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Jan 14, 2024
This week’s theme
Forgotten positives

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AWADmail Issue 1124

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

Florida School District Pulls Dictionaries and Encyclopedias as Part of “Inappropriate” Content Review
CBS News

The Most Fun Way to Learn a Language
The Atlantic

From: Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)
Subject: Forgotten positives

This week I shared forgotten positives and asked readers what words they would like to see counterparts for. Here’s a selection from the responses.

My husband frequently had to wait for me to leave in the morning because I hadn’t sufficiently sheveled myself -- my usual morning condition being very disheveled! I would yell from the bedroom, “I’m still sheveling myself?”
-Sue Hoffman, Stanley, New Mexico (suebhoff58 gmail.com)

I have long used the word ept to mean only basically competent, neither inept, nor adept. In college, I was quoted as saying “I’m ept; take me dancing!” I still stand by that self-assessment.
-Lisa LePome, Boulder, Colorado (lepome centurylink.net)

I would love to see “hinged” popularized as a counterpart of “unhinged” to describe a person’s mental state.
-Antoinette Cheung, Vancouver, Canada (acheung42 gmail.com)

“Othersome” ... anything but “bothersome” of which I have plenty.
-Andy Vetromile, Marietta, Georgia (fnordy1 yahoo.com)

My father, not a native speaker of English, had been convinced as a child learning English that being telligent would be better than being intelligent, since “in” seemed to imply a negative to him (which I find understandable, given some of the patterns in the English language).
-Irith (“ee-reet”) Bloom, Los Angeles, California

There is an IT services company named Genuity. If ingenuity means clever, I always felt that genuity must mean not clever.
-Bill Duncan, Lowell, Massachusetts (wrd pmpartners.com)

I think the movie was Private Benjamin where a training sergeant told the trainees that “Most of these grenades are inert but some are ert.”
-Julian Thomas, Rochester, New York (jt jt-mj.net)

Not so seriously, I have enjoyed nerding out and sometimes suggesting to Virginia Symphony colleagues that we can’t rehearse together until we have first hearsed.
-Tom Reel, Norfolk, Virginia (tom.reel cox.net)

Email of the Week -- Brought to you by LACRAWESOME -- Wit you can wear >

I would like to propose a counterpart for insolent: solent, meaning pleasant and inoffensive in manner, never rude or overbearing. As a teacher, I always wanted to frame classroom rules in a positive way, if possible. Instead of saying “Insolent behavior will not be tolerated,” I would prefer to say “Solent behavior will be appreciated.”
-Teri Henson, Livermore, California (hensontd comcast.net)

When my father came home from work in a good mood, my mother would say “You’re looking gruntled this evening!”
-Jennifer Arthur, San Francisco, California (jennifer arthurassociates.net)

A term I use to describe the biscuit I give my dog to “guard the house” when I’m going out is a preward.
-Roger Ferguson, Portland, Oregon (roger10001 comcast.net)

We have the verb trump meaning for a particular idea, playing card, exercise of power, etc. to come to the fore and take precedence over others. I would suggest detrump be for such an item to fall into disgrace and possibly be sentenced to prison.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Many years ago in a magazine at my parents’ house I saw a delightful poem only a few words from which I could remember. The wonders of googling produced the following:

I know a little man both ept and ert.
An intro-? extro-? No, he’s just a vert.
Sheveled and couth and kempt, pecunious, ane,
His image trudes upon the ceptive brain.

When life turns sipid and the mind is traught,
The spirit soars as I would sist it ought.
Chalantly then, like any gainly goof,
My digent self is sertive, choate, loof.
(David McCord; The Oxford Book of American Light Verse; 1979.)
-Ardeth Lobet, Auckland, New Zealand (ardeth gosail.org)

The theme this week reminded me of a beloved essay from The New Yorker: How I Met My Wife.
-Paula Horvath, West Brighton, NY (a3rdear gmail.com)

From: Lawrence Crumb (lcrumb uoregon.edu)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--capacitate

When you counsel someone, you should appear to be reminding him of something he had forgotten, not of the light he was unable to see. -Baltasar Gracian, writer and philosopher (8 Jan 1601-1658)

It is very much like what Alexander Pope wrote in his “Essay on Criticism” (1711):

Men must be taught as if you taught them not;
And things unknown proposed as things forgot.

