Wordsmith.org: the magic of words


About | Media | Search | Contact  


Today's Word

Yesterday's Word



Sep 11, 2022
This week’s theme

This week’s words
tall poppy

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
Misc words
Bookmark and Share Facebook Twitter Digg MySpace Bookmark and Share

AWADmail Issue 1054

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

Sponsor’s Message: “Got recalcitrance?” Let’s have some subversive fun this summer (it’s not over yet!) with a Smart T-Shirts for Smarty-Pants Contest. Show everyone how wicked clever you are with an original design/slogan, like “JUST DO WIT.” Or, “Pretentious? Moi?” We’ll print the winner’s; runner-up will receive our best-selling “I’d Rather Be Grammatically Correct.” Enter here.

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

Scientific American
We Asked GPT-3 to Write an Academic Paper About Itself -- Then We Tried to Get It Published

Five Myths About Shakespeare’s Contribution to the English Language
The Conversation

From: Britta Koch (kochba64 gmail.com)
Subject: Language of flowers

This week’s theme brings to mind a scene in Kate and Leopold (video, 32 sec.), where Leopold is coaching Kate’s younger brother on how to select a flower bouquet to impress a woman he’s interested in.

Britta Koch, Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania

From: Jim Bogle (jbogle0 gmail.com)
Subject: Roseate spoonbill

The underlying plot symbol of Dr. No, the James Bond novel.

Jim Bogle, Columbia, South Carolina

Email of the Week -- Brought to you buy I’d Rather Be Grammatically Correct -- It fits brainiacs to a tee.

From: Pam Phillips (pam_phillips comcast.net)
Subject: Flowers

Flowers have been the language of love for almost 100 million years because that’s how plants enlist animals to mediate sεxual reproduction. The first flowers were probably magnolias, which evolved to lure beetles to feed on nectar and brush against pollen. Wasps feed on nectar when they can’t find prey. Some wasps also ate pollen and then went completely vegan, becoming bees. The rest, as they say, is history.

Pam Phillips, Watertown, Massachusetts

From: Mickey Isaacs (mickeyi123 outlook.com)
Subject: Yesterday, today, and tomorrow

Teaching my granddaughter the names of plants, we came across yesterday, today, and tomorrow. When I asked her a few days later if she remembered the name, her reply was “Yes, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday!”

Mickey Isaacs, Gauteng, South Africa

From: Thomas Smith (tjs3rd66 yahoo.com)
Subject: daffodils

I am partial to daffodils. When I was about 5 or 6 I remember my parents telling me that on the day I was born in early Feb the daffodils were blooming in my aunt’s yard and garden. My aunt took a bouquet of these flowers to my mother who was in the hospital with me, a newborn, not even a day old.

The flowers blooming this early was most unusual since it was early Feb of 1949 and the daffodils haven’t bloomed that early since then and no one I know can remember them blooming that early before then either in central Kentucky.

So, with that story in mind, after I became a somewhat self-sustaining adult, I would always send my mother a bouquet of daffodils on my birthday along with a Happy Mother’s Day card.

So you see I got the pleasure of celebrating Mother’s Day twice a year with a bouquet of daffodils each time which I sent to my mother along with a thank you note, once in Feb and again in May.

Thomas Smith, Owingsville, Kentucky

From: Marjorie Mota (mmarjorie386 gmail.com)
Subject: Partial to a flower

Primula clevelandii, or shooting star, is the Southern California variety of a wildflower that I am bonded to. It has delicate violet petals that fade toward the center into yellow. There they are joined to a dramatic black ring featuring another circle of bright red. My affection for this plant was solidified when I was four years old. I would sit on a grassy hillside on our ranch and feel sorry for the big people in my family. You see, they couldn’t bend far enough to the earth to see this treasure up close. Of course, at that age, I thought my big people would always be big, and I would always be little.

Marjorie Mota, Lakewood, California

From: Mary Postellon (mpostellon hotmail.com)
Subject: what flowers mean

I have never been able to understand where pansies got their wimpy reputation. To call someone a pansy is to suggest a lack of courage or toughness, yet pansies are some of the toughest flowers I know. I’ve seen pansies bloom through a whole summer and then continue to bloom through the winter, continuing to make more blossoms the following spring! (And that was in the cold mountains of Pennsylvania.) Pansies should mean strength and persistence.

Mary Postellon, Grand Rapids, Michigan

From: Tom Pedretti (motmai9195 gmail.com)
Subject: flowers

Flower gardening has been a hobby of mine for decades. I’ve had some successes and some crop failures. But the best thing I ever grew in my garden is another gardener. Now my daughter has picked up the hoe and continues to march (and is a much better gardener than I ever was).

