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May 28, 2023
This week’s theme
Metaphors & idioms

This week’s words
daisy cutter
swan song
Piccadilly Circus

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Relative usage over time

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Coined words

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AWADmail Issue 1091

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

Sponsor’s Message: Tickle dad pink. The Official Old’s Cool Education IV -- three all-new how-to handbooks that’ll burn an Ivy-League size hole in your father’s pocket. Only $19.99. Free shipping. Shop now.

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

This Ancient Language Has the Only Grammar Based Entirely on the Human Body
Scientific American

The Languages That Make Maths Easier

From: Anne Hodgkinson (annechodgkinson gmail.com)
Subject: baloney

Years ago, I read in a newspaper editorial that so-and-so’s argument was made from “weapons-grade balonium” and it made my day. I’m also wondering how out of all the adulterated, dodgy charcuterie in the world, that particular sausage came to be synonymous with nonsense.

Anne Hodgkinson, Utrecht, Netherlands

From: Kent Winchester (kent.winchester gmail.com)
Subject: Baloney

In her dissent last week in Warhol v. Goldsmith, Justice Kagan accused the majority of “slicing the baloney pretty thin.”

Kent Winchester, Albuquerque, New Mexico

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

The University of Bologna was the first seat of study to use the term universitas for the body of students and masters. The university’s emblem carries the motto, Alma Mater Studiorum (Nourishing mother of studies). Having been founded in 1088, it is the oldest university of continuous existence in Europe (and, as far as we know, in the entire globe).

Andrew Pressburger, Toronto, Canada

From: January Kiefer (januarykiefer yahoo.com)
Subject: Baloney!

And in German, Wurst! (sausage) is pronounced emphatically and dismissively: Voorst! A hint of “sh” adds to the flavor.

January Kiefer, St Louis, Missouri

From: Jan Breemer (jan breem.nl)
Subject: Baloney detection

The word reminded me of the Baloney Detection Kit once described in the Scientific American Nov/Dec 2001 by Michael Shermer.

Jan Breemer, Kesteren, Netherlands

From: Alta Haywood (altahaywood comcast.net)
Subject: baloney drop

Lebanon, PA, where bologna is made, has a baloney drop (video, 24 sec.) on New Year’s Eve. I believe there’s also a pickle drop in Dillsburg. We’ve seen a taco drop in AZ as well.

Alta Haywood, Perry Hall, Maryland

From: Serge Astieres (serge.astieres gmail.com)
Subject: daisy cutter

In French, we have the expression “au ras des pâquerettes” (at the daisy level), meaning it is down to earth in its true sense, i.e. mediocre, shabby, or disappointing.

Serge Astieres, Annecy, France

From: Koren Schindler (skoren vmware.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--daisy cutter

The term daisy cutter is new for me, but in golf I am very proficient at hitting worm burners. Although embarrassing for the player and alarming for the worms, as far as I am aware, these shots have no moral hazards.

Koren Schindler, Glen Allen, Virginia

From: Everett Gill (e-rgill2 juno.com)
Subject: daisy cutter

We had what we called a Daisy Cutter in Korea. It was a 260-pound anti-personnel fragmentation bomb which exploded just off the ground: a very nasty business. It took two of us to load them onto the wings of a USMC Corsair. Much smaller than the BLU-82, but the same principle.

Everett Gill, Black Mountain, North Carolina

From: David de Carcenac (decarcenac worldonline.co.za)
Subject: haircut

Haircut also refers to the practice by unscrupulous car dealers of winding back the odometer in a used car.

David de Carcenac, Johannesburg, South Africa

Email of the Week brought to you buy The Wiseacre’s Guides to Life -- A Practically Perfect Present for Pops. Learn more.

From: Frank Griswold (griswolf peak.org)
Subject: Piccadilly Circus

My father spent time in England during WWII in preparation for the invasion at Normandy. During that time he had occasion to visit the actual Piccadilly Circus area, and wrote to my mother.

The letters were, of course, censored before they were sent to the US, and his mentions of those two words were redacted. My mother reports that she wondered, “What in the world?”

After his return, she showed him the letters and asked what those redactions were about. He knew it was “Piccadilly Circus” ... and also that there had been a secret military action given that code name.

