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AWADmail Issue 1084

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

Sponsor’s Message: “Are you as smart as an 8th grader?” The Wiseacre’s Guide to Life is an absolutely FREE e-book 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 quickhatch and a ratel, 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

The Wondrous Connections Between Mathematics and Literature
The New York Times

Meloni’s Party Looks to Shield Italian Language from Foreign Contamination

A Master Palindromist Spells Out His 40-Year “Love Affair With Reversibility”
[Also see, our own MPM (Massive Palindrome Miner)]

From: Steve Benko (stevebenko1 gmail.com)
Subject: Nemophilist

It surely would be helpful to spread the popularity of this word if some meanings were added:
2. A lover of films about talking fish.
3. A lover of Jules Verne novels.

Steve Benko, New York, New York

From: Judith Fritsch (hnjfritsch gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--Nemophilist

My sister has been mourning her beloved dog. His name was Nemo, so Nemophilist was a particularly apt word for her.

Judith Fritsch, Yonkers, New York

From: Marty Born (marty.born gmail.com)
Subject: Nemophilist

I live on a hillside residential street called Nemo, but in the Hawaiian language it is pronounced NAY-mo. However, most people pronounce it as NEE-mo (thanks to the animated movie), but the locals in the neighborhood always say it with the Hawaiian pronunciation. It means to polish smooth, rounded smooth, bare. The reference could be a bald head, a canoe bottom, or a stone worn smooth by water.

Marty Born, Honolulu, Hawaii

From: Sean Bull (seanbull gmail.com)
Subject: Spindrift

I was hired to be the ship’s carpenter on the Lady Washington (aka the Interceptor in the 1st Pirates of the Caribbean) for the movie. One of the areas on the trip down the coast that we had to time with the weather was crossing the Gulf of Tehuantepec. During the African trades that cross the Atlantic Ocean in the winter it is not uncommon for the winds to pick up the sands in Central America and carry them more than 100 miles offshore, sometimes even sandblasting the windshields of fish boats. When we crossed the wind was quite high and in the morning the spindrift had blown sand on deck and we were 125 miles offshore!

Thanks so much for the memories!

Sean Bull, Seattle, Washington

From: Fionnuala McHugh (fmchugh netvigator.com)
Subject: spindrift

As fans of P.G. Wodehouse will know, Lady Florence Craye is the author of Spindrift, which Bertie Wooster accidentally picks up whilst buying Spinoza for his valet, Jeeves. Misunderstandings ensue. Spindrift is later turned into a play but, as with wind-blown spray, its life-span is brief. (One of the critics said he had perhaps seen it at a disadvantage because when he saw it, the curtain was up.) Unlike Wodehouse, Lady Florence wasn’t a literary genius.

Fionnuala McHugh, Kennedy Town, Hong Kong

From: Vera Algoet (valgoet gmail.com)
Subject: Mononymous

My father was duonymous like you, but when he received his MD and went into business as a doctor, he felt he needed more gravitas, so he assumed a middle initial. We used to ask him what the M stood for. “Mushhead” he always replied with an absolutely straight face.

Vera Algoet, Metchosin, Canada

From: Faith Gude (faithgude gmail.com)
Subject: Multiple Names...

I was named Baroness Felicity von und zu Franckenstein. Talk about a long name! In Europe, it was considered a perfectly charming name, but once I moved to the USA, I ran into the same remarks from men: “Well, you sure don’t look like it!”

When I was 19, I fell in love with a handsome man and told him not only did I wish to romance him, but I wanted his name, as well. He obliged.

My name is now Faith Gude. I’ve kept that name, though that particular gentleman and I are no longer an item, for well over 60 years. I’ve even married a couple of times but always kept that name. Succinct and short.