Tom Pedretti, Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin

From: David Micklethwait (micklethwait hotmail.com)
Subject: super-bum

My mother used to order plants by telephone, using the Waterers Nursery catalogue. Asked by the Waterer’s representative to specify the variety required, she replied “It says super-bum.” “Madam”, the man relied, “We call that suPERbum.”

David Micklethwait, London, UK

From: Phillip Sterling (psterling me.com)
Subject: A rose

When my neighbor obsessed over his rose garden, I coined (stole) this: A rose by any other name is a weed.

Phill Sterling, Baldwinsville, New ork

From: Jon Densford (j2d2 juno.com)
Subject: favorite blossom

The flowers of my okra plants are not merely beautiful; when properly pollinated they become something delicious and sustaining.

Okra flower

Jon Densford, Memphis, Tennessee

From: Lucia Franchini (supershaula gmail.com)
Subject: Tall poppies

In Italy we also use alti papaveri (tall poppies) for someone powerful in a company or government.

Lucia Franchini, Como, Italy

From: Peggy Bilbro (pmbilbro gmail.com)
Subject: Tall poppy

Here in the south we have the expression tall cotton. If someone is doing really well, or has gotten a promotion, or has the opportunity to hang out with important people, they are said to be in tall cotton. It is an expression of admiration and appreciation and maybe just a little envy for the other person’s good fortune. Usage: “You’ve been invited to the Governor’s Christmas Eve party? Wow! You’ll be in tall cotton!” My Texas family used this expression and it is common here in Alabama.

Peggy Bilbro, Huntsville, Alabama

From: Jason Noble (jdknoble yahoo.com)
Subject: Tall Poppy, Tall Sunflower

I enjoyed reading about today’s word of the day, tall poppy, because of a coincidence in my garden this year. One of our sunflowers, whom we have affectionately nicknamed Sarah Plain and Tall, decided to grow four feet taller than all the others and waited until they had all gone to seed before blooming.

Sarah Plain and Tall

Jason Noble, Montreal, Canada

From: David Walker (sixtiescycles yahoo.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--tall poppy

I was born in Colorado and raised in Nebraska, cowboy country. You mentioned, “...too big for their boots” as a synonym for tall poppy. I’ve always liked the western cowboy phrase, “All hat, no cattle.”

Dave Walker, Limoux, France

From: Anne Makhoul (annemakhoul31 gmail.com)
Subject: tall poppy variation

My parents used to say “You’re getting too big for your britches”, which is close to the “too big for their boots” variation, but its meaning had more to do with children outgrowing their parents’ perceived level of their children’s maturity or their openness to hearing opinions that differed from their own. More along the lines of “Children should be seen and not heard.”

Anne Makhoul, Ottawa, Canada

From: Cathy Emerson (cathy_emerson yahoo.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--tall poppy

“You are getting too big faw yawr britches!” Eastern Shore of VA, my grandmother (9/1907-8/2017) commented on certain chirren when they talked back.

Cathy Mamabear Emerson, Exmore, Virginia

From: Petronella J.C. Elema (elema055 planet.nl)
Subject: tall poppy

In Dutch: raise your head above ground level (je hoofd boven het maaiveld uitsteken). It’s an open invitation to be metaphorically decapitated.

Petronella J.C. Elema, Groningen, The Netherlands

From: Mary Esther Clark (gormlai123 gmail.com)
Subject: Tall Poppy

In Ireland it’s common to say about a successful person: ‘I knew them when they were nothing -- and they’re still nothing!’

Mary Esther Clark, Dublin, Ireland

From: Timothy Hinds (hinds.timothy epa.gov)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--tall poppy

A related phenomenon is crabology, in which people pull down someone who has gotten ahead, much as crabs in a bucket don’t have to be kept in the bucket by a lid because they’ll pull back down any of their fellows who climb up toward the rim.

Timothy Hinds, Raleigh, North Carolina

From: Robert Morson (TheOtherElephant aol.com)
Subject: opposite of tall poppy

What do you call the opposite of this? I mean, the tendency of some people to defend the most prominent people in society, even when such defense is completely unnecessary and accomplishes nothing other than making the defender look mentally unbalanced?

Robert Morson, Boulder, Colorado

From: Mike Zim (mikewzim gmail.com)
Subject: Orchidacity and pro wrestling

Gorgeous George (George Wagner) might be the most iconic pro wrestler ever. He was a truly cowardly villain and cheated at every opportunity, infuriating the fans. His flamboyant outfits and bleached, curled hair earned him the nickname The Human Orchid.

