Wordsmith.org: the magic of words


About | Media | Search | Contact  


Today's Word

Yesterday's Word



Dec 11, 2022
This week’s theme
Illustrated words

This week’s words

How popular are they?
Relative usage over time

AWADmail archives

Next week’s theme
Words related to books

Send a gift that
keeps on giving,
all year long:
A gift subscription of A.Word.A.Day or the gift of books
Bookmark and Share Facebook Twitter Digg MySpace Bookmark and Share

AWADmail Issue 1067

Sponsor’s Message: “Way better than Wordle.” One Up! -- The Wicked/Smart Word Game is a devilish (blue)stocking stuffer: No board. No complicated rules. No mercy. Just fabulous, frustrating fun that’s guaranteed to ruin Christmas. Santa Special $5 US shipping sitewide ends at midnight. Shop now.

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

Have Some Dignity, Oxford English Dictionary. No One Says “Goblin Mode”
The Guardian

AI Bot ChatGPT Stuns Academics With Essay-Writing Skills and Usability
The Guardian

Five Remarkable Chats That Will Help You Understand ChatGPT
The Atlantic

Curse Words Around the World Have Something in Common (We Swear)
The New York Times

Why the French Are Mangling Their Own Language
The Economist

From: Donna Wells (donnacoxwells gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--cherubic

Thank you for the art! I love Leah Palmer Preiss.

Donna Cox Wells, Tarzana, California

From: Mitzi Winks (zipchip yahoo.com)
Subject: Illustrations

Thank you for sharing artist Leah Palmer Preiss word interpretations with us again. Her cherubic cat in the shape of a letter C is so darn clever.

Mitzi Winks, Seal Beach, California

From: Leah Brown (leah.leahbrown gmail.com)
Subject: Thanks

Always a treat when you feature Leah Palmer Preiss.

Leah Brown, Nordland, Washington

Email of the Week -- Brought to you buy One Up! -- “It’s mental.”

From: Stephanie Jane Lovett (uffish earthlink.net)
Subject: cherubs

When my mother was teaching elementary school, she liked to call and refer to her students as cherubs. She was quite surprised to eventually find out that some of them were really upset with her -- because they thought she was calling them some swear word they hadn’t heard before!

Stephanie Lovett, Winston-Salem, North Carolina

From: Andrew Pressburger (andpress sympatico.ca)
Subject: cherub

In Mozart’s opera The Marriage of Figaro, the young page of the count is known as Cherubino, a name which is probably the diminutive of cherub. Cherubino is hopelessly in love with the countess and can’t fully understand whence such strong feelings can come from. He is asking Figaro and others, voi che sapete (i.e., you who know these things) for an explanation.

Andrew Pressburger, Toronto, Canada

From: Narayani Gupta (narayani.gupta gmail.com)
Subject: Nid = nest

This is the same in Sanskrit, Bangla, Hindi, and other Indian languages. Satyajit Ray’s film Charulata is based on Tagore’s short story “Nashta Nid” (Broken Nest).

Narayani Gupta, Delhi, India

From: Robert Sanford (rhsanford gmail.com)
Subject: A parody from Ogden Nash

I think that I shall never see / A poem lovely as a tree. -(Alfred) Joyce Kilmer, journalist and poet (6 Dec 1886-1918)

I think that I shall never see
A billboard lovely as a tree.
Indeed, unless the billboards fall,
I’ll never see a tree at all.
-Ogden Nash

Robert Sanford, Woodland, Washington

From: Mary Treder (mct919 hotmail.com)
Subject: Rutilant

I took a picture of what I now know is a rutilant sunset over the Sea of Cortez, just the other day!

A rutilant sunset over the Sea of Cortez
Mary Treder, Puerto Peñasco, Mexico

From: Shivaji Biswas (shiv0304 hotmail.com)
Subject: tatterdemalion

If onomatopoeia is a word that describes what it truly sounds like, then is there an English word for words that describe what it looks like? An example of such a word would be tatterdemalion: the condition of the mane of the king of beasts, in a wind-swept savannah.

Shivaji Biswas, Rochdale, UK

From: Lori Bradley (loribradley comcast.net)
Subject: Leah Palmer Preiss

Thank you so much for featuring the fantastic illustrations by Leah Palmer Preiss! I enjoyed seeing them this week.

Lori Bradley, New Bedford, Massachusetts

From: Karyn Ross (karyn kindleadership.org)
Subject: A word that means hates homosexuality or transgender and not fear of it

My name is Karyn Ross and I’ve recently published a book called “The Kind Leader”. I’m also the Founder and President of The Love and Kindness Project Foundation, a global, grass-roots movement spreading kindness person to person, one kind act, one kind word, and one kind thought around the world. I’m also the mother of a fabulous queer daughter!

I’m hoping you can help me with a word question.

