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Mar 5, 2023
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Nouns that are also verbs

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AWADmail Issue 1079

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

Sponsor’s Message: “Look good. Have fun. Safety third.” The Old’s Cool Wiseacre’s Guide to Life is one of three absolutely FREE e-books that’ll show you how to say words that are bigger than your head, live an il dolce far niente life, and the difference between a javelin and a javelina, a hophornbeam and your Mother-in-Law’s tongue. Smarten up, for nothing!

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

Kouri-Vini: The Return of the US’ Lost Language

It’s Not “woke” -- Just Thoughtful -- to Use More Specific Language Than “You Guys”
Los Angeles Times

From: Marion Wolf (marionewolf yahoo.com)
Subject: Pinion

So instead of saying “a wing and a prayer” one could say “a pinion at the minyan”?

Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey

From: Virginia Peterson (vwpeterson yahoo.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--pinion

I knew immediately what this word meant. Back when I was in high school choir (back in the olden days), we sang a song that had these lyrics “If my songs had airy pinions, like those of love.”

Virginia Peterson, San Antonio, Texas

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

I understand why early ornithologists captured, killed, drew their birds. But it’s painful to recognize. This is for me the most poignant poem about it.

The Author of American Ornithology Sketches a Bird, Now Extinct” by David Wagoner

John Craw, Glenford, Ohio

From: Susan Grodsky (sjgrodsky yahoo.com)
Subject: birds in cages

You wrote: “When we imprison a bird, or any animal, we have captured its body, but not its essence.”

You are so right. When I was a child, I loved to visit the zoo to see animals. Some time in my 20s, I realized that the animals were in prison. It made no sense to visit a prison. You could enjoy it only if your curiosity about animals blinded you to their suffering.

I have friends who insist that zoos educate people and preserve species. But what if you took the vast sum spent on zoos and aquariums and used it to preserve animals in their own habitats? Webcams would allow you to see animals in their own environment, teaching far more than you learn from ogling a cage.

Susan Grodsky, Potomac, Maryland

From: Melodee S. Kornacker (mkornacker aol.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--pinion

The word pinion reminded me of my friend who repairs his own vintage cars and once named a pair of pet swans Rack and Pinion. I forwarded your post to him and asked if he had known about ‘pinion’ referring to birds when he named the swans or was he just thinking automotively. His response was “Just automotive jargon. I’ve been found, nouned, and drowned in this English lesson.”

Melodee S. Kornacker, Columbus, Ohio

From: Mike Simons (mikesimons88 gmail.com)
Subject: Pinion

In the Southwestern US the Native Americans have had pine nuts as an important part of their diet for centuries. They call pine nuts pinion in English.

Mike Simons, Wellfleet, Massachusetts

From: Kevin Knox (ekknox gmail.com)
Subject: piñon

Can’t resist sharing the classic New Mexico dad joke: “If I have one pine nut and you have two, what we have is a difference of a piñon.”

Kevin Knox, Tucson, Arizona

From: Maxwell Chertok (chertok fnal.gov)
Subject: Bird is a verb

Bird is a verb. Yes, but it is also “the word”.

Maxwell Chertok, Davis, California

From: Glenn Glazer (glenn.glazer gmail.com)
Subject: deacon

The word always makes me think of Deacon Blues (8 min., lyrics).

Glenn Glazer, Felton, California

From: Mo Doyle (momcdo gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--deacon

Being raised Catholic, I agree that deacons help at services and visit sick parishioners, but there aren’t enough males to do everything that’s needed these days. So the church decided to twist and turn to add staff while avoiding allowing any females to be ordained. There are “Lay Eucharistic Ministers” who visit, do readings at services, and administer the Eucharist (communion). In other words, they’re kind of deacons, but don’t horrify the patriarchal higher ups.

Maureen Doyle, Boston, Massachusetts

Email of the Week brought to you by The Wiseacre’s Guide to Life -- A FREE Wicked/Smart e-book. Learn more.

From: Ken Kirste (kkkirste sbcglobal.net)
Subject: Deacon

I was introduced to the word deacon at age 5 when my older brother taught me to sing “Ain’t Gonna Grieve My Lord No More”. Turns out there are many variations, but the first verse he taught me was “Oh, the deacon went down to the cellar to pray, but he met Mae West and he stayed all day.”

I must have learned half dozen verses, all of which taught us to not stray from the proper way to get to Heaven (“Oh you can’t get to heaven on roller skates, ‘cause you’ll roll right by those Pearly Gates”). And when I tried to sing them for my fellow kindergarteners, the teacher abruptly terminated my solo after the reference to Mae West.

Ken Kirste, Sunnyvale, California

From: Charlie Cockey (czechpointcharlie gmail.com)
Subject: scend

I first saw this word in the title of a wonderful adventure novel by Geoffrey Jenkins titled The Scend of the Sea. When published in the US, a less erudite title was chosen: The Hollow Sea. Though both are fitting titles, the original title is much more evocative and exotic. I loved it (the climax evokes a true sense of wonder) and I can recommend it heartily, even though Jenkins is woefully deficient in the he-she romantic elements in his books (basically “She looked at him. He looked at her. They knew.”)