Mike Zim, Columbus, Ohio

From: G.B. Ketcherside (jeketchaz gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--roseate

You wrote: “A lily was a symbol of purity and innocence while mimosa, aka touch-me-not, was of chastity. Well, F all that prudish obsession with chastity!”

I respect your knowledge of words and ability to convey definitions and meanings. I’m disappointed that you felt it necessary to indulge in vulgarity.

Jerry Ketcherside, Phoenix, Arizona

From: Bob Stein (visibone gmail.com)
Subject: Profanity

Profanity is like pepper. It doesn’t make everything better, but it makes most things better. Also hugs and latex paint and live plants. Objectively these are subjective opinions and may vary.

Bob Stein, Brushton, New York

From: Peggy Ann Bosdet (pegbosdet gmail.com)
Subject: Language of flowers

And don’t forget the language of fans! It, too, was full of meaning, not to mention innuendo. Great fun! Many years ago I wrote and illustrated an entire presentation on that subject alone. Ever since, I wondered how long it took the young ladies and would-be swains to learn it all well enough for instant informative communication. And, heaven forbid one made an error and communicated the wrong thing with an erroneous or accidental fan-flick!

Peggy Ann Bosdet, Arichat, Canada

From: Karen Folsom (kgfols yahoo.com)
Subject: orchidacity and wallflowers


Karen Folsom, Santa Barbara, California

For Whom the Bill Told
From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: roseate and wallflower

Our word roseate triggered my birder-brain and the roseate spoonbill came to mind. Its most distinctive features are its snowy-white plumage highlighted with patches of peachy-pink, along with its elongated, light-green spoon-shaped beak. Here, we have two odd-billed creatures, the spoonbill and Australia’s duck-billed platypus, both egg layers, yet one’s clearly a bird, and the other, not so clearly, a mammal. Nature never ceases to both amaze and confound!

Back in the day, of all the ritual events of high school, the annual senior prom was most eagerly anticipated, particularly by the gals. Yet for some, this end-of-high-school gala could be fraught with anxiety. Here, a proactive co-ed, empathizing with a slightly befuddled wallflower, gives him an offer he just might refuse. Go for it kid!

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California


This week’s theme has flowers, i.e.
1. Roseate
2. Daisy chain
3. Orchidacity
4. Tall poppy
5. Wallflower
= 1. Wow! Like a rose
2. Interlaced loops
3. She acclaims flashy life
4. Showy, hated twit
5. At periphery
     This week’s theme: Flowers
1. Roseate
2. Daisy chain
3. Orchidacity
4. Tall poppy
5. Wallflower
= 1. Floral, cheery
2. Spliced link
3. Showy, wow!
4. Rich fellow (the ape!)
5. Sits to a side at a party (me)
-Shyamal Mukherji, Mumbai, India (mukherjis hotmail.com) -Dharam Khalsa, Burlington, North Carolina (dharamkk2 gmail.com)
This week’s theme: Flowers
1. Roseate
2. Daisy chain
3. Orchidacity
4. Tall poppy
5. Wallflower
= 1. Reddish
2. Catena
3. Pomposity; show
4. Clearly the wilier fat cat likes power
5. A shy fellow
     This week’s theme: Flowers
1. Roseate
2. Daisy chain
3. Orchidacity
4. Tall poppy
5. Wallflower
= 1. Optimistic, rapt
2. We are linked
3. Showy
4. Hotshot, a special fellow/career
5. Shyly flawed
-Robert Jordan, Lampang, Thailand (alfiesdad ymail.com) -Julian Lofts, Auckland, New Zealand (jalofts xtra.co.nz)

Make your own anagrams and animations.



Weatherwise, then, these roseate hues
Generate two alternative views.
Though a red sky at night
Is the sailor’s delight,
In the morning it gives him the blues.
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes btconnect.com)

Herr Leibniz had roseate views.
In his day they were very big news.
“This world”, (you’ll recall),
“Is the best of them all.”
He shudda laid off that damn booze!
-Rudy Landesman, New York, New York (ydur36 hotmail.com)

“It’s a funeral, dear,” declares she.
“We’re supposed to share grief, sympathy.
Your attitude roseate
seems inappropriate,
shows you have no pedigree!”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

My friend has a roseate glow,
And offered some wine, she says, “No.”
I know from these clues
She’s got some good news --
I wonder when she’ll start to show.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

Though his team lost most games (bar a few),
the famed coach kept a roseate view.
He was thick-skinned towards flak;
Should they give him the sack,
Other clubs would for him form a queue.
-Shyamal Mukherji, Mumbai, India (mukherjis hotmail.com)

