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Mar 10, 2024
This week’s theme
Words derived from body parts

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Words entering English in the last 30 years

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AWADmail Issue 1132

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

Sponsors Message: One Up! -- “The Wickedest Word Game in The World.” Beat the living daylights out of someone you love. Kidding. Shop Now.

From: Debbie Wolf (djwolf51 yahoo.com)
Subject: Tergiversate

How timely! Seconds before reading this word, I’d finished an article (permalink) about Ohio Republican Senator J.D. Vance warning colleagues not to attack Trump because he has a “long memory” and will not support their pet projects if they do. Tsk, tsk. Apparently he has no memory of his 2016 comments when he publicly called Trump an “idiot”, “reprehensible” and “noxious”. In Facebook messages, Vance wrote “I go back and forth between thinking Trump is a cynical a$$hole like Nixon who wouldn’t be that bad... or that he’s America’s Hitler.” Tergiversating is the lifeblood of feckless politicians.

Debbie Wolf, Lansing, Michigan

From: Peter Stuart (peter_stuart icloud.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--loggerhead

There’s also the tool that was used from the Colonial to the Civil War era in pubs to make hot flips, a mixed drink, as well as for heating or melting other substances.

Peter Stuart, Vashon, Washington

From: Susan Saunders (susansaunders2004 yahoo.co.uk)
Subject: Hough

My mother, teaching me to play drafts about 75 years ago, used this word to describe a player being put into a position on the board where they couldn’t move as they had planned. In my mind I spelt it “huff” and imagined the victim feeling angry and frustrated -- in a huff. Mum’s use of the word clearly comes from hough. By the way, I believe the game of drafts is called checkers in the US.

Susan Saunders, Teddington, UK

From: Mary Monroe (marmon801919 gmail.com)
Subject: hough

Many years ago I heard an expression from a character on a TV comedy series, maybe Alice which is set in Mel’s Diner, a response on the order of “makes no difference to me”. It was “no fat off my hocks”. I’ve used it ever since. A variation of the more common phrase “no skin off my back”.

Mary Monroe, Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida

From: Kim Hays (kim.n.hays gmail.com)
Subject: ough

“The tough coughs as he ploughs through the dough.” But hough = hock is an “ough” pronunciation I didn’t know.

Kim Hays, Bern, Switzerland

Email of the Week -- Brought to you by How is the cow? Wit you can wear >

From: Bob Richmond (rsrichmond gmail.com)
Subject: Michelangelo

If people knew how hard I worked to get my mastery, it wouldn’t seem so wonderful after all. -Michelangelo Buonarroti, sculptor, painter, architect, and poet (6 Mar 1475-1564)

Love the quotation. The great amount of just plain manual labor Buonarroti needed to create one of his monumental marble sculptures (David, Pietà) is, however, impossible to conceal.

I’m a great fan of both Mozart and Beethoven. Mozart worked like a donkey on his music, image though we have of him as a carefree wastrel. But the final touch to his art is that he makes it look like he just dashed it off in an idle moment.

Beethoven couldn’t be more different. He labored for years over some of his great masterpieces, and in his case they show it. But neither style detracts from both of their greatness.

Bob Richmond, Maryville, Tennessee

From: Henry M. Willis (hmw ssdslaw.com)
Subject: Middlebrow

Let’s not forget “no brow”, which is featured in the lyrics to “Crazy Rhythm”, a 1929 Broadway tune that became a jazz standard:

They say that when a highbrow meets a lowbrow
Walking along Broadway
Soon the highbrow, he has no brow
Ain’t it a shame? And you’re to blame!

There are too many renditions of this song to list, but one of the most touching is the scene from The Cotton Club in which two estranged brothers, played by real-life brothers Gregory and Maurice Hines, reconcile after performing the song. (video, 3 min.)

Henry Willis, Los Angeles, California

From: Marvin Berkson (bingo1939 sbcglobal.net)
Subject: Andrew Pressburger

My friend Margie Nunan had occasion to search for Andrew Pressburger and discovered that he passed away on Jan 7. He was a regular contributor to Wordsmith and we often discussed what he had to say. Mr. Pressburger was so smart and ahead of his time that after reading one of his letters, I often kiddingly said I didn’t understand one word. Here is his obituary.

