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Oct 15, 2023
This week’s theme
Words for body parts

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AWADmail Issue 1111

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

Sponsor’s Message: Smart t-shirt for smarty pants -- “Old’s Cool”, “Knit Happens”, “Caffiend”, “I’d Rather Be Grammatically Correct”, “Just Do Wit.” Free shipping. Shop now.

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

For Fans Seeking Community, Nonsense Starts the Conversation
The New York Times

Young Americans Are Losing the Southern Accent
The Economist

Jamaica Weighs Language Change as Ties to Britain Fray
The New York Times

From: Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)
Subject: Parts of body

Which part of your body are you most grateful for? Which part do you hate? I asked our readers this week. Here’s a selection from the responses.

While not qualifying as a word, the 1971 Beach Boys tune “Take a Load Off Your Feet” (3 min.) from the Surf’s Up album pays homage to those metatarsals and arches! The lyrics are quite enjoyable and as important today as they were 50+ years ago while trolling the beaches of Southern California.
-Mike Schall, Santa Monica, California (mschall mindspring.com)

Gingivae (gums) become more important as I age. I’m so glad I have them, holding my teeth in place. When I was young, I wish I had followed the advice of the old man at the end of Prelude to a Kiss: “Floss..
-Frank Imhoff, St. Charles, Illinois (frankimhoff netscape.net)

I LOVE my hands! They play piano, they operate my computer keyboard, they can reach other body parts. I do not love my senior-citizen belly fat. My whole body enjoys A.Word.A.Day!
-Karen Dwyer, Thompson Falls, Montana (tfl4067 blackfoot.net)

Most Important body part... I’m a guy. It’s obvious.
-James Newman, Santa Clarita, California (jymzjet earthlink.net)

The comedian Emo Philips once said:
“I used to think that the brain was the most fascinating part of the body. Then I realized, ‘Whoa, look what’s telling me that.’”
-Alex Pimentel, Richmond, California (pimentelconstruction.ap gmail.com)

“I was playin’ my guitar, lyin’ underneath the stars, just thankin’ the Lord for my fingers, for my fingers!” Paul Simon, “Duncan” Your entry for today made me think of that. Here’s the original version (4 min.) Needless to say, a great song!
-Linda Lipscomb, Kensington, California (lips3000 aol.com)

My eyes -- they are my windows to the large world; I would be imprisoned in my very small one if I couldn’t see.
-Marilyn Kagan, Providence, Rhode Island (busybeadermarilyn aol.com)

The eyes have it. My windows on the world. Voyeurs each. They are my treasured body parts. My favorite possessions that accompany me through life. Two faithful guardians at the helm. Clouded over slightly as I age, I bring them in for some fine-tuning. And voila, my vistas are bright again - the gift to my eyes for having served me well throughout all my colorful years.
-Judith Marks-White, Westport, Connecticut (joodthmw gmail.com)

Speaking as an anthropologist, I’d say I most value my opposable thumbs.
-Glenn Petersen, Micronesia (gpetersen15 gmail.com)

I am most thankful for my heart, which keeps me going. I don’t like my colon! It misbehaves too often!
-Judy Carrino, Cary, North Carolina (kenju99 gmail.com)

I’d have to say my hands. I compose music, and find myself caring for them whenever they need that extra attention to do what helps feed my spirit.
-Chris House, Olympia, Washington (minimanorama gmail.com)

The words this week -- and your questions -- made me think of the 1968 song by The Mothers of Invention: “What’s The Ugliest Part of Your Body?” Here’s the chorus:
What’s the ugliest part of your body?
What’s the ugliest part of your body?
Some say your nose, some say your toes
I think it’s your mind -- woo woo.
-Ellen D. Murphy, Portland, Maine (radochas gmail.com)

I’m a surrogate partner [nsfw], which means I have worked intimately with thousands of bodies, and embrace body love/connecting our mind with our bodies. Everyone has something beautiful about their bodies - most of the time, it is their eyes.
My favorite parts of my body change, but right now, at age 50, my favorite part of my body is my skin. It is very soft, creamy, feminine, and the source of so much pleasure. I use terms such as skinship, skintimacy, and skintercourse.
-Kendra Holliday, St Louis, Missouri (kejholliday gmail.com)

