Wordsmith.org: the magic of words


A.Word.A.Day

About | Media | Search | Contact  


Home

Today's Word

Yesterday's Word

Archives

FAQ


Oct 2, 2022
This week’s theme
Words to describe people

This week’s words
timeserver
sandboy
musicaster
grumbletonian
logodaedalist

How popular are they?
Relative usage over time

AWADmail archives
Index

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
Words that have changed
Bookmark and Share Facebook Twitter Digg MySpace Bookmark and Share

AWADmail Issue 1057

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

Sponsor’s Message: “Yes it is!” This teen on a bicycle skids right in front of me on lower Thames, a rascally twinkle in his eye. He looks down at my OLD’S COOL t-shirt, snickers, and then looks back up at me dead in the eye. He shakes his headful of fusilli curls, contemptuously. “No it isn’t.” Our heavy-duty 100% cotton truth fits recalcitrants and kings to a tee. Polos and rugbys too. A fantastic gift! Shop Now.



From: Stephanie Watts (trumpetrocks hotmail.com)
Subject: Timeserver

My great grandfather was a timeserver for the Naval Observatory when synchronized time was established nationally by telegraph. He was definitely not lackadaisical or a “timeserver timeserver.” Prior to that, he was a computer as in one who does computations. “Computer” was his actual job title. He was a human computer timeserver!

Stephanie Watts, Spring, Texas



From: Steve Kurtz (kurtzs ncf.ca)
Subject: words to describe people

I was pleasantly surprised to read your statement about the global population. Being large social mammals having quadrupled in the lifespan of living members, it qualifies being called Plague Phase according to biologists. Ecological Footprint Analysis conservatively estimates that we’re around twice a sustainable number.

When I’m driving or walking around, the term I use upon seeing mindless, often dangerous behavior by college age and older (kids and early teens I can understand it), I call them “air heads.” The lack of system thinking by most people places them in the innumerate classification. You are aware of illiteracy, but often that is due to unfortunate upbringing.

Sorry to be so negative, but I reviewed Sir Martin Rees’ 2003 book Our Final Century for the UK journal Futures in 2004. He stated 50-50 we go extinct this century.

Cheers on the downslope,

Steve Kurtz, Amherst, Massachusetts



From: Donald Ross (anaortic gmail.com)
Subject: people

I call all humans weeds given that a weed grows where it is not wanted, competes with and suppresses other species.

Don Ross, Sydney, Australia



From: Steve Benko (stevebenko1 gmail.com)
Subject: Timeservers

Just a word in defense of timeservers. The implication is that they are lazy. But many an ambitious young eager beaver is gradually turned into one by stultifying bureaucracy at their place of work. I speak from personal experience in the corporate world.

Political conservatives like to think of the private sector as lean and entrepreneurial as against government, but as a company grows - my theory of the tipping point is when its space needs exceed one floor, so that the top and bottom employees no longer know each other personally - this rapidly ceases to be true.

Policy and procedure memos and manuals begin to proliferate. Decisions are made from on high by ivory tower executives isolated from the realities of the situation in the field and blissfully unaware of the unintended consequences and effects on morale, in the belief that because they get paid more than their subordinates, and don’t know or trust them, they must be superior beings. They must, in fact, actually protect the company from its own employees.

This sooner or later becomes the primary job of all HR departments, working hand-in-glove with the legal department to make sure that something bad outside the CEO’s personal control never happens, even at the cost of stifling innovation and personal initiative whose beneficial effects are not immediately obvious. There is a well-known formula that the happiness of the employees increases exponentially with distance from headquarters.

Steve Benko, New York, New York



From: Rob Hardy (robhardy3 gmail.com)
Subject: Timeserver

In the Navy, we used to call timeservers “ROAD Officers”: Retired On Active Duty.

Rob Hardy, Dayton, Ohio



From: Linda Allen (lindaja icloud.com)
Subject: Time-pleaser

Shakespeare used time-pleaser in two plays. According to Maria in Twelfth Night Malvolio was “anything but a time-pleaser.” She thought he was too pompous to conform to anything but his own opinions.

Linda Allen, Chula Vista, California



From: Lee Entrekin (harpo mindspring.com)
Subject: Timeserver

You wrote: “Imagine a time when a human did the job of giving correct time (what a computer does now). In this job, instead of being a conscientious worker, this person was lackadaisical. What would you call them? A timeserver in more ways than one. A timeserver timeserver.”

