Wordsmith.org: the magic of words


About | Media | Search | Contact  


Today's Word

Yesterday's Word



Dec 25, 2022
This week’s theme
No el

This week’s words

How popular are they?
Relative usage over time

AWADmail archives

Next week’s theme
Words with world records

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 1069

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

Sponsor’s Message: “Machiavellian.” Wise Up! is the smartest party-pants card game in the world: 150 devilish trivia questions -- What can go up the chimney down but not down the chimney up? What’s Sleeping Beauty’s real name? But wait! There are also 50 nifty challenges -- Throw this card on the floor and pick it up without using your hands. Or, Swap shirts with the player to your left. Start the New Year off with a “Wow!” Shop Now.

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

Where Romantic Poetry in a Fading Language Draws Stadium Crowds
The New York Times

I Was Asked to Invent the Next Wordle. How Hard Could it Be?
The Guardian

From: Marie-Noelle Murphy (mnmurphy fomlaw.com)
Subject: Thank you for the No el week

My legal first name is Marie “Noel” and for years I have had a “No L” button. My friend Daniel always addresses me as “No’L” on his postcards to me.

Marie-Noelle Murphy, San Francisco, California

Email of the Week -- Brought to you buy Wise Up! -- How do you get down from an elephant?

From: Billy Rainbow (billyr cruzio.com)
Subject: Been There, Done That

Cookies I made with my then nine-year-old daughter:

Xmas cookies, Nov 2011

They’ve been a sporadic tradition ever since. The icing is always approximately the same, but we’ve used all kinds of different cookies under it!

Billy Rainbow, Santa Cruz, California

From: Irene R. Garcia (iregarcia2 yahoo.com)
Subject: L in almond

Where I live we also pronounce the L in almond. I guess we are just common folk. Maybe I will take lessons in poshness starting here: video (5 min.)

Irene R Garcia, Simi Valley, California

From: James Smith (jim5506 suddenlink.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--folkmoot

The silent L must be a regional thing. I was born and raised in eastern New Mexico and live in west Texas. The only words on your silent L list that we pronounce that way are could, would, and should.

James Smith, Lubbock, Texas

From: Don Fearn (pooder charter.net)
Subject: Folk, calm, psalm, etc.

I read all the comments about these and other similar words so I tried an experiment. I know that my tongue goes to the roof of my mouth to make the L sound, so I pronounced each of the words while noticing where my tongue went. In none of them did my tongue touch the roof of my mouth, therefore even though the L sound was sort of suggested, it didn’t actually happen.

Don Fearn, Rochester, Minnesota

From: David Mezzera (damezz comcast.net)
Subject: Folkmoot

In the introduction to the latest edition of Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised, the terms folk-moot, village-moot, and hundred-moot are all used to explain Anglo-Saxon tribal customs for different levels of political meetings, followed by the shire-moot used in England, which later became known as the shire Court, then the great council and finally the parliament. And all because of the folk-moot!

David Mezzera, Vallejo, California

From: Jim Scarborough (jimes hiwaay.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--folkmoot

There is an annual international traditional dance festival in the mountains of North Carolina. It’s a great opportunity for cultures to meet and learn about each other: folkmoot.org (video, 5 min.)

Jim Scarborough, Cary, North Carolina

From: Stephen Wailes (stephenwailes8 gmail.com)
Subject: Thought for the Day

And the evil is done in hopes that evil surrenders / But the deeds of the devil are burned too deep in the embers / And a world of hunger in vengeance will always remember. -Phil Ochs, folksinger (19 Dec 1940-1976)

Surely you can do better than a folksinger, whose thought is trite and terribly phrased.

Stephen Wailes

A mere folksinger! If only he had the foresight to tour with a 50-piece band he might have come up with a beautiful, original way to present the My Lai.
-Anu Garg

From: Mitch Silverman (mgsotr gmail.com)
Subject: Phil Ochs

Thank you for acknowledging the birthday of Phil Ochs. For completions’ sake, I’m including the entire last stanza of the song “We Seek No Wider War”.

And the evil is done in hopes that evil surrenders
But the deeds of the devil are burned too deep in the embers
And a world of hunger in vengeance will always remember
So please be reassured, we seek no wider war
We seek no wider war
[Full lyrics, recording]

Mitch Silverman, Boston, Massachusetts

From: Sara Hutchinson (sarahutch2003 yahoo.com)
Subject: qualm

I’ve always liked the anonymous poem from the Oxford Book of Comic Verse:

King David and King Solomon lead very merry lives
With very many concubines and very many wives.
But when old age arrived at last
With very many qualms.
King Solomon wrote the Song of Songs,
King David wrote the psalms.

Sara Hutchinson, New Castle, Delaware

From: Tim O’Hearn (tjohearn aol.com)
Subject: L in qualm

I have no qualms about pronouncing the L in qualms.

