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Aug 6, 2023
This week’s theme
Lesser-known counterparts

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AWADmail Issue 1101

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

Sponsor’s Message: “The wickedest word game in the world.” One Up! is a devilish gift that’s guaranteed to ruin any family game night or summer vacation. Free shipping. Shop now.

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

In Northern Europe, a Backlash Against English Is Under Way
The Economist

Women Know Exactly What They’re Doing When They Use “Weak Language”
The New York Times

From: Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)
Subject: Lesser-known counterparts

What words don’t exist but should, as counterparts of existing words? This week I invited readers to send in their suggestions. Here are some selections.

I know it would easily be mixed up with “scatological”, but I have long thought the word “scatterlogical” should exist to denote jumbled reasoning, a thought process characterized by disjointed careening from one thing to another.
-Jean Lambert, West Newbury, Massachusetts (j-lambert comcast.net)

postjudiced: Forming an opinion on something after observation.
-Scott Westphal, Scandia, Minnesota (elimsw frontiernet.net)

My daughter invented “biumphant” as something not quite triumphant, and “monumphant” as something even less so. And, of course, she added “nullumphant” as a synonym for “blah” or “meh”.
-Bruce Reaves, Gibsonville, North Carolina (reavesb earthlink.net)

We like our made-up word, “ominosity”, to describe that oppressive feeling of gathering storm clouds. It’s not really a counterpart to “luminosity,” but people do get it right away.
-Hugh Platt, Jr., Denville, New Jersey (hughplattjr aol.com)

I made a typo for “investment” that I thought would be a great counterpart: Infestment: “The action or process of a pest insect or other animal that infects other animals or plants, endowing them with a particular negative outcome.”
-Robert Jones, Louisville, Kentucky (silkroader bellsouth.net)

I dislike words that can be used to dismiss others on the basis of a handicap. “Deaf, dυmb, and blind” is a terribly nasty put-down, for instance. So too are words referring to mental health. So, I have come up with a few prefixes for the word dunce. Dedunce might refer to driving another person to stupidity, while indunce could refer to restoring one’s mind, such as by being involved in interesting conversation or a walk by the seashore.
-Maureen Doyle, Boston, Massachusetts (momcdo gmail.com)

There is a gap around hope. We have
Hopeful balancing regretful,
but no
Hopeable to balance regrettable.
-Ginger Warfield, Seattle, Washington (vwarfield mac.com)

From: John Nugée (john nugee.org.uk)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--benignant

Benignant was not always “unsung”. No less an orator than Winston Churchill used it in one of his most famous speeches, in 1940 when he lauded Britain’s airmen with the sentence “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few”. He closed that speech by foreseeing, and welcoming, a greater co-operation between the UK and the US (not yet a combatant in the war):

“These two great organisations of the English-speaking democracies, the British Empire and the United States, will have to be somewhat mixed up together in some affairs for mutual and general advantage. I do not view the process with any misgivings. I could not stop it if I wished. Let it roll on full flood, inexorable, irresistible, benignant, to broader lands, and better days.”

John Nugée, London, UK

From: Sharon Smith (mainelyneuropsych gmail.com)
Subject: Benignant

My dear daddy was born in 1903 in Mississippi, and had only a 3rd grade education. In 1972, he had a mass removed from his neck and I took him to the doctor to get the lab results. When the doctor said, “The mass was benignant,” his face froze in horror. A glance told me he’d heard only “ignant” and thought this was another way to say malignant.

I quickly explained. What an unthinking doctor!

Sharon Smith, Canaan, Maine

From: Pam Robertson (pollish xtra.co.nz)
Subject: forgettery

When I was in high school, age about 15, we had to write an essay about ourselves. In my essay I wrote that “I sometimes have a convenient forgettery.” The teacher marked me down, saying there was no such word. I did not then know she was wrong, but thought I was being creative and that she could not appreciate that.

