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Jan 21, 2024
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AWADmail Issue 1125

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

Sponsor’s Message: Make war, not love this Valentine’s Day. One Up! -- The Wickedest Word Game in The World. “It’s Mental!” Free shipping. Shop Now.

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

Lily Gladstone’s Acceptance Speech Shows Why We Need to Save Endangered Languages

”Remigration” Is Germany’s “Non-Word” of 2023
Deutsche Welle

This Language Was Long Believed Extinct. Then One Man Spoke Up.
The New York Times

Can Learning a New Language Stave Off Dementia?
The New York Times

From: Steve Benko (stevebenko1 gmail.com)
Subject: How I’ve changed

Starting around age 30 I became a Republican, believing in smaller government and reduced regulation -- until I spent 23 years working for the large multinational corporation from which I eventually retired. That convinced me that we need such enterprises, but we also need them to be watched like a hawk, or else woe betide the environment, the worker, the consumer, and the small investor.

Steve Benko, New York, New York

From: Tom Pedretti (motmai9195 gmail.com)
Subject: change over time

When I was in college many years ago, I belonged to a campus organization called Young Republicans. Now I refer to the Young Republicans as the Hitler Youth.

Tom Pedretti, Mt Horeb, Wisconsin

From: Sam Mattar (smattar hotmail.com)
Subject: peccant

In the 1840s, at a time of British expansion in India, there were those in Britain who doubted the wisdom of too rapid an advance, and in particular, the capture of the province of Sindh, which was thought likely to lead to an overextension of lines of communication.

General Charles Napier was under express orders not to capture the territory. However, once he discovered how little resistance there was, he took the province with ease. He sent a telegram to Whitehall with only one word “Peccavi”, which in Latin meant “I have sinned.” In other words, “I have Sindh.”

Sam Mattar, California

From: Regis de Silva (regisdesilva gmail.com)
Subject: peccant

As the telegraph was introduced in the Indian subcontinent in the 1850s, Charles Napier could not have sent his famed telegram in 1843.

“Peccavi” -- “I have sinned” -- was in fact coined as a pun by a 16-year-old schoolgirl, Catherine Winkworth in London, to highlight the immorality of the ruthless and unauthorized capture of the Sindh by General Napier. Catherine’s teacher encouraged her to send the joke to Punch magazine, which printed it on May 18, 1844.

Regis de Silva, Cambridge, Massachusetts

From: Allan Blackman (alla1937 netzero.net)
Subject: peccant

Remember the classic exchange between two military commanders in India?

Peccavi (I have Sindh) and Fortunatus sum (I am in Lucknow).

Allan Blackman, New York, New York

From: Sandra J. Kisner (sjk3 cornell.edu)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--prestigious

There is a 2006 film, The Prestige, that uses the word in its original sense. And, interestingly (see the picture for today’s word), even involves top hats in a curious way.

Sandra Kisner, Ithaca, New York

From: Davide Cantoni (studio davidecantoni.org)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--prestigious

I came across the word masstigious. It is like prestigious, but instead of having a high status, obviously refers to the masses so I guess mass status. I heard it in relation to the cosmetics industry.

Davide Cantoni, Brooklyn, New York

From: Anne Hodgkinson (annechodgkinson gmail.com)
Subject: dapper

Today “dapper” means “brave” in modern Dutch!

Anne Hodgkinson, Utrecht, Netherlands

From: Rochelle Winer (rochelwiner gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--dapper

The word dapper here in South Africa in Afrikaans means Brave. And a lafaard is a coward!

Rochelle Winer, Durban, South Africa

Benjamin Bernard Treder, circa 1910

Email of the Week -- Brought to you buy ONEUPMANSHIP -- A board game for ballers.

From: Mary Treder (mct919 hotmail.com)
Subject: dapper

Just a week ago, I came across a photograph of my grandfather’s brother Benjamin Treder taken around 1910, and my first thought was, “What a dapper fellow!” It was interesting to learn today that dapper is a word that has changed its meaning. When I pulled the photo up to look at it again, I realized that the photographer’s mat includes a symbol which has also changed its meaning. The swastika was embossed because it was, at the time, a common symbol for good luck. In today’s world they might have used a four-leaf clover.

Mary Treder, Puerto Peñasco, Mexico

From: Rick Keane (rakeane eml.cc)
Subject: peterman

According to this website a possibility for the origin of the term is Cockney rhyming slang. A safe is called a can, which leads you in the obscure logic of London East End language to be Peter Pan which is shortened to Peter. So a Peter man was a man who dealt with safes. Another speculation is that many Scottish safe crackers ended up in Peterhead prison.

Rick Keane, London, UK

A number of readers wrote with possible theories. Any of these is plausible, but in absence of documented evidence, we have to suspend judgement. Read on for other possibilities.
-Anu Garg

From: Heather March (ideasofmarch gmail.com)
Subject: Peterman

Or could it perhaps be derived from the French petard as in “to hoist by one’s own petard”.

