Wordsmith.org: the magic of words


About | Media | Search | Contact  


Today's Word

Yesterday's Word



May 26, 2024
This week’s theme

This week’s words

How popular are they?
Relative usage over time

AWADmail archives

Next week’s theme
Terms formed from names

Spread the Magic
The magic of words
Send a gift subscription. It’s free.
Bookmark and Share Facebook Twitter Digg MySpace Bookmark and Share

AWADmail Issue 1143

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

Sponsor’s Message: Are you smarter than an 8th grader? Wise Up! is the wickedest party card game in the universe. “Untrivial pursuit.” Free shipping. Shop now >

From: Betsy Wilson (w_betsy hotmail.com)
Subject: music bpm

My most interesting factoid re music tempo is this: CPR should be done at 120 bpm. A songs that fits: “Stayin’ Alive”.

Betsy Wilson, El Segundo, California

From: Jared Hughes (jaredhughes live.com)
Subject: Why I unsubscribed

You wrote: “But your desire for imposing your retro norm on others is just as ludicrous as Dadayev imposing his metronome on you.”

I disagree with you. Sεxual preference is not the same at all. To listen to the wrong music in Chechnya offends man. To choose the sin of homosεxuality, this offends God. To tell people, “Hurt nobody, but do what you want” is wrong. This is very close to the Satanic Bible’s verse which reads, “Do what thou wilt.”

I have received your email for years. But when you start pushing ideas or notions that contradict the Word of God, I’m done.

Jared Hughes, Branson, Missouri

As I said earlier, you get to apply your religious book on yourself, not on others, any more than you’d like someone to impose the Koran or Bhagavad Gita on you.

How do you feel about tattoos?
Clothing woven of two kinds of material?
Planting fields with two kinds of seed?
Cutting off your beard?
Eating meat with the blood still in it?

They all are forbidden in the Bible.

Chances are you are violating many of the above directives right this moment. But why worry about following “the Word of God” ourselves? It’s more fun to control other people’s lives, especially what they do in the bedroom.

-Anu Garg

From: John Chamberlin (jbcblues gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--pitch-perfect

Q: What’s the definition of perfect pitch?”
A: When you throw a banjo into a dumpster and it hits an accordion.

John Chamberlin, Falls Church, Virginia

From: Christopher Zimny (zimny.c01 gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--pitch-perfect

After your comment about metal (I agree), I wanted to show this to you. I prefer jazz myself and don’t like metal, but this prog rock band is great with odd timing. They did a metal song (11 min.) that grew on me.

Christopher Zimny, Sarasota, Florida

From: Sam Lerner (syn.terra gmail.com)
Subject: jazz and metal

I wrote an album that’s somewhere at the intersection of jazz and metal. Aiming to be a new kind of fusion. Your message about pitch-perfect made me think about sharing. Hope you enjoy!

Sam Lerner, Providence, Rhode Island

From: Matt A Nash (mattanash live.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--downbeat

Among musicians, downbeat also refers to the moment an event, such as a gig or rehearsal, starts. Here’s a text I got this week:

“Rehearsal Fri the 24th Adrian’s house. Call time 7p downbeat 8p sharp.”

Matt Nash, Whidbey Island, Washington

From: Helga Kleisny (helgakleisny gmail.com)
Subject: boogie

A boogie for me and other skydivers is an event (usually on weekends or holidays) where skydivers from all over the world meet at a specific airport and jump, usually from (larger) and specific aircraft.

Helga Kleisny, Frankfurt, Germany

From: SarahRose Werner (swerner nbnet.nb.ca)
Subject: Boogie with the post office

When I was in France in the fall of 1989, I frequently saw signs advertising the French postal service’s new slogan: Bougez avec la Poste! Literally, move with the postal service, but my anglophone mind kept insisting on reading the signs as, boogie with the post office!

I have to wonder if boogie in the sense of dance was influenced by the French bouger (to move -- see also English, budge), perhaps through French colonialism in Western Africa?

SarahRose Werner, Saint John, Canada

From: Frances M Hendry (francesmhendry2704 gmail.com)
Subject: bagpipes

As a Scot, I strongly object to your suggestion that the sound of bagpipes is nonsense. Soldiers marching can go faster and further to the sound of bagpipes than to a brass band -- or a whiny, screechy fiddle.

Frances M Hendry, Nairn, Scotland

From: Bob Freeman (hendon zol.co.zw)
Subject: Bagpipes

It has been said that bagpipes are best heard at a distance. From here to Scotland is about the right distance.

Bob Freeman, Kadoma, Zimbabwe

From: Peter Engel (pengel newcut.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--fiddle-faddle

The difference between a violin and a fiddle is that the violin has strings and the fiddle has strangs. Maybe this joke doesn’t work quite as well in writing as when you say it.

Peter Engel, Newark, New York

From: Elizabeth Block (elizabethblock netzero.net)
Subject: Bagpipe

You either love it or you hate it! The New Yorker cartoon: Storefront, “Big Al’s Banjo, Bagpipe, and Accordion Palace.” In the window, a little sign: “Closed Due to Geneva Convention.” I keep a copy in my guitar case.

