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Congrats on the tricennial of Wordsmith.org
Mar 17, 2024
This week’s theme
Words entering English in the last 30 years

This week’s words

How popular are they?
Relative usage over time

AWADmail archives

Next week’s theme
Words made with letters that double as musical notes

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AWADmail Issue 1133

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

Sponsor’s Message: Old’s Cool Academy is a back-to-basics school offering a rigorous, one-year Classical Liberal Arts Education, traditional-skills instruction, and a paid apprenticeship. “We cultivate wiseacres.” Scholarships available. Learn more.

From: Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)
Subject: Results of the A Tribute to My Favorite Word Contest

On Wordsmith.org’s tricennial, this week we invited readers to write a 30-word tribute to their favorite word. Entries poured in from all over the world. Multiple people picked mellifluous, petrichor, and sesquipedalian, and syzygy.

The 30-word tributes to their favorite words were filled with childhood memories, longing, anguish, joy, wordplay, and more.

For some it was hard to pick just one favorite. As the reader Marion Wolf wrote:

Title: Not an entry, just a reaction over 30 words

When I was a toddler of two,
And few were the words that I knew,
My most fav’rite was NO
Which empowered me so
I’d yell it until I turned blue.

But now it is harder to choose
A word that I most love to use.
“Your fav’rite?” you ask
An impossible task!
To answer I simply refuse!

For us, it was hard to pick winners from so many excellent entries, but pick we did. Four winners, in no particular order, are:

Title: Schadenfreude

Envy’s secret smile,
Bitter sweetness in watching,
Others stumble, fall.

In shadows, delight,
As fate’s hand strikes another,
Echoes of laughter.

Mocking whispers flow,
In darkness, pleasure blossoms,
Schadenfreude’s dance.

-Tony, Victoria, Australia (rartemass gmail.com)

Title: Murmuring

I feel as much as hear my favorite word against my ear, the splendid softness while you are murmuring, “Loving you for forty years, still loving you today, that’s clear.”

-Nancy Day, Austin, Texas (poemmom gmail.com)

Title: A Mellifluous Mystery

In whispers soft and birdsong bright,
This word unveils a sweet delight.
With honeyed tones and grace’s flow,
What term describes this charming show?
Ask a bee! She’ll surely know.

-Cary Eskow, San Diego, California (acroscopic yahoo.com)

Title: Ode to Petrichor

Hallowed, fallow, shallow ground
Enlivened essence, breeze-bound
Blood of the gods, released in rain
Nostrils infused, a child again
Breath of the rocks, permeate
Fragrant, sweet, weeps -- and quickly abates

-Steve Kubick, Murfreesboro, Tennessee (steve.kubick autozone.com)

The winners will receive their choice of any of the following:

A one-year subscription to Audible
A one-year subscription to the Dictionary of American Regional English
A one-year subscription to Super Duolingo
A signed copy of any of Anu Garg’s books

Thanks to all who submitted an entry about their favorite word. Read on for honorable mentions.

Title: Syzygy
Rarely used words like syzygy
Will not pass our lips
Save for an eclipse
Just look at its bowels
Won’t be many vowels
No a, i, o, u, or e.
-Bill Hans, New City, New York (billh33 verizon.net)

Title: Ptyalin
My dad paid us kids if we found words he couldn’t spell. He was fluent in six languages, and a terrific speller. But I proudly earned one dollar for ptyalin.
-Steve Lang, Denver, Colorado (steve-lang comcast.net)

is a fancy word
church people use
for end times
when all creation is restored
but why wait for end times
when we can have parousia here
right now?
-Elaine Ellis Thomas, Hoboken, New Jersey (elaine.ellis.thomas gmail.com)

Title: Irony
It’s genetic from my dad’s side; that’s why my mom left. Even in my adulthood, I find myself wearing wrinkled clothes because I never learned how to use irony properly.
-Marco Coutiño, Guadalajara, Mexico (elcorreodelmarco gmail.com)

Title: Ode to Embonpoint
In praise of fullness and grace,
Where ample curves the norm adorn,
Embonpoint, thou art so rare,
A figure full, beyond compare.
Emblem of abundance,
To whom roundness is dear.
-Sudeshni Naidoo, Cape Town, South Africa (suenaidoo uwc.ac.za)