Faith Gude, Medford, Massachusetts

From: Tony Holmes (tony_holmes btconnect.com)
Subject: More than one name

My parents, I think, had high hopes that I would amount to something in the world and equipped me accordingly. I am Anthony John Charles Holmes. The burden, however, has proved too great, and thus far, I have yet to justify the effort they put in when they named me. Compared to my paternal grandfather, however, I pale even further into insignificance. He was named Thomas Christopher Charles Theophilus Metcalfe Powditch. The Charles Theophilus Metcalfe, no doubt, was added to to remind not so distant relatives that he was in line to inherit the title -- should circumstances so arrange themselves.

Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK

From: Francis Schell (fjbschell gmail.com)
Subject: Mononymous

I am definitely polynymous: Francis John Bosco Peter Julius Mary Gabriel Schell von Bauschlott.
  • Francis for my father’s oldest brother who died in 1919
  • John Bosco for Saint John Bosco, canonized (another new word, “made a Saint”) by the RC Church the year of my birth and venerated by my mother
  • Peter for my father (if I were Russian, I would be Petrovich) and Saint Peter
  • Julius, after my godfather
  • Mary, as all my family’s members are Marys, to invoke the protection of “the Mother of God”
  • Gabriel, the name I chose at my confirmation after my sponsor
  • Schell, my family name -- perhaps my Neanderthal forebearer was a diver
  • von Bauschlott, because a 17th-century ancestor at the height of the Holy Roman Empire purchased landed property in a Westphalian town whose name was added to the family moniker when the Emperor ennobled Karl Ludwig for services rendered. (You had to be a landowner to be admitted to the nobility.)
Francis J. Bosco Schell, Falls Village, Connecticut

From: Seun Lari-Williams (seunlw gmail.com)
Subject: Mononymous Names in Africa?

I must respectfully disagree with your theory about names in Africa. In particular, I take issue with your statement that “in Africa, each night mothers put children to bed with just one name,” as this is simply not accurate.

As an African currently living in Europe, one of my culture shocks was to find that people here generally have fewer names than in Africa. Perhaps this might prompt a rethink of your theory that “in modern times the number of names one has is directly proportional to one’s wealth and sophistication.”

Seun Lari-Williams, Antwerp, Belgium

If it wasn’t clear already, the part “On a serious note ...” in my note later on should have alerted that the earlier part was written tongue-in-cheek, but overall you do have a point and we appreciate your taking the time to write.
-Anu Garg

From: Sergio Pawlowsky (pawlowskysergio gmail.com)
Subject: Mononymous

In Spain people have by law two surnames. which correspond to the first surnames of the father and mother. This is due to the fact that many surnames are very common. Try to search for someone called Manolo García and you will find many thousands of them.

It is true that the number of names is related to the wealth or social position of a person. So, the full name of the Spanish king is Felipe Juan Pablo Alfonso de Todos los Santos de Borbón y Grecia.

Sergio Pawlowsky Glahn, La Bisbal d’Empordà, Catalonia, Spain

From: N Chris Louw (whispershout gmail.com)
Subject: First and second names

I’m a South African from a predominantly English/Afrikaans heritage. In the Afrikaans culture, it’s fairly common to saddle children with several names to keep the grandparents happy. Often, however, a child will be called by their second name instead of their first. I think I was about 7 years old when I encountered my first name, Nicholas.

This quite surprised a lot of my classmates at our high school graduation, who had known me as Chris for twelve years, although there were about 10 of us who surprised each other when our first names were finally revealed on then as well!

N Chris Louw, Cape Town, South Africa and Joetsu, Japan

From: Dave Shelles (writesdave gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--mononymous

On a World Cup broadcast some years ago, I heard the story of why Brazilian soccer players go with one name. The announcer said Brazilians are a very casual and laid-back people, like even the president answers to “Lula” rather than Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, and so Brazilians will insist even new acquaintances call them by their nickname.

Legends like Pele (born Edson Arantes do Nascimiento), Socrates (Socrates Brasileiro Sampaio de Souza Vieira de Oliviera, phew), Ronaldinho (Ronaldo de Assis Moreira), Marta (Marta Vieira da Silva) and Kaka (Ricardo Izecson dos Santos Leite) wore just one name on their jerseys because of their informal and friendly culture. Secondarily, it aids marketing, as players know fans can easily identify them by their nicknames.

