Wordsmith.org: the magic of words


About | Media | Search | Contact  


Today's Word

Yesterday's Word



Oct 9, 2022
This week’s theme
Words that have changed

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
Bookmark and Share Facebook Twitter Digg MySpace Bookmark and Share

AWADmail Issue 1058

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.” Made in America, 100% cotton truth that fits both recalcitrants and kings to a tee. Exclusive polos and rugbys too. A wicked original gift! Shop Now.

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

Newspeak in the New Russia
The Moscow Times

Mary Sidney, Shakespeare, and the Authorship Question
The New York Times

From: Judy Routt (judy routt.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--ludicrous

I’m not sure that Tesla’s use of “ludicrous” is so off the mark to be honest. Disbelieving laughter at the insane speed these cars accelerate seems to be quite widespread, as you can see in this video showing clips of Tesla-powered classic cars tearing up the tarmac.

If you feel this may be a quarter of an hour of your life you will never get back, just watching the clip for around 3 minutes from the 3:30 mark will definitely suffice.

Judy Routt, Melbourne, Australia

From: Henry Wray (hcwray3 aol.com)
Subject: Ludicrous

I was watching a clip from a Graham Norton Show recently where Jamie Lee Curtis was talking about test driving a Tesla prior to purchasing said automobile. The salesperson told her to turn up the air conditioning. She notched up the display several “bumps”. He told her to go more. She did, but not to the max. He told her to go to the max, which she did. Most would think that the max would be 10, but apparently in a Tesla, it is 11. The radio volume also has 11 as its max. The explanation was given for this oddity as being Musk’s nod to the Christopher Guest movie, This Is Spinal Tap (video, 1 min.). Musk is a big fan of the movie.

Just a little useless info to start your week.

Henry Wray, Arlington, Virginia

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

And before Tesla cars (mis-)used the word, there was Ludacris, the rapper, whose co-optation was at least clever.

David Rogers, Cave City, Kentucky

From: Jessica Pierce (jessicamadden9 gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--ludicrous

I have a Rocky Mountain e-bike, which has three riding modes. Green: you’re doing most of the work; Orange: you are working hard and so is your bike; and Red, otherwise known as Ludicrous mode: huge grin on your face as you climb trails well beyond your physical and technical limits. I don’t particularly like Testa as a company (something to do with Elon Musk’s torture of laboratory animals), so I’d rather not think of Ludicrous as Teslaesque.

Jessica Pierce, Longmont, Colorado

From: Gary Greene (grg yorkspeach.com)
Subject: Ludicrous

Early in the 45th administration, I responded to an email friend:

“I keep flicking the gauges to see if they’re working right, but it’s not changing the readings any. Both the ludicrousometer and the hypocrisometer are totally pegged.”

Gary Greene, Ocala, Florida

From: Michael Fulton (fulton.4 osu.edu)
Subject: jaunty

Seen on a sign erected by US Marines late in WWII:

So when we reach the Isle of Japan With our caps at a jaunty tilt
We’ll enter the city of Tokyo On the roads the seabees built.

Michael Fulton, Wooster, Ohio

From: Andrew Lloyd (knockroe gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--jaunty

Jaunty n. The Master-at-Arms or senior non-commissioned officer on ships in the (British) Royal Navy. A fearsome but not necessarily frightening person. Apparently a corruption of gendarme. (ref.)

Andrew Lloyd, Borris, Ireland

From: Lawrence Crumb (lcrumb uoregon.edu)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--jaunty

He serves his party best who serves the country best. -Rutherford B. Hayes, 19th US president (4 Oct 1822-1893)

The quotation from President Hayes is ironic in that his party made a deal with the White leaders in the South that the federal government would end Reconstruction if they would accept Hayes’ electors in a contested election where Tilden, the Democratic candidate, won the popular vote.

Lawrence Crumb, Eugene, Oregon

From: Eric Marchbein (emarch333 me.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--hipster

You can’t get any more hip than Blossom Dearie singing Dave Frishberg. (video, 4 min.).

Eric Marchbein, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

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

From: Jeff Millet (jeff holmesmillet.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--hipster

As an erstwhile hippie/freak, I can’t help but feel some sort of countercultural connection to latter-day hipsters -- perhaps because they are the evolution of the hippie, descendants of our own rebelliousness, who’ve borrowed the styles, mores, and habits of our generation and tweaked and twerked them in ways that make them seem odd or uncool to us. Or because they too, in their struggle to be “individual” and “unique”, are experiencing their own scene becoming more and more mainstream and commercialized as the world of product and services marketing appropriates their styles in an effort to be “cool”, accepted and adored among youthful, impressionable buyers yearning to be “hip”. As I suppose we were, too, if I’m being honest about it.