Tim O’Hearn, Albuquerque, New Mexico

From: Eric F. Plumlee (ericfplumlee hotmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--pastillage

In Turkish, “pasta” means “cake”. If you want “pasta”, the Turkish translation is “makarna”. I’m reminded of “macaroni”.

Eric Plumlee, Niederlenz, Switzerland

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

Seurat, probably the most important of the pointillist painters, started out as a neo-impressionist (as illustrated by his famous painting The Bathers, from 1884, preceding the supposedly official beginning of pointillism by two years).

In any case, most of these designations were originally titles of ridicule, Romanesque meaning barbarian, Gothic crude, Renaissance revived from antiquity (see also neoclassicism), impressionist unreal, expressionist a ridiculous imitation of the impressionists, and so on.

Andrew Pressburger, Toronto, Canada

From: Alan Batten (alan.batten gmail.com)
Subject: Yousuf Karsh

I’ve also seen that great men are often lonely. This is understandable, because they have built such high standards for themselves that they often feel alone. But that same loneliness is part of their ability to create. -Yousuf Karsh, portrait photographer (23 Dec 1908-2002)

He took the iconic portrait of Churchill’s scowling visage in Dec 1941, in the Canadian House of Commons Speaker’s Office. It is said that Karsh had 5 minutes to do it. He had the lighting all set and the great one stepped into position with his famous cigar all aglow. Karsh said words to the effect that the cigar had to go and snatched it out of Winston’s hand. That petty theft is what caused Churchill’s famously angry face. Karsh gave back the cigar and took a few other pictures, but none were as good. That portrait is said to be the most reproduced portrait in history, according to The Economist.

Alan Batten, Charlotte, North Carolina

From: David Sanders (davidysanders gmail.com)
Subject: Silent L

My Anglo-Saxon professor in grad school often pointed out that English likes to preserve the quantity of its words -- in effect the time it takes to utter them -- amidst the myriad of changes that the language allows and welcomes. The silent L is a good example, for, as the L-drops from the words “palm” or “calm,” note that the A sounds are extended, and become longer than any other long A sounds that I can think of.

In grad school I also noticed that a number of my American friends, especially those from the Midwest, kept a little of that L-sound in words such as “calm”. I have no qualms about that. In a world of rapid change I find such conservations to be calming.

David Sanders, Pittsford, New York

From: Steve Sackett (sackettsls yahoo.com)
Subject: No el!

Sigh at the reality of a Chicago transportation strike -- No El!

Steve Sackett, Moorestown, New Jersey

Tater Talk
From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: qualm and pointillage

No, this isn’t an outtake from Toy Story number... whatever. Here, Art Clokey’s claymation icon, Gumby, may be stating the obvious, but the still-popular Mr. Potato Head, for me, is a kind of Frankensteinian creation, but hardly a monster. He tasks kids to take him apart, piece-by-piece, and put him back together again, right down to his shiny red bulbous schnoz and horned-rimmed glasses.

Seurat in His Dot-Age
I would contend that both Post-Impressionist painters Georges Seurat and Vincent Van Gogh were “daublers”, the former daubed with dots of thick pigment on canvas, whilst Van Gogh daubed with deliberate dashes, dynamic impasto brushstrokes. Seurat’s painting, A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte, so impressed Broadway playwright/composer Stephen Sondheim that he wrote a hit musical, Sunday in the Park with George, as a kind of homage to the “master of the dot”.

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California


This week’s theme: No el
1. Folkmoot
2. Qualm
3. Pastillage
4. Psalm
5. Pointillage
= llllllll took a hike
1. Meet
2. Squeam
3. A topping
4. Anthem
5. Of spots image-wise
= 1. The people
2. Gloom
3. A white milk-like meal
4. Antique song
5. Small, flat spots
= 1. Hall meeting
2. Ill pang
3. Oh, a sweet motif!
4. Poem all quote
5. Make spots (skill)
-Robert Jordan, Lampang, Thailand
(alfiesdad ymail.com)
-Josiah Winslow, Franklin, Wisconsin
(winslowjosiah gmail.com)
--Dharam Khalsa, Burlington, North Carolina
(dharamkk2 gmail.com)

This week’s theme: There’s no el pronounced
1. Folkmoot
2. Qualm
3. Pastillage
4. Psalm
5. Pointillage
= 1. The people of a town
2. OK? - Hmm no I gripe
3. Small pellets
4. Song
5. A small dot technique like Seurat
-Julian Lofts, Auckland, New Zealand
(jalofts xtra.co.nz)

So this week’s trusty theme: No el
1. Folkmoot
2. Qualm
3. Pastillage
4. Psalm
5. Pointillage
= 1. Townhall mass meet
2. I’m feeling ill
3. Gateau top’s ok
4. Holy poem quest
5. “Spot art” skill
-Shyamal Mukherji, Mumbai, India
(mukherjis hotmail.com)
Make your own anagrams and animations.