Frank Griswold, Corvallis, Oregon

From: Charles O’Reilly (charliez0726 gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--Piccadilly Circus

Railroad buffs cringe at the mention of Grand Central Station. Trains coming into New York from the north utilize Grand Central Terminal, so named because multiple lines terminate there. No trains pass through, as they might at, say, Pennsylvania Station a little over a mile away.

But the railroad called a predecessor depot (in use for about ten years) Grand Central Station, and there has long been a post office location known as Grand Central Station, named for its proximity to the rail terminal. Between the name of the old station and frequent media references to the post office in the era prior to the introduction of ZIP codes, the alternate name has stuck in the public consciousness.

Charlie O’Reilly, Dunedin, Florida

We did not hear from a single railroad buff, but we heard from every New Yorker (and former New Yorker). Grand Central Terminal is the current name. Language, however, rarely stays on a given track. Whatever the building is named, the metaphor is “Grand Central Station”, not Terminal.
-Anu Garg

From: Thomas Brennan (stactom17 gmail.com)
Subject: Piccadilly Circus

In your example of busy places, picky New Yorkers will point out that Grand Central Station is the name of the mid-town post office while Grand Central Terminal is the name of the railroad station. This nuance was employed as a trick question by Spike Lee, a quintessential New Yorker, in Inside Man, a detective film that featured the “picky” natives of New York City.

Thomas Brennan, Garrison, New York

From: Ted Aanstoos (TedA utexas.edu)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--Piccadilly Circus

Q: How many trains pass through Grand Central in a day?
A: Zero. It is a terminal, not a station.

Someone owes me $0.02.

Ted Aanstoos, Austin, Texas

From: Troels Forchhammer (troels forchhammer.net)
Subject: Danish metaphor

A metaphor in my native tongue, Danish, is “Der er ingen ko på isen” (literally “There is no cow on the ice”), which means that something is going smoothly, without problems.

Troels Forchhammer, Hedehusene, Denmark

From: Janet Rizvi (janetrizvi gmail.com)
Subject: Metaphors & idioms

Readers may appreciate this image which illustrates 27 figures of speech, but so far I’ve only managed to tease out 18.

Dr Janet Rizvi, Gurgaon, India

From: Lou Gottlieb (LouGottlieb1 gmail.com)
Subject: Dutch expression

An old Dutch expression I heard from my mother: as sweet as if an angel peed on your tongue.

Lou Gottlieb, Hubbard, Oregon

From: Eleanor Forman (eefwww yahoo.com)
Subject: To brighten one’s outlook

I think my favorite metaphor is “to brighten one’s outlook”. The first time I heard someone suggest I do so, it took me a moment to realize they were not criticizing my being depressed, but advising that I clean my dirty glasses -- which literally does brighten one’s outlook!

Eleanor Elizabeth Forman, New York, New York

From: Madeline Johnston (johnston andrews.edu)
Subject: Metaphors

When we get concerned about feeding someone’s conceits, we speak of puffing them up or putting them on a pedestal. We lived in South Korea for eleven years, a long time ago. When complimented, a person of more humble nature might respond (in Korean, of course), “Don’t put me up in an airplane.”

Madeline Johnston, Berrien Center, Michigan

From: Janine Harris-Wheatley (janinehw20 gmail.com)
Subject: Figurative sayings

This morning, before reading A.Word.A.Day, I heard an unusual noise from the bathroom. My husband said, “It’s okay, I just dropped my teeth.” He meant it literally, but I laughed because it sounded like something his father would say, “I nearly dropped my teeth.”

Janine Harris-Wheatley, Tottenham, Canada

From: Calvin Hennig (calhennig yahoo.com)
Subject: Food metaphors

When I was very young, an older woman became a caring friend. I remember once complimenting her on how wonderful she was to everyone. She smiled and said, “Oh my, your mouth is full of honey.”

Calvin Hennig, Portland, Maine

From: Mary Jo Divilbiss (divilbis illinois.edu)
Subject: Figurative expression

My father had two descriptive phrases:

“He has a face like a torn pocket”, referring to an ill-favored friend.

“She is a hairpin”, talking about my mother’s cousin who was skinny and wound pretty tight.