Charlie Cockey, Bilovice nad Svitavou, Czech Republic

From: Scott Swanson (harview montana.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--swan

noun: Someone or something of unusual beauty, grace, purity, etc.
verb intr.: To move about in an idle, aimless way.

Hmmm, wonder which one our family name came from? Probably the verb ...

Scott Swanson, Pendroy, Montana

From: Sarah Ingram (sarah.ingram wvt.nhs.uk)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--swan

How strange that the origin of “swan” should come from “sound” when the most common swan here in the UK is the mute swan!

Sarah Ingram, Hereford, UK

From: Andy Marie (frostedgroove gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--swan

Swanny, not sure of the spelling since it was just spoken, was a word we used in eastern North Carolina. As in “well, I swanny.” Said in exchange for the word “swear”. Another silly polite euphemism.

I’ve also heard a friend of mine talk about his fingers swanning due to age. They curve up a bit at the ends.

Andy Marie, Springfield, Virginia

From: LA Koehler (khlrkru gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--swan

As a kid, whenever someone in the old black-and-white movies would say, “I swan ... !”, I thought the director was evoking some regional exclamation for his movie. My little brother and I would giggle at the silliness and no doubt drive our mother batty, repeating it over the course of a few days before moving on, as kids are wont to do.

Who knew it was a real word! Ha!

LA Koehler, Street, Maryland

From: Sam Long (gunputty comcast.net)
Subject: vum

Besides “I swan” (for “I swear”), there used to be a backwoods exclamation “I vum”, apparently a euphemism for “I vow, i.e., swear”, that was common in the Northeastern US, just as “I swan” was common in the South. You don’t often hear either “I swan” or “I vum” these days.

Sam Long, Springfield, Illinois

Birds of a Feather
From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: pinion and scend

There are several traits that distinguish one of these corvid species from the other. A crow’s tail is fan-shaped, whereas a raven’s is more tapered, coming to a soft point. Also, the raven’s bill is much thicker and chunkier than a crow’s, and ravens usually display a shaggy upper chest patch, whilst the crow’s chest plumage is relatively smooth. Crows have their familiar caw, whereas ravens tend to make either a gurgling or croaking sound. Sorry Froggy. Ha!

Surf's Up!
Huntington Beach, “Surf City USA”, is roughly an hour’s drive from me. So our word scend brought to mind the image of a California surfer dude riding a cresting wave. Froggy’s “You scend me!” is a play on the Sam Cooke 1957 ballad “You Send Me”. The word “cowabunga” arose from the ‘50s “Howdy Doody” kids’ show, a collective shout from the in-studio “Peanut Gallery”. In the ‘50s it was adopted by California’s surfing community, an alternative to “gnarly” or “awesome”. Years later, cowabunga was co-opted by the animated Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and The Simpsons.

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California


This week’s theme: Nouns that are also verbs
1. Pinion
2. Deacon
3. Infame
4. Scend
5. Swan
= 1. (Snip) the side
2. (Set) saint at church
3. (Make) bad name
4. (Rise on) wave
5. Fowl; no-nonsense
= 1. Feather; bind
2. Parson; lie
3. Not sound; shame
4. Ascent; wave
5. Neck whiteness; no aims
-Josiah Winslow, Franklin, Wisconsin (winslowjosiah gmail.com) -Dharam Khalsa, Burlington, North Carolina (dharamkk2 gmail.com)

1. Pinion
2. Deacon
3. Infame
4. Scend
5. Swan
= 1. Constrain
2. Fake
3. Smear, snub, sin then no esteem, no ethics
4. Ship on a wave
5. Dawdle
= 1. Tie, chain, stint
2. Cook up fibs
3. Was nonsense to slander, shame men
4. Heave
5. Wander
-Julian Lofts, Auckland, New Zealand (jalofts xtra.co.nz) -Shyamal Mukherji, Mumbai, India (mukherjis hotmail. com)

Make your own anagrams and animations.



A small cog in a great enterprise,
I’m essential - in spite of my size.
Bigger wheels all derive
Their propulsion and drive
From the effort this pinion supplies.
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes btconnect.com)

The young penguin so wanted to fly.
Each day he would give it a try.
He had many a pinion
But only dominion
O’er water and not over sky.
-Sara Hutchinson, New Castle, Delaware (sarahutch2003 yahoo.com)

My car I no longer can steer,
A rather big problem, I fear.
My pinion and rack
Are all out of whack --
They need to be put back in gear.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

“We want freedom from British dominion,
But Blacks we’ll continue to pinion,”
Said the founders. “That’s wacko,
But hey, our tobacco
Needs picking; we’re mostly Virginian.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


For a lady, her decolletage
Allows free advertising -- writ large.
If she deacons her wares
So that every man stares,
In the mating gavotte, she takes charge.
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes btconnect.com)