In the agora, folkmoots convene.
(It’s a forum for venting of spleen.)
Ev’ryone has their say,
In the time-honored way,
And sees justice dispensed at the scene.
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes btconnect.com

Two counties could never agree
on where their joint border should be.
To resolve the dispute,
they called a folkmoot.
The result? They’re still waiting to see.
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

The folkmoot was held in the square;
The villagers voted right there.
And it was, you could say,
In its primitive way,
A most democratic affair.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

Some amphibians met at a folkmoot.
Said a frog high on pot, “Have a toke, newt.”
A police salamander
At them took a gander,
And said, “That’s now fine, but don’t coke toot.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


If you’re nervous and suffer from qualms --
For which medicos offer no balms --
Try a whiskey, or three --
It works wonders for me --
Or seek solace in reading -- try psalms.
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes btconnect.com)

With his sycophants he loves to dine,
But surely, he has some design.
Donald Trump has no qualms
About greasing the palms
Of his cohorts to keep them in line.
-Rudy Landesman, New York, New York (ydur36 hotmail.com)

I recommend music by Brahms.
I do so without any qualms.
I urge you to listen
And see what you’re missin’ --
You’ll find that it soothes and it calms.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

They say this port city’s all class,
But it’s much touted street food, alas,
Although tasty and yum
Caused a qualm in the tum,
Sending sailors to sick bay en masse.
-Shyamal Mukherji, Mumbai, India (mukherjis hotmail.com)

Her getaway trip was a balm.
She hadn’t a care or a qualm.
And thought, “Life is grand,
By surf, and on sand,”
As she sat there beneath a tall palm.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

LBJ had not even a qualm
About how to save South Vietnam.
With a big Texas grin,
“We will stop Ho Chi Minh,”
He told villagers, “Here’s some napalm.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


For our wedding, a cake was prepared --
Seven tiers -- no expenses were spared.
Our entire entourage,
Formed in hard pastillage,
Was depicted to show that we cared.
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes btconnect.com)

The pastillage was a real feat,
And the wedding cake looked like a treat.
But when all’s said and done,
It’s just sugar. A ton!
And it’s simply disgusting to eat.
-Rudy Landesman, New York, New York (ydur36 hotmail.com)

She’s known for the goodies she bakes.
Folks love it whenever she takes
some white pastillage
and makes a corsage
to place upon one of her cakes.
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

With pastillage you can create
Decorations that really look great!
But sugary paste
Has not got much taste,
So I won’t pile it up on my plate.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

A skillful and caring massage
Makes me feel like so much pastillage.
Kneading muscle and limb
Restores vigor and vim,
Melting stress away like a mirage.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


In the grip of an earthquake-sized qualm,
I had need of its equal for calm.
So, my guru -- top guy --
Has suggested that I
Try reciting the twenty-third psalm.
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes btconnect.com)

Although it’s still early, the sun
hangs low. Soon our day will be done.
Light breeze sings a psalm,
bringing us calm.
We bid you goodnight, ev’ryone!
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

When David would sing Saul a psalm,
The monarch would soon become calm.
And even today
These verses we say,
And find they’re a wonderful balm.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

Back in biblical days that inspire,
People prayed with a poem and a lyre.
“You must praise with a psalm.”
David told Absalom,
“If you want all your prayers to reach higher.”
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“What a thrill! It’s a sound like a psalm!”
Said Dick Cheney, “when Baghdad we bomb!”
“But I’d like you around
When that Trump guy I pound,”
Answered Liz, “So Dad, try to stay calm.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


Just look what was in my garage,
well-hidden in old equipage!
Its artist, Seurat,
received much éclat
for his perfect, precise pointillage.
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

“To support ze girls in my ménage,”
Said Seurat, “I weel try pointillage.
While a household à trois
Ees great fun - Ooh la la!
Zere’s no room - I’ll paint in ze garage.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


“You cow folkmoot-oo much and we can’t sleep,” the horses complained.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“I’m considering ending my marriage,” said the husband.
“This is what you call the qualm before the storm,” the divorce lawyer responded.
-Janice Power, Cleveland, Ohio (powerjanice782 gmail.com)

“I guess your guide to this sort of thing would be called the Qualm-a Sutra,” quipped Hester Prynne to the townspeople.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“Ma cherie, you weel be ze toast of Paris weeth zees pastillage and g-strιng!” said the strιpper fashion designer.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

As the pun-loving photographer sang, “Psalm day my prints will come.”
-Jim Ertner, Greensboro, North Carolina (jde31459 gmail.com)

“Please, sir, I want psalm more, please,” said Oliver Twist.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Quite frankly I talk about the fact that I’m a feminist as often as I can, and every time I do it gets huge reaction and media reacts and the Twitterverse explodes and things like that, because here I am saying I’m a feminist. I will keep saying that until there is no more reaction to that when I say it, because that’s where we want to get to. -Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada (b. 25 Dec 1971)

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