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Apr 21, 2024
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Words made with combining forms

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AWADmail Issue 1138

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

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

Red States Threaten Librarians With Prison -- as Blue States Work to Protect Them
The Washington Post

Endangered Languages: Spoken by a Few But of Value to Many
The Guardian

”Cooperative Scrabble” Won’t Ruin the Game
The Guardian

From: Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)
Subject: Combining forms

What words can you make by mixing and matching the combining forms featured this week? I asked our readers and here are some of the more unusual coinages they sent.

Arithmozoophilia: The love of counting sheep or other animals when unable to fall asleep.
Zoocryptomania: The inability to resist the urge to speak in pig Latin.
-John Schoonover, Sayre, Pennsylvania (schoonoj gmail.com)

Pyromaniphobia: Fear of people who are compelled to start fires.
-Jim Schaefer, Greenbelt, Maryland (jimschaefer0013 gmail.com)

Cryptohobia: Fear of all things related to blockchain, stemming largely from inability to comprehend how it works.
-Yvonne Hilst, Amsterdam, Netherlands (yhilst gmail.com)

Neoarithmophobia: Fear of the New Math.
Pyromaniaphiliaphobia: The fear of falling in love with an arsonist.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Neophiliophobia: Fear of loving what is new, a dread often experienced by those who don’t want to be seen as followers of the last trend.
-Geoffrey Glick, New York, New York (gmglick gmail.com)

Neozoophobia: A fear of newly discovered animal species.
-Bob Carter, Fareham, UK (rfgcarter ntlworld.com)

I also asked our readers to share their arithmomania. Here’s a selection.

How can one but appreciate the symmetry of arithmomania with its six vowels and six consonants forming six syllables? And that’s not counting the three as, two is, and one o.
-Paul Wiese, La Crosse, Wisconsin (pgw1015 gmail.com)

I count steps (sometimes in Spanish as well as English), words on road signs, letters in words. I calculate average speed on trips, and ETA based on the average speed. Gas mileage every fill up.
But I’m not sure what my salary is.
Go figure -- I do.
-John A. Gibney, Jr., Richmond, Virginia (john_gibney vaed.uscourts.gov)

When I was a little boy, my mother caught me counting the pages of a book. “Don’t you see that the pages are numbered?” she asked. I replied, “Maybe they have got it wrong.”
-Sergio Pawlowsky, La Bisbal d’Empordà, Catalonia, Spain (pawlowskysergio gmail.com)

I have always counted things, from the number of patterns on wallpaper to the stairs I climb, the number of storeys in a building, even the amount of fence palings I’m looking at now... then, if the pattern isn’t perfectly symmetrical, it messes with my OCD. Oh, what a conundrum!
-Chris Bone, Pegasus, New Zealand (chrysalis6nz gmail.com)

Architect here. I silently calculate the angles between everything in a room as well as square footage, height, width and distance and sometimes if applicable, axial dimensions and movements (like a revolving door), as well as potential motion calculations of fixtures and objects like a balcony if I’m in the room for long enough. My brain launches into this activity involuntarily. Gave up decades ago trying to stop it.
-Katarina Lang, Phoenix, Arizona (langbarisonisong gmail.com)

Years ago, say...1972...I was a dinner guest at a small party at which the great NY Knicks player Jerry Lucas was present. He said he could tell you exactly how many steps there were from every locker room to every playing floor in every gym in America. Also, he was memorizing the Manhattan telephone book. To prove it, I took the book, opened it to a random page, counted down to something like the 17th name in the second column, and he said who it was.
-Taddy McAllister, San Antonio, Texas (taddymc gmail.com)

When cutting fruits or vegetables, I count the pieces as I slice them.
-Utpal Mazumdar, Calgary, Canada (utpal.mazumdar gmail.com)

There I was, standing on the corner of a busy intersection in town, counting the seconds while standing on one leg waiting on the walk sign. A couple passing by gave me a funny look, then volunteered that the husband also counted the wait time.
Curious, I asked if he also counted the gulps of water when he drank. Yes, the wife sighed. Everything!
-Chevy, South Hadley, Massachusetts (i_humanist msn.com)

Once at a concert I noted to my friend there were 25 violins on the stage. Asked what I was going to do with that knowledge, I replied, “Square it.” I track distance and elevation gain on hikes. That way I know how tired to be.
-Jamie Painter, Santa Fe, New Mexico, Elevation 7198’, Population 89,008 (jamesrpainter gmail.com)

In a church, I’ll count the number of arches on the aisle; in a concert hall, the number of bulbs in the chandelier.
It all counts.
-Judah Rosner, Washington, DC (jlr4206 gmail.com)

I count the people in the choir at church, the number of people in each section of an auditorium, the number of redheads, blondes, brunettes in a meeting, number of people with tennis shoes vs leather or polished shoes, etc.
-Brenda Worthington, Tulsa, Oklahoma (bwlawyer gmail.com)