And if this person was doing time in prison, he/she would be a “timeserver timeserver timeserver”.

Lee Entrekin, Old Fort, North Carolina



From: Roberta Eisenberg (bobbi alumni.nd.edu)
Subject: My coined expression--Re: A.Word.A.Day--timeserver

My coined expression: Liar-in-Chief. I don’t think that I have to specify who that is.

Roberta M. Eisenberg, Greenport, New York



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

From: Henry M. Willis (hmw ssdslaw.com)
Subject: Sandboys and mudlarks

In addition to sandboys, let’s not forget mudlarks, another degrading job with a cheerful title. Mudlarks were mostly boys who scavenged for anything that could be found on the banks of the Thames, among the muck -- a term that covers not just mud but anything else that a river that served as London’s sewer for centuries might carry. It wasn’t until abnormally warm temperatures in 1858 caused the Great Stink -- which wafted into Parliament -- that anything was done to clean it up.

But getting back to mudlarks, there’s a wonderful film from 72 years ago The Mudlark about a mudlark who steals into Windsor Castle. It’s all a fairytale, of course, but it features Sir Alec Guinness, as Disraeli, delivering a powerful speech on the injustices we are told to accept as simply part of life, as if they were unchangeable. By all means see the whole movie, but if you can’t find it enjoy this clip (8 min.).

Henry Willis, Los Angeles, California



From: John D. Laskowski (john.laskowski mothman.org)
Subject: Sandboy

I guess the sandboy grew up to become Mr. Sandman! Look the song (2 min.) up and you will have your earworm of the day! By the Chordettes, 1954.

John D. Laskowski, Carsonville, Pennsylvania



From: Jeff Billington (jcb1772 hotmail.com)
Subject: Musicaster

I worked in a jazz club for 12 years. I’m pleased to know there is a word for what I was routinely subjected to.

Pastor Jeff Billington, Dayton, Ohio



From: Paul Castaldi (paulcast55 verizon.net)
Subject: Non-Pejorative “Casting”

The Fender Musical Instruments Corporation probably was unaware that -aster is a pejorative suffix. Beginning in the 1950s, they used the suffix for several now-classic electric guitar models: Broadcaster, Telecaster, Stratocaster.

Broadcaster came first, but was changed to Telecaster due to a conflict with another company previously using a similar name. I assume the suffix was seen as a modern or contemporary extension of “broadcasting” because the guitars were designed to be played loudly on stages without feedback and distortion.

Paul Castaldi, Havertown, Pennsylvania



From: Patti Koning (koning sbcglobal.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--musicaster

Wow, so Stratocasters and Telecasters are mediocre guitars? That makes Jimi Hendrix’s accomplishments even more amazing! 😄

Patti Koning, Dallas, Texas



From: John H Craw (thecrawh gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--musicaster

I’d have guessed -aster was a more modern invention, used in playful nicknames I first heard about 30 years ago (usually with the definite article).
  • Friends’ kids called our cat M (short for Emma) “the M-ster” when she was a playful kitten.
  • A friend’s son Jeremy was known to his teen friends as “the J-ster”. He was a popular guy, in a band, multiple girlfriends.
John Craw, Glenford, Ohio



From: Robert Palgrave (robertpalgrave hotmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--grumbletonian

The -tonian suffix resonates deeply (and unpleasantly) here in the former United Queendom. As I’m sure you know, Old Etonians are frequent occupants of No.10 Downing Street, both as residents and as members of His Majesty’s government’s cabinet. Where they inevitably fail to deliver on their promises.

So I wonder if you would be kind enough to explore the etymology of OLDE tonian, so we in Britain might better understand why such people are repeatedly visited on us?

Robert Palgrave, Cranleigh, UK



From: Sandra C. (cruzen805 gmail.com)
Subject: Fun with words, of course!

Today’s word reminded me of a portmanteau that we, as staff at a small exclusive college, used to describe entitled rich hippie-wannabe kids: trustafarian. Trust fund baby + Rastafarian. Not very complimentary, but it was a relief valve when assaulted by yet another cloud of patchouli!

We needed to be grumbletonians now and then in order to let it go, and to be grateful we had employment. Ah, perspective!