Dave Shelles, Acworth, Georgia

From: Laura Peebles (lhpeebles aol.com)
Subject: No middle name

My father-in-law was Milton Fingerman (no middle name). Through his Army career (WWII) he had to put NMI (No Middle Initial) on every form where there was a blank for a middle name. He did that so often that when the Internet came along he selected NMI as his AOL id.

The Army needed every possible name detail for their soldiers to try to deliver their mail from home. See The SixTripleEight: No Mail, Low Morale.

Laura Peebles, Arlington, Virginia

From: Claude Galinsky (cmgalinsky gmail.com)
Subject: mononymous

Anyone who has tried to find friends from the past on the Internet knows that it’s much harder when the findee has a common name. But after a lifetime of having my name misheard or misspelled, I’ve found that there’s an upside of findability to being the only one in the world with my name.

Claude Galinsky, Westford, Massachusetts

From: Sarah Viaggi (sarah.viaggi gmail.com)
Subject: Mononymous

This reminds me of when I was a child. My first name is Sarah. My mother’s name was Sarah. My grandmother’s name was Sarah. My uncle had the temerity to marry a woman named Sarah. They, of course, named their daughter Sarah.

When we had family events, that put FIVE Sarahs in the same room! We eventually had to use our first and second names. To some people in the family, I’m still Sarah Dorothy. I swore I would not name my daughter Sarah. But when I eventually did have a daughter, I found it difficult to break the chain. (Sigh. It’s her middle name.)

Sarah Viaggi, San Jose, California

From: Katie Chamberlain Kritikos (kchambs gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--mononymous

So far, I’ve had two legal names. I was born Katherine Anne Chamberlain, named after a great aunt and aunt on my mother’s side. This fine, regal -- if WASPy-sounding -- name served me well until my second marriage, when I changed my name to Katherine Chamberlain Kritikos.

I really did not want to change my name but relished the thought of sticking it to my unsupportive Greek in-laws who were less than enthused about their second son marrying a xena outside of the Orthodox church. Plus, the balance of syllables -- three per name -- and the delightfully alliterative qualities of “Katie Kritikos” made my heart sing. The consonance! The sibilance! It was an English major’s dream. I always tell my husband that I married him for the Mediterranean food, but my love of words played no small role in my choice to change my name.

Katie Chamberlain Kritikos, Champaign, Illinois

From: Thomas Brennan (stactom17 gmail.com)
Subject: Names

In the early days of financial databases some persons of Korean descent had trouble with banking and credit card accounts because their surnames, (e.g., O) were rejected because it contained only one letter. This led to both frustrating and humorous experiences. See: Why, O Why, Doesn’t That Name Compute? (Permalink)

Thomas Brennan, Garrison, New York

Also see this and the follow-up.
-Anu Garg

Email of the Week brought to you by the American Sarcasm Society -- Like we need your support! Join now.

From: Paul Castaldi (paulcast55 verizon.net)
Subject: The Mononymous Claimant

During the 1980s, when I worked for a state unemployment benefits agency, a mononymous individual I’ll call “Emerald” filed a claim.

Emerald’s claim wasn’t formally denied, but it was effectively rejected on the grounds that two names (i.e. first and last) were required to process the application for benefits. Emerald refused to accept this condition, and likewise refused compromises, e.g. filing as “Emerald X”. Emerald and his advocates correctly argued that the two-name rule arose from electronic data processing (EDP) limitations, not unemployment compensation law or regulation.

Emerald’s unprecedented demand richocheted up and down the chain of command; eventually the agency’s Legislative Liaison and Legal Departments, and the state Equal Opportunity Employment Commission weighed in, and decreed that Emerald’s position was valid. They had to tweak the EDP programming and specially process Emerald’s benefits to accommodate the single name.