Heather March, Featherston, New Zealand

From: Ken Murrey (ken.murrey gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--peterman

There is also the sense for peter being a cashbox, and the phrase tickling the peter, to steal cash from one’s employer (or other).

Ken Murrey, Newcastle, Australia

From: Jim LaSovage (jsov@aol.com)
Subject: peterman

Consider the idiom robbing Peter to pay Paul, which may go back to 1380 or earlier.

Jim LaSovage, Rochester, Michigan

From: Brian Clarke (commandgce gmail.com)
Subject: peterman

As I understand things, early gunpowder was based on saltpeter (potassium nitrate). And gunpowder was used to crack safe locks. But gunpowder on its own is a bit unstable and required skillful handling; so, the person who blew the safe was the designated peterman.

Brian Clarke, Sydney, Australia

From: Douglas Silver (douglas.silver1218 gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--peterman

My friend whose last name is Peterman, and whose family made explosives in Germany, believes the etymology of “peterman” owes to saltpeter.

Douglas Silver, New York, New York

From: Rudy Chelminski (rudychel gmail.com)
Subject: Peterman

The word peterman immediately brought to mind France’s most famous artist of the Belle Époque, Joseph Pujol. He was known as Le Pétomane, from French péter (to fαrt) + -mane (-maniac). “The fαrt man.” He really existed. You can find several videos about him on YouTube. Here’s one (33 min.).

Rudy Chelminski, Fontainebleau, France

From: Chuck Dinsmore (salamanderdoc gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--peterman

Everyone has a belief system, B.S., the trick is to learn not to take anyone’s B.S. too seriously, especially your own. -Robert Anton Wilson, novelist (18 Jan 1932-2007)

Interesting correlation for today’s Thought For Today: In the Library of Congress classification system, biblical studies are labeled and shelved as BS. Not to put too fine a point on it...

Chuck Dinsmore, Damariscotta, Maine

Northern Exposure
From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: prestigious and dapper

Following up on our usage example for the word “prestigious” featuring an alleged not widely-known Norwegian novelist and playwright, Jon Olav Fosse, I wanted to give him his just due. In point of fact, he’s viewed in his own country as their leading man of letters and preeminent playwright, following in the minimalist theatrical tradition of Norway’s most beloved playwright, Henrik Ibsen. Winning the 2023 Nobel Prize for Literature ain’t exactly chopped liver... or, would that be chopped lutefisk? Ha!

Harlem Hustle
As an early “boomer”, born-and-raised in Toronto, the moniker Dapper Dan was vaguely familiar. But I had nary a clue that its likely origin is rooted in the once-popular Dapper Dan brand of men’s pomade. Essentially hair-goop in a can. In my googling Dapper Dan, I also discovered that there’s a renowned, highly successful African American fashion designer and haberdasher to the Hip-Hop, Rap and urban-hipster crowd, Daniel R. Day (aka Dapper Dan). From his chic Harlem, NY, boutique, he custom-tailored and sold his funky threads to the likes of musicians Lenny Kravitz, L.L. Cool J, Jay Z, and Salt ‘N Pepa. Doesn’t hurt that he cuts a striking, sartorially turned-out figure in his own right. The epitome of cutting-edge, with-it “street” style.

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California


This week’s theme: words that have changed
1. Peccant
2. Prestigious
3. Dapper
4. Peterman
5. Prudish
= 1. Who have sinned
2. Esteemed, reputed
3. Spruce, hip. P.S. top hatted
4. Cracksman
5. That priggish wear!
-Shyamal Mukherji, Mumbai, India (mukherjis hotmail.com)

= 1. Corrupt
2. Esteemed
3. He appears dashing (what paunch?)
4. Adept ‘midnighter’
5. Strict; she keeps vow
= 1. Unchaste
2. Esteemed, prided
3. Sharp, crisp, made with panache
4. Gopher
5. Stern, uptight, take vows
-Dharam Khalsa, Burlington, North Carolina (dharamkk2 gmail.com) -Julian Lofts, Auckland, New Zealand (jalofts xtra.co.nz)

Make your own anagrams and animations.



Politicians are peccant, though some
Make an effort at goodness for mum,
Knowing if she found out
What her son was about,
She’d blame dad for the man he’d become.
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes54 outlook.com)

The people were peccant, God heard.
“They must be destroyed!” He averred.
Though Abraham pleaded,
And God indeed heeded,
Still Sodom’s destruction occurred.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

I won’t spell out his name, but D.T. --
Why he’s loved beats the hell out of me!
His peccant behavior
Calls out for a savior;
We need a new Ruth Bader G.!
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

Looking down at his willy resplendent,
Said the boy, “I’m becoming pubescent!
Look! It’s rising like yeast!
I shall soon tell my priest
All the things that I do which are peccant!”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


At my birth, a prestigious event --
I was deemed, at that time, Heaven sent --
Hopes were high I’d excel,
Make my mark, marry well --
All of which I’ve worked hard to prevent.
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes54 outlook.com)