Elizabeth Block, Toronto, Canada

From: Robert A. Rushton (reloquent gmail.com)
Subject: No respect for fiddles or bagpipes or ...

The Linux “fortune” program includes a pair of definitions related to bagpipes.
optimist, n: A bagpiper with a beeper.

accordion, n: A bagpipe with pleats.

I can attest to the lack of respect given to the latter. I played the accordion as a child.

Robert A. Rushton, Brookline, New Hampshire

From: Pascal Pagnoux (pascal.pagnoux gmail.com)
Subject: Bagpipes

A gentleman is someone who knows how to play the bagpipe and doesn’t.

It is forbidden to shout “Bagpipes!” in a crowded theater.

Q: Why do pipers march while they play?
A: To get away from the sound.

Q. What’s the difference between a bagpipe and an onion?
A. No one cries when you chop up a bagpipe.

Pascal Pagnoux, Tarragona, Spain

From: David Bethlahmy (bethlahmy gmail.com)
Subject: bagpipes

Dear Anu, I am certainly grateful for what you bring to the table, and gleefully put up with your idiosyncrasies. However, this time you have gone too far. What did bagpipes ever not do to you?

David Bethlahmy, Seattle, Washington

From: Jim McLandress (jemclandress blairco.ca)
Subject: bagpipes

Oh, vile calumny! To speak thus of the noble bagpipe is to malign an entire nation. Crafted with care to capture the loss and longing of the Highlands, a more mournfully melodious mechanism has ne’er been offered to the human ear.

Ay, some say ‘tis reminiscent of a goose repeatedly caught in an elevator door but too dim to move. But clearly, those people don’t like geese either!

James E. McLandress, Winnipeg, Canada

Email of the Week -- Brought to you buy Wise Up! -- A horribly fun party card game.

From: Dan Joseph (djoseph akingump.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--fiddle-faddle

Fiddle Faddle is the title of a delightful work written by the American composer Leroy Anderson. Here it is performed by the Novosibirsk Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra: video, (5 min.). No kidding -- Novosibirsk, and it’s a terrific performance, for which the audience goes nuts.

Dan Joseph, Bethesda, Maryland

From: Jim Coady (via website comments)
Subject: fiddle-faddle

Today’s term reminded me of the imfamous time in 1971 when opposition MPs accused Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Eliot Trudeau of dropping the F-bomb in the House of Commons. When asked by reporters, Trudeau mumbled that he only said fuddle-duddle. As an impressionable 11-year-old, Trudeau immediately won my adoration!

Jim Coady

Perlman Goes Country
From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: fiddle-faddle and downbeat

Itzhak Perlman, a preeminent virtuoso classical violinist of our age, is also an engaging, self-effacing and witty interviewee. He’s often referred to his prized Stradivarius violin as his “fiddle”, usually followed by a little chuckle. For me, he’s unwittingly paying respect to the long-and-storied American fiddling tradition... basically, hillbilly music. Some classical music purists might take umbrage with my yokel Perlman scenario, dismissing it as fiddle-faddle. But Itzhak would be totally hoedown with it. (groan)

Downer Donald
Candidate Trump has been preaching “retribution” and “revenge” on the campaign trail. Disturbing to say the least. But perhaps even more alarming is what’s now shaping up as his “Doom & Gloom Tour”. He’s fear-mongering a dystopian future America run amok if Biden were to be reelected. At the same time, he’s using Nαzi talking points, last week promoting a video that references “a unified Reich”. That’s straight from Hitler’s lexicon.

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California


This week’s theme: Words from music
1. Pitch-perfect
2. Fanfare
3. Downbeat
4. Boogie
5. Fiddle-faddle
= 1. It fits to a T
2. Riff flourish; Bedecked
3. Despondence; We efface him
4. E.g. warm romp
5. Twaddle, bosh
= 1. Performed with skill (Wowee!)
2. Boom of band
3. First drum
4. Eighties dance step
5. Defecated chaff
-Shyamal Mukherji, Mumbai, India (mukherjis hotmail.com) -Josiah Winslow, Franklin, Wisconsin (winslowjosiah gmail.com)
= 1. With right tone
2. We offer cheers amid pomp
3. Defeated, seems off
4. Disco, twirl
5. Bald-faced bunk
= 1. Deft
2. Flourish of brass (forte)
3. Deemed dark, mope & sigh; accented bit
4. Wow dance with me
5. Piffle
-Dharam Khalsa, Burlington, North Carolina (dharamkk2 gmail.com) -Julian Lofts, Auckland, New Zealand (jalofts xtra.co.nz)

Make your own anagrams and animations.



