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Feb 11, 2024
This week’s theme
Words derived from food

This week’s words
gravy train
cold turkey

How popular are they?
Relative usage over time

AWADmail archives

Next week’s theme
Words coined after animals

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AWADmail Issue 1127

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

Sponsors Message: The most fun you can have this Valentine’s Day with your clothes on: The Official Old’s Cool Education is “a word lover’s delight,” three pocket-sized handbooks that are chockablock full of wonderment and wit -- how-tos, history, geography, and trivia, too. “What’s an ID 10 T error?” Or, “Why is a manhole cover round?” The Romans started all the fun. FREE SHIPPING. Shop now.

From: Elizabeth Couture (ej.bg couture.org)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--tzimmes

Tzimmes: Not to be confused with our beloved Canadian donut/coffee shop, Tim Horton’s, which we affectionately refer to as Timmie’s.

Elizabeth Jost Couture, Burnstown, Canada

Email of the Week brought to you buy The Official Old’s Cool Education -- Execue plumbum.

From: Debbie Wolf (djwolf51 yahoo.com)
Subject: Gravy Train

Thanks for the memory of that magical dog food from my childhood! Those Gravy Train commercials (video, 1 min.) made me wish I’d had a dog to feed it to.

Debbie Wolf, Lansing, Michigan

From: Kenneth Kirste (kkkirste sbcglobal.net)
Subject: cold turkey

Cold Turkey is the title of a 1971 comedy about an entire town that agrees to stop smoking cold turkey for 30 days in an attempt to win a $25,000,000 prize. It is the only movie ever directed by the late Norman Lear and predates his ground-breaking TV sitcom All in the Family.

Ken Kirste, Sunnyvale, California

From: Peter Engel (peter.engel fathommfg.com)
Subject: A.Word.A.Day--nothingburger

On a recent trip, a group of my friends stopped at the drive through at a burger restaurant. One person asked for a burger, catsup only. When she opened it a little ways down the road, she found a bun with only catsup, nothing else. A true nothingburger!

Peter Engel, Newark, New York

From: Warren Leimbach (curtleimbach gmail.com)
Subject: Nothingburger

Similar to a wish sandwich. Two slices of bread, and you wish you had some meat.

Curt Leimbach, Tampa, Florida

From: Joyce Bodig (jbodig ix.netcom.com)
Subject: Re: Thank you for being with us for 20 years (a vicennial)!

I have sent A.Word.A.Day gift subscriptions to many, many people. The most important, perhaps, were my teachers of English as a Second Language at the New School in New York. Who knows how it may have spread.

It has been my extreme pleasure to open your piece each morning. My long-deceased husband, who knew 10 languages, would have loved the Indo-European links.

Thank you for your dedication.

Joyce Bodig, New York, New York

Pass the Gravy
From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: gravy train and cold turkey

Look up the word nepotism, and you just might see the image of Trump. No other US president has ever employed more of their kin in their administration than he did. His sons Eric and Don Jr., plus daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner rode the Trump gravy train for years. The Saudis, for no apparent reason, gave Jared $2 billion.

Fox News Exposed
Roughly nine months till the general election and it appears that the US electorate has never been more politically bifurcated into warring camps... GOP-ers vs Dems. Diehard Republicans tend to get most of their news from Fox News’ opinionators and far-right bloggers, while CNN, MSNBC and PBS are the go-to news sources for committed Dems. Here, a longtime Fox News viewer confesses to a MAGA-boosting buddy that he’s ditched the channel, a radical act very rare among Trump supporters. But he’s clearly having disturbing withdrawal symptoms.

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California


This week’s theme: Words derived from food
1. Tzimmes
2. Gravy train
3. Cold turkey
4. Nothingburger
5. Plain-vanilla
= 1. Veg chutney
2. Windfall break
3. Starred “On the wagon” drive
4. Gist: Of no merit, dud task
5. Viz. mirror simple, homely
= 1. Randomized mess
2. Easy living
3. Drug withdrawal (torment is then cut off)
4. Overkill, overhyped market
5. Boring
-Shyamal Mukherji, Mumbai, India (mukherjis hotmail.com) -Dharam Khalsa, Burlington, North Carolina (dharamkk2 gmail.com)
= 1. A frenzy
2. Make dollars with little work
3. “I give up”
4. Boring; drives far more study than deserved
5. Common thing
= 1. Stew, rigmarole
2. Perk, dividend
3. On the wagon
4. Dormant, unverified, zero truth -- it galls
5. Hmm, very basic, folksy
-Josiah Winslow, Franklin, Wisconsin (winslowjosiah gmail.com) -Julian Lofts, Auckland, New Zealand (jalofts xtra.co.nz)

Make your own anagrams and animations.