Sandra C., Saint Paul, Minnesota



From: Will Rausch (wrausch2 gmail.com)
Subject: First cup of coffee

I wake each morning, get my first cup of coffee, and open my email to look for Wordsmith. Thank you for preventing me from being a grumbletonian all day!

Will Rausch, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania



Yusuf Islam's "Ud to Joy"
From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: sandboy and grumbletonian

One of my favorite folk-rock artists from back in my college days was the Brit singer/songwriter Cat Stevens (aka Yusuf Islam). His repertoire ran the gamut of emotions with tunes like “Moon Shadow” to “Oh Very Young” and other huge hits in between. Looking back, I feel he fits our “sandboy” profile, being a joyous person who, in turn, brought immeasurable joy to his legions of fans. Curiously, when he converted to Islam and took on the name Yusuf Islam, many of his loyal followers were initially befuddled and upset. But most got over it in time. Here, I took some liberties in my captioning with Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy”, with Yusuf playing the lute-like ud (or oud), an instrument he might well have traded in for his former acoustic guitar.

Donald Grump
Seems like Trump was born to kvetch... a bona fide grumbletonian? If Drumpf fails to get his own way, he’ll huff and puff, possibly toss food against the nearest wall, blaming all but himself. Witch hunt, the Deep State, rigged ballot boxes, dead people voting, crooked Hillary... the fault-finding and grumbling appear to never cease.

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California



Anagrams

 
This week’s theme: Words to describe people
1. Timeserver
2. Sandboy
3. Musicaster
4. Grumbletonian
5. Logodaedalist
= 1. Blob, bad ne’er-do-well
2. It’s happy as
3. Meekest mediocre virtuoso isn’t elite
4. Cross
5. Esteemed Wordsmith Anu Garg
     This week’s theme: Words to describe people
1. Timeserver
2. Sandboy
3. Musicaster
4. Grumbletonian
5. Logodaedalist
= 1. (To be evicted), shirkers wait
2. See happy elite men
3. Toneless drummers lost it
4. A crabbed soul
5. Good in word games
-Julian Lofts, Auckland, New Zealand (jalofts xtra.co.nz) -Shyamal Mukherji, Mumbai, India (mukherjis hotmail.com)
 
 
 
This week’s theme: Words to describe people
1. Timeserver
2. Sandboy
3. Musicaster
4. Grumbletonian
5. Logodaedalist
= 1. Carpetbagger
2. Amiable person
3. Melodyless twit, so unlike Beethoven!
4. Distressed mode
5. It’s our ace Wordsmith!
     This week’s theme is: Words to describe people
1. Timeserver
2. Sandboy
3. Musicaster
4. Grumbletonian
5. Logodaedalist
= 1. Waverer
2. Boisterous gent
3. Mediocre melodist: aside, she isn’t the best
4. Basic grump
5. Someone skilled at wordplay
-Dharam Khalsa, Burlington, North Carolina (dharamkk2 gmail.com) -Robert Jordan, Lampang, Thailand (alfiesdad ymail.com)

Make your own anagrams and animations.



Limericks

Timeserver

Place and circumstance -- one must adapt.
So, the timeserver’s stance is most apt.
In Republican states
I espouse certain hates,
But in Democrat zones they’re all scrapped.
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes btconnect.com)

The timeserver quietly quit.
“I’m bored by my job, I’ll admit.
I want a profession
With more self-expression,
And dentistry’s just a poor fit.”
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

At work he, to a passing observer,
was someone who toiled hard with fervour.
But minutely surveyed,
his was a fine-tuned charade;
Key to survive as a timeserver.
-Shyamal Mukherji, Mumbai, India (mukherjis hotmail.com)

“That jerk? He won’t work, nah, don’t ask --
And if he said yes, well, the task
Would be much too severe.
He’s a timeserver here ...
Have you noticed he carries a flask?”
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

Said the baby, “I’m not fond of Gerber;
As an infant, I’m just a timeserver.
But my teeth will soon come,
And then solid food -- yum!
A cheeseburger and fries I will murder!”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Sandboy

As he takes his new car for a ride,
he’s feeling quite self-satisfied.
Says he, “I’m a sandboy
regarding this man-toy,
and driving it fills me with pride.”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

A most joyful sandboy is he --
His castle would suit a marquis!
If it washes away,
Then his next one, I’d say,
He’ll build not so close to the sea.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

