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Nov 5, 2023
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AWADmail Issue 1114

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

Sponsor’s Message: One Up! -- Fight over something worthwhile this Thanksgiving. “It’s wicked fun.” Free shipping. Shop now.

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

How Less-Gendered language is faring across Europe
The Guardian

The Secret Power of Swearing
The New York Times

Interpreters Are Wizards -- at Times They Seem to Have Read My Mind. AI Could Never Compete
The Guardian

Email of the Week -- Brought to you buy One Up! -- Ruin Thanksgiving. “A devilish gift.”

From: John Teets (suenitos gmail.com)
Subject: Nouns, unnouns, known unnouns...

I was on the copy desk of The Chicago Sun-Times in the 70s, a time of much rocketry coverage. One night, a fill-in copy chief was incensed that the night managing editor insisted on using “launch” as a noun in the story that led Page One. He took his revenge when the boss went home at midnight, changing every instance to “launching” for the later editions. There were lots of such uses, and the corrected proofs were marked up like battle maps.

To his regret, he hadn’t known that the “rings man”, the Linotype operator assigned to work on corrections, had enjoyed a purely liquid lunch. Instead of fixing a typo in a line here or there, he had to pound out the whole thing by hand -- it’s amazing how much difference three little letters can make -- and the story in the later editions was a garbled tangle. The fussy editor got a six-month demotion and prompted a new paragraph in the stylebook.

John Teets, Key West, Florida

From: Jonathan Harms (jonathan.harms slu.edu)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--primary

The only thing one can give an artist is leisure in which to work. To give an artist leisure is actually to take part in his creation. -Ezra Pound, poet (30 Oct 1885-1972)

Charles Bukowski had a different viewpoint. See this exchange in Barfly, a movie involving his fictional alter ego, Henry Chinaski:

Tully: You know ... in the guest house, you could write in peace.
Henry: Hey, Tully, baby, nobody who could write worth a damn could ever write in peace.

Jonathan Harms, St. Louis, Missouri

From: Priyamvada KE (kepriyamvada niyogibooksindia.com)
Subject: Wimple - in a Hollywood musical

The word wimple may remind many readers of the song “How do you solve a problem like Maria” from The Sound of Music. The nuns complaining about Maria:

She climbs a tree and scrapes her knee
Her dress has got a tear
She waltzes on her way to Mass
And whistles on the stair
And underneath her wimple
She has curlers in her hair
I even heard her singing in the abbey...

Priyamvada KE, New Delhi, India

From: Johnson Flucker (johnson.flucker yale.edu)
Subject: Wimple lives on!

Artist Nina Katchadourian continues the great tradition of artistic portrayals of wimples (and ruffs, too!) using, as her props, the various paper products found in airplane lavatories.

Johnson Flucker, Trumbull, Connecticut

From: John Whittier (johnrwhittier gmail.com)
Subject: Rollercoaster

In a work setting, when defending a project that had been beset by yet another redefinition of the goal, as an even-more extreme synonym for this term I remarked, “This project has changed direction more times than a Superball in a dryer.”

John Whittier, St. Louis, Missouri

From: Howard Jack (howard.jack.au gmail.com)
Subject: Sojourn

Old travellers in Australia are called grey nomads, but I call myself a silver sojourner, even a peripatetic pensioner photographer.

Howard Jack, Grafton, Australia

From: Scott Killingsworth (vskillingsworth gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--high-grade

High-grading is used (in the same way) as a forestry term. Sometimes a logger will bid on a landowner’s forest plot based on a price per ton of wood. Then they take only the straightest, biggest trees and leave behind a scraggly, weakened forest. The logger gets premium wood at an average-wood price. The landowner gets a still-wooded plot of far less quality.

Scott Killingsworth, Atlanta, Georgia

From: Hillel Hammerman (drhhammerman gmail.com)
Subject: high-grade

In medicine, a high-grade lesion usually means one that is likely to be or become malignant -- not a quality you would like.

Dr. Hillel Hammerman, Scarsdale, New York

From: Louis Phillips (louisprofphillips gmail.com)
Subject: Notes to high-grade

A variant on your note:
Working in the dictionary business is hazardous, back-breaking work with poor wages. Some etymologists at the time this word became verbed didn’t feel any qualms about pocketing high-grade nouns. Over time the term generalized to any instance of taking high-quality definitions from a dictionary, leaving low quality definitions and folk etymologies behind. For example, POSH.