Lawrence Crumb, Eugene, Oregon

From: Glen Toogood (gardenislandcanoe ontera.net)
Subject: eptitude

In John Brunner’s 1968 prescient science-fiction book, Stand on Zanzibar, one of the protagonists is “eptified” as an assassin and spy.

Glen Toogood, Temagami, Canada

From: Paul Calico (paulcalico gmail.com)
Subject: Mediate

Because of its historical use in education, most Americans are probably more familiar with the word intermediate than its simpler root word mediate, even though their definitions, in the context of being in a middle position, are the same. Intermediate grade levels are those between the primary grades (generally grades K-5) and high school (grades 9-12). Over the past several decades, a significant number of school districts have begun creating separate schools for those intermediate grades (6-8) and calling them, appropriately, middle schools.

The designation high school is the epitome of a misnomer. A high school education is considered the lowest level of education necessary to attain long-term employment. In that respect, school systems are analogous to the court systems of certain states. The superlative superior court applies to the lowest level of state courts in California, for example. Above them are the district courts of appeal and the Supreme Court of California. Tying all of this together, the courts are assisted by mediators who serve as intermediaries to resolve the litigants’ conflicts. For the last 20 years of my legal career, I served as a mediator, working with the parties to craft an acceptable solution to their disputes rather than turning matters over to people in robes (judges) to render a decision. Mediated settlements are far more satisfying since the parties play an important role in determining the terms, and they bring a definitive and less-expensive end to the litigation because there is no decision to appeal to a higher court.

Paul Calico, Cincinnati, Ohio

From: John Ayer (john_ayer comcast.net)
Subject: maculate

Robert Heinlein, when he wrote Stranger in a Strange Land as an anti-scripture to deliver us from the error of religion, broke it into five sections (like the Torah, the Psalms, and a few others), and sarcastically called the first His Maculate Origin, since saviors and such usually have marvelously immaculate origins.

John Ayer, Norwich, Connecticut

From: Valerie van Mulukom (vvanmulukom gmail.com)
Subject: maculate

This word shares a root with “macchiato” I think, the Italian espresso drink with a small bit of milk which literally means “stained”.

Valerie van Mulukom, Utrecht, Netherlands

Course Management
From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: mediate and maculate

Who’da thunk that our word “mediate” is also an Italian surname? Pro golf aficionados would know Rocco Mediate, the affable veteran Italian-American pro golfer now playing on the Champions (Seniors) Tour. Instead of golf, here, he has to play the unenviable role of referee between two of his threesome mates.

Talking' Turkey ... Vulture
As an avid birder, the often-maligned red-headed/brownish-black plumaged turkey vulture just happens to be one of my favorite native SoCal species. There is nothing quite like seeing them on a windy day, soaring, gliding with apparent ease, rarely beating their giant wings. Their upturned distal primary feathers, resembling spread-out fingers, are an identifying feature of vultures, differentiating them, even from great distances, from soaring hawks or osprey. In reading our second usage example for “maculate”, positing the dark underbelly (and the leading wing edges, I might add) as maculate, I can appreciate the “stain” label.

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California


This week’s theme: Forgotten positives
1. Capacitate
2. Eptitude
3. Mediate
4. Maculate
5. Nocent
= 1. To vest, decree
2. Talent
3. I get optimum choice to make peace
4. Stained
5. It’s that unsafe I wept
= 1. Entitle
2. Competent attitude
3. Voice there might make peace
4. Spotted, as a cow
5. It is unsafe
-Julian Lofts, Auckland, New Zealand (jalofts xtra.co.nz) -Dharam Khalsa, Burlington, North Carolina (dharamkk2 gmail.com)
Make your own anagrams and animations.



