Was known as a talented southpaw.
Poor batters he’s stinging,
As they go down swinging.
His fastball was one of sheer awe.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

As it headed downstream, what the trout saw
Was a fisherman casting -- a southpaw.
So it swam to his right,
And to give him a fright
Yelled, “The season’s tomorrow, you outlaw!”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


In A Star is Born, Esther Blodgett stays with Norman Mainpast the prime of his career.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“Turn left and drive down Mainpast Maple and Church,” said the disembodied voice on Waze.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

As the first Chinese golfer on the PGA tour, at the US Openhanded the unthinkable by sinking two holes-in-one in a row.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Yahweh created light-fingered his long beard, and thought about what to do next.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

P.T. Barnum told Tom Thumbsuckers are born every minute.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“Hey, son, what direction are we drivin’?”
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“My hands go southpaw at their crotches, they scream, and a good time is had by all!” says Donald.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Doubting Thomases
From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: Doubting Thomases

On the heels of last week’s SCOTUS ruling quashing Roe v. Wade, Clarence Thomas suggested revisiting a handful of past precedent Court rulings, and even intimated that Loving v. Virginia (1967), legalizing interracial unions, might be reconsidered. Curiously, African-American Thomas’s wife, Ginni, a Trumpster and booster of the Big Lie, is Caucasian. The likelihood of reversing Loving v. Virginia is slim. Yet hypothetically, Thomas’ caveat would probably be that mixed-couple marriages, pre-reversal, are OK.

Delta is ready when you are... Not!
Feeling the crunch of high fuel costs, a dearth of pilots, flight attendants, and air-traffic controllers, most airlines are canceling and delaying flights. Delta, one of the US’s enduring legacy carriers, has been singled out as one of the least dependable airlines over this summer travel season, having cancelled or delayed more flights than others. Delta is far from going belly-up, even though my cartoon scenario suggests otherwise. For years their slogan was “Delta is ready when you are.”
Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California

In the struggle between yourself and the world, second the world. -Franz Kafka, novelist (3 Jul 1883-1924)

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

© 1994-2023 Wordsmith