Louis Phillips, New York, New York

From: Patricia Downey (pzdowney gmail.com)
Subject: torture

The sons of torture victims make good terrorists. -Andre Malraux, novelist, adventurer, art historian, and statesman (3 Nov 1901-1976)

The Thought for Today -- and the daily news -- remind me of a poem by Victor Hugo, L’Enfant, denouncing the dehumanizing effects and ravages of war. The Turks have left an area in complete ruins, and the poet finds a young boy whom he tries to comfort, asking him what he could offer him (a flower, blue like his eyes? A delicious fruit? a galloping horse? A bird with a soft-singing voice?) to make him happy again. Here is the child’s answer: “Ami, dit l’enfant grec, dit l’enfant aux yeux bleus,//Je veux de la poudre et des balles.” (Friend, the Greek child says, the blue-eyed child//I want gunpowder and bullets.)

Will we ever learn?

Patricia Downey, Kensington, Maryland

From: Eileen Alexander (eileen dennycreative.com)
Subject: Verb or Noun?

An example of verbing a noun: A local restaurant has a motto: The Way to Salad.

Eileen Alexander, Mill Valley, California

From: Anna Theresa Cascio (atcascio aol.com)
Subject: This week’s wonderful words

The word ghost covers all the bases: noun, adjective, and, most recently, verb. I’ve recently asked some uncommunicative friends if they’re ghosting me, which, I realize, defeats the purpose of the concept.

Anna Theresa Cascio, New York, New York

The Wife of Bath
From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: wimple and high-grade

In Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, the Wife of Bath was arguably the most ribald and bold of his motley parade of pilgrims. The voluble proto-feminist figured extra-large in Chaucer’s opus, as she not only had her own tale, but also a prologue. She speaks openly of the importance of a woman’s pleasure, the equal status of the sexes, and her five marriages, with frankness spiced with salty humor. Truly, a woman for all seasons.

A Sum of Their Parts
With our word high-grade, I recalled that ramblin’ Johnny Cash tune, “One Piece at a Time” (5 min.), debuting in 1976. It’s the saga of a devious Cadillac assembly-line worker whose dream is to own a Cadillac, but no way can he afford it. He starts stealing car parts, one-by-one. After over 20+ years of pilfering all the requisite parts, he’s finally ready to home-assemble his dream car. Thing is, Cadillac models have evolved over the years, and most of the stolen parts don’t fit together. Yet, with major jury-rigging, ultimately a Franken-Caddy was born.

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California


This week’s theme: Is it a noun, adjective or verb?
1. Key item, core
2. Go rash- high turbulence, jolt, jar
3. Meander
4. His mini visit or sleepover
5. Was top-drawer
= 1. Basic
2. Sheer up & down vomitive joyride terror
3. A girl’s mantle
4. Rest elsewhere, hang out
5. Primo, hijack
= 1. Key item, core
2. Go rash- high turbulence, jolt, jar
3. Meander
4. His mini visit or sleepover
5. Was top-drawer
-Julian Lofts, Auckland, New Zealand (jalofts xtra.co.nz) -Shyamal Mukherji, Mumbai, India (mukherjis hotmail.com)
= 1. Major campaign
2. See hurried changes here
3. Wrinkle
4. Visit, just temporarily
5. Thieves borrowed loot
= 1. Main, major
2. Turbulent; jerky thrill ride
3. Women’s headgear
4. Ship’s stopover; I go rest
5. A choice review
-Josiah Winslow, Franklin, Wisconsin (winslowjosiah gmail.com) -Dharam Khalsa, Burlington, North Carolina (dharamkk2 gmail.com)

Make your own anagrams and animations.



Let me think ... yes! My primary passion
Would be keeping abreast of new fashion.
Being caught on the town
In an out-of-date gown
Sees my countenance fallen and ashen.
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes54 outlook.com)

‘Twas my primary, secret desire
To set this ho-hum world on fire,
And have money to burn;
But soon I did learn:
Some matches and cash I’d require.
-Rudy Landesman, New York, New York (ydur36 hotmail.com)

How many have entered the race!
Now months of campaigning we face!
The primary reason?
It’s primary season,
And all want to take Biden’s place.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

I can’t sleep, so I’m up every night;
Star-gazing? Oh no, I take flight!
Well, not literally
‘Cept in this one sense, see --
It’s the primary time that I write!
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

The Republican primary jars,
And the candidates ride in clown cars.
With Trump far ahead,
It now can be said,
That the winner might be behind bars.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“Sacré Bleu! While I don’t like to pry, Marie,
Should cake be zeir sustenance primary?”
“But I nevaire said zees!
Le fake news just won’t cease!
Look eet up, Louis dear, at ze library.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


Want the thrill of the ultimate ride?
Then the rodeo, friend, will provide.
Bucking bronco or bull,
You will have your hands full.
Rollercoaster? Oh, yeah! Get astride!
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes54 outlook.com)

My life’s been a wild rollercoaster,
But never have I been a boaster.
I have gained lots of fame.
People all know my name.
And look! There I am on that poster!
-Rudy Landesman, New York, New York (ydur36 hotmail.com)

Rollercoastering property claims
Caught the eye of the AG, Tish James.
“Trump’s accounting is flawed,
And that constitutes fraud!
I will now put an end to his games.”
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