To Starbucks she went on a whim;
Now check out her vigor and vim!
She’s especially glad
That espresso she had,
For coffee capacitates Kim.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

Said Circe, “My womb you’ll capacitate;
If you do so, your men I’ll emancipate.
As I’ve turned them to swine
With some doctored-up wine,
Does this prospect, Odysseus, fascinate?”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


Of my eptitude, re fatherhood?
I’m astonished to find I’m quite good.
I can dandle and feed --
Well, I did plant the seed --
But those diapers -- Oh, Lord, that I could!
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes54 outlook.com)

I concede that I’m long in the tooth.
So I’m seeking the fountain of youth,
Which has the known eptitude
To heal my decrepitude;
And I know that’s the God’s honest truth.
-Rudy Landesman, New York, New York (ydur36 hotmail.com)

Long before he attended first grade,
A great eptitude Mozart displayed.
His musical chops
Amazed his dear Pops,
Who declared, “Now our fortune is made!”
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

I have one hour left to compose.
In the past, I could scribble, then doze.
But my eptitude now
Has deserted me. How
It all happened, well God only knows!
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

With my wife I had romance in plenitude,
But then I fell into decrepitude.
As I age, though, I cling
To one very good thing:
That I still have some limerick eptitude.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


Being called on to mediate, I
Start by asking the combatants why
They are fighting at all?
One says, “He took my ball!”
Having said which, he started to cry.
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes54 outlook.com)

If the local’s the train that you take,
Many mediate stops will you make.
You’ll travel all day,
So therefore I say,
Get on the express, for Pete’s sake!
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

There was no mediating the fight;
It was destined to go on all night.
‘Course it started at four
When he walked in the door --
(Don’tcha kinda think she had the right?)
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

When both of her children did spy
The last piece of mom’s apple pie,
She’d mediate nicely,
A slice cut precisely,
So neither young sibling would cry.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

A pigeon got sick from a seed he ate;
Said the doc, “One just like it I’ll mediate”.
He observed what he’d split,
Then prescribed this, to wit:
“Poop on statues your ills to alleviate.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


“He looks nocent!” “He’s one of those guys
Who has ‘looks like a criminal’ eyes;
I’ll admit he’s no saint,
But a bad ‘un he ain’t.”
“So this mug shot is tellin’ us lies?”
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes54 outlook.com)

The baby crawled under the sink,
And found something nocent, I think!
I grabbed it away
And thus saved the day,
Before the dear lamb took a drink.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

It’s 3:30 am; you’da thunk
In Morpheus’ arms I’d be sunk.
But the grim, nocent truth?
Last night’s gin and vermouth
Did a number on me -- I’m still drunk!
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

“Though my name is porcine, I’m a rodent;
But a cute one, and not at all nocent,”
Pled the wee guinea pig.
“Take me home! I’m not big,
And have quite an intelligence quotient!”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


The red letter she wore on her chest
To her maculate past would attest.
Oh, that poor Hester Prynne
Had a partner in sin,
Although nobody knew he’d transgressed.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

I’m a virgin, at least for now, still,
And yeah, I am over the hill.
But after this date
I will be maculate;
(At least it’s my hope that I will!).
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

“Falling apples my clothes always maculate;
However, they help me to calculate,”
Said Newton. “I need
To examine their speed;
Laws of physics I then can encapsulate.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


“My career has achieved quite a capacitate Britain artist!” exulted the portrait painter.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“That vegetarian won’t be happy when he finds out it’s mediate,” smirked the evil chef.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“Though at governing Trump was utterly in-eptitude-d his own horn very effectively,” wrote the future historian.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“Nocent-ury has been perfect,” said the world history teacher.
-Janice Power, Cleveland, Ohio (powerjanice782 gmail.com)

“Civilization mean me must buy food from now on? But me have no dollar, nocent,” fretted Oog.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

He had nocent-s of fashion, and wore UGGs on his first date with Alice.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“It’s time for my spanking,” begged the headmaster. “I’m rather tired from rugby practice, but I’ll s-maculate-r, sir,” promised the 6th form boy.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

When one has been threatened with a great injustice, one accepts a smaller as a favour. -Jane Welsh Carlyle, letter writer (14 Jan 1801-1866)

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