As a child, he was taught not to lie.
He complied, though he didn’t know why.
Grown older, he weakened.
The first time he deaconed,
said he, “Thought I’d give it a try!”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

It didn’t seem so bad to us --
When we boys started learning to cuss!
But the deacon, he took us
Into church, where he shook us
And made -- yes! -- a helluva fuss!
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

His calling shone bright like a beacon;
He knew his resolve wouldn’t weaken.
If he wasn’t a priest,
Then he could at the least
Help one out as a hell of a deacon.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“If it’s fame as an author you’re seekin’,
Write of me, the last living Mohican,”
Pled Chief Chingachgook.
“Mr. Cooper, the book
Will hit bestseller lists! Would I deacon?”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


In my youth, I ran wild -- to my shame!
To my peers, one and all, an infame.
I was cause for complaint,
As, by contact, my taint
Was enough to besmirch a good name.
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes btconnect.com)

In a lawsuit I’ve falsely been named,
And unjustly have I been infamed;
And I firmly deny it,
That I started that riot
On the sixth, and I WILL not be blamed!
-Rudy Landesman, New York, New York (ydur36 hotmail.com)

I had an old neighbor named Gert
Who always was dishing the dirt.
For it was her aim
To inflame and infame,
And she cared not at all whom she hurt.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“My whole life I spent hunting big game,
And I did so to widespread acclaim,”
Sighed Orion. “No Greek
Would dare ill of me speak,
But now PETA says I’m an infame!”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


“Motion sickness -- in French, mal de mer --
Brings on nausea so bad I despair.
With each scend of the sea,
I am sick -- woe is me! --
And I wish I could die!” “Yep! Bin there.”
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes btconnect.com)

A day on the sea sounded splendid,
But then as our boat dipped and scended,
I didn’t feel well
Or think it so swell --
In fact, I was glad when it ended.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

To the seashore most summers we’d spend.
We were sad when the season would end.
For I’d take my dear daughter
To our beach and the water
Just to watch as through waves she did scend.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

My advice for your spirits to scend
Will not fail if you listen, my friend.
To thine own self be true;
Have regrets? Don’t boohoo!
And drink single-malt Scotch, not a blend.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


I should love to be able to swan --
When and wither the mood comes upon --
But my wife holds the reins,
And the shackles and chains,
So, I cannot: not hither, nor yon.
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes btconnect.com)

While checking her mirror, says she,
“This pale-face can’t really be me!
I appear to be wan,
but with makeup, I swan,
once again l’ll be rosy. You’ll see!”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

The ugly, young duckling gained fame;
A beautiful swan it became!
This tale helps kids cope
By giving them hope
Their fate and the swan’s are the same!
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

“I swan I heard somethin’ down there” --
Said Grandpa, “Just let me find where
It’s lurkin’, that critter
Gimme sump’n -- I’ll hit’er.”
“Relax, Grandpa,” I said, “Creaky stair!”
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

There once was a girl named Yvonne,
Whose looks could be called pale and wan.
But, what do you know?
Great beauty would grow,
And soon this sad duck was a swan.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“I was skating along like a swan,
But disaster struck,” sighed Michelle Kwan.
“I did fine on the lutz,
But the flip? What a klutz!
I need ice cream! And top it with flan!”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


“Every other girl in school would kill to wear my pinion’ow,” said the football captain to the pretty honor student who rejected him in favor of someone smarter.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“How much is it gonna cost us to deacon-taminate East Palestine?” demanded the Norfolk Southern CEO.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

The young stockbroker’s goal in life was to grow infame and fortune.
-Jim Ertner, Greensboro, North Carolina (jde31459 gmail.com)

Anu’s “No L” week each year is pretty inane, but it’s best we cooperate so as not to infame the situation.
(Note: no Ls were conscripted as forced labor in the production of this pun, except where already drafted into service and used as a quotation.)
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“You really scend me, God,” smiled Mary during the Assumption.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“Swan-derful you all could come tonight,” gushed the hostess.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

There’s a wise old adage, “Two can live as cheaply as swan.”
-Jim Ertner, Greensboro, North Carolina (jde31459 gmail.com)

“It’s always swan thing or another,” said Roseanne Roseannadanna.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

We Will Fight Them ...
From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: We will fight them ...

Feb 24, ’23 marked the one-year anniversary of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. Putin had visions of Kyiv falling in less than a week. We know how that turned out. Ukraine, under the courageous, inspiring, intelligent leadership of Pres. Volodymyr Zelensky, has managed to fight off repeated Russian incursions. Zelensky, well into the fray, echoed the words and cadence of another inspirational wartime leader, Winston Churchill, during WWII, pledging to fight the Russians wherever that fight would lead and however long it would take. Zelensky would likely eschew being deemed a hero. But perhaps he’s a superhero?

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California

Scratch a pessimist and you find often a defender of privilege. -William Beveridge, economist and reformer (5 Mar 1879-1963)

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