When I was younger, I had outta’ control arithmomania. When I told my optometrist, that I had memorized the serial numbers of his equipment he told me that if any of it was ever stolen, he’d contact me right away.
-Dr. John M. Styers, Owatonna, Minnesota (yakuzalord69 gmail.com)

My arithmomania is about dates. For example, when I read “A Thought for the Day” on AWAD, I mentally calculate the age of the person who is quoted.
-Shelley McCoy, Knoxville, Tennessee (mccoyshelley gmail.com)

As well as the examples you mentioned, when stopped behind a car at a traffic light, I will try to figure out the factors of the license plate number, or determine if it is a prime number.
-Gary Witkin, Earleville, Maryland (witkin comcast.net)

I confess to a sub genre of same in that I compulsively try to divide the number of letters in words or phrases, advertising slogans, etc. into a whole number, but without actually counting the letters first. Madness takes many forms...
Madn esst akes many form (s) no good (4 letters per group leaves 1 left). Madne sstak esman yform (s) no good (5 letters per group leaves 1 left). Mad nes sta kes man yfo rms -- aaaahhhhhhh.
-David Clapperton, Carlisle, UK (daclap hotmail.com)

Email of the Week -- Brought to you buy One Up! -- Stealing is the name of the game.

When waiting at a grade crossing for a train to go by, I count the number of cars.
At least on the CSX line that runs near my house, the advent of the Auxiliary Power Unit (APU), a radio-controlled but unmanned locomotive placed in the middle of the train.... seems to have allowed trains to become much longer. A few years ago, the maximum length train I could remember might have been 110 cars. Now, I’m counting trains that have 140-170 cars. The APUs give the engineer better control of a longer train, because of the weight of the unit and the acceleration and braking power positioned a half-mile away from the front.
There’s something about the concept of a mile-long moving thing, where the locomotive is in one town and the last car (sadly, no longer the caboose) is in another, that intrigues me. A long train is the made-real concept of being in two places at once.
-Marc Chelemer, Tenafly, New Jersey (mc2496 att.com)

I too count the number of stairs (they never change in my house, but I keep counting!). When I realized what I was doing I started saying the alphabet instead, but l then converted it back to what number the letter was in the alphabet, so back to square one! I try to take the elevator when l can!
-Janet Thompson, Cornwall, Canada (janet_1234 hotmail.com)

I look for interesting numbers on my digital timepieces, such as 12:34 and 5:13 (my birthday), and when I see something like 12:35, I think “Aw, missed it by a minute.”
-Rogers George, Newark, Delaware (rogers.george gmail.com)

When watching a Broadway show, I always find myself counting the actors or dancers on stage during a big crowd scene or ensemble number.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

I was getting radiation for cancer for 30 days last summer, and I caught myself trying to count the dots in the ceiling tiles in the radiation lab. I stopped myself.
-Susan Jones, Canton, Connecticut (susandjones27 me.com)

From: Janine Harris-Wheatley (janinehw20 gmail.com)
Subject: Neophilia

Besides giving rise to the curse of wasteful consumption, neophilia is also a political cancer. Voters are told it is time for change so they flock to the polls to throw out the old and bring in the new. But change is not necessarily good just because it results in something new. Frequently political parties pick a hot button issue that has caught the public interest, while actually offering no replacement plan or policy to achieve a more desirable outcome. Just change.

Janine Harris-Wheatley, Tottenham, Canada

From: Joy Montgomery (joymontgomery1225 gmail.com)
Subject: zoolatry

I’ve always pampered pets by giving them space to run, swim, and get dirty.

Joy Montgomery, Livermore, California

From: Gina Strauch (ginastrauch55 gmail.com)
Subject: pampering pets

Well, I suppose I pamper the pets by letting my dog be a dog and my cats be cats. They are no more little humans than I am a large hairless dog. They sleep in the kitchen on beds I made myself and eat kibble and leftovers from dishes on the floor. But as with children, I do not assume they are welcome everywhere I go.

That being said, they delight me. Never a surly moment, always glad to see me, and they never complain that I don’t get them iPhones.

Gina Strauch, Van Etten, New York

From: John Shook (john.shook pobox.com)
Subject: zoolatry

I couldn’t believe my ears when I heard this on NPR last week.

Bark Air aims to revolutionize flying for dogs with private jet charters

John Shook, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Count von Count: Down for the Count
From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: arithmomania and zoolatry

Sesame Street’s Count von Count suspects General Foods has been shortchanging consumers in recent months by lowering the chocolate nugget count in each box of their Count Chocula cereal. Like the Raymond character in “Rain Man” counting scattered toothpicks, the Count counts every last nugget from a box of Count Chocula cereal, and discovers that shrinkflation has raised its ugly head.

All That Glitters Is Not Gold
Hmm... I suspect in Trump’s $60 “customized” Bible he may have edited out certain passages of the Old Testament, such as “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” and “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image.” Yet Trump’s MAGA minions continue to worship their lord and savior.

