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Nov 27, 2022
This week’s theme
Which came first, noun or verb?

This week’s words

How popular are they?
Relative usage over time

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AWADmail Issue 1065

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

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“A delightful, quirky collection.”
-The New York Times

A Word A Day: A Romp through Some of the Most Unusual and Intriguing Words in English Another Word A Day: An All-new Romp through Some of the Most Unusual and Intriguing Words in English
Find them in a bookstore in your country

“The most welcomed, most enduring piece of daily mass email in cyberspace.”
-The New York Times

A.Word.A.Day | A.Word.A.Day Premium

From: David Brad St.Cyr (brad2468 gmail.com)
Subject: noun to verb

I think “coffee” is becoming one of those words. Almost like summer... I always thought that only the wealthy can use summer as a verb. Example: We “summered” in the Greek Isles this year. People now say coffee in verb form: “We coffeed downtown before the meeting.”

David Brad St.Cyr, Orangevale, California

From: Don French (dcfrench gmail.com)
Subject: the verbing of nouns

It wasn’t until I started watching the series Yellowstone that I came to realize that “cowboy” was a verb as well as a noun, at least among cowboys.

Don French, Edina, Minnesota

From: Jeff Friedman (jeff.mail57 gmail.com)
Subject: Noun to verb words

It’s interesting that some nouns become verbs quickly, while others never do. I like to bicycle, but I no longer enjoy automobiling.

Jeff Friedman, Tacoma Washington

From: Fred Mandelbaum (mandelbaumf yahoo.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--whinge

I’m visiting with my sister for the holiday, and one person didn’t come down for dinner because she was migraining.

Fred Mandelbaum, Piscataway, New Jersey

Email of the Week -- Brought to you buy One Up! -- Stealing is the name of the game.

From: Colleen Thompson (colleenthompson mac.com)
Subject: truffle

“How am I supposed to relax in a world where truffle can mean either chocolate or fungus?”

How am I supposed to relax in a world where truffle can mean either to “root out” or to “stuff into”?

Colleen Thompson, Castle Valley, Utah

From: Alexander Nix (revajnix yahoo.co.uk)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--scunner

The town of Scunthorpe in Lincolnshire has an unfortunate enough moniker in itself which given the word it contains often means it is flagged up by anti-obscenity software. However, it also has the colloquial nickname of Scunny although some who have visited may feel it quite apt given its vast aging steel works site is also home to Basic Slag Rd.

Alexander Nix, Cambridge, UK

From: Rebecca Gindin-Clarke (theduckthatwasnt yahoo.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--scunner

There is an alternative spelling in Northern Ireland, which of course has major connections to Scotland and Ulster-Scots language.

Here the spelling is scunder, though it’s really only used in the past tense. It can refer to being annoyed or frustrated but I’ve mainly heard it to mean embarrassed. Apparently, the definition of scundered varies across the province and I am in an “embarrassed” area.

Rebecca Gindin-Clarke, Belfast, Northern Ireland

From: Lindsay Tosh (lindsay.tosh btconnect.com)
Subject: Scunner

You aver that this fine Scottish word is either a noun or a verb. I have to tell you that we also use it as an adjective. I haven’t a Scooby Doo how it spells but scunnert is how it’s pronounced, always with heavy emphasis. Usage would be “John came back from the cowshed looking fair scunnert.”

Lindsay Tosh, Parkgate, Scotland

From: Kenneth Marshall (to_kfm icloud.com)
Subject: Scunner

When I was young, growing up on the Canadian prairies, we used the word “scunner” differently. It meant something gone awry, or suffering non-catastrophic damage, i.e., Yesterday’s rain scunnered our picnic plans. Or, Young Tom was going to scunner his sister’s plastic boat before their mother intervened. Or, If we can’t borrow a car from someone we will have to scunner the swim out at the lake. I was raised in a Scottish-derived family which may have played some part in the usage.

Kenneth Marshall, Edmonton, Canada

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

When said tomcat is castrated (in polite circles, the term is neutered), he becomes a gib. Which is also an aviation term, short for “guy in back”. Truly an ironic acronym. In Top Gun, Goose was a gib, somebody who didn’t actually pilot the aircraft. When airliners eliminated the flight engineer in the cockpit, some unions insisted that a third pilot was necessary and forced their airlines to carry one in the jump seat behind the two pilots actually performing their jobs. Those poor souls (mostly males back then) were also known as gibs. It was not a popular job description.

Jim Tang, Kula, Hawaii

From: Bill Wesley (wcw1066 yahoo.com)
Subject: Tomcat

It is also the name of the Grumman F-14 swing wing fighter.