Pam Robertson, Wellington, New Zealand

From: Henry M. Willis (hmw ssdslaw.com)
Subject: forgettery

Forgettery has its virtues -- the Balkans might be a better place for those who live there if events such as the Battle of Kosovo in 1389 did not have as much importance in current politics as they do -- but memory is sometimes the last line of resistance to tyranny and oppression. That is the thrust of Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four. It is also the point that Tacitus was making nearly 2000 years ago:

We have only to read that the panegyrics pronounced by Arulenus Rusticus on Paetus Thrasea, and by Herennius Senecio on Priscus Helvidius, were made capital crimes, that not only their persons but their very books were objects of rage, and that the triumvirs were commissioned to burn in the forum those works of splendid genius. They thought that in that fire the voice of the Roman people, the freedom of the Senate, and the conscience of the human race were perishing, while at the same time they banished the teachers of philosophy, and exiled every noble pursuit, that nothing good might anywhere confront them. Certainly we showed a magnificent example of patience; as a former age had witnessed the extreme of liberty, so we witnessed the extreme of servitude, when the informer robbed us of the interchanges of speech and hearing. We should have lost memory as well as voice, had it been as easy to forget as to keep silence.
(Tacitus, Life of Agricola)

In this era in which politicians want to erase the history of slavery here in the US, or turn it into some quaint form of apprenticeship, it is important not to forget, just as we should not keep silent.

Henry Willis, Los Angeles, California

Email of the Week -- Brought to you buy One Up! -- “The best game in the game.”

From: Jim Watson (jwatson6 jhmi.edu)
Subject: your 8/1 notes

You wrote: “A good memory is nice, but so is a good forgettery. Certain things are best left in the past: ancient grudges, past grievances, and old scores. Embrace that forgettery and wipe the slate clean.”

Anu, thank you for this -- your timing is spot on. Maybe the timing is always good for this sentiment. It’s been hard for me to let go of grievances, and recently that tendency seems to have increased. I appreciate this reminder, and all of the enlightenment and enjoyment that Wordsmith brings.

Jim Watson, Pikesville, Maryland

From: Jean Dixsaut (jdixsaut gmail.com)
Subject: Forgettery

May I quote Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice? “Think only of the past as its remembrance gives you pleasure.”

Jean Dixsaut, Paris, France

From: Johnson Flucker (johnson.flucker yale.edu)
Subject: Forgettery

Lovely, this word is. It brings to mind William Henry Murray’s seasonal poem, “Touch Hands”.

Ah, friends, dear friends, as years go on
and heads get gray,
how fast the guests do go!
Touch hands, touch hands,
with those that stay.
Strong hands to weak,
old hands to young,
around the Christmas board, touch hands.
The false forget, the foe forgive,
for every guest will go
and every fire burn low
and cabin empty stand.
Forget, forgive, for who may say
that Christmas day may ever come
to host or guest again.
Touch hands!
-William Henry Harrison Murray (1840-1904)

Johnson Flucker, Trumbull, Connecticut

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

Those of us who lost loved ones and relatives to the mass shootings in the US or to the genocides in Armenia, Cambodia, Germany, Myanmar, Rwanda, or China would prefer the world to learn the lessons from these horrors. Some painful things must not be forgotten, difficult though that might be.

Claude Galinsky, Westford, Massachusetts

From: John D. Laskowski (john.laskowski mothman.org)
Subject: Forgettery

I’ve always said, “Thoughts enter my mind, feel lonely, and leave again.”

John D. Laskowski, Carsonville, Pennsylvania

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

The opposite of endarken is enlighten (verb), out of which comes enlightenment (noun).

After the Dark Ages, the historical period of Enlightenment followed, a time when scientists, writers, and philosophers like Descartes, Rousseau, Kepler, Galileo, and Newton favoured scientific explanations for natural phenomena over superstition and mysticism.

Andrew Pressburger, Toronto, Canada

From: David Grey (greylaw1 gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--penultimatum

“Loeser made an ultimatum, which they both knew was at best a penultimatum or an antepenultimatum.” Ned Beauman; The Teleportation Accident; Sceptre; 2012.
[If you are especially kind, consider giving a preantepenultimatum as well. -Ed.]

Being kinder still: suprapreantepenultimatum.

David Grey, Beverly Hills, California

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

You wrote: Reasons may include job insecurity, dependence on wages, or a sense of indispensability.

Then there was the bank employee who was regularly praised by his supervisors for his diligence in never taking more than two consecutive days off, coming in on weekends, working holidays, etc. It wasn’t until after he suddenly disappeared and large amounts of money turned up missing that they realized he’d been running his own personal Ponzi scheme, shuffling deposits from full accounts to the ones he’d been looting just a skosh ahead of the shortages being discovered. That’s why all financial institutions now insist that employees take a full week off sometime during the year. (No, it’s not out of humanitarian concern for their welfare.)

Richard S. Russell, Madison, Wisconsin

From: Ceal Craig, PhD (cealcraig druai.com)
Subject: Tim Craig

My husband Tim died on May 13, 2023 and one of his final requests was to make a donation for him, which I just did. Sorry it took so long. We were married 51 1/2 years, since college. Your A.Word.A.Day made his day every day, even in those last months of illness. During the last three years of chemo, your email was a positive light for him. He often shared the word in Facebook, and his friends have missed that sharing.