“I haven’t seen you in a week
You’ve a roseate glow on your cheek!”
“Oh, Mom, I’ve met Horace,
A boy in our chorus;
You wouldn’t believe his technique!”
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

“With Eve,” said the Lord, “you shall procreate;
She’ll be lovely - curvaceous and roseate.
Now lie down, for your rib
Will be her -- it’s no fib.
But with serpents, don’t let her associate.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


Baby elephants, linked trunk to tail,
In a daisy-chain, ‘ccordin’ to scale,
With the largest up front,
Runnin’ down to the runt
Who might -- one day -- be blazin’ the trail.
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes btconnect.com)

The hippie had let his hair grow
And rarely shampooed it, you know.
A sweet daisy chain
His dad thought inane
Atop his long locks would then go.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

At my age it is time to complain
That my health is but one crazy pain.
So that doctors I see
Every week seem to be
Just one endless white coat daisy chain.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“Though my uncle’s a throne-crazy Dane,
What to do? Oh, my poor hazy brain,”
Bemoaned Hamlet. “Alas!
When this play’s out of gas,
‘Twill all end in a sad daisy-chain.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


Mother Nature, who favours the male,
Has made females quite dowdy. Surveil,
If you will, mating pairs
In the wild. Birds to bears,
Orchidacity’s butch - without fail.
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes btconnect.com)

Along with the boss’s mendacity,
She described his unique orchidacity.
“If you told him the truth,
His displays were uncouth;
There’d be ketchup all over,” said Cassidy.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Tall poppy

Tall poppies the boss would cut down.
“Who’s stealing my thunder?” he’d frown.
So keep under your hat
That you think you’re all that --
You’ll come to regret your renown.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

“Thanks for dinner. You’re quite a tall poppy,”
Said Stormy, “of you there’s no copy!”
“Just wait till you see,”
Donald bragged, “all of me!”
Which soon prompted, “Too bad you’re so floppy.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


At the Wallflower Convention this year --
Where it’s standing room only, I hear --
There’s a “Don’t Meet And Greet,”
Then “How Not to Defeat
Inhibition and Overcome Fear.”
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes btconnect.com)

I’m a wallflower? No, that’s not true.
I simply won’t dance. Not with you.
So please do not ask.
‘Twould be a hard task.
You have two left feet. Yes, you do.
-Rudy Landesman, New York, New York (ydur36 hotmail.com)

Good fairy declares to wallflower,
“My dear, I’ll use all of my power,
wrongly or rightly,
to make you more sprightly.
I fear ‘twill take over an hour.”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

A gentleman, kind and polite,
Had pitied the wallflower’s plight.
So he took a chance
And asked her to dance --
She stepped on his toes all that night.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

At the time of my very first dance
Most boys still wore knickers! A glance
Would reveal the wallflowers
Were guys, who for hours
Would watch from the sidelines, askance!
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

Though the cowboys believed they’d all wow ‘er,
At the party she played the wallflower.
The ranch was her daddy’s;
“You smell like cow patties,”
She said. “Ah suggest that y’all shower.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


Bucking rivets all day is very hard work so Roseate a good breakfast every morning.
-David Sacks, Avondale Estates, Georgia (david davidsacks-rla.com)

“Roseate too much,” explained Mrs. O’Donnell at her daughter’s WeightWatchers meeting.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Daisy chain-ed Donald to his chair to keep the duck and his wandering eye home at night.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“Herr Frodo,” said the psychiatrist, “Ze orchidacity-bitty capacity to resist ze powerful ego of Sauron.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

The basketball star’s son always wondered how with such a tall poppy grew up to be as diminutive as the pool boy.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

She was such a messy baker that on the wallflower was everywhere.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

Dee ain't gonna take it anymore
From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: Dee ain’t gonna take it anymore

Twisted Sister frontman Dee Snider ain’t gonna take it any more, taking extreme umbrage with Arizona Republican gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake’s playing his band’s signature recording “We’re not going to take it!” at her rallies. Snider argues that the message of the song is antithetical to Lake’s fascist drivel. Snider is among many musicians upset at Trump and his GOP/MAGA acolytes using their music. They include Elton John, The Rolling Stones, Neil Young, and more.The coup de grâce would have to be the Pavarotti estate objecting to Trump using Luciano’s version of “Nessun Dorma” during his 2016 campaign roadshow.

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California

She plucked from my lapel the invisible strand of lint (the universal act of woman to proclaim ownership). -O. Henry, short-story writer (11 Sep 1862-1910)

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