Bill Wesley, Canton, Georgia

From: Marcus Weeks (marcusweeks mac.com)
Subject: Tomcat

Here in the county of Sussex, in the south of England, it is especially common for country folk to refer to even inanimate objects as “she”. As my father used to say: “In Sussex, everything’s a she -- excepting a tomcat, and she’s a he.”

Marcus Weeks (likewise Sussex born and bred) , Hastings, UK

From: Jennifer Poda (jennifer.poda gmail.com)
Subject: Today’s Thought

Noticed in your THOUGHT FOR TODAY today from Andrew Carnegie, you list him as an industrialist. You need to add philanthropist, too.

He donated a lot of his money during his lifetime, including building libraries for many cities (including where I grew up!), a major boost to literacy and education. When I was young, my father would take me with him to the library every Saturday -- probably to give my mother a break -- depositing me in the children’s section while he went to do his research. Over the years I progressed to the other sections. Interesting, no one censored my reading choices. I credit the library reading, not any schools attended, for being able to skip 7th grade and test out of three years (!) of class work in college, while being on the school Honor Rolls and Deans’ Lists.

Another good quote of his:
“There is not such a cradle of democracy upon the earth as the Free Public Library, this republic of letters, where neither rank, office, nor wealth receives the slightest consideration.” -Andrew Carnegie, industrialist and philanthropist (25 Nov 1835-1919)

Happy quoting,

Jennifer Poda, Life-long Reader + Library Patron, Akron, Ohio

From: Steve Benko (stevebenko1 gmail.com)
Subject: You have armed us well

In the last few days I have watched two TV shows which made use of words I learned only recently from AWAD.

In the current season of The Crown, Princess Diana refers to herself at one point as a Sloane Ranger. And in the most recent episode of Rick and Morty, our heroes disappear into a world populated by anthropomorphized storytelling devices. One, for example, is Previous Leon, who has a habit of recounting things that have happened recently (a play on “Previously on.....”). But the relevant one is Rhett Khan, a play on retcon who tells revisionist versions of what happened before.

Thank you for preparing me.

Steve Benko, New York, New York

Truffle Trivia
From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: truffle and tomcat

The new game show, “Name Those Fungi”, that’s sweeping the nation... NOT, Inspired by our word truffle, prompted this scenario highlighting the fungus and the chocolate treat.

Tomcat Jones
In his prime, with his full-throttle baritone and swiveling hips, Tom Jones exuded an undeniable raw animal magnetism that drove women into paroxysms of desire. They would toss their panties, bras, phone numbers, hotel/house keys on stage, totally seduced by his allure. Befitting his name, Tom appears to fit the profile of a tomcat.
Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California


This week’s theme: Which came first, noun or verb?
1. Truffle
2. Scunner
3. Tomcat
4. Whinge
5. Nitch
= 1. Hunt/mmm, sweet negrinho
2. Surfeit/swinish chav
3. Hector/errant wolf
4. Beef
5. Nick; cut; etch
     This week’s theme: noun or verb came first?
1. Truffle
2. Scunner
3. Tomcat
4. Whinge
5. Nitch
= 1. Chefs like or want fungi
2. Abhorrence
3. Fetches vermin, torments mutts
4. Whine
5. Cut
-Robert Jordan, Lampang, Thailand (alfiesdad ymail.com) -Julian Lofts, Auckland, New Zealand (jalofts xtra.co.nz)
This week’s theme: Which came first, noun or verb?
1. Truffle
2. Scunner
3. Tomcat
4. Whinge
5. Nitch
= 1. Chef in news’ fungi; rich sweetmeats
2. Born hate
3. Mr. Mouser; flirt
4. Whine, kvetch
5. Cut, notch
     This week’s theme is which came first, noun or verb?
1. Truffle
2. Scunner
3. Tomcat
4. Whinge
5. Nitch
= 1. Fungi
2. Sicken, cut short
3. First chase, then charm, overwhelm women
4. Bitter whine
5. Fine cuts
-Dharam Khalsa, Burlington, North Carolina (dharamkk2 gmail.com) -Shyamal Mukherji, Mumbai, India (mukherjis hotmail.com)

Make your own anagrams and animations.



