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Oct 1, 2023
This week’s theme
Biblical people and places that became words

This week’s words
tower of Babel

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Tosspot words

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AWADmail Issue 1109

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

Sponsor’s Message: “Way better than Wordle.” One Up! is the wickedest word game in the the history of the universe. “It’s mental!” Free shipping. Shop now.

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

Danish Dictionary to Weed Out Gender Stereotypes
The Guardian

Emma Thompson Is Right: The Word “Content” Is Rude
The New York Times

Annals of Mindless Filtering: At some companies, if your email quotes George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans) about Dr. Cumming, a minister of the Church of Scotland, they think it has dirty words.

From: Mail Delivery System (noreply harman.com)
Subject: Message Notification

HARMAN Email Gateway has logged an email:

Subject:[EXTERNAL] [BULK] A.Word.A.Day--Goshen

REASON: Profanity expression detected in the email or attachments.”cumming” could be considered non-professional.

This is just informational. Emails were delivered normally.

“Where is that Goshen of mediocrity in which a smattering of science and learning will pass for profound instruction ... ?”
George Eliot; Evangelical Teaching: Dr. Cumming; Westminster Review (London, UK); 1855.

From: Marilyn Pilarski (iammpmp gmail.com)
Subject: Thought

“As a nonbeliever” you need my prayers. I promise to pray for you!

Marilyn Pilarski, Pineville, North Carolina

You have good intentions and, of course, you are free to pray as much as you like. But if you’re doing it for me, may I suggest feeding a homeless person instead? Without proselytizing them.
-Anu Garg

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

Religion per se isn’t a problem. Left to itself, it’d just be a hobby, like collecting stamps, going bowling, or reading Harry Potter. No, religion is just a symptom of the real, underlying problem, namely faith -- the mindset that deludes people into thinking that they can somehow or other “know” things without a shred of supporting evidence, and frequently in the face of considerable evidence to the contrary. Faith gives us not only religion but also homeopathy, astrology, objectivism, ufology, conspiracy theories, climate-change denial, false accusations of ritual satanic child abuse, numerology, anti-vax movements, a host of superstitions, personality cults, dowsing, jingoism, imperialism, racism, psi phenomena, quackery, Chinese traditional “medicine”, feng shui, and the insidious brain parasite that leads people to endlessly obsess over anyone named Kardashian.

Faith is humanity’s all-time, blue-ribbon, gold-medal, undisputed, undefeated, heavyweight world-champion worst method EVER of making decisions! Nobody rational ever uses faith for anything that can be tested or measured or that really matters in real life.

The priestly class, needless to say, praises faith to the skies, because its members’ paychecks depend on suckers continuing to fall for it. Religious believers are the victims in a huge con game.

Don’t believe me? Test it for yourself. The difference between education and indoctrination is whether the person at the front of the room welcomes questions from the audience. Try it the next time your minister finishes a sermon.

Richard S. Russell, Madison, Wisconsin

From: Lolly Otis (lollyotis yahoo.com)
Subject: Religion

I am one of five children who were raised by extremely religious parents, fundamentalists who believe everything in the Bible actually happened, and who rigidly uphold a belief system in which nearly anything that hints of fun, pleasure, excitement, or personal advancement is sinful. Good folks, but human beings who were themselves raised with very narrow-minded beliefs and were brainwashed (largely through fear) from an early age.

I always had a curiosity about life that no one else in my family seemed to share, and I wanted something better--if not bigger--than the world around me. I would only later understand that it was the oppression of their belief system, particularly the limiting and minimizing role it assigned to females, that I wanted to escape. Fortunately, I was blessed with a sharp, inquisitive mind, which I applied to school and being a good student, perhaps because I intuited that education was my ticket out.

Beginning with an AA degree from a local community college, I returned to a four-year institution when my first child was three years old and earned a bachelor’s degree. Later, when my second child was 11 years old, I went back again, this time earning a Master’s degree in English Literature. Though I was what they called a “nontraditional student” (i.e., much older than most of the kids), I doubt anyone there valued the coursework and learning as much as I did. More information, for me, meant greater understanding of the bigger world and a broader context from which to sort through the religious residues of my upbringing.

I am so thankful that I was able, through education, to liberate myself from what I consider to be a damaging belief system. Although it has created a chasm between me and the rest of my family, I am a huge believer in the transformative power of secular higher education. I made it to the other side and will be eternally grateful for the resources that helped free me from the “shackles of my childhood”.