With encyclicals mostly religious
That they issued in numbers prodigious,
The popes did ensure
That the Church would endure,
And the Vatican would be prestigious.
-Rudy Landesman, New York, New York (ydur36 hotmail.com)

The president’s called on to lead,
A job that’s prestigious indeed.
When we go off to vote,
It’s worth taking note
That a criminal’s not what we need.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

If you are a rabbi or priest
You’re right up there, the most, not the least.
Respected, prestigious
Among the religious;
In the bread of their lives, you’re the yeast!
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

Her mentor was very prestigious;
She liked to be under his aegis.
But, then the old cad
Said, “Come up to my pad”,
And she thought his faux pas was egregious.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

Said the frogs, “Although flies are delicious,
As a diet, they’re not too prestigious.
Beef bourgignon’s nice,
But it’s not worth the price;
We hope Julia Child forgives us.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


The diminutive, nattily dressed,
Have, at times, risen up and progressed.
Bonaparte, dapper gent,
Makes my point. His ascent
Through the ranks to command so impressed.
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes54 outlook.com)

He was told by his grandma, the flapper,
That like her, he should always be dapper.
But he, for his part,
Would dress for his art --
Torn jeans were the thing for this rapper.
-Rudy Landesman, New York, New York (ydur36 hotmail.com)

Dan’s dapper, we all can attest.
We’ve voted for him as “Best Dressed.”
His clothes cost top dollar,
But he’s not a scholar --
His teachers were less than impressed.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

Now Sally was known for her style.
Her fashion sense made people smile.
All said that this flapper
Was lovely and dapper,
The day that she walked down the aisle.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“My casinos have gone down the crapper,”
Said Donald, “I’m broke, but still dapper.
Oh, look! E. Jean Carroll
Is buying apparel;
The dressing room’s where I will trap her.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


A legitimate peterman, I,
If your mem’ry has failed, am your guy.
Combination -- or key --
There’s no safe can keep me
From unlocking its door, though some try.
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes54 outlook.com)

The peterman, jailed, didn’t pout.
He reflected and had little doubt;
That it’s true what they say:
That crime does not pay,
And his fondness for safes petered out.
-Rudy Landesman, New York, New York (ydur36 hotmail.com)

At cracking a safe he’s a wiz --
How skillful that peterman is!
And what nerves of steel!
(They’re needed, I feel,
For his is a high pressure biz.)
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

The burglars had found the strongbox
In the deli -- it wasn’t Fort Knox!
Said the peterman, “Hell,
Put your nose to it, smell;
We DON’T want no bagels and lox!”
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

Democracy seems to be teeterin’;
Its values Repubs are beleaguerin’.
At elections they chafe;
Ballots kept in a safe?
That’s no problem -- their leader’s a peterman.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


This bikini’s too small -- I’m too prudish.
I’d rather be nυde than just nυde-ish.
So please don’t insist
For you’ll find I’ll resist,
And in bed I’ll be not-in-the-mood-ish.
-Rob Arndt, Houston, Texas (theveryword aol.com)

Though in private a wanton, my bride,
Once in public, this trait is denied.
If I’m slightly risqué,
She turns prudish -- Oy vey!
It’s like living with Jekyll and Hyde.
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes54 outlook.com)

I really don’t mean to be rude,
And I hardly believe I’m a prude.
It’s not prudish to say,
That it isn’t OK
To go to Times Square in the nυde.
-Rudy Landesman, New York, New York (ydur36 hotmail.com)

Some people quite prudish demand
That various books should be banned.
The titles they mention
Then get more attention,
A consequence they hadn’t planned.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

My old maiden aunt was a hoot!
Vulgar-spoken and naughty to boot!
Not a prudish bone in her,
Her words over dinner
Shocked Grandpa, a fusty old coot!
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

My Aunt Lil was well known to be prudish.
She cried, “I won’t eat such a lewd dish!
Those knockwursts are naughty,
Indecent, and bawdy.
I’d rather you served me some stewed fish.”
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

Said Oog, “Life for us may be brutish,
But at least we no have to be prudish.
In cave, to be honest,
We not very modest,
And hygiene? All eat from same food dish.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


He called her his peccant, because she always greeted him with a kiss on the cheek.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“I prefer to peccant-s. You lick them up?” the chicken asked the aardvark.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“When ‘is lordship’s shirt is properly prestigious’ looks better, milady,” advised the laundress.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“If y’all will open up dapper-son’s chest, ah’ll begin th’ transplant,” the Texas heart surgeon instructed the intern.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“MAMA!” The infant cried. “Baba’s dapper wet!”
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“C’mon Peterman the oars, Jesus says we’re gonna catch a whole boatload of fish!” exhorted James and John.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“We at Prudish out tons of money in legal fees to avoid paying claims,” boasted the insurance executive.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

The gods of the valley are not the gods of the hills. -Ethan Allen, revolutionary (21 Jan 1738-1789)

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