Title: Word(iness)
What’s therein?
One that speaks
Having the last one
MAY suffice --
Time will tell.
For sure,
In the beginning
Was the word.
Hopefully, yours
Will be the last.
-Bill Younglove, Lakewood, California (wyoungl aol.com)

Title: petrichor
Summer rain dapples the hot pavement where I scuffed my knees tumbling off my bike, dreaming of your hair tickling my face as I bury it in your neck; petrichor.
-Michael Sivertz, Upton, New York (sivertz bnl.gov)

In my legislative days, compromise wasn’t a dirty word and negotiating was a skill, not a sin. We liked to call it rapprochement. Can we please have those days back?
-Barbara Flynn Currie, Chicago, Illinois (bfc15 aol.com)

“Ambidextrous” is autiloquently ambidextrous. Its left half, ambide, employs letters only from the left half of the alphabet and its right half, xtrous, uses letters only from the right half.
-Richard Lederer, San Diego, California (richardhlederer gmail.com)

Title: Zygapophyses
I’ve always wondered if vertebrae
With myriad zygapophyses
Assisting their buffer, could maybe suffer
From an identity crisis.
But zygapophyses hold no grudges ulterior
For they’re both superoposterior and anteroinferior.
-Madhusudan Mukerjee, Ahmedabad, India (madhusudan.mukerjee gmail.com)

Title: Eschew
From our glorious panoply of words,
I should choose but one fave?
Your rules constrain me.

For clarity’s sake,
Consider my credo:

Authority? Question.
Injustice? Fight.
Obfuscation? Eschew!
-Joel Holtz, San Pedro, California (planetholtz cox.net)

Title: Sit on a potato pan Otis
My favorite word, it is palindrome.
For funniest samples I comb.
Saying, “Step on no pets.”
Is as good as it gets.
But, they’re hard to rhyme in a poem.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

Title: MAWA
Being socially aware
Became a political bugbear
So rational thought I evoke
Praising the noble word woke

Demonized! Lightning speed
Mumbo jumbo Big Lie feed
Sinister forces impelling we cede
-Charles Ellis Harp, Victoria, Canada (texzenpro yahoo.com)

Like ostriches
Large and loud
Flightless and proud
and head buried firmly in sand
oblivious, out of touch
in their ignorance
about the world
that swirls
-Brian Collis, Brick, New Jersey (brian.collis gmail.com)

OXYPHENBUTAZONE, an anti-inflammatory drug, was withdrawn from markets due to adverse side effects. However, it remains (theoretically) the highest-scoring Scrabble word. If strategically played, it will surely inflame your opponents!
-Steve Rowe, Renton, Washington (sarowe4rjrowe gmail.com)

Title: Awry
So embarrassed, thought I’d cry;
Night I mispronounced “awry”.
Read the word, never spoke it.
Who’d think I’d joke it?
Silence told me I’d be sorry:
Called the situation “awree”.
-Elwin N McKellar, Laurium, Michigan (mick mmnetwork.info)

Title: In Perpetuity
Aiming to live life in perpetuity
Funded by endless annuity
Everything goes my way
Still benefitting from word of the day
Money still arriving
And word as well
By Anu-ity
-Val Collins, Newcastle, California (val tarocotta.co)

My favorite 4-Letter Word is AWAD.
A treat every morning.
Sometimes I learn something neat. Occasionally I get to feel smug because
in my brain it already has a seat.
-Romelle Castle, Hudson, Wisconsin (romellex comcast.net)

My very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very favorite word is “rule-bender”.
-Ken Kirste, Sunnyvale, California (kkkirste sbcglobal.net)
[Which you clearly are, having submitted this entry via email rather than through the online entry form. -Anu Garg]

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

From TED To PERNOCTATED, Scrabble’s Best Player Knows No Limits

America Has No Official Language. Instead It Has Hundreds.
The New York Times

Scientists Leap Beyond Latin, Add Indian Identifiers While Naming New Species

If You’re Still Using These Dated Words, You’re Not Alone
The Washington Post

From: Jill Jensen (jjjensen netins.net)
Subject: Congrats on 30 years!

A.Word.A.Day is such a valued offering! The day doesn’t start around here without dipping into your perceptive take on the English language and the foibles of humanity. Here’s to many, many more words from you -- along with many, many thanks for everything you’ve done so far!