Mary Jo Divilbiss, Champaign, Illinois

From: Don Fearn (pooder charter.net)
Subject: figurative expressions

My favorite kind of metaphor is mixed. I got this one from a friend: “She was holding the albatross of Damocles around my neck.”

Don Fearn, Rochester, Minnesota

From: Steve Benko (stevebenko1 gmail.com)
Subject: Some favorite figurative expressions

There’s “With all due respect”, which actually means, “You’re an idiοt.”

There’s “literally” in the sense of, “not actually literally, but it sure feels like it!” For example, “When you came up behind me like that, I literally jumped out of my skin!”

There’s “by and large,” meaning “for the most part,” a favorite of mine because it actually derives from a nautical term referring to a ship that can sail well in almost any direction, “by” the wind meaning close-hauled while tacking nearly upwind, or “large” meaning downwind, when the sails billow out.

In the UK, there’s “In your own time,” which actually means “Hurry the f*** up already.”

There’s “You don’t say,” which actually means “You just did say something which I want you to think I was actually paying attention to and care about, though I really wasn’t and don’t.”

Steve Benko, New York, New York

Swan Song
From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: swan swan and daisy cutter

Ballets Russes choreographer Mikhail Fokine created the ballet The Dying Swan*, expressly for prima ballerina Anna Pavlova. She magically morphs into a dying swan, her costume festooned with white feathers. (I added the wings.) Pavlova performed this piece close to 4,000 times. The ballet was inspired by Alfred Lord Tennyson’s poem of the same name.
*Not to be confused with Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake.

Ohtani: Best Two-Way Player Since Babe Ruth
Shohei Ohtani, the young Japanese-born superstar of the L.A. Angels, is baseball’s most formidable double-threat, a talent unseen since Babe Ruth. Ohtani is a threat on the mound as a pitcher and at the plate as a slugger. Here, with expectations high of Ohtani blasting a home run, he smashes a daisy cutter (aka worm burner) for a mere single, as the relieved pitcher follows through on his toss.

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California


This week’s theme: Metaphors & Idioms
1. Baloney
2. Daisy cutter
3. Swan song
4. Haircut
5. Piccadilly Circus
= 1. Twit’s silly spam
2. Skim close to ground
3. Coda, twittery adieu
4. Cheapen his rich chic
5. Busy men’s area
     This week’s theme: Metaphors & idioms
1. Baloney
2. Daisy cutter
3. Swan song
4. Haircut
5. Piccadilly Circus
= 1. Weak hypotheses
2. Crater-causing missile
3. Act at last hours
4. Diminish money
5. Crowded public city
-Shyamal Mukherji, Mumbai, India (mukherjis hotmail.com) -Josiah Winslow, Franklin, Wisconsin (winslowjosiah gmail.com)

This week’s theme: Metaphors and Idioms
1. Baloney
2. Daisy cutter
3. Swan song
4. Haircut
5. Piccadilly Circus
= 1. Hooey
2. Ground ball
3. Say “Adieu” at end
4. Thin my mane; trim, as prices (is it success?)
5. Place with thick crowds
     This week’s theme: Metaphors & idioms
1. Baloney
2. Daisy cutter
3. Swan song
4. Haircut
5. Piccadilly Circus
= 1. Seems hokum, is horseshit
2. Way low ball scythes
3. Picture coda, is ending
4. Reduction, trim
5. Capacity
-Dharam Khalsa, Burlington, North Carolina (dharamkk2 gmail.com) -Julian Lofts, Auckland, New Zealand (jalofts xtra.co.nz)

Make your own anagrams and animations.



As a writer of limericks, Tony
Authored verse that was full of baloney.
His attempts to create,
And stand tall with the great,
Saw him labelled as Tony the Phony.
(I ran this limerick past Tony Holmes to make sure he wasn’t offended. He wasn’t.)
-Fiona Hall, Edinburgh, UK (fionamghall gmail.com)

When my brother needs cash, does he ask?
No! He knows I will take him to task.
So, he comes over phony
And feeds me baloney --
Do I just play along, or unmask?
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes54 outlook.com)

George Santos somehow got elected,
Before all his lies were detected.
And now this big phony,
So full of baloney,
By Kevin McCarthy’s protected.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