My brain, of course. Everything else is, in theory at least, replaceable. But without my brain, I’m not me.
-Richard S. Russell, Madison, Wisconsin (RichardSRussell tds.net)

I hate my hands, aka, the Claws. A series of mishaps -- dog leash pulled thumb out of joint, fingers were impaled upon golden bowl cactus, fell down for no reason on pavement, stabbed self with letter opener -- has caused my fingers to bulge in the wrong places and cramp all over. They make unexpected left turns. I’m astonished that I can still write with a pen, wield a paring knife, and play the piano. I use my hands at Halloween to scare small children.
-Lisa Bitel, Los Angeles, California (bitel usc.edu)

As the oldest of three, I remember taking my mother aside one day when I was about ten and asking who was her favorite, promising not to flaunt the expected answer (me, of course). She smiled, and softly whispered, without hesitation, “I love you all the same.” I guess that’s what I’ll say about my parts.
-Donald B. Ardell, Madison, Wisconsin (awr.realwellness gmail.com)

Glad that you enjoyed the marathon in Victoria, Canada. Today (Mon, Oct 9) in Canada we celebrate Thanksgiving, an invitation to reflect and be grateful for what we have. Interesting that today’s invitation is to consider what we are grateful for and particularly which part of the body we are most grateful for.
The daily practice of Taoist tai chi for the past seventeen years has made me more aware that when ALL the parts of my body work harmoniously, a greater sense of wellbeing results. Pains alert me to my wrong postures and remind me of past injuries. So which part of my body am I most grateful for? ALL OF THEM, because each serves and contributes to my greater wellbeing and I am grateful to each of them for the lessons they teach me when, in my negligence, I treat them with less respect and care than they deserve.
-Tony Guglielmi, Victoria, Canada (tonygug44 gmail.com)

From: Allen Roberts (aroberts arts.ucla.edu)
Subject: hallux

My dad (Sidney H. Roberts, 1906-1955) was a surrealist avant la lettre who somehow anticipated George Bataille’s “The Big Toe” of 1929 (pdf). As a college student in 1927, he spent weeks crafting life-sized plaster-of-Paris halluces so that the night before the December wedding of a friend, he might sneak in and replace all the ornaments on the Christmas tree decorated for the occasion. Only one hallux remains as a cherished heirloom first-placed upon and removed from our family tree.

Plaster-of-Paris cast by Sidney H. Roberts Plaster-of-Paris cast by Sidney H. Roberts
Allen Roberts, Los Angeles, California

From: David Ornick (david.ornick ymail.com)
Subject: Hallux

Morton’s toe, in which the second toe is longer than the big toe, is a genetic condition. I have it, and I’ve broken the right-side offender multiple times.

Dave Ornick, Morgantown, West Virginia

Statue of Liberty foot
Email of the Week -- Brought to you buy One Up! -- Fast and furious fun. “A devilish gift.”

From: Mary Bristow (mf57902 bellsouth.net)
Subject: hallux

I recently saw a close-up picture of a bare foot of the Statue of Liberty, with the second toe longer than the first. Apparently this was a trait the ancient Greeks thought beautiful.

Mary Bristow, Tullahoma, Tennessee

From: Cecily Wallman-Stokes (cecily.wallmanstokes gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--pinna

I love your newsletter and appreciate the time and thought you put into it, as well as the philosophy of empathy and reason that is the foundation of so much that you write.

For that reason, I thought you might like to know that the cartoon illustration you chose today was disappointing to me. The trope of the nagging wife/mother/female is long-running and harmful; it contributes to the challenges women face speaking up for themselves in the workforce and in relationships, and it undermines the value of our contributions. So a cartoon playing on that stereotype is not, in my opinion, a positive contribution to your wonderful newsletter.

Cecily Wallman-Stokes, Burlington, Vermont

From: Sameer Bahadur (sbahadur0 gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--pinna

Re: the Bizarro cartoon about removable ears: for a person with hearing loss, assisted by hearing aids, this is an amusing reality.

Sameer Bahadur, Pune, India

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

My fave (as a physician) uvula reference: This cartoon by Gary Larson.