Marvin Berkson, Foster City, California

Thanks for sharing this. Andrew Pressburger had been an A.Word.A.Day subscriber for more than 23 years. Every week he used to send one or more comments on words and quotations. Some 250 of his comments were published in weekly AWADmail. We are sorry to hear of his passing.
-Anu Garg

Loggerhead Shrike
From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: loggerhead and middlebrow

Curiously, the loggerhead shrike acquired its name from its large-head-to-body ratio. This mostly gray and black, masked bird is a carnivore. Its wide-ranging diet includes insects, lizards, snakes, bats, small rodents and smallish birds. The loggerhead shrike, aptly nicknamed the butcherbird, often impales its prey on barbed wire fencing or thorns. Sadly their numbers have been on a major decline since the ‘60s.

Contemplating our word “middlebrow” piqued my curiosity regarding the pseudoscientific 19th-century theory of phrenology that postulated that an individual’s personality and abilities could be determined by the shape of their skull. Here, I’ve assembled a wide range of individuals with varied-shaped craniums. Firstly, Edgar Allan Poe likely falls into the “highbrow” cohort. Eddie Munster, with his signature widow’s peak , could be within the “middlebrow” range. And Neander, or as Steve Benko might call him Oog, our “lowbrow” caveman, may be viewed as forehead-challenged. Yet recent genome research indicates that Neanderthals weren’t as slow-witted as their gnarly craniums may have suggested.

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California


This week’s theme: Words derived from body parts
1. Tergiversate
2. Loggerhead
3. Hough
4. Middlebrow
5. Footloose
= 1. Evade troth (we shirked)
2. Dodos
3. Grow debilitated
4. Grey tweed -- far from gross, though less oomph
5. Ever mobile
-Shyamal Mukherji, Mumbai, India (mukherjis hotmail.com)

= 1. Desert, dodge
2. Moves slow; boggy turtle
3. Disable, impair; to “howk”
4. Moderate herd
5. Free of the herd, shows vigor
= 1. Dodge problems
2. Gets slow-witted
3. Strike horse by hoof
4. Weird to deem vulgar or high-art
5. Does have freedom
-Dharam Khalsa, Burlington, North Carolina (dharamkk2 gmail.com) -Josiah Winslow, Franklin, Wisconsin (winslowjosiah gmail.com)

Theme is body parts
1. Tergiversate
2. Loggerhead
3. Hough
4. Middlebrow
5. Footloose
= 1. Hmm... dodgy swop
2. Horrid turtle, hostile egos
3. Disable
4. Oh average
5. Got to be free
-Julian Lofts, Auckland, New Zealand (jalofts xtra.co.nz)

1. Tergiversate
2. Loggerhead
3. Hough
4. Middlebrow
5. Footloose
= 1. To hedge, hold, or go
2. Golem; div
3. Tarsal thew
4. Bourgeois
5. Free
-Robert Jordan, Lampang, Thailand (alfiesdad ymail.com)

30th anniversary anagram
Thursday March fourteenth this week is going to be when ~ Anu’s ace, the funky new Wordsmith.org, hits the big three-o
-Robert Jordan, Lampang, Thailand (alfiesdad ymail.com)

Make your own anagrams and animations.



I -- tergiversate? No, Sir! Not I --
I’m a straight-shootin’, plain-speakin’ guy.
I mean spade, I say spade;
I’ve no need to evade --
And no cause to be cunning or sly.
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes54 outlook.com)

I tend to tergiversate so!
At first I’ll say yes and then no.
When I’m at a loss
A coin I will toss
To help me decide con or pro.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

He’s tergiversating like mad!
What on earth can I make of my dad?
He starts off by yelling
At me -- then he’s kvelling
Am I sweet, Dad, or someone real bad?
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

Say Repubs, “IVF we support;
Frozen embryos, though, don’t abort!
Pro-choice libs we’ll berate
While we tergiversate
About lackwits we place on a court.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


The poor loggerhead turtle -- defamed --
Is no blockhead! The blockhead was named
With said turtle in mind --
Which was very unkind! --
And I hope that the culprit’s ashamed.
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes54 outlook.com)