All over internet and social media, I see and hear the words homophobic and homophobia and transphobic and transphobia used to describe people who don’t actually have a fear of the LGBTQIA+ community, but a hatred of them. I’m afraid that continuing to use a word that has the connotation of fear (something irrational and potentially uncomfortable) instead of a word that has the denotation and connotation of choosing to hate, isn’t helping to call out unkindness... or have a discussion about what is really going on.

Could you please help me figure out what the correct word(s) should be? Is there a word like misogyny (hatred of women) that would be more correct? Misohomosexual? Misotransgender?

Are there better words? Can we create new words if the correct ones don’t already exist?

Thank you for your help. If we don’t use the correct words to describe and call out unkindness, hate, and discrimination, how will we be able to have the conversations that create a kinder, better world?

With kindness!

Karyn Ross, Founder, The New School for Kind Leaders, Naperville, Illinois

Yours sound like a great movement. We could use more kindness in this world.

Coining new words is easy, getting people to adopt them is a different matter. And what’s really hard is getting phobic people to change, whatever word we use for them.

As an experiment, I consulted ChatGPT (read more about it in the “Interesting stories from the Net” section above). I asked this AI chatbot: Can you suggest a different word for homophobia? Its response:

Here are a few alternative words for homophobia:
Heterosexism: discrimination or prejudice against LGBTQ+ individuals based on the assumption that heterosexuality is superior or more natural than other sexual orientations.
Sexual prejudice: a negative attitude or bias towards someone based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Anti-gay bias: a dislike or hostility towards LGBTQ+ individuals, often based on stereotypes and misinformation.
Queerphobia: fear, hatred, or discrimination towards LGBTQ+ individuals, particularly those who are gender non-conforming or do not fit into traditional gender roles.
Homonegativity: a negative attitude towards gay men, lesbian women, or bisexual individuals, often based on stereotypes and negative beliefs.

I should retire and let AI take it from here.
-Anu Garg

No Angels
From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: cherubic and rutilant

As a kid of the ’50s I was captivated by the filmic antics of “The Little Rascals” / “Our Gang” ragamuffins. These B&W movies shot back in the 1920s-1930s featured an ensemble cast: Alfalfa, Spanky, Darla, Buckwheat and Stymie, who reflected hardscrabble urban working-class kids of the era. Both coquettish Darla and pudgy Spanky were cherubic, whilst Alfalfa was just a bona fide rascal. However, he was the most charismatic of the lot and the most popular with legions of fans.

Glowing Recommendation
‘Tis the season! Seeing our word rutilant, my Xmas spirit kicked in. Santa’s favorite reindeer with the glowing red schnoz, Rudolph, came to mind. Crooner Gene Autry launched the now-classic song, “Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer”, with scores of other noted singers... Burl Ives. Dean Martin, Ella Fitzgerald, and Perry Como recording this Xmas season chestnut. Even William Shatner (aka Captain Kirk) got into the act, not quite singing “Rudolph”, but offering up his idiosyncratic, halting vocal stylings.

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California


This week’s theme: Illustrated words
1. Cherubic
2. Nidus
3. Pelagic
4. Rutilant
5. Tatterdemalion
= 1. Angelic, celestial
2. Worm nest, hub
3. Out at sea
4. Lit with reddish luster
5. Dirtier unkempt cad
= 1. Child-like mug
2. Nest hut
3. Re: wild deep-sea cacti
4. Lustrous smile -- win it!
5. Threadbare, torn tat
= 1. Do it like angels
2. Nest
3. That’s nautical
4. Emit red hue, rubious
5. Wild wretch’s derelict tramp
= 1. Angelic child’s attributes
2. Nest
3. Swims in water like a true home
4. Lit up red
5. Old, cut thread
-Dharam Khalsa, Burlington, North Carolina (dharamkk2 gmail.com) -Shyamal Mukherji, Mumbai, India (mukherjis hotmail.com) -Julian Lofts, Auckland, New Zealand (jalofts xtra.co.nz) -Josiah Winslow, Franklin, Wisconsin (winslowjosiah gmail.com)

Illustrated words
1. Cherubic
2. Nidus
3. Pelagic
4. Rutilant
5. Tatterdemalion
= 1. Cute
2. Cradle
3. Thalassic
4. Lit up red
5. Tumbledown; or I in rags until attired
-Robert Jordan, Lampang, Thailand (alfiesdad ymail.com)

Make your own anagrams and animations.