Here’s a page that attempts to categorize a few types. Don’t think they got ’em all. A few they missed:

The trippy hippie - LSD/Acid freaks
The hoodlum hippie - looks like one but acts/fights like a gαngbαnger
The rich kid faux-hippie - looks like one but lives in lap of luxury on daddy’s $
The redneck hippie - peace, love abundant in rural Texas and across the South
The hard rock hippie - nothin’ but Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, and Led Zeppelin, all the time
The incense and patchouli hippie - garbed in gauzy handwoven garb, reeking of herbal oils, etc. and there are more I just can’t recall.

In any case, it was always fun to let your freak flag fly. Long may it wave.

Jeff Millet, Dallas, Texas

From: Bruce Floyd (brucefloyd bellsouth.net)
Subject: Aeschylus

There are times when we must sink to the bottom of our misery to understand truth, just as we must descend to the bottom of a well to see the stars in broad daylight.
-Vaclav Havel, writer, Czech Republic president (5 Oct 1936-2011)

“Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget
falls drop by drop upon the heart
until, in our own despair, against our will,
comes wisdom through the awful grace of God.”

Do agony and despair and obdurate wretchedness at long last elicit wisdom from us? Perhaps, if wisdom is sad acknowledgment that human life is basically a tragic affair at the mercy of contingency. Mind you, I’m grateful for scientific progress -- modern medicine, dentistry, proliferation of daily comforts (who’d like to live a hundred years ago?) -- but the existential enigma of existence still nettles us, gnaws at us. Why are we here? For what purpose? I know bright and imaginative men who forlornly say, pace Socrates, that, contra conventional thought, the examined life is not worth living. We find we’re just another species caught in the grinding blindness of evolution. Or are we? Who in the hell knows anything about these kinds of vexing questions? I suppose I, like most of us, hide the troubling questions behind the usual illusions. They get us through the day, assuaging our anxiety -- at least until we find out we’ve got terminal cancer or a relative dies in some absurd accident. Emily Dickinson says life teaches us to walk with that precarious gait called experience. I walk my dogs regularly in a wooded area. The blue October sky is a cynosure and tempts my eye, but I need to watch my step also. The area teems with water moccasins.

Bruce Floyd, Florence, South Carolina

From: Lou Gottlieb (lougottlieb1 gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--hipster

The Havel quotation, though inspiring, contains an urban myth: in the daytime, the diffusion of light in the air (what makes the sky blue) prevents us from seeing the stars, whether on a mountain top or in a deep well.

Lou Gottlieb, Hubbard, Oregon

Jaunty to the Max
From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: jaunty and hipster

In contemplating our word jaunty I visualized today’s pop icon, whose last name pretty much says it all, Harry Styles. He was the first solo male to grace the cover of Vogue in their Dec 2020 issue, wearing a full-length, frilly dress, no less. As a member of boy-band One Direction, he would sport sheer blouses, floral prints, plaids, clingy jeans, and ankle boots. When he made his 2016 solo debut, he went even more jaunty with his sartorial choices.

Seinfeldian Tough Love
Through the ’90s, Seinfeld was arguably TV’s hippest half-hour of comedy. The ensemble cast of Jerry, George, Elaine, and Kramer, each in their own way, gave empathy a bad name, while often straining the bonds of friendship. In one memorable episode, Elaine accused Kramer of being a “hipster doofus”. The Urban Dictionary defines a “hipster doofus” as “someone who has taken being hip and unique to an extreme, and therefore worn the ‘cool’ out of hip”. The K-man, Kramer, fits that profile to a T... or would that be a K?

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California

From: Karen Folsom (kgfols yahoo.com)
subject: jaunty and hipster

When I think of jaunty I think Fred Astaire. Homage to the greatest of dancers and talents and the personification of jaunty.
And here’s my take on hipster.

Karen Folsom, Santa Barbara, California


This week’s theme: Words that have changed
1. Ludicrous
2. Jaunty
3. Hipster
4. Decarbonize
5. Surly
= 1. How absurd!
2. Smart stunt eh!
3. Those loud, eye-catching types here
4. Clean-air JVs
5. Rude whiz kid
     This week’s theme: Words that have changed
1. Ludicrous
2. Jaunty
3. Hipster
4. Decarbonize
5. Surly
= 1. Outlandish, joke
2. Spry; guest which had a dressy vest
3. Bohemian
4. Neutralize
5. Curt, wretched
-Shyamal Mukherji, Mumbai, India (mukherjis hotmail.com) -Dharam Khalsa, Burlington, North Carolina (dharamkk2 gmail.com)
This week’s theme: Words that have changed
1. Ludicrous
2. Jaunty
3. Hipster
4. Decarbonize
5. Surly
= 1. Sportive
2. The utterly zany, odd chic
3. Aware
4. It makes less carbon
5. Huh, he’s just rude, whinged
-Julian Lofts, Auckland, New Zealand (jalofts xtra.co.nz)

Make your own anagrams and animations.