Jill Jensen, West Des Moines, Iowa

From: Denise Jones (dj.jonestown gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--dogfood

I’m a former Seattle girl who has been a reader since 1997. I worked at Disneyland in 1992, and when the park opened a new ride, ToonTown, cast members were required to put in 8-hour shifts testing the ride. In ToonTown’s case, it’s meant for children; so only those of us who are very short were forced to climb Chip & Dale’s Treehouse over and over. We called it “eating Pluto’s dogfood”.

Denise Jones, Barcelona, Spain

From: Prady Misra (pradym hotmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--dogfood

I worked at Microsoft in the late 80s and 90s and dogfooding was used routinely.

Prady Misra, Mercer Island, Washington

From: Tim Kemp (tim ephehm.com)
Subject: dogfood

When I was in college, 1980-1984, I had friends that worked at the Kal Kan plant. They served dogfood in the cafeteria every day. As it was described to me, it was beef stew made with USDA cuts of meat and good quality vegetables.

Tim Kemp, Fayetteville, Georgia

From: Curt Harler (curt curtharler.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--dogfood

The marketing exec story is true. I was at the press rollout for some canned dog food. The cute dogs there just didn’t eat the food, so the exec spooned some up from one of the bowls with the remark to the effect of, “It’s good. At least you know we’re not starving our animals for advertising purposes.”

Curt Harler, Strongsville, Ohio

Email of the Week -- Brought to you by Old’s Cool Academy -- Man up! >

From: John Townley (drjack811 gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--dogfood

Although no one was using dogfood as a verb in the early 1970s, the idea was in practice at least as far back as then, regarding cat food. At the time Tabby cat food (just acquired by Lipton) was not doing well so they had the idea of reformulating it to be more attractive to people, replacing the horribly stinky, fishy original mess that had been around for years with a moist, faintly perfumed assortment of little cubes.

And one of their promos was demonstrating it was tasty enough for humans to eat, which they forced assigned selected employees to do on camera, accompanied with a forced smile. For reasons beyond me, they also thought adding astrology to the mix would help and I (being prominent in that field) was hired to talk about astrology as applied to cats on various TV talk shows. To add talking points, they even paid me for some statistical research on how certain planetary combinations affected purebred cats (did you know that cats with Mars in Scorpio never win cat shows?).

Once on the road, I quickly realized than no one except astrologers was interested in cat astrology, but everyone loves a strikingly beautiful cat -- and I had one, a gorgeous Himalayan named Murphy, whom I would take along. The camera would feast on my kitty while the host and I chatted the finer points of astrology.

The several-month campaign across New England was a big success, they sold lots of the new Tabby, and its originator got a company prize vacation for it. But, the one part they would have liked most -- filming Murphy chowing down on the new, humanized Tabby right out of the can -- could not be done. Murphy wouldn’t go near the neat, perfumed chunks which the company’s staff members were so happy to eat.

So, when each show was over, Murphy and I would return to the hotel and I’d order room service while Murphy gobbled down his dinner of the original, fishy-stinky Tabby formula, right out of the can, at the foot of the bed.

John Townley, Sea Cliff, New York

From: Carol Botteron (cjbotteron gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--dogfood

I used to be an editor of high school science textbooks. One of our managers said that textbooks are in a small category with pet foods and prescription medicines, in that the users of the products are not the ones who choose them.

Carol Botteron, Santa Claus, Arizona

From: Reid Ashe (reid alum.mit.edu)
Subject: dogfood

In 1984, I joined an early online service called Viewtron. Prior to launch, we’d placed a prototype in a panel of homes, and after 30 days extensively interviewed the users. One of the questions tested their willingness to subscribe at various price points. At $40 per month, a large majority said they’d almost certainly subscribe. Months later, after we brought the service to market at $39.99 per month, equipment included, none of the test users signed up.

Our head of research shared with me then what’s become my all-time favorite business aphorism: “The only really valid consumer market research is for dogfood. That’s because you can’t interview a dog.”

Reid Ashe, Richmond, Virginia

From: Jeff Copeland (jeff.copeland gmail.com)
Subject: Fireworks and flowers

You ever wish that fireworks were incredibly quiet and also didn’t disappear so quickly and also you could keep them in your home and also you could hold them in your hands? Because if so, I’d love to introduce you to, flowers. -Jonny Sun, author and illustrator (b. 12 Mar 1990)

And, hence, the Japanese word for fireworks, hanabi, literally flower fire.