Keith Battan, Morrison, Colorado

From: Chris Reid (chrisreiduk2 gmail.com)
Subject: Uvula

I first met this word in biology class in high school back in the UK. Our teacher told us that an easy way to remember how to spell it was to pronounce it backwards, with a voice like Elvis Presley’s:
uvula → aluvu → “Ah Love You”

Chris Reid, Takoma Park, Maryland

From: Brett Matheson (mathesonbrett gmail.com)
Subject: uvula

When I was in medical school at Georgetown University, our graduating class of 1987 had t-shirts made that said “Show me your uvula.” It’s what doctors mean when they tell you to open your mouth and say “ah” but it prompted raised eyebrows from many -- exactly our intent.

Brett Matheson, MD, Colorado Springs, Colorado

From: Joan Perrin (perrinjoan aol.com)
Subject: Uvula

When I was growing up, a popular novelty song on the radio went like this:

Does your chewing gum lose its flavor
On the bedpost overnight?
If your mother says don’t chew it,
Do you swallow it in spite.
Can you catch it on your tonsils.
Can you heave it left and right.
Does your chewing gum lose its flavor
On the bedpost overnight?

I always wondered if the song writer had never opened an anatomy book, or just felt that tonsils had fewer syllables, and sounded better than the correct body part, the uvula.

Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York

From: Al Padilla (glands gmail.com)
Subject: Feet

As a now recently-retired endocrinologist, I used to have patients in common with our orthopedist colleagues. With the recent trend to outpatient surgery, their favorite phrase was “Never admit de feet.”

Al Padilla, Armonk, New York

Hallux Burning
From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: hallux and canthus

Gout, a form of arthritis, often strikes the hallux, making up close to half the cases. This very painful malady has been around since ancient Egyptian times, and has been referred to as the disease of kings, and a rich man’s disease. Excessive consumption of certain foods and beverages can contribute to gout flare-ups, particularly seafood (anchovies, cod, mussels, scallops), red meats, organ meats (liver, kidneys, tripe), and potent potables. Who knew that consuming low-fat dairy products, cherries, vitamin C, and coffee can ward off gout!

Nefertiti Eyes
Our word canthus brought to mind the 14th century BCE bust of The Great Royal Wife of Egyptian pharaoh Akhenaten, namely Nefertiti. In viewing this masterwork by sculptor Thutmose, one cannot but be drawn to Nefertiti’s riveting gaze, and those heavily mascaraed eyes, being somewhat puzzled by the quartz pupil missing from her left eye. In Pharaonic times, kohl, or powdered lead sulfide (galena), was the eyeliner-of-choice for both women and men. Beyond its aesthetic appeal, it was thought to protect the eyes from infectious diseases and reduce glare from the sun.

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California


This week’s theme: Words for body parts
1. Hallux
2. Pinna
3. Canthus
4. Uvula
5. Gnathion
= 1. Big toe
2. Auris
3. Eye nook flinch, spurn
4. Lax mouth wad
5. Dewlap than (vs.) harsh stunt
-Shyamal Mukherji, Mumbai, India (mukherjis hotmail.com)

= 1. Toe, vs. buck’s hind paw
2. Ear part shown
3. Unshut eye’s fold
4. Hung in throat
5. Maxilla
= 1. Unwashed index toe (“fumb”) stank
2. Auricular organ (shh)
3. V
4. Staphyle
5. Hint: low spot
-Dharam Khalsa, Burlington, North Carolina (dharamkk2 gmail.com) -Julian Lofts, Auckland, New Zealand (jalofts xtra.co.nz)

Make your own anagrams and animations.



