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Jul 2, 2023
This week’s theme
Misleading words

This week’s words

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Relative usage over time

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Next week’s theme
Skunk words (words to avoid)

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AWADmail Issue 1097

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

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

Canadian Court Rules 👍 Emoji Counts as a Contract Agreement
The New York Times

Parlez-Vous Valyrian? Meet the People Creating Languages for Game of Thrones, Avatar, and More
The Guardian

An Ancient Language with Nearly a Million Undeciphered Texts Just Got a Translator That Does the Job in Seconds: AI

The Art of Translation
The New York Times

From: Richard Martin (school tellatale.eu)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--cantrip

You wrote: There’s no dog in dogma, no fart in fartlek, and no history in histrionics.

And there is definitely no f*ck in broccoli! This great joke explains all.

Richard Martin, Darmstadt, Germany

Email of the Week brought to you buy The Official Old’s Cool Education IV -- “A masterpiece.” -- Tim Leatherman

From: Sheldon Burnston (brbart1213 aol.com)
Subject: cantrip

Cantrip is a common term in the game Dungeons & Dragons and other role-playing games indicating a magic spell of the lowest and simplest kind. Having been a fan and a player for nearly fifty years, I am quite familiar with it.

Sheldon S. Burnston, Teaneck, New Jersey

From: Joyce Graham (mjsgraham me.com)
Subject: Cantrip / cantraip

Scottish poet Rabbie Burns uses “cantraip” in his entertaining poem “Tam o’ Shanter”. Drunken Tam sees the devil and other scary things in an old ruined church on his way home from the pub.

And by some devilish cantraip sleight
Each in its cauld hand held a light
By which heroic Tam was able
To note upon the haly table

Joyce Graham, Manais, Isle of Harris, Scotland

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

I just heard the Quebecois band Cantrip (video, 17 min.) at a festival. They do cast a spell.

Claude Galinsky, Westford, Massachusetts

From: Janine Harris-Wheatley (janinehw20 gmail.com)
Subject: power and cruelty

There are few uglier traits than this tendency -- witnessed in men no worse than their neighbors -- to grow cruel, merely because they possessed the power of inflicting harm. -Nathaniel Hawthorne, writer (4 Jul 1804-1864)

This quotation breaks my heart because it reminds me of the inexplicable cruelty of the abortion bans being inflicted on women in certain states in the US. I daily witness the news about the assaults on a woman’s right to bodily autonomy through Jessica Valenti’s Substack blog “Abortion, Every Day”. She compiles the daily news of intended and passed anti-choice legislation in Red states, the attacks on democratic practice by blocking the will of the majority, and the manipulation of scientific information to paint an inaccurate depiction of abortion and birth control.

Since the striking down of Roe vs. Wade by the US Supreme Court, legislation banning abortion has become increasingly restrictive. The Republican lawmakers inflict harm just because they have the power. Women and children are being forced to continue pregnancies that may kill them due to ectopic implantation outside the uterus, pre-eclampsia, incomplete miscarriages, pregnancies that are the result of rαpe, pregnancies with fetuses that cannot survive outside the uterus.

Imagine being pregnant for nine months in order to expel a tiny body with no head -- and then have to pay the medical bills. How can anyone think these are acceptable situations? Medical care for anyone, even women and girls, should be a decision made between patients and their doctors and certainly not used to punish and control half the population by creating and extending their suffering.

Janine Harris-Wheatley, Tottenham, Canada

From: Robert Burns (robertburns oblaw.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--epicrisis

There’s no need for this so-called word in English and certainly not for its screwy varying definitions. English has been greeked by it and its criminal facilitators.

Robert Burns, Ocean Beach, California

From: Pierre-Alexandre Sicart (PA_Sicart hotmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--oxytone

In French, all words are oxytones. Stressing the right syllable is the hardest part of spoken English for French people, much more than properly pronouncing the “th” or the “r” sounds.

Pierre-Alexandre Sicart, Midi-Pyrenees, France

To add to the complication, American and British English speakers often stress different syllables. For instance, British English typically places stress closer to the beginning of a word compared to American English. Consider the difficulties a French speaker might face when they encounter a word borrowed from French, such as ballet or garage, in English. In American English, these words retain the French stress pattern, emphasizing the last syllable. However, in British English, the stress shifts to the first syllable.

-Anu Garg

From: Jerry Delamater (comjhd hofstra.edu)
Subject: Religious intrusion

It is a truism that almost any sect, cult, or religion will legislate its creed into law if it acquires the political power to do so. -Robert A. Heinlein, science-fiction author (7 Jul 1907-1988)

Heinlein could not have been more prescient. The current situation in the US, particularly in certain states, demonstrates the accuracy of his comment.

Jerry Delamater, New Haven, Connecticut

From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: cantrip and asportation

To my ears (and eyes) our word cantrip has an affinity to the word “catnip”. Delete the “r” in cantrip, reverse the “n” and “t”, and there you have it, the herb that drives kittycats bonkers. The similarity inspired this fun cartoon scenario, featuring pranked pussycat, Tabby.

