Wordsmith.org: the magic of words


About | Media | Search | Contact  


Today's Word

Yesterday's Word



Jun 18, 2023
This week’s theme
Double-duty words

This week’s words

How popular are they?
Relative usage over time

AWADmail archives

Next week’s theme
Words from science

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 1094

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

Sponsor’s Message: “I hate fake.” Joe E. Buoy, The Steel Onion. OLD’S COOL fits wicked smart dads to a Tee. Free shipping today only. Shop now.

From: Brian Turner (brian.turner health.wa.gov.au)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--stymie

The “stymie” problem you refer to in golf -- another player’s ball impinging your access to the hole on the putting green -- was solved by placing a small flat marker where the blocking ball was. Alternatively, if the other player could putt their ball without stepping on your line, they would go first. Thus I’ve never heard of this problem on the links.

Brian Turner, Perth, Australia

From: Rick Carmickle (via website comments)
Subject: stymie

“Stymie” was removed as a rule in golf 70 years ago, and is now obsolete. But Matthew “Stymie” Beard of Our Gang / The Little Rascals is immortal.

Rick Carmickle, Denver, Colorado

From: Bruce Bailey (brucewbailey gmail.com)
Subject: stymie

This term is also used in billiards in the same sense as that in golf. In golf, due to rules change, one is no longer stymied by another person’s ball, but can still be stymied by some other object; e.g., a tree.

Bruce Bailey, Cupertino, California

From: Richard S. Russell (RichardSRussell tds.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--stymie

That can happen in pool, too, but stupendously adept pool players have figured out that it’s easier to go over than around the stymie. This is called a “jump shot”, and fittingly, both elements of the name are themselves denizens of the Village of Lexicon.

Richard S. Russell, Madison, Wisconsin

From: Paul Harris (paul.harris harrisdevelop.com)
Subject: chirk

My wife and I have always used chirk to describe turning up the heat a degree or two, as in “Hey, it’s cold in here! I’m going to chirk up the thermostat.” Chirking is really only for up, which seems consistent with the other more widely known meanings. Down is “turning”. To their consternation, our kids, now in their 30s, have been told by their friends that chirking up the thermostat is not a real thing. But we’re working to change that.

Paul Harris, Hastings on Hudson, New York

Email of the Week brought to you buy OLD’S COOL -- fits OK boomer dads and granddads to a Tee.

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

A common use among Italians on the US East Coast: “He/She skeeves me”. According to my grandmother, who was born in the 1890s, it means “Makes my skin crawl.”

Carmella Soprano says to her husband Tony “You skeeve me” after she finds, yet again, that he’s having an affair. He reacts strongly. It’s a strong insult.

John Craw, Glenford, Ohio

From: Brenda J. Gannam (gannamconsulting earthlink.net)
Subject: skeeve

And none is more skeevy than the Saffron Skeeve of Lar-a-Maga!

Brenda J. Gannam, Brooklyn, New York

From: Kenneth Kirste (kkkirste sbcglobal.net)
Subject: souse

“W.C. Fields wasn’t always a drunk. ... Only later when he became a comedian did Fields also become a souse.”
Mark Jacob; 10 Things You Might Not Know About: Drunkenness; Chicago Tribune (Illinois); Oct 5, 2008.

The usage example for today’s word “souse” was delightful. It made me wonder if its author had seen the movie The Bank Dick, because the running gag in that 1940 film is that Fields’ character’s name is Egbert Sousé. Throughout the movie, there are efforts to point out his last name is spelled with an accent over the final e and pronounced “soo-ZAY” (video, 2 min.) and not “sous”. However, the character’s drinking habits imply the mistaken pronunciation is probably the more accurate moniker.

Ken Kirste, Sunnyvale, California

From: Keith Goeringer (kegoeringer hotmail.com)
Subject: Souse

The word souse immediately summons memories of my dad. When I was growing up, for my family and me, souse as a noun exclusively meant the nasty-smelling, not-very-visually-appealing deli item that my mom would get for my dad from Pennsylvania Dutch markets or local grocery stores when it was available.

Per Wikipedia: “In the Pennsylvania Dutch dialect, head cheese is called souse. Pennsylvania Germans usually prepare it from the meat of pig’s feet or tongue and it is pickled with sausage.” He loved it, as he did the pickled pigs feet (always fun to come home from school and see a jar with pigs feet in the fridge), and knew those delights were his and his alone. No one else in the house would go near them.

Keith Goeringer, Bethesda, Maryland

Jay Squawking
From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: chirk and souse

The word chirk took me into the domain of our fine-feathered friends, specifically two loudmouths of the corvid family: the solid-blue, black-crested Steller’s jay and our native Southern California Western scrub jay. The Steller’s jay frequents conifer-forested mountainous terrain, whilst our scrub jay is most commonly seen on “the flats”, often in suburban backyards and oak woodlands.

Homelessness often exacerbates or leads to addictions such as drug and alcohol abuse. Sadly, many in the urban jungle don’t make it, falling through the cracks, most leading lives of quiet desperation.

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California


Theme: Double-duty words
1. Stymie
2. Sluice
3. Chirk
4. Skeeve
5. Souse
= 1. I check
2. Slosh
3. Buoy
4. Detested, slew virtue, yuk
5. Douse, immerse
= 1. Skid
2. Chute’s route
3. Widely loved
4. Seems icky
5. Mouth uses beer
= 1. Bedevil
2. Let out, reduce
3. Shriek
4. Scummy
5. Sot, does use whiskey
-Julian Lofts, Auckland, New Zealand (jalofts xtra.co.nz) -Josiah Winslow, Franklin, Wisconsin (winslowjosiah gmail.com) -Dharam Khalsa, Burlington, North Carolina (dharamkk2 gmail.com)

Make your own anagrams and animations.