When lawyers get Donald to pay,
As happy as sandboys are they!
But those whom he’s stiffed
Accuse him of grift
And wish they could lock him away.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

That sandboy is wearing a grin
As broad as a wave coming in --
And if people can’t tell
What is making him kvell
Well, it’s clear -- it’s that girl, Mary Lynn!
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

I grew up in a place called Long Beach,
Where the ocean was always in reach.
Contentment and joy!
I was such a sandboy;
My childhood sure was a real peach.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

Said Dale Evans, “You’re looking quite tanned, Roy;
And I do mean all over, you sandboy!
The reason, of course,
Is you’re riding your horse
In the nudε; but our show has been banned. Oy!”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Musicaster

Street musicians abound. Some excel,
Virtuosos at casting their spell.
Others bring one to tears
By offending the ears.
Musicasters make listening hell.
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes btconnect.com)

The concert was just a disaster,
Performed by a poor musicaster.
With two tempos she stayed
In the songs that she played --
They all were too fast or still faster.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

Said a drummer who hailed from Lancaster,
“I’ll try out, for I’m no musicaster.”
But once they heard Ringo,
The boys cried out, “Bingo!
The talent in Liverpool’s vaster!”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Grumbletonian

Never happy unless they’re a bane,
Grumbletonians live to complain:
Not content with their lot,
What they have, or have not,
They insist that you share in their pain.
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes btconnect.com)

She sees that the plump grumbletonian’s
been eating too many napoleons.
He refuses to quit.
She declares, “Well, that’s it!
You know I don’t like roly-poly ones!”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

Grumbletonians always complain,
And their company I find a pain.
I’d much rather be
With people who see
There are rainbows amidst all the rain.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

“You’re such a confirmed grumbletonian,
And it’s making my whole world dystopian.
Leave the house now,” said she,
“Go sit under that tree.”
And that’s how we got physics Newtonian.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Logodaedalist

Logodaedalist does describe Anu.
I’m sure many of you find that true.
I read Wordsmith each week
It sates my urge to seek
More words for me to learn that are new.
-Lois Mowat, Orinda, California (lmowat1810 gmail.com)

Logodaedalists -- wordsmiths -- (who knew?)
Are adepts who give names to things new.
You’ve discovered a germ?
That requires a term
Which these chaps will conceive - just for you.
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes btconnect.com)

Lewis Carroll just shrugged at Roget;
Also Webster, and Garg’s Word.A.Day.
“A true logodaedalist
Like me doesn’t need a list,”
He chortled, “when Scrabble I play.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)



Puns

“We were waiting a long timeserver. Where is our food?” The hungry diners complained.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

Puttin’ On the Ritz better get a good review from the Timeserver they’ll have me to answer to,’” said Mrs. Berlin.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

When I saw all that
sandboy was I glad to be at the beach. -Lois Mowat, Orinda, California (lmowat1810 gmail.com)

“You play in the sandboy, you’d better not track it into the house!” his mother warned little Fred.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

Said the miserly logograph collector to his frightened servant, “Bring me another amper-sandboy!”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

When the poet no longer got inspiration from his musicaster aside for a younger model.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“If I hear ‘I Left My Heart in San Francisco’ one more time, I’ll continue to grumbletonian I’ll have to go sleep in the other room,” complained Mrs. Bennett.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“What great wings! I’ll wear your logodaedalist-o promote your brand as I fly towards the sun,” said Icarus.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)



Wrong DeSatan
From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: Wrong DeSatan

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (aka Wrong DeSatan) showed his true colors in transporting 50-plus Venezualan migrants, at taxpayer expense, from San Antonio, Texas, to Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts. His political stunt is a callous exploitation of asylum seekers, using them as pawns to appease his xenophobic, anti-immigrant GOP base.

Putin's Folly
This week Putin initiated a Donbas region (eastern Ukraine) referendum, forcing residents to vote on recognizing Russia as the rightful claimant to their territory, obliged to check off the “Da” (Yes) box on the sham ballot. Early poll reports claim that the Russian military are cajoling voters to vote “Da” on separation, even intimidating them with firearms. For a desperate Putin, this is dirty politics as usual. As Mao Zedong once posited, “Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.”

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California



A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
Permanent good can never be the outcome of untruth and violence. -Mohandas K. Gandhi (1869-1948)

We need your help

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

Donate

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

© 1994-2022 Wordsmith