Jeff Copeland, Bellingham, Washington

From: Ramaswami S (ramaswami.s gmail.com)
Subject: crowdfund

Decades before we talked of crowdfunding, Shyam Benegal made a film about the dairy farmers’ cooperative movement in Gujarat. It was titled Manthan The budget was one million rupees, and he secured the money by asking each farmer in the cooperative association to contribute two rupees.

Ramaswami S, Thanjavur, India

From: John Bartlett (johnbartlett1934 gmail.com)
Subject: Neurodivergence

My phone showed the heading on two lines leaving the initial n at the end of the first line. I therefore thought that eurodivergence referred to leaving the European Union.

John Bartlett, Cobble Hill, Canada

From: Cheryl Hughes (ch206ch yahoo.com)
Subject: neurotypical vs. neurodivergent

Who decides who is neurotypical vs. neurodivergent? I once asked a therapist what “normal” is. He said, “Anyone you don’t know very well.”

Cheryl Hughes, Indianola, Washington

From: Brenda De Silva (bjtcdesil gmail.com)
Subject: deepfake

A recent, not so deepfake from the UK’s Princess of Wales reminds me of the furore when opinion writing became available to anyone using social media. Perhaps it’s progress that a picture is now a source of contention.

Brenda De Silva, Trinidad and Tobago

Trump's Folly
From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: deepfake and neurodivergence

Last year, huckster Trump, who never met a scam he didn’t like, got into the crypto currency-based, murky underworld of NFTs, hawking a series of digital self-promotional trading cards... the ultimate in deepfakery. The images of bogus Trump guises included a buff cowboy, an astronaut and a guitar-playing biker. The piece-de-resistance had to be a Superman-like Trump. To his chagrin, sales have markedly plummeted. Alas, yet another Trump boondoggle bites the dust.

Kindred Spirits - Winters & Williams
Two superstars who shone brightly in the constellation of brilliant standup comedians were Robin Williams and Jonathan Winters. Appreciating how uniquely these two kindred spirits were wired, for me, they both meet the definition of neurodivergent. Their brand of stream-of-consciousness/improvisational humor hovered between the profound, the surreal and the just plain silly. We fans of comedy were fortunate to see them come together on the sitcom “Mork & Mindy”. Back in the early-2000’s, while I was working at Disney TV Animation in L.A., a couple of studio colleagues and I were entering the Toluca Lake Marie Callender’s restaurant, and who should be holding court but a very animated Jonathan Winters. He’d apparently finished his lunch, but spent maybe 15 minutes doing his schtick, as he slowly made his way to the exit. Jonathan Winters has left the building... reluctantly. Ha!

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California


This week’s theme: Words entering English in the last 30 years
1. Dogfood
2. Dot-connect
3. Crowdfund
4. Neurodivergence
5. Deepfake
= 1. Test 30 new products, nod “ok” (no dog fetched - whew!)
2. Finding evidence link
3. Outreach
4. Sensed “otherness”
5. Altered image, forgery
-Dharam Khalsa, Burlington, North Carolina (dharamkk2 gmail.com)

= 1. When his workers accede to test products
2. Link
3. We need money - get on Internet
4. E.g. ADHD
5. False video recordings offend, ugh!
= 1. Cook fed first? Odd!
2. Reset events with coherence
3. Horde-financing
4. e.g. ADHD
5. Seems true? Won’t really know -- duet goes pending
-Julian Lofts, Auckland, New Zealand (jalofts xtra.co.nz) -Shyamal Mukherji, Mumbai, India (mukherjis hotmail.com)

1. Dogfood
2. Dot-connect
3. Crowdfund
4. Neurodivergence
5. Deepfake
= 1. Force’d go over ware
2. Tie
3. Fend no end
4. Kop conned
5. Fudged cod cut
-Robert Jordan, Lampang, Thailand (alfiesdad ymail.com)

Make your own anagrams and animations.