I explained things as best as I could,
But the loggerhead misunderstood.
I was frustrated then,
So I tried once again,
With slim hopes it would do any good.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

“A mugger,” the urban crime blogger said,
“Is more often than not quite a loggerhead.
As they’re fearful of nerds,
If attacked, use big words;
When my friend Anu did so, the robber fled.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


For a husband to give of his best,
He must feel that he’s worthy and blest.
Don’t berate the poor lamb --
Build his confidence, ma’am,
Or you’ll hough him for sure. I don’t jest.
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes54 outlook.com)

A lady concealed in her frock
A forty-five caliber Glock.
Though defense was her aim,
Her own foot she would maim,
When she shot it. Herself she did hough.
-Rudy Landesman, New York, New York (ydur36 hotmail.com)

At the racetrack I talk to a vet,
And his expert opinion I get:
That horse has been houghed.
Good gracious -- I’m shocked!
Please excuse me while I place my bet.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

If your kid starts a joke with “Knock knock,”
Say, “Who’s there?” or its humor you’ll hough.
Should their answer be “Boo,”
You should then say, “Boo who?”.
They’ll respond with “Don’t cry!” -- yes, it’s schlock.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


Ev’ry highbrow is very well read --
An idea that fills lowbrows with dread.
But the middlebrow breed
Are content to proceed
With what lies in between, so ‘tis said.
Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes54 outlook.com)

I’m enjoying some music by Brahms,
While my son’s playing stuff loud as bombs.
At such times tempers flare,
But my wife will be there
To play middlebrow music that calms.
-Rudy Landesman, New York, New York (ydur36 hotmail.com)

They’re off to the movies, you know,
The snob and her middlebrow beau.
Since the two don’t agree
On what they should see,
To side-by-side theaters they go.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

In music, I’m not one who rocks;
I’m middlebrow down to my socks.
With books -- huh! Not many
And art? I’ve not any
Old masters in my meager stocks.
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

Said Oedipus, “Some riddle -- wow!
Neither classy nor gross - middlebrow.
But despite all its kinks,
I have answered it, Sphinx,
So with Mom I shall go fiddle now.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


He’s exceedingly happy to be
An old bachelor, footloose and free.
He’s now unencumbered,
But those days are numbered
Since that new girl he’s started to see.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

I’d love to be footloose once more!
But my age reprimands: Pas encore!
Oui, France was alluring
But these days my touring
Goes just a few steps past my door!
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

Said Hera, “I know that look, Zeus;
You itch to again be footloose.
Though it suits your damn bio
To chase girls like Io,
I’ll punish all whom you seduce.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


“Will our drama-tergiversate her appetite for accurate historical context?” wondered the play’s cast and crew.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“If you want a loggerhead for one of the many local taverns,” the timberland guide book read.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“B-loggerhead-s will roll!” shouts the queen in Alice in Cyberland.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“When I fell into debt, I decided to hough my expensive jewelry,” Mary lamented.
-Janice Power, Cleveland, Ohio (powerjanice782 gmail.com)

Putting up the money needed to appeal his verdicts left Donald deeply in hough to his friend Vlad.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Frida Kahlo was known for her impressive middlebrow.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

When an adventurous boy was exploring an old mine, a board from above fell and he couldn’t get his footloose.
-Janice Power, Cleveland, Ohio (powerjanice782 gmail.com)

With his forest habitat destroyed, tourists would throw poor Big-footloose change to buy snacks as his only means of survival.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: Snow-Packed

Here, Froggy reminds a snowbound mail carrier of the solemn USPS oath, which continues, “...stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.” Southern California, from the High Sierras to the San Bernardino Mountains, has experienced humongous dumps of snow over the past month. Warming Pacific waters have generated the El Niño effect, essentially a wet and snowy winter. Last year, in a similar scenario, the towns of Lake Arrowhead, Crestline and Big Bear Lake endured mega-snowfalls, and many locals were stranded for days without power.
Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California

Men are not against you; they are merely for themselves. -Gene Fowler, journalist and author (8 Mar 1890-1960)

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