Stop the Steal
Here, the kid is skating on thin ice, thinking he can pull off his heist, but the shopkeeper is wise to his ruse. Busted!

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California


This week’s theme: Misleading words
1. Cantrip
2. Maladdress
3. Asportation
4. Epicrisis
5. Oxytone
= 1. Hex, magic
2. Maladroit, inept
3. Skim
4. Analysis
5. Opt to stress word’s phonic end, write diaereses
= 1. A hoax
2. With no discipline
3. I raid, take property
4. Message’s comment
5. Last in word is stressed
= 1. Old sham
2. It is awkward
3. A steal
4. Crisis might precede exam
5. Stress is on end (option in poetry)
-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.



Uncle Joe is a prankster. His japes
Get that guy into so many scrapes.
“But a cantrip a day
Keeps the doctors at bay!”
I have oft heard him say. Jackanapes!
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes54 outlook.com)

A task which those witches do well
Is casting a magical spell.
Their cantrips can’t miss!
They publicize this --
“Just check with our pleased clientele!”
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

It seems it will take quite a cantrip
To make Donald’s CFO man flip.
Is he mentally ill?
Allen Weisselberg, spill!
In the bud you could some future scam nip!
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


Two left feet and ten thumbs I possess.
These ensure unrelieved maladdress.
Were it not for my guile,
And my innocent smile,
I’d be forced to acquire some finesse.
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes54 outlook.com)

There once was a fellow named Will,
Who lacked conversational skill.
It’s easy to guess
That his maladdress
:ll possible romance could kill.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

“We came all the way here to Loch Ness,
And your monster shows such maladdress!
Not to show up is rude!
And I hate Scottish food!”
“Ma’am, she dinna exist, is me guess.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


With Paris she wanted to go,
And to Troy she was taken, you know.
An alleged asportation!
It caused a sensation.
Helen started that war years ago.
-Rudy Landesman, New York, New York (ydur36 hotmail.com)

In one of his numerous capers,
Trump took lots of classified papers.
Asportation’s the charge,
But the guy’s still at large,
Amongst all the movers and shapers.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

Asportation, which one can call “theft”
May reveal that a thief is bereft
Of conscience. Ergo,
He’ll steal the cream, so
The skim milk is all that is left.
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

“You’re guilty of mass asportation,
For these secrets belong to our nation,”
Said Jack Smith. “Give them back!”
“I’m too busy, you hack.”
“Then prepare for a lengthy ‘vacation’.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


When my doctor’s epicrisis said
That, in essence, I ought to be dead
After years of abuse --
Drugs and alcohol use --
He was judging the lifestyle I’d led.
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes54 outlook.com)

If a man has not murdered, but stole
His sentence is short, on the whole.
Unless it is known --
(Epicrisis has shown) --
It’s his everyday, normalized role!
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

When my wife says, “Who cares what the price is?”
It’s time for my next epicrisis.
“This quote shows your drift
From the virtue of thrift.”
Answers she, “Ha! You’ve more than King Midas.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


“It’s a matter of meter, my dear,
And an oxytone’s needed right here.”
The frustrated poet
Said, “How well I know it,
But there’s none comes to mind now, I fear.”
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

“Anu, ‘oxytone’ isn’t an oxytone,”
I heard a fair damsel named Roxy groan.
“Yet the word could be fun
In a limerick or pun,”
I would whisper, were I with that fox alone.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


The drunk tipped over the garbage cantrip-ped up the stairs, and woke his furious wife.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

Be home by 10, because a bad boy cantrip up a good girl,” cautioned the overprotective mother.
-Janice Power, Cleveland, Ohio (powerjanice782 gmail.com)

“You cantrip on carpet that’s not nailed down properly,” warned the safety inspector.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“The film festival is a must-see on your Cantrip,” said the Riviera tour guide.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

The postal clerk said, “Now Fred, a nor-maladdress doesn’t say ‘To my ex-wife, somewhere in hell’.”
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

Said Ma and Pa Duck at the East Boston High graduation, “It’s wicked cool to see ah little maladdress-ed in a cap and gown.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“How are we going to get so many poisonous snakes here from Egypt?” wondered the herpetologist. “Via mass asportation,” joked her assistant.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

The rent-a-donkey company called itself, Asportation.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“By ignoring climate change, you are creating an epicrisis,” warned Greta Thunberg.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Chris forgot to pack his allergy pen, so he suffered an epicrisis.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

Once Paul Bunyan bought Bessie the Yeller Cow for Babe the Blue Oxytone-d down his constant complaining.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

The farmer recorded the sounds his plow animals made and called the album, Oxytones.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

As a child I was taught that to tell the truth was often painful. As an adult I have learned that not to tell the truth is more painful, and that the fear of telling the truth -- whatever the truth may be -- that fear is the most painful sensation of a moral life. -June Jordan, writer, teacher, and activist (9 Jul 1936-2002)

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