Please answer, if you’d be so kind,
this question that’s been on my mind:
When you constantly truffle
around in your duffel,
what is it you’re hoping to find?
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

There are two kinds of truffles we eat.
One’s a fungus; the other is sweet.
Though this is confusing,
Whichever you’re choosing,
You are in for a marvelous treat.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

To “truffle” means, really, to dig
And I can just picture some pig
Going in with his snout
And then coming out
With some weird unknown thingamajig!
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

In my house there’s a daily kerfuffle
As for phone, keys, or wallet I truffle.
Though I search every nook
It’s not easy to look,
For my glasses got lost in the shuffle.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


A young Scotsman whose kilt caught the breeze
Took a scunner to folk who would tease.
They’d say, “Laddie our eyes
Are alight with surprise
An’ we’re prayin’ the wind will reprise.”
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, Cornwall. UK (tony_holmes btconnect.com)

She rated him nine out of ten,
and their dating went nicely. But then
he called her a stunner.
She thought he’d said scunner,
and spoke to him never again.
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

“At the rhymes of Steve Benko I scunner,
And he’s also a terrible punner,”
Wrote the AWADmail troll.
“Off the plank he should stroll,
And Joan Perrin as well. Eww! I shun her.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


On the Subway with me on the “E” line,
My cat saw a cute female feline.
But no tomcat is he.
He looked straight at me,
And then to my knee made a beeline.
-Rudy Landesman, New York, New York (ydur36 hotmail.com)

Once unchaste, he’s reformed since the op
When the vet’nery gave him the chop.
He’s no tomcat these days,
So he no longer strays,
And his default position is flop.
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, Cornwall. UK (tony_holmes btconnect.com)

That man is a tomcat, a louse --
A most unreliable spouse.
His wife has grown bothered
By children he’s fathered
In places outside of their house.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

“Speak softly and carry a stick!”
TR’s rule for one’s life politic --
But Trump’s? I would guess
“Just assume she said yes!”
‘Cause tomcatting’s Donald’s best shtick!
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

Don Juan was a famous tomcat --
There is no disputing on that.
His conquests were many.
Remorse? Hadn’t any,
Come morning he’d just grab his hat.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“Some guys on the road like to tomcat,
But I rest to get ready for combat,”
Said Cal Ripken. “This game
Played hung over is lame;
With those guys, it’s like watching my mom bat.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)
(Author’s note: The above AWAD limerick represents my 2,632nd in a row without missing a day, tying the record for consecutive Major League Baseball games played by Cal Ripken Jr. over a 16-year period. It is in honor of him.)


I can see that you’re in a foul mood,
so you really can’t help seeming rude.
But your infinite whinging,
my dear, is infringing
upon my desired quietude!
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

On seeing the giant syringe,
Some patients would wail and they’d whinge.
Doc would say with good cheer,
“There is no need to fear --
I’m sure that you’ll just feel a twinge.”
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

Though her neighbors at first were concerned,
She was most repetitious, they learned.
She was quite prone to whinge;
Soon those plaints made them cringe.
Invitations from her they all spurned.
-Shyamal Mukherji, Mumbai, India (mukherjis hotmail.com)

All in all, I’ve a pretty good heart,
But (I hardly know whereall to start!)
If I’m with one who whinges
I start to get twinges
Like: how to politely depart!
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

His constant complaints made her cringe.
He’d whine that his dinners she’d singe.
She thought, “What a louse.
Let the jerk keep the house.”
And so she was gone with the whinge.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

Said Donald, “On lies I will binge;
They appeal to the lunatic fringe.
It’s such fun at my rallies!
And final vote tallies?
Terrific! More chances to whinge!”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


We know an ambitious old witch
who repeatedly cuts a small nitch
in her belt when she brews
one of her stews.
And she does it with nary a hitch.
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

Don Juan had a system by which
Each conquest he’d mark with a nitch.
With his knife thus employed,
A few belts he destroyed
But still never sated his itch!
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

In democracy just one more nitch,
And it may soon wind up in a ditch.
Those who lose say they won,
Women’s rights are now done,
And “I love my new Court,” chuckles Mitch.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


“Please pass me tha-truffle-d potato chip,” said the toddler.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“Yo ho, me hearties, yer drinkin’ too much grog,” said the pirate captain. “Stow that ca-scunner the fo’c’sle now, boys.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“They’ve deleted my adverbs,” said Tomcat-astrophically.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Movie star Cruise bought himself a new boat he dubbed the Tomcatamaran.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station , New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“It doesn’t look like you’re going to whinge-rry,” said Betty Ford on election night.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“I’ll say anything and everything that gets me TV coverage or cheering crowds,” said Donald. “I’m basically scratchin’ a-nitch.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Crossing Jordan
From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: Crossing Jordan

Ohio GOP House loudmouth Jim Jordan is one of Trump’s diehard defenders and leading attack-dogs. Even before the dust settled on the recent midterms, Jordan and his coterie of House MAGA maniacs put investigating Pres. Biden and his son Hunter at the top of their “get even” agenda. Most Americans are hurting from the woes of inflation, exorbitant drug prices, and lingering Covid, yet the first priority of Jordan & Co is to go after the Bidens. Hmm... Republican dirty politics as usual?
Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California

A body of clay, a mind full of play, a moment’s life -- that’s me. -Harivansh Rai Bachchan, poet (27 Nov 1907-2003)

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