My friend likes to live life profound,
With great lows, and highs far off the ground.
I say to that boaster,
“You’re some rollercoaster,
But, me? I’m a merry-go-round.”
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“First down and then up in this toaster!”
Said the bread. “It’s a real rollercoaster!
And from white I turn brown!
Ron DeSantis would frown
To see me on a DEI poster!”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


My new girlfriend’s a nun -- please don’t sneer.
We’ve been dating for almost a year.
She is chaste; rules are simple:
“Don’t stray past the wimple!”
So, it’s love unrequited, I fear.
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes54 outlook.com)

Some sayings, when all’s said and done,
Like “Clothes make the man” -- that is one --
Are not quite so simple.
If a guy wears a wimple,
Would he be considered a nun?
-Rudy Landesman, New York, New York (ydur36 hotmail.com)

For high fashion she cares not a whit.
Does it matter to her? Not a bit!
The nun in the wimple
Just keeps her life simple;
She’s happy with habits that fit.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

How can I sneak in? Oh, it’s simple!
1, Don’t smile! I’m known by my dimple!
And 2, wear nun’s clothes
‘Cause no one’d suppose
That it’s ME underneath an ol’ wimple!
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

Pam had an unsightly red pimple.
To cover it up was quite simple.
Should she journey outside,
Her neck zit she’d hide,
By winding her scarf like a wimple.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“Isaac Newton’s ideas vere too simple,”
Said Einstein, “for spacetime can vimple.”
“That must be the case,”
Said Kirk Douglas. “My face
Is the proof: on my chin see this dimple?”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


“What began as a sojourn,” I sighed,
“Has turned into a life-long abide.
When my heart found its home,
It felt no need to roam,
And, contented, it chose to reside.”
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes54 outlook.com)

On this Earth you and I are a guest.
We are born here and then put to rest.
But while we are here,
We should be of good cheer;
Since the sojourn of life is the best.
-Rudy Landesman, New York, New York (ydur36 hotmail.com)

I once had a houseguest from hell
(Whose name I’ll discreetly not tell).
How long he sojourned,
And how much I yearned
To bid that damn fellow farewell!
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

When she was on a sojourn in France,
On the moment’s spur she took a chance.
With Translate in hand,
she ordered lunch unplanned;
The wet goo on her plate made her prance.
-Shyamal Mukherji, Mumbai, India (mukherjis hotmail.com)

With maps and a Baedeker, too
Way off to Australia they flew.
When the sojourn was done
All agreed they’d had fun
(But they never saw one kangaroo!)
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

Take long trips if you’ve money to burn,
But for me, I prefer a sojourn.
A short jaunt is the key.
I know many agree.
So on this, let your travel plans turn.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“We hope you’ve enjoyed your sojourn,
And we’re sure that quite soon you’ll return.
Jail isn’t so bad,
Mr. Trump; just be glad
You’re still here, for in hell you will burn.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


Hard pressed miners, to supplement pay,
Took to stealing gold nuggets away.
These high-graders filched best,
Left their bosses the rest,
Which was poetic justice, some say.
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes54 outlook.com)

Lots of ladies I took out to lunch.
Then I met you and I had a hunch,
That you were the one.
So, I married you, hon.
I high-graded the best of the bunch.
-Rudy Landesman, New York, New York (ydur36 hotmail.com)

Her skills in the kitchen were few.
There wasn’t that much she could do.
The coffee she made
Was far from high-grade,
And poisoned some people she knew.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

I’ve a friend who most beautifully dresses
(Which complements lovely dark tresses).
Her high-grade costuming
Sometimes leaves me fuming --
A thrift shop’s her store! No one guesses!
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

“Take my clothes off and kiss Dennis Quaid?”
Squealed the actress with glee. “That’s high-grade!
Booking films rated R
Means I’ve come really far;
I will jump right in rather than wade!”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


“I don’t mean to primary, but is it true that you and your husband are divorcing?”
-Janice Power, Cleveland, Ohio (powerjanice782 gmail.com)

“If you didn’t have that little lamb distracting you, you’d have learned by now which numbers are primary,” scolded her math teacher.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Agnes would rollercoaster over to Edna when she put her wine glass down on the new coffee table.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“Biden? That wimple never beat me,” said Donald.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“Don’t be such a wimple up on the rope!” The drill sergeant barked at the new recruit.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station , New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“Your son scores low on trustworthiness, sojourn-alism may not be his best option, Mrs. Cronkite,” advised the guidance counselor.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“Relax, son,” Walter’s mother said. “Even Einstein didn’t get high-grade-s in this school.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

The high-grade-ient of the hill made the bicycle ride difficult for the Tour de France riders.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

There is no great invention, from fire to flying, which has not been hailed as an insult to some god. -J.B.S. Haldane, scientist (5 Nov 1892-1964)

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