When my company came up with stuff,
Staff would dogfood -- and testing was tough.
We made neoprene pants;
Worn too long, feels like ants
Have come nesting. We all found that rough!
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes54 outlook.com)

Donald Trump found for Covid this cure:
Put some Clorox bleach, simple and pure,
Right into your vein.
Did that madman then deign
To dogfood this treatment? Oh, sure!
-Rudy Landesman, New York, New York (ydur36 hotmail.com)

We’ll dogfood our newest device
And hope for results that are nice.
The public we’ll tell
That it’s really swell
And well worth its very high price.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

“The Plαymate is here to dogfood;
In the break room she’s who you saw nυde,”
Said Hugh Hefner. His workers
Would not dare be shirkers;
They stared in a way we’d call rude.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


Sherlock Holmes -- like great scientists, too --
Made connections between clue and clue.
He would dot-connect -- snap!
“I’m a most brilliant chap!”
Which he was -- so let’s give him his due.
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes54 outlook.com)

At crime scenes Columbo took care
To notice the clues that were there.
A tale they would tell
Which he’d dot-connect well
And then he would cleverly share.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

We must all get together and dot-connect
How to get enough voters to not elect
A man who’s unhinged,
Who our laws has infringed,
And who’s, further, with orange on top bedecked.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


“I Must Get To Hawaii Appeal!”
You can help, if you will. Here’s the deal:
Let me crowdfund my dream --
A benevolent scheme --
You pay two bucks a head -- It’s a steal!
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes54 outlook.com)

His need for some cash is intense,
Since the fees he must pay are immense.
He begs for support
Each time he’s in court --
Trump crowdfunds his legal defense!
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

I stood on that soapbox and yelled
And soon the crowdfunding just jelled.
By the end of the day
I’d enough takeaway
For my project -- and boy, how I kvelled!
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

By publishers I am now shunned,
So my book of wordplay I’ll crowdfund.
Would you send me some cash?
Don’t my rhymes have panache?
And by rivals I won’t be outpunned!
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


My neurodivergence? Not new.
I’ve always been diff’rent from you.
So your jaw please unclench,
And pardon my French,
And accept that chacun à son goût.
-Rudy Landesman, New York, New York (ydur36 hotmail.com)

His neurodivergence is why
His view of the world is awry.
However he’s wired,
My friend I’ve admired --
A one-of-a-kind kind of guy!
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

It appears that his current resurgence
Is increasing his neurodivergence.
What he says -- oh my gosh!
It’s about time we wash
Donald’s mouth out with soap and detergents.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


“I’ve been deepfaked -- now what do I do?”
“To begin with, please prove that’s not you.”
“I’m not sure that I can,
And that’s one handsome man --
I’m more tempted to claim that it’s true.”
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes54 outlook.com)

A deepfake created today
Could easily lead one astray.
Don’t believe all you see;
Be a skeptic like me,
And don’t let them fool you that way!
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

Political ads often take
Advantages using a deepfake.
So the public won’t know,
What is true? What is faux?
And don’t give the voters a break.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

Said Bo Peep, “Which way home did my sheep take?
For just now did I from a deep sleep wake.
Although pοrn’s never boring,
That film left me snoring;
It must have been some kind of deepfake.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


“My husband is no gourmet. He calls a hot dogfood for the gods,” said Joan.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“You call zees hot dogfood?” said the disgusted Michelin chef at the baseball game.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“Dot - Connect 4 is the game you’re thinking of where discs are inserted in a grid,” Dorothy’s friend reminded her.
-Janice Power, Cleveland, Ohio (powerjanice782 gmail.com)

“Schnell, fraulein! Eef you hurry you can still make dot-connect-ion!” said the Lufthansa gate agent.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“A birthday party? I don’t generally find a crowdfund-addy,” said the introverted little boy.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Standing out in a crowdfund-amentally helps you in achieving your goals.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“It’s y’all’s choice; y’all kin either let men come neurodivergence in some convent,” the sεx educator told the Catholic school girls.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Adele was angry about the Rolling in the Deepfake, bootlegged copies that had flooded the market.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“Down here in the deepfake news represents an existential threat to our monarchy!” shouted King Triton at the merpeople rally.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

We open our mouths and out flow words whose ancestries we do not even know. We are walking lexicons. In a single sentence of idle chatter we preserve Latin, Anglo-Saxon, Norse: we carry a museum inside our heads, each day we commemorate peoples of whom we have never heard. -Penelope Lively, writer (b. 17 Mar 1933)

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