Thank you for doing what you do. As a lover of words and writing, I look forward to each installment of A.Word.A.Day. My weekdays begin with a cup of good French Roast coffee, a homemade cookie, and your email!

Lolly Otis, Lincoln, Vermont

From: Keith Battan (fkbattan gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--Goshen

I have often thought that if kids weren’t indoctrinated into theism from infancy, but were told of a God at, say, 18 years of age, there would be a very low “take rate”. I suspect there’d be a lot of laughter, though.

Keith Battan, Morrison, Colorado

From: Chrystal deFreitas (chrysdef aol.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--Goshen

I enjoyed your story in today’s email. I too am a doctor in the last chapter of my life and wonder what the afterlife might be like, at the same time knowing science tells us that the body disintegrates and that’s the end of it. It does take a while -- years -- to accept this notion but I believe it is true.

I also agree that doing good in this world is all that we can do. Leaving the world a better place (albeit in little details) is the best that we can do.

Chrystal de Freitas, San Diego, California

From: Mark Cable (macable uncg.edu)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--Goshen

I appreciated your words on religion and the power of fear to motivate. I was brought up in a fear-based religious tradition and even studied for the ministry. I regret propagating and spreading these beliefs for several years before I came to the realization that I was spreading the words of men disguised as the words of God.

Mark Cable, Greensboro, North Carolina

Email of the Week -- Brought to you buy One Up! -- Stealing is the name of the game. “A devilish gift.”

From: Eve Burton (ebnineteen hotmail.com)
Subject: Goshen

Our family was displaced from our home of 24 years to make way for an environmentally devastating toll road. We looked at over 100 homes before we relocated to our house on Exodus Drive in the Goshen neighborhood. It ended up being a soft landing after a disagreeable life-altering event.

Eve Burton, Gaithersburg, Maryland

From: Paul Basile (basilepaulm gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--Goshen

Thanks so much for all of your wonderful words, and for bringing back fond memories of time spent bonding with my daughter when she was young.

We would watch our favorite feature-length cartoons a million times over, and standout lines would get stuck in our heads and become part of our family lexicon.

Every now and then, one of us will still blurt out, “Land o’ Goshen! Catnip snaps!

Paul Basile, Skokie, Illinois

From: Jeff Kostrzewski (kostrzej gdls.com)
Subject: Goshen

For AFOLs (Adult Fans of Lego), Goshen, NY is certainly a place of comfort and abundance. It is home to the newest Legoland park in the US, and was a fun visit for our family a few years back. According to their website they have more than 15,000 Lego models, made of more than 30 million Lego bricks. Abundance for sure!

Jeffrey Robert Kostrzewski, Sterling Heights, Michigan

From: Barbara Boyer (cboyer12 cox.net)
Subject: Goshen

As a child, I heard “land o’ Goshen” as Atlantic Ocean. I never could understand why my grandmother was calling on the ocean when she was at her wit’s end!

Barbara W. Boyer, Williamsburg, Virginia

From: Steven H. Warrick (shwarrickesq hotmail.com)
Subject: Christen

My maternal grandfather couldn’t drive his car without unleashing a torrent of profanity about other drivers. I was riding with my grandparents when I was about two when some guy with a Hudson Hornet pulled out in front of us, causing me to almost fall (in those days there were no child safety car seats; little kids stood beside the driver who would throw out their arm to catch them when making a sudden stop). Of course, my grandfather cursed. As he liked to put it, he “ripped out an oath that made the air turn blue”. I looked him in the face and repeated what he had said word for word, much to the horror of my grandmother. She chided my grandfather saying, “Now, aren’t you ashamed of yourself?” When she told the story years later she would say, “Maurice just christened the man, he just christened him!”

Steven H. Warrick, Idaho

From: Mary Postellon (mpostellon hotmail.com)
Subject: christening

Your reference to christening “even cars” revived a memory of coming out of church one evening to find a group gathered around the motorcycle parked in front of my car. I recognized our bishop and overheard him blessing the bike, praying for safe travels for the woman who owned it. As he concluded, he asked, “Does the bike have a name?” On being told no, he promised, “Well, then, I’ll be back for the baptism.” That might have been the first time anyone present had ever heard him crack a joke.