Paul Castaldi, Havertown, Pennsylvania

From: Peter Weston (pvweston2 gmail.com)
Subject: noctivagant

Seventy years ago I was taught that the vagus nerve travels from the cranium, through the neck and chest to the abdomen. A true wanderer. The anatomists of yesteryear were very descriptive!

Peter Weston, Houston, Texas

A Little Birdie Told Me
From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: nemophilist and mononymous

Our word nemophilist reminded me of the poem “Trees” by Joyce Kilmer. He died at age 31 in WWI while serving in France. In his memory, a chunk of North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains old-growth forest, some 3,800 acres, was set aside as the Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest. Here, a joyful Carolina wren trills out the opening line of Kilmer’s ode to trees.

The King of the Surreal Meet the Queen of Country
Our word mononymous reminded me of several names, from Italian Renaissance artists Michelangelo, Leonardo, Raphael and Titian, to Flemish painters Rubens and Bosch, to Dutch masters Rembrandt and Vermeer. Twentieth-century popular music gave us such luminaries as Satchmo, Elvis, Bono, Aretha, Madonna, Loretta, Beyoncé and the Queen of Country Music, Dolly. Here, Dolly meets a kindred mononymous soul, Dali.

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California


This week’s theme: There’s a word for it
1. Nemophilist
2. Spindrift
3. Mononymous
4. Noctivagant
5. Betweenity
= 1. Loves the forest
2. Misty spray in the wind
3. One-bit name
4. Night wanderer (it’s me, if the moon’s out)
5. Pick two
= 1. Devotee with forest fetish
2. Spray
3. They with one new moniker (Prince, Sting, Tonto)
4. Somnambulist
5. Amid
-Dharam Khalsa, Burlington, North Carolina (dharamkk2 gmail.com) -Julian Lofts, Auckland, New Zealand (jalofts xtra.co.nz)

This week’s theme: There’s a word for it
1. Nemophilist
2. Spindrift
3. Mononymous
4. Noctivagant
5. Betweenity
= 1. Nature-mate(‘s kitty)
2. (Hefty) tempest borne snow
3. (Hit) one-word name (Ivi)
4. Night owl
5. In midst of (crises, hope)
= 1. Tree stump lover
2. Items by the windy coast
3. Fame of one-word name
4. I took trips in the night
5. Within-ness
-Shyamal Mukherji, Mumbai, India (mukherjis hotmail.com) -Josiah Winslow, Franklin, Wisconsin (winslowjosiah gmail.com)

Make your own anagrams and animations.



We nemophilists revel in trees.
When in forests and woods, we’re at ease.
And the trees are aware
That we love them, and care,
And they send us their thanks on the breeze.
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes btconnect.com)

Nemophilists feel most at ease
In forests amidst all the trees.
Joyce Kilmer, the poet,
Was right, and you know it --
Trees even beat verses like these!
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

“She seems normal,” explained the psychologist,
“A true eucalyptus nemophilist.
In the inkblots, she’s seen
Trees deliciously green.”
Reassured, Mum her joey koala kissed.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


Swirling spindrift like dervishes danced
On the road as I slowly advanced.
Under snow, deep submerged,
Not one contour emerged
From the landscape wherever I glanced.
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes btconnect.com)

While skiing one day up in Stowe,
I got lost in a spindrift of snow.
My world turned all white.
How could that be right?
Vermont means green mountain, you know.
-Rudy Landesman, New York, New York (ydur36 hotmail.com)

Says the meteorologist, “Yes,
what will happen is anyone’s guess.
The least little wind shift
could trigger a spindrift,
and cause a deplorable mess!”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

The day that we watched for a whale,
Our tour group encountered a gale.
The way we were facing
The spindrift was bracing
And knocked down my friend who was frail.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

There is one thing I simply can’t stand:
To be hit with a spindrift of sand.
It lingers in pores,
And gets in your drawers.
So a trip to the beach is not planned.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

In April sometimes a spindrift
Makes leaves rustle as though feeling miffed.
The frogs in the pond
Are not at all fond
Of nature’s surprising quick shift.
-Janice Power, Cleveland, Ohio (powerjanice782 gmail.com)