All right, children, please use your spoons
For this stew made with carrots and prunes.
So, why do you grimace
And make such a tzimmes
Like a cageful of nasty baboons?
-Rudy Landesman, New York, New York (ydur36 hotmail.com)

The spotlight his girlfriend will shun.
Attention she doesn’t find fun.
She says with a grimace,
“Please don’t make a tzimmes!”
And wishes her birthday was done.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

Her party she hoped would be great,
But her dear guest of honor came late.
She gave a slight grimace,
“This won’t be a tzimmes.”
Before he arrived, they all ate.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“Though you think, Lord, that Sodom’s where sin is,
You’re making too much of a tzimmes,”
Said Abraham. “Gays
Shouldn’t die in a blaze;
Now c’mon, fella, wipe off that grimace.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

gravy train

The gravy train I’d like to ride,
So for a cush job I applied.
But that sweet spot was won
By the CEO’s son,
Whose Daddy could not be denied.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

For no money I’m wracking my brain,
Here on Anu’s reverse gravy train.
We limerick writers
Are such foolish blighters,
But somehow can’t seem to refrain.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

cold turkey

Just the thought of it brings on the sweats,
Closely followed by bouts of Tourette’s.
“Give up gambling!” you say.
“Go cold turkey today!”
Would I last, d’you think? Any bets?
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes54 outlook.com)

Though my memory’s now somewhat murky,
I recall that I once fancied jerky
And haggis as well.
I’m reluctant to tell
Why I’ve given them both up cold turkey.
-Rudy Landesman, New York, New York (ydur36 hotmail.com)

He quit smoking cold turkey today.
All his cigarettes he threw away.
It’s not going well --
He’s cranky as hell!
Still his family’s cheering, “Hooray!”
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

If from Donald I must go cold turkey,
My limerick future is murky.
Whom else can I nail
If he winds up in jail?
Though the rest of the world would feel perky.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


The millennium bug was a joke --
Looking back -- to us ordin’ry folk.
Nothingburger affair,
A damp squib, I declare.
All those pundits red-faced sure misspoke.
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes54 outlook.com)

No matter how hard I do try
To be a success, do or die,
I now sit here and wail.
I was destined to fail,
And a poor nothingburger am I.
-Rudy Landesman, New York, New York (ydur36 hotmail.com)

The fierce insurrection that day
Supporters of Trump now downplay.
Those deniers advise
We ignore our own eyes --
“A big nothingburger,” they say.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

E. Jean Carroll? My words didn’t hurt her;
Her lawsuit’s a big nothingburger,”
Said Donald. “No case
Against me has a place;
Not even if I commit murder.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


Plain-vanilla is steady, but dull,
Making life one continual lull.
All is quiet, stress-free --
One adapts to ennui --
And it gives one so much time to mull.
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes54 outlook.com)

King Kong was that famous gorilla,
Who lived in a simian villa.
No time did he waste
On décor in good taste.
He preferred jungle-esque plain-vanilla.
-Rudy Landesman, New York, New York (ydur36 hotmail.com)

The man that she met in Manila
Was very appealing to Willa.
I thought he was bland,
But I understand
Some people prefer plain-vanilla.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

She’s so (yawn) plain-vanilla, you see
Absolutely just nothing like me!
Though we’re sisters, I’m glam
And she’s dull as a clam!
(Hmm... tho clams make pearls ultimately!)
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

In the jungle near far-off Manila,
Lived a very discerning gorilla.
And in love, he would gape,
At an albino ape,
For he liked all his mates plain-vanilla.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“As women, Charybdis and Scylla
Are not what you’d call plain-vanilla,”
Said Odysseus. “Rough,
Though, is my kind of stuff;
I’ll invite them both up to my villa.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


“An Australian accent isn’t the tzimmes ours,” protested the New Zealander.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“No more gravy train yourself to eat your turkey without it,” Tim’s no-nonsense dietician instructed him.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“He was such a fantastic athlete that I’m sure in his gravy train-s as hard as ever,” the minister eulogized.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“Our foreign policy is basically to s-cold Turkey,” said the Greek politician.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“You’ll never win a case against me. You’re nothingburger,” scorned Perry Mason.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Everyone likes it. There’s no need to ex-plain vanilla in any of my recipes,” the chef told the reporter.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“You’ll give me ice cream if I say it right this time?” asked Eliza. “All right then -- the rain in Spain stays mainly in the plain -- vanilla, please.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

The government ought not to be invested with power to control the affections, any more than the consciences of citizens. -Lydia Maria Child, activist, novelist, and journalist (11 Feb 1802-1880)

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