Mary Postellon, Grand Rapids, Michigan

From: Andrea Torres (andreatorresr hotmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--christen

You wrote: “It’s not known what they smash when launching a new line of champagne -- anything less than a warship would be a disgrace.”

Of course, it’s known! When launching a new line of champagne, everybody gets smashed.

Andrea Torres, Santiago, Chile

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

It used to grate on my nerves to hear Dubya call Mr. Hussein “Sodom” instead of his actual name “Saddam” (sa-DAHM, accent on the second syllable). I mean, how hard is that?!

Brenda J. Gannam, Brooklyn, New York

From: Graham Sutton (grahams99 outlook.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--Sodom

Among other places with that name, from 1933 to 1942, Sodom, Shetland was the home of Hugh MacDiarmid the poet and Scottish nationalist (real name Christopher Grieve, 1892-1978). It’s on the island of Whalsay in Shetland, and derives from Norse Suðheim or “South Home”.

Graham Sutton, West Yorks, UK

From: Michael New (mike noozoo.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--Rechabite

Rechabite: One who lives in tenets?

Mike New, Ottawa, Canada

From: Dave Wilkinson (dswilkinson1954 gmail.com)
Subject: Rechabite

Abstinence makes the heart grow stronger, according to my GP. Cheers!

Dave Wilkinson, Selkirk, Canada

From: Gar Bider (via website comments)
Subject: tower of Babel

One of my favourite radio plays/TV Series/books is The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. The Babel fish is introduced in Chapter 6. The Babel fish is inserted into one’s ear and provides the ability to understand all languages (alien, human, or otherwise).

Gar Bider, Vancouver, Canada

Naming Names
From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: christen and tower of Babel

Trump loves coining sophomoric nicknames. Little Marco, Lyin’ Ted, Ron Sanctimonious come to mind. See this giant list on Wikipedia. Vivek Ramaswamy is viewed by many politics-watchers as Trump 2.0, since his proposed policies are as retrograde and draconian as Trump’s.

Lost in Translation
Contemplating our phrase tower of Babel, the language learning program Babbel came to mind. This shouting match between a rabid devotee of Babbel and a zealous Rosetta Stone fan ensued. The popular Babbel and Rosetta Stone language learning modalities appear to have left the venerable Berlitz in the dust, although I believe the latter is still in business.

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California


This week’s theme: Biblical people and places that became words
1. Goshen
2. Christen
3. Sodom
4. Rechabite
5. Tower of Babel
= 1. Promised Land
2. To bestow baptism
3. Obscene wicked place
4. Be a teetotaler
5. Both: harsh whirling chaos; feeble scheme
= 1. Show them the Promised Land
2. Baptise the new babe, title
3. Wicked places on the globe
4. Be sober
5. Is farce, chaos, clamor
-Dharam Khalsa, Burlington, North Carolina (dharamkk2 gmail.com) -Julian Lofts, Auckland, New Zealand (jalofts xtra.co.nz)
= 1. Wow! Shangri-la ASAP
2. Baptism
3. Scorch the wicked places
4. Hm... mere teetotaler? He bobbled, hid bottle
5. Be scene of noise
= 1. The camp was kept here
2. How something’s labeled
3. The barbaric place Lot has fled
4. Not winebibbers
5. ¿Como se dice esto?
-Shyamal Mukherji, Mumbai, India (mukherjis hotmail.com) --Josiah Winslow, Franklin, Wisconsin (winslowjosiah gmail.com)

Make your own anagrams and animations.



Ev’ry man needs his Goshen. For me,
It’s the pub, where I take lunch and tea.
Beer and comfort on tap --
They look after a chap --
All in plenty. Where else would I be?
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes54 outlook.com)

An immigrant once crossed the ocean,
Full of hope and with lots of emotion.
But I just heard him say,
“As things are today,
America’s not quite a Goshen.”
-Rudy Landesman, New York, New York (ydur36 hotmail.com)

Our lives have been good in our Goshen,
But I’m now entertaining a notion:
If we were to move,
Our view might improve --
I long to be near to the ocean.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

That new passenger ship on the ocean
I think should have been christened “The Goshen!”
Lots to eat, lots to do
Helpful people (the crew),
And it steadies the worst rocking motion!
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