I have failed, though I’ve spent lots of time,
In my search for a pitch-perfect rhyme
For “pitch-perfect” today;
And there’s simply no way
That I’ll fake it. That’s surely a crime.
-Rudy Landesman, New York, New York (ydur36 hotmail.com)

He hoped that the voters he’d reach
By giving a pitch-perfect speech.
“Then when they’re decidin’,
They’ll go for Joe Biden,
Not someone who said, ‘Let’s drink bleach.’”
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

Aha, what a glorious day!
As pitch-perfect as any, I’d say!
Let’s take a walk, Rover,
Before clouds roll over,
Which likely they’ll do, woun’tcha say?
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

“They call me pitch-perfect,” said Mitch.
“I solve problems, but there is a hitch.”
He told his friend Jeff,
“I’m really tone-deaf.
I think that the irony’s rich.”
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

Said Donald, “The call was pitch-perfect;
Just look at the Senators’ verdict.
Though the House may impeach,
I’m beyond the law’s reach!
With McConnell, my bυtt is for sure licked.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


He arrived with a fanfare, you know,
In Washington eight years ago.
We all had high hopes.
Oh boy, were we dopes!
How could what’s-’is-name sink down so low?
-Rudy Landesman, New York, New York (ydur36 hotmail.com)

Donald Trump firmly holds the belief
From indictments he’ll find some relief.
I think it is clear
That he’s hoping to hear
The grand fanfare of “Hail to the Chief.”
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

The egotist king did demand
On arrival there be a brass band.
For he would despair
If no fanfare was there.
He wanted an entrance that’s grand.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

Said Columbus, “Boys, let’s have a fanfare!
After two months at sea, look! There’s land there!
With these islands we found,
We have proved the world’s round!
Let’s kill natives! They’re there on the sand bare!”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


Feeling downbeat and just a bit blue?
Here’s advice on just what you should do
To get back in the pink.
Go out. Have a drink.
Better yet, go ahead, have a few.
-Rudy Landesman, New York, New York (ydur36 hotmail.com)

I’ve heard a most downbeat prediction
That Trump might escape all conviction,
Then be reelected
And thus resurrected --
A circumstance stranger than fiction.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

As Pete sparred with calculus in vain,
His downbeat coach sought to explain:
“The numbers conspired.”
And so it transpired,
Derivatives he’d try again.
-Shyamal Mukherji, Mumbai, India (mukherjis hotmail.com)

He was downbeat; I couldn’t tell why;
I kept wond’ring and finally I,
Threw caution away,
And asked, “What the hey?”
And he groaned, “All my plans go awry!”
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

Said Oog, “Me no like to sound downbeat,
But went hunting all day, and no found meat.”
“Then dinner be late,”
Said his wife, “not till eight;
Me make bread, but will first have to pound wheat.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


“When we boogie, we make a great pair!”
Said Ms. Rogers to Mr. Astaire.
“Why, yes!” he agreed.
“We’re lucky indeed
On the screen there’s a magic we share.”
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

In the movies you’d see with a dance,
Fred and Ginger, they’d have a romance.
But a boogie today,
Doesn’t have the same sway.
And so romance? It can’t stand a chance.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“There’s a price on our heads; we should boogie.
Let’s run!” urged Chewbacca the wookie.
Answered Han, “I believe
We’ll be fine. I won’t leave,
For with Leia I’m hoping for nooky.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


With your wife you do frequently battle?
Her opinions are all fiddle-faddle?
Please take it from me,
That soon you will be
Up the creek without having a paddle.
-Rudy Landesman, New York, New York (ydur36 hotmail.com)

Whenever his speeches I heard,
I found them to be quite absurd.
So much fiddle-faddle
Did Donald Trump prattle,
And yet his election occurred.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

The right always goes into battle,
Well-armed with their own fiddle-faddle.
A conspiracy dump
That they get straight from Trump.
Their minions, they follow like cattle.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“If you like, your behind I will paddle,
But six figures I want, or I’ll tattle.”
With his pants ‘round his knees,
Donald answered, “Yes, please!
Hit me hard, Stormy, don’t fiddle-faddle!”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


“It’s not easy to pitch-perfect games. It’s been done only 24 times,” wrote the Major League Baseball historian.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Annie is a musical about how a young red-headed or-fanfare-s when adopted by the wealthy Daddy Warbucks.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“How would Anu, my No.1 fanfare if I stopped submitting?” worried the limerick and pun writer.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“Tonight at sun-downbeat-le Paul McCartney will be joining us to celebrate the end of the solstice!” exclaimed the Druid priest to the crowd gathered at Stonehenge.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“If you’re feeling downbeat it to the fridge for some ice cream therapy,” I always advise.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

Arthur Murray is my boogie-man,” moaned the husband who dreaded the dance lessons to which his wife kept dragging him.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“Young people today come up with all sorts of crazy new instruments. In a year or two, no doubt this fiddle-faddle pass,” wrote the 16th century music critic.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Mrs Alito's Handywork
From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: Mrs Alito’s Handywork

When a photo recently surfaced showing an upside-down US flag hanging outside US Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito’s home, he blamed his wife. His fellow justice Clarence Thomas’ wife, on the other hand, is known to be a 2020 election-denying, insurrection-promoting conspiracy theorist. Yet both justices refuse to recuse themselves from related cases.

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California

Historians tell the story of the past, novelists the story of the present. -Edmond de Goncourt, writer, critic, and publisher (26 May 1822-1896)

We need your help

Help us continue to spread the magic of words to readers everywhere


Subscriber Services
Awards | Stats | Links | Privacy Policy
Contribute | Advertise

© 1994-2024 Wordsmith