He had me post the following on his Facebook page the afternoon he died, using the death-with-dignity option. His celebration of life will be Aug 14, his 76th birthday.

No weeping or wailing, it’s just the way things always end up. For a while I will exist as memories. If you have fond memories, hoist a glass of your favorite and give me a thought or two. If not, the feeling is probably mutual. I was an acquired taste. And as they say, don’t be sad when things end, be happy they happened at all. I don’t expect nonexistence to be any worse than the first 14 billion years or so I didn’t exist while at least two generations of stars burned, created the heavy elements needed for life as we know it, and then died seeding the nebula from which our solar system formed with those elements needed for humans to evolve.

The current plan for body disposal is cremation and scattering my ashes in the Au’Au Channel off Napili Point, Maui with the humpback whales. This place has significant memories. I have no body sentimentality, dead humans are a sanitary disposal problem.

Cecilia (Ceal) D. Craig, San Jose, California

We are sorry for your loss. Tim had been with us since 2002.
-Anu Garg

Endarkened Rothko
From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: endarken and benignant

Latvian American abstract expressionist painter Mark Rothko’s canvases, until 1956, were large, radiant color-field combinations of brilliant yellows, bright reds and hot oranges. The following year marked a tipping point, when his color palette turned more somber. Art critics would argue that this dramatic endarkening was a reflection of his increasing bouts of depression. From his first “dark” work, “Black in Deep Red” (1957), he entered his “dark period”, favoring blacks, deep burgundies, dark browns and charcoal greys, ending in 1970 with his suicide at age 66.

Lives of Service
The word benignant reminds me of two of the most genuinely kind, humble and giving folks on the planet, former president Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalynn. For decades, the Carters have devoted their time, energy, compassion and labor to Habitat for Humanity, and Rosalynn has been a crusader for advancing the awareness and treatment of mental illness in the US. Earlier this year, Carter announced that he would no longer avail himself of medical intervention, and would opt to live out his remaining days in hospice care in his hometown of Plains, Georgia.

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California


This week’s theme: Lesser-known counterparts
1. Benignant
2. Forgettery
3. Endarken
4. Penultimatum
5. Presenteeism
= 1. Pure man, true intent
2. Memory weakness
3. Keep light unseen
4. Terms preceding the last
5. Worker often isn’t absent
= 1. Kind, beneficent, serene temper
2. Memory pattern
3. Shut out
4. Last gentle warning
5. Worker’s keen enthusiasm (pest!)
-Josiah Winslow, Franklin, Wisconsin (winslowjosiah gmail.com) -Dharam Khalsa, Burlington, North Carolina (dharamkk2 gmail.com)
This week’s theme: Lesser-known counterparts
1. Benignant
2. Forgettery
3. Endarken
4. Penultimatum
5. Presenteeism
= 1. Gentle, serene
2. Her inept memory, ninnies’ fugue
3. Darkens
4. The last but one attempt/straw
5. Sick workmen present
= 1. Gent seen helping her
2. Wept; reset mind
3. Murky mire
4. E-announcements re: last-but-one ask
5. If new task, potter... rest
-Julian Lofts, Auckland, New Zealand (jalofts xtra.co.nz) -Shyamal Mukherji, Mumbai, India (mukherjis hotmail.com)

Make your own anagrams and animations.



When a heart is benignant, it smiles
And is light as it goes extra miles.
It is never unkind --
If you are, it won’t mind.
You’ll be taken as one of its trials.
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes54 outlook.com)

I panicked and got most indignant
When a bee that looked truly malignant
Came to rest on my arm.
But it meant me no harm.
Its intentions were clearly benignant.
-Rudy Landesman, New York, New York (ydur36 hotmail.com)

That fellow’s benignant and bland.
A girlfriend he just cannot land.
It’s passion girls crave,
They never date Dave --
The bad boys are more in demand.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

Enjoy it when weather’s benignant!
Ignore storms and conditions malignant.
Climate change now surrounds us,
Irritates and confounds us,
But what good is being indignant?
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

At these long counterparts I’m indignant,
For benign means the same as benignant.
Your mind’s running wild,
Anu, like a child!
This word is imagined! A figment!
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


It’s a while since I had mine installed
And consigned there the stuff that appalled.
A forgettery’s great,
Takes the trash that you hate,
Which, once placed there, cannot be recalled.
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes54 outlook.com)