I was young once, and had a great notion
That bliss was a raise and promotion.
As I racked up the score,
Though, I just wanted more;
By retiring, I found my true Goshen.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


“When I get something new, like this tool,
I must hasten to christen it.” “Cool!
Do you do it with drink?”
“No, it’s not what you think.
I mean put it to use -- as a rule.”
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes54 outlook.com)

In church they had christened him Chris.
A happy occasion was this!
Jews, too, make a fuss,
But don’t do it thus --
A boy we will name at his bris.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

Don’t christen a ship using beer;
It’s champagne you must use, that is clear.
A bottle of brew,
You never should do.
Your boat will sink right off the pier.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“I don’t care if the servants all listen;
We’ve arrived, dear! The bedroom let’s christen!”
Said Nancy to Ron.
“And Jane Wyman, dream on!
White House sex! You don’t know what you’re missin’!”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


They’re all Sodoms, our local church halls.
What goes on there, quite frankly, appalls!
Dames cavorting in tights!
There’s prize bingo most nights --
And The Lord is ignoring my calls.
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes54 outlook.com)

Take a look at our latest brochure.
Sorry, Sodom is NOT on our tour.
You could spend all your bread
In New York instead.
It’s even more wicked, for sure.
-Rudy Landesman, New York, New York (ydur36 hotmail.com)

“Let’s go to New York,” she had said,
A choice he regarded with dread.
“That city’s a Sodom,
Where folks hit rock bottom.
Let’s head off to Vegas instead!”
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

“Everywhere that you go will be Sodom,
But I’ll marry you, Bill,” said Ms. Rodham.
“For you’re bound for great things;
But if caught in your flings,
Those cojones of yours? I will knot ‘em!”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


I was drawn to the Rechabite way
By the idea of camping each day.
Add to that, they don’t drink,
Which is aces, I think --
Lends the lifestyle a certain cachet.
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes54 outlook.com)

The Rechabite lived in a tent
And took it wherever he went.
“It’s handy, you know --
I pick up and go,
And save lots of money on rent.”
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

At 92, I’ve lonely nights
Sans alcohol, sans shining knights
Oh, God, if you’re there
Can’t you find me somewhere
Some nice elderly male rechabites?
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

“Wine with dinner? No thanks, I’m a rechabite;
When I’m thirsty, I give a girl’s neck a bite,”
Said the count. “For a nip
Of one off on a ship,
I fly over the sea and on deck alight.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

tower of Babel

At the harbour, as fish’ boats sail in,
Raucous seagulls are raising a din.
It is sending a cable,
This tower of Babel:
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes54 outlook.com)

She saw folders that had the wrong label;
The filing, a tower of Babel.
So she spent the whole night
To make it all right.
The boss praised the power of Mabel.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

God hated the tower of Babel
And scrambled the tongues of the rabble.
And now you know why,
Although you may try,
With foreigners you can’t play Scrabble.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

Hey! I’ll show you a perfect example
Of a tower of Babel -- a sample.
Hear our Congress right now,
And there it is, wow!
Not a thought of the rights that they trample!
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

“My courtroom’s no Tower of Babel!”
Judge Chutkan roared, pounding her gavel.
Answered Donald, “Objection!
I won the election!
Its outcome you need to unravel!”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


The teacher told her rowdy class to for-goshen-anigans and settle down.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“It’s goshen the extreme for Anu to edit reader submissions without asking,” said Amy Vanderbilt.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“Mike, Christen I are the only ones telling the truth about Trump,” said Asa Hutchinson on the debate stage with Messrs. Pence and Christie.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“Vicar, I don’t give a bloody hoot if one god or a hundred calls me a sinner. Sodom all, I say,” spat the gay Englishman.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

The music teacher laughed when the bible students sang “Home on the Range” with the lyrics, “In Sodom is heard a discouraging word.”
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“Don’t you dare rechabite of my french fries by putting ketchup on them!” screamed Gordon Ramsey.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

The control tower of Babel-onia directed all chariot traffic in ancient Mesopotamia.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

The sycophantic, unevenly shod vice sultan was known as the Leaning Kow-tower of Babel.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

The greatest obstacle to discovering the shape of the earth, the continents, and the oceans was not ignorance but the illusion of knowledge. -Daniel J. Boorstin, historian, professor, attorney, and writer (1 Oct 1914-2004)

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