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California


This week’s theme: Words made by combining forms
1. Neophilia
2. Pyrophobia
3. Arithmomania
4. Zoolatry
5. cryptogenic
= 1. I appreciate “modern”
2. I abhor high blazes
3. Ooh man, I’m into geometry
4. I worship my cat
5. Nobody knows my first place
-Josiah Winslow, Franklin, Wisconsin (winslowjosiah gmail.com)

= 1. Big yes to modernism
2. Hmm, I hate blaze, pyre
3. Fanatic knows 1,2,3 theory
4. Worship animal &/or progeny combo
5. Idiopathic
= 1. To be charmed by the new
2. Irrational panic
3. Math obsession
4. Or, I may worship my old pet pig (mock me?)
5. Of hazy origin
-Julian Lofts, Auckland, New Zealand (jalofts xtra.co.nz) -Dharam Khalsa, Burlington, North Carolina (dharamkk2 gmail.com)

Make your own anagrams and animations.



It’s extreme neophilia, dear;
When you buy sev’ral hats every year --
Hats you don’t even wear.
I know you don’t care,
But you DO need some help, that is clear.
-Rudy Landesman, New York, New York (ydur36 hotmail.com)

You say that it’s made with beef stew?
Please give me a spoonful or two.
Neophilia’s why
I am eager to try
This flavor of ice cream so new!
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

“I shall fly ‘round the world,” said Amelia,
“To show I embrace neophilia.”
“Into glory you’ll soar
Like no woman before!
Just don’t drown like I did,” said Ophelia.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


Pyrophobia fills him with fear
If a flame he is anywhere near.
His style this is cramping
Whenever he’s camping --
His condition’s a problem, it’s clear.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

Said Oog, “Me no have pyrophobia;
Fire good! It make life cornucopia!
Me tell people, ‘Come look!
Food taste good if you cook!
Cave stay warm!’ But whole tribe have myopia.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


Albert Einstein, it seems, really cared
That “e” equals “m” times “c” squared.
He loved that equation
On ev’ry occasion
His arithmomania flared.
-Rudy Landesman, New York, New York (ydur36 hotmail.com)

Do you count all your steps as a game?
Your compulsion, I’ve learned, has a name.
Such arithmomania
May possibly pain ya;
Obsession is simply a shame.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

With counting and numbers I’m bad.
I can’t subtract, and I can’t add.
Arithmomania? Nope!
With math, I’m a dope.
And decimal points drive me mad.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“I’m autistic, with arithmomania,”
Said Rain Man; “I count miscellanea.”
Replied Dracula, “Poo!
Thees ees normal to do
Where I come from - eet’s called Transylvania.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


You might laugh. You might scowl. You might snigger;
But no love here on Earth could be bigger
Than zoolatry, yes.
And you don’t have to guess.
Remember Roy Rogers and Trigger.
-Rudy Landesman, New York, New York (ydur36 hotmail.com)

With zoolatry here’s what you’ll get:
You’ll be paying steep bills at the vet.
You may take out a loan
So your dog you can clone,
And you’ll pick up the poop of your pet.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

To our pets we exhibit zoolatry,
Yet for meat-eating make no apology.
There isn’t a creature
Our dinners should feature!
And that is the end of this homily.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


Some think ‘twas creation divine,
Not by some cryptogenic design,
That the Earth came to be.
But I disagree.
For me the Big Bang works just fine.
-Rudy Landesman, New York, New York (ydur36 hotmail.com)

With origins clearly Hellenic,
Democracy’s not cryptogenic.
Since those long-ago dates
It’s had marvelous traits
Which Repubs today find allergenic.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


“I love Keanu Reeves in the Matrix movies. I must have a bad case of Neophilia,” she gushed.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“Thou hast the most beautiful leg in all the world, dearest; thy calf, thy shin, thy thigh, even thy neophilia,” said Hamlet.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Pyrophobia -- the fear of finding fish eggs in your quiche.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“If you s-pyrophobia among any of the captured barbarians, they will make poor galley slaves. Send them to work in the shipyard instead,” said the Roman admiral.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“I’m being driven crazy by my irregular heartbeat, doc!” “Ah! Zees ees classic case of arithmomania.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“Oh yes, I like or-zoolatry-mind me whether it’s considered a grain or a pasta?” the diner at the Middle Eastern restaurant asked the waiter.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

She liked to pose for photos in a casket. The photographer said she was cryptogenic.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“Some of us get trapped in bottles, others in lamps. Me, I wound up in this burial vault. Anyway, now you’ve freed me and I’m sure I can fulfill all three of your wishes no problem!” said the cryptogenic-onfidently.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: Unpresidented

Playing off the courtroom drama 12 Angry Men, I arrived at this faux movie poster for “1 Angry Man”, featuring a scowling Trump playing the victim at his current hush-money criminal trial. Like a petulant baby who can’t get their own way, Trump will often lash out in anger at whomever he perceives as having unfairly treated him.

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California

Reason often makes mistakes, but conscience never does. -Josh Billings, columnist and humorist (21 Apr 1818-1885)

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