Wordsmith.org: the magic of words


About | Media | Search | Contact  


Today's Word

Yesterday's Word



Jan 7, 2024
This week’s theme
“New” words

This week’s words
numero uno

How popular are they?
Relative usage over time

AWADmail archives

Next week’s theme
Forgotten positives

Send a gift that
keeps on giving,
all year long:
A gift subscription of A.Word.A.Day or the gift of books
Bookmark and Share Facebook Twitter Digg MySpace Bookmark and Share

AWADmail Issue 1123

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

Sponsor’s Message: One Up! -- The perfect word game for cutthroat punks, spoilsports, and bored teenagers. “Devilish.” Shop Now.

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

Modern Swifties Have Transcended the Joke
The New York Times

How Handwriting Lost Its Personality
The Atlantic

From: Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)
Subject: New Year / “New” words

What’s new that you are hoping to do or have in the new year? I asked our readers and it appears most of us do not make a new year’s resolution. Here’s a small selection from the responses received.

Each year, I select a personal quality to work toward: patience, gratitude, forgiveness ... This year the choice will be honoring “numero otro” i.e. others, in a small effort to promote world peace. If you are waiting in a line at a red light and someone wants to enter from a side street or driveway, let them. You will spare someone a bit of road rage. If you use a cart while shopping, place it properly in the area provided. You will make life easier for the person who collects them. If the person in line behind you has only a few items, let them get in front of you. Such actions can reduce others’ tensions, and perhaps inspire them to do the same.
-Barbara Anuzis, Fairview, North Carolina (barbara.anuzis gmail.com)

My goal for 2024 is to plant lots and lots of cosmos, Atlas poppies, coral bells, Sweet William, and other flowers for the birds and the bees to enjoy.
-Stephen Ramjewan, Orillia, Canada (ramje2u gmail.com)

2024 will give us an extra (leap) day to be dedicated to proper dolce far niente (the art of doing nothing). Let’s make it a public holiday; that’s my aim.
-Federico Bonfanti, London, UK (ricobonfanti gmail.com)

In 2024, I resolve to bake one new recipe from my cookbooks each month and photograph each baked result. Both baking and taking photos with my iPhone give me joy.
-Bob Frank, Westland, Michigan (bobfrank11 gmail.com)

I will strive to never use a disposable cup. Hopefully it will establish a good habit of always carrying my reusable water bottle and inspire other waste-reducing habits.
-Christine Dashiell, Corvallis, Oregon (christine.dashiell gmail.com)

On my list is a trip to the UK to visit places my ancestors and renowned writers lived. I will travel by train and foot, experiencing at my own pace the joys of the country. I just wish for a fellow sojourner to join me. England, Scotland, Wales, the Cornish coast... (deep sigh).
-Sandra Stevens, North Royalton, Ohio (bronoff.s gmail.com)

From: Daphne Harwood (daphwood gmail.com)
Subject: paranoiac in reverse

I am a kind of paranoiac in reverse. I suspect people of plotting to make me happy. -J.D. Salinger, writer (1 Jan 1919-2010)

I loved this quotation. Shall we coin a word for JDS’s affliction?

Daphne Harwood, Vancouver, Canada

Email of the Week -- Brought to you by HOW IS THE COW? -- Explore our “West Point” Collection >

From: Earle Weiss (drwe comcast.net)
Subject: pneumatology

Does this word invalidate my being a pneumatologist for 45 years tending those with all varieties of lung disorders? Or, was I a mere spirituologist for all that many years?

Earle Weiss, Natick, Massachusetts

From: Martin E Cobern (mecobern cox.net)
Subject: nutant

The noun form, nutation, is a common term in physics. It represents the wobble of the axis of a rotating body. You can see it most easily in motion of a top, but the Earth nutates, as does an atom in a magnetic field. This is how an MRI scan works.

Martin Cobern, Cheshire, Connecticut

From: Vijay Kumar (akvijaykumar0 gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--nutant

Inserting this among words beginning with the “new” sound reminded me of the two Keystone tecs, Thomson & Thompson in the Tintin series -- “p” as in “psychology”, says one of them.

Vijay Kumar, Chennai, India

From: Steve Benko (stevebenko1 gmail.com)
Subject: Pneumatology usage example

“He was rejoicing that African people were, as a result of their faith in God, displacing their belief in magic with a reasoned understanding of science, technology, economics, and rationality. Rolly spoke in praise of the diversity of the Bible college curriculum that included anthropology, psychology, and psychiatry with theology, Christology, and pneumatology.”
Jim Harries; To Africa in Love; 2019.

In Africa, faith in God leads to a reasoned understanding of science and rationality? Let’s send our evangelicals over there for a few shots of whatever it is they’re drinking!

Steve Benko, New York, New York

From: Vijay Kumar (akvijaykumar0 gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--nuciform

The first and last time I encountered that term in literature was in George Bernard Shaw’s play The Doctor’s Dilemma, where somebody devises an ingenious bit of medical rubbish termed “the nuciform sack”.

Vijay Kumar, Chennai, India

Apex Predators
From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: numero uno and nuciform

Orcas (aka killer whales) and great white sharks are masters of their respective domains... apex predators who have no known enemies... unless we include humans. Yet, by and large, most humans don’t mess with these formidable denizens of the deep. (Save for the likes of SeaWorld.) We let these creatures do their thing as awesome, efficient killing and eating machines.

Nutty as a Fruit Cake
Sporting a top hat, monocle, white gloves, clunky shoes and spats, plus a cane, it’s little wonder that Mr. Peanut may have an identity crisis. In this scenario, he has sought out psychological counseling, unwittingly echoing the famous Peter Paul Candy Manufacturing Co.’s slogan that speaks to the chocolate bar lover’s dilemma... whether to opt for Almond Joy (with the singular nut), or just go for the plain MOUNDS bar of delicious chocolate-covered coconut? Decisions! Decisions!