Little boys -- and, of course, full-grown men --
May present as cherubic, ye ken?
It is best, if in doubt
As to what they’re about,
To assume they’ve been naughty -- again!
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes btconnect.com)

She never behaves as she ought,
nor indeed ever gives it a thought.
Though she seems so cherubic,
she breaks ev’ry rubric,
but somehow has yet to be caught.
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

How cherubic his face when he smiled,
And I thought, “What a wonderful child!”
Though looks can deceive,
It’s hard to believe
That a rap sheet quite long he’s compiled.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

Behind a face sweetly cherubic,
“I’ll drive everyone nuts,” plotted Rubik.
“With a cheap little toy,
Brilliant minds I’ll destroy,
But what shape shall I make it? Ah! Cubic!”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


All communities, even the best,
Have a nidus of perps who infest.
Be it clubhouse or bar,
You won’t have to look far
When you’re wanting to make an arrest.
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes btconnect.com)

Cried the children, distressed, “Woe betide us!
This home had long been our safe nidus.
We were happy, but then
Mom married again,
and the stepfather couldn’t abide us!”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

With worms has our mother supplied us
These weeks that we’ve spent in the nidus.
But now we will try
To take off and fly
With nothing but instinct to guide us.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

“No power on Earth could divide us,”
Said my twin. Then a boy sat beside us.
Though ‘twas one I adored,
He picked her! I was floored!
Of our falling out, he was the nidus.
-Janice Power, Cleveland, Ohio (powerjanice782 gmail.com)

Said the lim’ricks unborn, “Steve, please write us;
To spread ‘round the world, you’re our nidus.
We’re formless and void
Till with us you have toyed,
Then voila! You’ve the touch of King Midas!”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


I had a weird dream yesternight,
and it gave me a terrible fright.
The outcome was tragic.
Some creature pelagic
first sniffed me, then took a big bite!
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

I thought I should set my fish free.
(His bowl looked like prison to me.)
He wasn’t pelagic;
His ending was tragic --
So don’t toss a carp in the sea!
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

So many folks just long to see
Beyond their own vicinity
Pelagic views lure.
“Go to sea? Why not? Sure!
But YOU go -- then come back and tell me!”
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

The sailor, he did love the sea.
“There’s nowhere else I’d rather be.
My time would be tragic,
Without life pelagic.
A landlubber’s lot, not for me!”
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

Said Robinson Crusoe, “’Tis tragic
To be stuck on this island pelagic.”
Answered Friday, “Give thanks;
We’ll be played by Tom Hanks
And a volleyball. Hollywood magic!”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


His beard is pure white, and he’s cute.
His rutilant cheeks match his suit.
If you hear, “Ho, ho, ho,”
Then you surely will know
Which jolly old elf is en route!
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

“C’mon, girls, let’s see rutilant faces!”
He teased, as they took all their places.
“It’s Radio City
Ya gotta look pretty
If there’s one single frown, you disgrace us!”
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

Bragged the Martian, “Our planet’s so rutilant
That it’s nice as a solar accouterment.”
The Earthling replied,
“I don’t mean to be snide,
But it’s dead, and you can’t find a nutrient.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


The poor tatterdemalion chap
Puts his grease-stained and moth-eaten cap
On the ground with a sign
Which instructs the benign
To donate while he’s taking his nap.
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes btconnect.com)

Like a tatterdemalion she dressed,
Which left people she met unimpressed.
“But this is my style,”
She’d say with a smile.
“It’s Bohemian chic at its best!”
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

“I shall teach a young tatterdemalion,”
Said Higgins, “some manners quite alien.
With Lerner and Loewe
Writing music just so,
We’ll win fame quite surpassing Pygmalion!”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


The Cherubic Cube has a picture of a little angel on each colored square.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

During his off hours from the Cuban revolution, Guevara’s favorite toy was the Chérubic’s Cube.
-Jim Ertner, Greensboro, North Carolina (jde31459 gmail.com)

“Sonny and Cherubic-ker too much,” said the marriage counselor.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

My mother de-nidus candy before dinner, but my sister and I managed to swipe a sweet treat or two.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“Hey King Arthur, how ‘bout you nidus before we go off looking for the Grail?” said Galahad and Gawain.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“The divisiveness in our society is terrible,” said Donald. “Elect me again and I’ll u-nidus against Mexicans, Muslims, elections, prosecutors, the Constitution, and anyone who dares criticize me for inviting anti-Semites to dinner.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“Dear Anu,” wrote the AWADmail contributor, “In honor of Nancy Pelosi, I’ve come up with a portmanteau meaning a magical touch in shepherding legislation through Congress: Pelagic!”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

The Giuliani name was forever tarnished once Rudilant his efforts to Donald’s Ukraine and reelection capers.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“Dis new sorting machine’ll tatterdemalion-ucklehead,” the mechanic tried to explain to Postmaster LeJoy.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Trump's True Colors
From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: Trump’s True Colors

Just when we thought we couldn’t be more shocked by Trump, last weekend he topped himself with his Truth Social post advocating tearing up our Constitution. From his “There were good people on BOTH sides” after the Charlottesville white supremacist rally, to “Do you think injecting bleach would knock down Covid?”, to “I know more than all the generals”, the self-acclaimed “stable genius” pretty much trumped his earlier most gobsmacking pronouncements with his suggesting that most of the Constitution should be scrapped.

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California

If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart? -Alexander Solzhenitsyn, novelist, Nobel laureate (11 Dec 1918-2008)

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