It is ludicrous I should propose,
And believe she’d be mine, you suppose?
I’m not handsome or rich,
But when she got the itch,
I’m the low scratching-post that she chose.
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes btconnect.com)

Says he, “It has been quite a while
since the last time you managed to smile.
To me, your lugubrious
manner seems ludicrous.
Time for a sunnier style!”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

In the space between Venus and Uranus
Lies a planet that’s fast turning ludicrous.
“It’s such a strange pattern,”
They’re saying on Saturn;
“Their court says you don’t own your uterus?”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


A handsome Beau Brummell she met.
This fellow she cannot forget.
With his jaunty bow tie,
He’s a most stylish guy,
Whose wardrobe has put him in debt.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

Just picture Gene Kelly -- aha!
The personification of “joie”!
So nimble, so quick
Every step, every kick
With “jaunty” his personal shtick!
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

In the shower each day feeling jaunty,
A suburbanite sang in the wrong key.
Out the door this would send
Both his wife and best friend;
One would whimper, and one on the lawn pee.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


“Your outfit appears incomplete,”
says she when she sees his bare feet.
“My shoes,” says the hipster,
“gave me a blister.
That’s why they are now obsolete!”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

In Portland, a free-living hipster
Had a strait-laced girlfriend, but he fixed her.
Said the cool therapist
He had found on Craigslist,
“I will teach her the use of her lips, sir.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


When the eco bug took hold of dad,
It was not simply fashion or fad.
“We’ll decarbonize! Lo,
All your diamonds must go!”
This was said to my mum, who went mad.
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes btconnect.com)

Let’s decarbonize, friends, by all means.
I’ve been doing just that since my teens.
CO2 we should ban.
We must do all we can.
I, for one, have stopped eating baked beans.
-Rudy Landesman, New York, New York (ydur36 hotmail.com)

Of course, we all know it is wise
To take steps to decarbonize.
Our future’s at stake,
So we all have to make
Sacrifices for clean, healthy skies.
-Lois Mowat, Orinda, California (lmowat1810 gmail.com)

With hurricanes growing in size,
Decarbonize now, I advise.
Our fossil fuel use
Amounts to abuse,
And changing our ways would be wise.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

With nature we must harmonize,
And Job 1 is to decarbonize.
If we set an example,
Ms. Liberty’s lamp’ll
Shine brighter in all foreign eyes.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


Like a lowering sky -- every day.
And the clouds never part, or give way;
So from dawn until dusk
Is she surly and brusque,
And we’ve voted -- your mother can’t stay.
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes btconnect.com)

“Let’s meet around ten-ish. I think
that by then I should be in the pink.
If we make it too early,
I’m apt to be surly!”
says she, with a sly little wink.
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

There once was a teacher named Shirley,
So eager to teach, she came early.
To her classroom she’d race --
In that place she would face
Her middle school students most surly.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

“Looky here!” I am right out there yelling
But my sales pitch these days isn’t jelling
In fact, folks are surly!
And I go home early
Hmmm, I wonder why MAGA’s not selling!
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

I have a good friend name of Shirley,
Who many folks think of as surly.
But all they have viewed
Are the times she was rude.
To me, though, she’s quite a nice girlie.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“You’re so cute and your hair is so curly,”
Said the captain. “Please sing for us, Shirley.”
“That dυmb Lollipop tune?”
She replied. “No time soon.”
Thought the crew, “Boy, that brat can be surly.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


“Put some clothes on while you’re flying around,” said Daedalus. “Don’t be ludicrous.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“It’s the Sloop John B as in ‘boy’, not jaunty as in ‘Tony’,” Brian Wilson corrected the other Beach Boys.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“Your thighs and hipster-ned out very nicely,” said the liposuction doctor.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Looking into the mirror after her diet went off the rails, she became hipster-ical.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station , New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

In addition to singing, Shakira is also skilled at using her hipster-ile up her audience.
-David Sacks, Avondale Estates, Georgia (david davidsacks-rla.com)

“Thou consumest too much bread, pasta, and rice,” the angel told Jacob in his dream. The next morning he resolved, “I shall decarbonize-aac’s Mount Moriah Diet.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“It’surly to bed, early to rise,” Ben Franklin corrected the printer.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com) “Why must Mr. Scrooge act so mi-surly, Papa?” asked Tiny Tim.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Dairy farmers have to get up surly in the morning because the cows need milking.
-Janice Power, Cleveland, Ohio (powerjanice782 gmail.com)

Hair Today... Gone Tomorrow
From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: Hair Today... Gone Tomorrow

In light of the Sep 16 killing of a Kurdish-Iranian woman, Mahsa Amini, while in custody, arrested for wearing her headscarf too loosely, I came up with this scenario: a woman makes a statement against wearing the hijab by shaving her head. Now, how can authorities demand that she don the hijab, when the edict specifies covering the hair, and she’s bald?

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California

From everything that man erects and builds in his urge for living, nothing in my eyes is better and more valuable than bridges. They are more important than houses, more sacred than shrines. Belonging to everyone and being equal to everyone, useful, always built with a sense, on the spot where most human needs are crossing, they are more durable than other buildings and they do not serve for anything secret or bad. -Ivo Andric, novelist, Nobel laureate (9 Oct 1892-1975)

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