“I told Santa I wanted a pony,”
Said the girl, “This word game is baloney.”
Shrugged her father, Anu,
“It’s the best I can do;
Dear, like God, elves and fairies are phony.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Daisy cutter

Employing a huge daisy cutter
Can lead to destruction quite utter.
“It’s awful, it’s true,
But that’s what we do,”
I heard the top general mutter.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

“In her stable,” said Angus, “I’ve shut her,
For she trots like an old daisy cutter.
It’s a show day! Och aye!
A good Hackney steps high!
Dinna fash, though, I’ll soon find another.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Swan song

I step onto the stage one last night,
For my swan song. I leave at the height
Of a sparkling career,
And have only one fear --
When I’m gone, will my star shine as bright?
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes54 outlook.com)

You’d think it was only a con;
But Lohengrin, ere he was gone,
Sang his swan song and meant it.
But it did seem demented,
That he sang it to his loving swan.
-Rudy Landesman, New York, New York (ydur36 hotmail.com)

I eagerly wait for the day
When President Trump goes away.
I hope that ere long
We’ll hear his swan song --
But now in the news does he stay.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

“As a Catholic this might be my swan song,
But I swear, Pope, we’ve looked at the stars wrong,”
Galileo alleged.
“And the moon?” Here he hedged:
“We won’t know till we send out Neil Armstrong.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


“That’s the thing with antiques: if they’re marred,
Then their price takes a haircut. It’s hard,
But, sir, please don’t despair.
We restore and repair --
Though the cost will, of course, leave you scarred.”
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes54 outlook.com)

Though Samson was blind, he still was a
Big threat to the temple in Gaza.
He was deep in despair but
He gave it a haircut;
Reduced it to dust in the plaza.
-Rudy Landesman, New York, New York (ydur36 hotmail.com)

My pay took a haircut and so
I’m facing a shortage of dough.
Though a latte is bliss
I will give it a miss --
Austerity’s needed, I know.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

The john offered double her price
For a roll in the hay with some spice.
Then gave her a haircut,
Which was so unfair, but
She took it. Thought, “Not very nice.”
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“Although Egypt has been on a tear, Tut,”
Said the prophet, “we’ll soon take a haircut.
Under Ramses, ten plagues
On our face will be eggs,
And of jokes we’ll become the unfair bυtt.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

PIccadilly Circus

My wife and I did on a dare
Spend an evening in crowded Times Square,
And those tourists did irk us
In that Piccadilly Circus.
Tell me why were those clowns even there?
-Rudy Landesman, New York, New York (ydur36 hotmail.com)

Wow! What a great crowd we are facing!
The noise! And the tumult! Amazing!
A Piccadilly Circus
That would normally irk us,
But we tourists consider it bracing!
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

“The suq is a Piccadilly Circus,
Full of women all covered in burkas,”
Said the travel guide. “Next,
You’ll see Sufis. They’re hexed,
Always dancing to Chopin mazurkas.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


She loved the a-baloney earrings her husband bought her in Jamaica.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

Said the visiting Parisian anatomy professor, “Baloney ees shin, zen ankle and foot.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Daisy cutter Daisy Dukes so short that her mother said, “No more Dukes of Hazzard for you, missy.”
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

Daisy and Sally had a knife fight. Daisy cutter.
-David Heimowitz, New York (davidh224 verizon.net)

Daisy cutter down, but I’ll take the blame,” said Gatsby after the car accident.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“Yet another encore? That’s swan song too many,” said the exhausted concert goer.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

The nυde scene in the show Haircut into box office receipts in the Bible Belt.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“The haircut in front of me, but I’ll beat him to the finish line when he takes a nap,” said the tortoise.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“Any number of idiοts would like to be your running mate,” said Donald’s campaign manager, “but we’ll piccadilly circus you deserve nothing less than a total sycophant.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

A Match Made in Hell
From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: Assad State of Affairs

After 11 years of exile from the Arab League, Syrian President Bashar Assad has morphed from a global pariah into a welcomed partner in this pan-Arabic fraternity. Here, Assad is greeted with a hearty handshake from Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who authorized the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a legal permanent US resident. With friends like that, who needs enemies?

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California

We love those who know the worst of us and don’t turn their faces away. -Walker Percy, author (28 May 1916-1990)

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