With battles traumatic obsessed,
Are veterans often distressed.
They need some relief.
It is my belief:
Forgettery’s all for the best.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

I wish my wife practiced forgettery,
As my every misstep’s in her memory.
It’s truly infernal
That hope springs eternal;
I’m old, dear, there won’t be a better me!
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


Feeling aimless at times, I will brood;
This, in turn, will endarken my mood.
People ask me, “What’s wrong?”
And before very long
My replies, I’m informed, are most rude.
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes54 outlook.com)

If my mood you attempt to endarken,
Listen up, lend an ear and just harken.
Dionysian am I,
So don’t even try.
It’s up the wrong tree that you’re barkin’.
-Rudy Landesman, New York, New York (ydur36 hotmail.com)

Indictments endarken Trump’s days,
But some folks still offer him praise.
They send him their dough,
Though why I don’t know --
That’s how he has learned that crime pays!
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

Remember those films at the drive-in?
Where your date for a kiss would be strivin’?
As the day would endarken
His arm would embark in
A subtle sign of his connivin’!
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

Why not “darken” instead of “endarken”?
Anu, up the wrong tree you are barkin’.
You should be more succinct
To avoid being linked
To my family; I have some bizarre kin.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


Mother’s penultimatum lacks guts.
I can tell -- all those ifs, ands, and buts.
No conviction. She’ll see.
No reaction from me --
In the end it will drive mama nuts.
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes54 outlook.com)

It says in the bible young Dave
A penultimatum once gave:
With a stroke of his pen
Warned Goliath, and then
With a slingshot sent him to his grave.
-Rudy Landesman, New York, New York (ydur36 hotmail.com)

Said the Lord, “Here’s my penultimatum:
Eat no apples, despite that I made ‘em.”
Eve just shrugged, “Or else what?
I’ll just go with my gut.”
That’s the gist; I’m not quoting verbatim.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


Presenteeism doesn’t look good
On your résumeé. Work when you should,
Then go home. If you’re tired,
You’ll screw up. Might get fired --
Am I making myself understood?
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes54 outlook.com)

A saying that might be Confucian:
If your life is in sheer dissolution,
At work you should stay
More than twelve hours a day.
Presenteeism is your solution.
-Rudy Landesman, New York, New York (ydur36 hotmail.com)

His duties he never will shirk,
But really he’s being a jεrk.
Presenteeism’s why
Some contagious folks try
To share all their germs where they work.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

When my temp is a hundred and three,
I believe everyone would agree:
Presenteeism now
Would set off a row.
I’ll stay home ‘til I’m back being me!
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

The end came for presenteeism
With the rise of I-work-from-home-ism.
Thanks to Covid and Zoom,
People don’t leave their room;
Are they working? Their bosses can’t quiz ‘em.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


“Benignant happens to be my family’s portmanteau for a state of righteous outrage expressed through humor,” commented the AWAD limericist and punster.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“What if I sit down with Biden and negotiate a compromise?” asked Speaker McCarthy.
“You can forgettery-sonable solution,” answered the Freedom Caucus.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Don’t forgettery Crews, if you talk about the success of America’s Got Talent.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

As a child, I believed that goblins lurked endarken-trances.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

Endarken gloomy castles one may imagine hearing eerie sounds.
-Janice Power, Cleveland, Ohio (powerjanice782 gmail.com)

“Encompassing such comedy classics as The Russians Are Coming, The In-Laws, and most recently The Kominsky Method, in the endarken’s career spanned seven decades,” said the obituary.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“I don’t vanna penultimatums, I vanna invade,” said Vlad.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

When Teller refused to do the new magic trick, he was given a Penultimatum by his partner.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“I don’t care to give visiting heads of state gifts. To invite them in and presenteeism-ore my thing,” said Queen Elizabeth.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmai.com)

Lake Titicaca - High and Dry
From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: Lake Titicaca - High and Dry

Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable freshwater lake on the planet, straddling the Peruvian and Bolivian High Andes at 12,500 feet above sea level, is yet another victim of the dire effects of global warming. Recent unpredictable El Niño and La Niña weather patterns have precipitated prolonged drought in the region, with water levels dropping to historic lows.

The indigenous Aymara people, who have depended on the lake for their livelihoods for millennia using their woven-reed boats called balsa for fishing, have seen their recent catches fall to paltry numbers. Now, on the dry, baked-out lake bed, we witness many stranded and abandoned fishing boats.

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California

The perfection of a clock is not to go fast, but to be accurate. -Luc de Clapiers, marquis de Vauvenargues, moralist and essayist (6 Aug 1715-1747)

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