“This’ll make a great b.s. spindrift:
‘Send more money, Bragg gave me short shrift!’”
Said Donald. “What joy
It is being your boy!”
Squealed Don Junior. “Each day a new grift!”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


Noble men, like their king, do not sign
Using multiple names. They assign
One mononymous term,
And by this they affirm
Their identity, status, and line.
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes btconnect.com)

Mononymous stars like Adele
Can manage with one name quite well.
Her talent is stellar,
So she (just like Teller)
Can get by with far less to spell.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

“Back in Stone Age,” said Oog, “me mononymous.
And address was Oog’s Cave -- it’s eponymous.
So me can’t follow norms
On these credit card forms;
Me will stick with lifestyle autonomous.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


A noctivagant, out for a stroll,
Met a roving somnambulant soul.
“Should I wake him? Let’s see --
No! It now seems to me
That this chap has things under control.”
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes btconnect.com)

A young man did once take, on a lark,
A noctivagant stroll in the park.
Had nothing in mind;
But, still, he would find
The love of his life in the dark.
-Rudy Landesman, New York, New York (ydur36 hotmail.com)

Before he flew west, my friend Dwight
had acclimatized (did jobs at night).
Still the brand new time zone
made his body-clock groan;
Forced on him a noctivagant plight.
-Shyamal Mukherji, Mumbai, India (mukherjis hotmail.com)

Our housemother had a strict rule
As a youngster in my boarding school:
“If you think you’re noctivagant
That could be significant;
Tell someone! Don’t be a fool!”
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

Said Edison, “Sleepless? Noctivagant?
Try my bulb with a carbonized filament!
No more banging your knee,
For at night you will see!”
[Warning: streetwalkers may face imprisonment.]
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


Love is over, and romance departs.
Ah! Betweenity looms for sad hearts.
In the gap they will pine,
Then go searching online
To let Cupid make free with his darts.
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes btconnect.com)

The betweenity after Act 1
And before the next Act had begun,
Did give me the chance
To take a firm stance
And to leave. With that bomb I was done.
-Rudy Landesman, New York, New York (ydur36 hotmail.com)

She’s been married to several men,
and she thinks of each one now and then.
But for now, she is seemingly
in a betweenity,
waiting to wed once again.
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

The betweenity comes, don’tcha know
Right after the nervousness. Oh!
“I’ll forget my lines, flail ...”
My performance will fail ...”
Then a half-second passes ... you glow!
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

Ms. Truss, you were just a betweenity;
You must vacate the building immeejitly,”
Said the Downing Street staff.
From Palm Beach came a laugh;
“She’s so weak that she left office peaceably?”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


He’s watched the movie, Finding Nemo at least a hundred times. He is a true Nemophilist.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“Y’all mighta robbed me of mah strength, but Ah kin still git ya in the groin with mah k-nemophilist-ine friend,” said Billy Bob Thornton in the role of Samson.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“Ah’ve gotten too old fer tomcattin’ around,” said Bill. “Most evenin’s these days Ah spindrift-in’ off to sleep in front of the TV.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“I must have kissed one too many girls whose names I didn’t even know,” said Tom mononymously.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“You want me to raise it a-noctivigant-o make the pitch even higher?” asked the accompanist.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“In betweenity-bitty hands and other similarly challenged body parts, I’d rate Donald a .5 on a scale of 1 to 10,” said Stormy Daniels.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Trump Trumped
From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: Trump Trumped

Let the indictments begin! The first of a projected three indictments of twice-impeached former president Trump went down this past Tuesday. Predictably, Trump pleaded “not guilty” on all 34 felony charges. Then he returned to Mar-a-Lago, where that evening he held a pity party, airing a litany of his grievances. Two more “meaty” indictments are waiting in the wings.

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California

Everything considered, work is less boring than amusing oneself. -Charles Baudelaire, poet, critic and translator (9 Apr 1821-1867)

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