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California


This week’s theme: “New” words
1. Numero uno
2. Noodgy
3. Pneumatology
4. Nuciform
5. Nutant
= 1. Renowned, uncommon
2. Nettlesome
3. Wonder of spirit
4. A nut
5. Weak, mushy; no tough guy
-Dharam Khalsa, Burlington, North Carolina (dharamkk2 gmail.com)

= 1. Most worthy, we named one “Top Gun”
2. Often sour whiny men
3. Dogma
4. Nut-like
5. Cernuous
= 1. One we know
2. Moany torment
3. Study of religious men or women
4. Cut nut-shaped
5. Hung
-Julian Lofts, Auckland, New Zealand (jalofts xtra.co.nz) -Robert Jordan, Lampang, Thailand (alfiesdad ymail.com)

Make your own anagrams and animations.


numero uno

Who’s your numero uno in life?
Is it you or -- less likely -- your wife?
Become wise, foolish man!
Go! Repent while you can,
And embrace the avoidance of strife.
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes54 outlook.com)

Among deities, numero uno,
You’ll recall ancient Rome’s goddess Juno;
Who was Jupiter’s wife.
And rumors were rife.
She was also his sister, you do know.
-Rudy Landesman, New York, New York (ydur36 hotmail.com)

I used to date someone named Bruno,
The most selfish fellow in Juneau.
I told him “We’re through,
‘Cause all that you do
Is look out for numero uno.”
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

I don’t play much tennis of late,
But oh, all those classes were great!
With my numero uno.
(If you’re reading this, Bruno,
You must be a hundred and eight!)
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

There was once an Alaskan named Bruno
Who thought himself numero uno.
“Though others must toil,
Not me! I struck oil!”
Said he, from his mansion in Juneau.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


In a crisis, it takes all my will
To keep calm while I think, and yet still
Ma consistently snarks
With the noodgy remarks,
And so, yeah, she gets looks that could kill.
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes54 outlook.com)

“That boy is a real noodgy pest.
He whines and won’t give it a rest.
His parents adore him,
But I just ignore him,”
The not-so-nice nanny confessed.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

“You’re so noodgy! Please shut up already!
Yes, Mother, I AM going steady!
I don’t care how you feel;
It’s my future! And Neal
Just inherited millions! I’m ready!”
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

“Don’t marry a noodgy!” warned Dad.
“Her nagging will drive you quite mad.
You must choose another,
One not like your mother.
Please, don’t have the marriage I had.”
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

When my wife asks, “How come you’re so moody?”
I answer, “Because you’re so noodgy.”
It’s calm then, and still,
Yet I’m sensing a chill;
A storm’s coming, and boy, what a doozy.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


Pneumatology thinks of as fools
Those who pooh-pooh the idea of ghouls.
Demons, spirits, and wraiths
Manifest in most faiths,
And the subject is taught, now, in schools.
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes54 outlook.com)

He knows all about pneumatology
And also believes in astrology.
I told my friend Louie
It’s nothing but hooey,
And now he demands an apology.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

Though my spirit prefers pneumatology,
My bones these days need rheumatology.
So I lie in my bed
Reading AWAD instead,
From the master of cool etymology.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


You’re saying a peanut’s a nut?
It looks like one, tastes like one, but
This nuciform thing’s
A legume that oft brings
Some discomfort to your tender gut.
-Rudy Landesman, New York, New York (ydur36 hotmail.com)

The nuciform things in a bowl
I sampled, but it took a toll.
Said my hostess, “Oy vey!
They were just for display.
I’d better call poison control.”
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

Charlie Brown, with his head nuciform,
Rated far below girls’ juicy norm.
They wouldn’t acknowledge
His gifts till in college
He proved himself in Lucy’s dorm.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


Summer seems such a long time away,
As we trudge through each drear winter’s day.
But the coming of spring
Will make eve’rything sing,
And the blooms will be nutant come May.
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes54 outlook.com)

I was having my afternoon tea
In the shade of an old willow tree.
And this is insane --
When it started to rain,
Nutant leaves whispered: “Don’t weep for me.”
-Rudy Landesman, New York, New York (ydur36 hotmail.com)

Some parts of my body now sag.
I feel like I’m such an old bag!
It seems gravity’s come
For my bosom and bum --
They’re nutant, and that’s quite a drag.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

The sermon was certainly boring,
And many in pews, they were snoring.
Those nutant heads hung
Till the last hymn was sung,
Then left, their religion ignoring.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

When discharging some toxic pollutant,
Are CEOs’ heads with guilt nutant?
I’m afraid that they holler,
“Oh joy! Look! A dollar!”
And happily turn our genes mutant.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


“Lord, I grow tired of the females in this stable, and beseech thee to provide me a numero Uno-bserved One,” prayed the stallion.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“A-noodgy, some of your words are tough to write limericks about,” his regulars would complain.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“My first wish is to see you in the noodgy-nie,” said Tony Nelson after rubbing the bottle he found on the beach.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“I study second marriages,” said the pneumatologist.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

With the nuciform-ed, the executioner felt certain the hanging would proceed as planned.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“A-nutant-alizes us with such interesting words each week,” mused the limerick writers.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

He who does not bellow the truth when he knows the truth makes himself the accomplice of liars and forgers. -Charles Peguy, poet and essayist (7 Jan 1873-1914)

We need your help

Help us continue to spread the magic of words to readers everywhere


Subscriber Services
Awards | Stats | Links | Privacy Policy
Contribute | Advertise

© 1994-2024 Wordsmith