Another indictment, well, blimey!
Perhaps Trump’s campaign this will stymie?
Yet some sing his praises,
And money he raises
Despite all his actions so slimy.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

With sunlight the house is suffused,
But from chores I cannot be excused --
They’re a stymie, you see,
As outside beckons me;
Do them first? Or go out? I’m confused!
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

“The transition of power I’ll stymie,”
Said Donald, “by means clean or slimy.
Out of here I’m not slidin’
In favor of Biden;
Mere votes can’t the Oval deny me!”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


Ah, the best part of taking a run --
I keep telling myself, “Oh, what fun!” --
Is to stand, dripping wet,
Being lathered in sweat,
And to sluice myself off. Now I’m done!
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes54 outlook.com)

Some days, oh, the heavens let loose!
And downpours torrential then sluice.
You can try to prepare,
But you’ll soon be aware
That your flimsy umbrella’s no use.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

There simply can be no excuse
For a tongue that is wagging and loose.
Yes, gossip’s absurd,
But it can’t be deterred.
A big mouth lets it gush like a sluice.
-Rudy Landesman, New York, New York (ydur36 hotmail.com)

Said Edison, “Turn on the juice!
Electrons through wires we’ll sluice!
No more dark, gloomy nights,
For New York will have lights!”
“So will Whoville!” exclaimed Dr. Seuss.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


A chirk woman who hailed from Dunbar
Had to smile when she thought, “I’ll go far.”
But she didn’t account
For the tiny amount
Of the gasoline left in her car.
-Fiona Hall, Edinburgh, UK (fionamghall gmail.com)

You get told when your mood has turned blue,
“There are people far worse off than you!”
Thus, you now have in mind
All the woes of mankind,
So, chirk up is the last thing you do.
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes54 outlook.com)

My job comes with many a perk,
Which is why I’m so chipper and chirk.
With each mattress I test,
I not only get rest,
But I also get paid for my “work”.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

The mood aboard ship became chirk,
For “We’ve beaten the Klingons!” said Kirk.
While the staid Mr. Spock
Said, “Emotions are schlock,”
On his face there was clearly a smirk.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


The former PM Berlusconi
Said, “I’m swearing that my testimony
Is completely the truth --
Been sincere since my youth --
And am skeeved that you think it’s baloney!”
-Fiona Hall, Edinburgh, UK (fionamghall gmail.com)

Mid-dinner his dates all would leave --
Emergency calls they’d receive.
This had puzzled the youth,
But to tell you the truth,
He scarfed down his food like a skeeve.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

“The documents, they are all mine!
I have the right!” he would opine.
Who would you believe,
The law or this skeeve?
On prison chow now he will dine.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

An AWAD subscriber named Steve
Had a lot of good jokes up his sleeve.
But when Donald Trump heard
How he played with a word,
He’d tweet, “Anu, don’t publish that skeeve!”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


I’m a souse, and from this you may glean
That I’m pickled with liquor, old bean.
For my weight in good ale,
I would tell you my tale,
But be warned! When I’m drunk, I get mean.
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes54 outlook.com)

She frequently spoke of her spouse,
Lamenting that he was a louse.
“That man is a fool
Who I once thought was cool --
I’m sorry I married that souse!”
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

I hope my blind date’s not a souse!
Nor a blackguard, a jεrk, or a louse!
There seem to be so
Few fellas, you know,
Cut out to be anyone’s spouse!
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

His poor wife was annoyed with her spouse,
When he came home each night as a souse.
Disgust with his drinking,
And coming home stinking,
Had led her to cry, “Leave this house!”
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

He is cool as a cucumber when
Some drinks make him happy; but then
He is sobered, that souse,
By his quarrelsome spouse.
And he wants to get pickled again.
-Rudy Landesman, New York, New York (ydur36 hotmail.com)

‘Twas Christmas, and all through the house,
No creature stirred; nay, not a mouse.
Down the chimney in red
Came an elf too-well-fed,
And he drank all their booze, the old souse.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


“It’s a stymie thinks,” replied the old pirate when asked why he was wearing his new eye patch.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“Wild boar tastes yummy,” thought Oog. “In stymie will try to domesticate them.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“My tooth’s sluice,” said the toddler to his mother.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“Can you repair this water gate? It’sluice.”
-Steven Williamson, Ashford, Connecticut (sfwmson charter.net)

“How was your day?” asked Patroclus. “Great! I sluice-o many Trojans I lost count,” answered Achilles.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“Waving military secrets around over dinner? How imma-chirk-an an ex-president be?” wondered the waiter.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

The farmer crossed a chicken with a turkey. He will market it as a chirky.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“I will skeeve-ictoriously at the Olympics!” declared Lindsey Vonn.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“Have some more grog, boys, we’ve found the Souse-sea!” said Balboa.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: Boxed-in

Trump was indicted on 37 federal charges, including 31 counts of violating the Espionage Act, illegally storing countless boxes of sensitive top-secret defense documents at Mar-a-Lago. The documents were found in Trump’s bathroom, shower, ballroom, bedrooms, office and unsecured storage rooms. The walls are slowly but surely closing in on him. Earlier this week he was arrested and arraigned in Miami’s Southern District Court after a grand jury decided there was enough evidence for the case to go to trial.

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California

The ability of so many people to live comfortably with the idea of capital punishment is perhaps a clue to how so many Europeans were able to live with the idea of the Holocaust: Once you accept the notion that the state has the right to kill someone and the right to define what is a capital crime, aren’t you halfway there? -Roger Ebert, film critic (18 Jun 1942-2013)

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

© 1994-2024 Wordsmith