“Were it not for your hallux, you know --”
“I would struggle with balance?” “Just so.
Many movements depend
On this stalwart, my friend.”
“I am learning to love my big toe.”
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes54 outlook.com)

I contemplate all of my toes.
Why there’s ten of them, nobody knows.
What I do know all right,
My shoes are too tight,
And my hallux is giving me woes.
-Rudy Landesman, New York, New York (ydur36 hotmail.com)

“Right-o”, said the Cockney. “Right-o.
You are standing upon me right toe.
It’s me biggest one, too.
It’ll be black and blue.
The name of it’s ‘hallux’, you know.”
-Sara Hutchinson, New Castle, Delaware (sarahutch2003 yahoo.com)

His hallux he stubbed, and oh dear!
It hurt like the Dickens, I fear.
While hopping away,
He had lots to say,
But nothing that I can print here.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

He walked right smack into the couch,
And hopped all about crying, “Ouch!”
His hallux throbbed so.
He yelled, “Oh, my toe!”
It’s why he was such a big grouch.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

Said General Lee, “Appomattox
Has shown how the South stubbed its hallux.”
Answered Grant, “You’re a mensch;
Now our thirst let us quench,
Then we’ll dine on a nice pair of haddocks.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


When our captain addresses his crew,
He starts, “Pin back your pinnas, you two!”
He’s a wag, as you’ve guessed,
But a sweetheart -- we’re blessed --
So, we tell him, “Aye, aye,” and we do.
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes54 outlook.com)

Mark Antony’s known to have said
(At least, that is what I once read):
“I know you can hear,
So don’t lend me an ear.
Just uncover your pinnas instead.”
-Rudy Landesman, New York, New York (ydur36 hotmail.com)

She is keen to display all her bling;
On each pinna she wears a big ring.
Through her brow, in her nose,
From her head to her toes,
In each place there’s some glittery thing.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

Said the preacher, “Repent, all ye sinnas!
Do it now, b’faw’ havin’ y’all’s dinnas!
And Obama’s the devil!
He’s not on the level!
No horns, ya say? Look at them pinnas!”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


When the Sandman puts sleep in the eye,
It collects at the canthus -- but why?
Seems the tide of night’s tears
Clears detritus and steers
For the cove that’s most handy, nearby.
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes54 outlook.com)

He had called on his blind date, Louise.
But, the gift he brought just made her sneeze.
His bouquet of dianthus,
Made tears fill her canthus.
“I’m allergic to flowers!” She wheezed.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

I open my eyes, and I blink.
There’s crud in my canthus, I think.
To go start my day,
I wipe it away,
And clear-eyed, my coffee I drink.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

Tears of sadness welled up in the canthus
Of a virile young male praying mantis.
“With a female, my head
Will be eaten
in bed;
I’d be gay, but I fear Ron DeSantis.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


When the drill sergeant bellowed, the blast
Sent his uvula flying. ‘Twas last
Seen en route to the sea,
So, between you and me,
It’s unlikely they’ll find it -- too vast.
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes54 outlook.com)

When your uvula vibrates, you snore --
And that’s awful, a sound I abhor.
What else does it do?
If only I knew,
Maybe then I would know what it’s for.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

“Hey doc, would ya check out mah uvula?
It’s swollen, and that would be cool of ya,”
Said Dubya. “The pain
Is like Saddam Hussein
Dropped a bomb in mah throat that went nucula’.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


His gnathion sticks out a lot;
A prominent chin he has got.
Because it’s outstanding,
He seems quite commanding --
His wife thinks it makes him look hot.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

Too much gnathion, just as I feared!
It sags and it bags and looks weird!
But my brain went to work
Saying “Don’t be a jεrk --
You can hide it, you know, with a beard!”
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

Dick Cheney did not have the safety on,
And he shot his good friend in the gnathion.
“Such a pop from one gun!
A whole war would be fun!”
He exclaimed, and placed orders with Raytheon.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


“Is Prince Hallux-orious enough to make a wife happy?” wondered Falstaff.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“Waiter, there’s an umbrella in my drink.” “Yes. miss. You ordered a Pinna Colada.”
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“If I win the spelling bee, the teacher will pinna gold star on me!” thought the excited 6th grader.
-Janice Power, Cleveland, Ohio (powerjanice782 gmail.com)

“You can’t pinna thing on me!” Donald shouted at the jury.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“Canthus whole prosecution go away if I just scream loud enough?” asked Donald.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“Eef uvula Gioconda een ze proper perspective, ze smile ees quite mischievous,” said the Italian tour group’s guide.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“Leave Winterfell and go home to the Iron Islands? Gnathion, I’m afraid not,” said Eddard Stark.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

The higher we soar the smaller we appear to those who cannot fly. -Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche, philosopher (15 Oct 1844-1900)

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