Wordsmith.org: the magic of words


About | Media | Search | Contact  


Today's Word

Yesterday's Word



Jun 30, 2024
This week’s theme
There’s a word for it

This week’s words

How popular are they?
Relative usage over time

AWADmail archives

Next week’s theme

Send a gift that
keeps on giving,
all year long:
A gift subscription of A.Word.A.Day or the gift of books
Bookmark and Share Facebook Twitter Digg MySpace Bookmark and Share

AWADmail Issue 1148

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

Sponsor’s Message: “Way better than Wordle.” One Up! is the wickedest word game in the real world. “It’s mental!” A fabulous travel gift. Shop now.

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

How Viral Tongue-Twisters Lightened up German Language
The Guardian

Today’s Teenagers Have Invented a Language That Captures the World Perfectly
The New York Times

Nobody’s Prefect! Misspelling on Philadelphia Road Signs Leaves Drivers Laughing
The Independent

Email of the Week -- Brought to you buy One Up! -- “The funnest travel game ever.”

From: Daren Krause (dnaxke yahoo.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--palooka

Butch: You lookin’ at something, friend?
Vincent: You ain’t my friend, Palooka.
Butch: What’s that?
Vincent: I think you heard me just fine, Punchy.

From Pulp Fiction (2 min.)

Daren Krause, Cocoa Beach, Florida

From: Barbara Degyansky (degyansky verizon.net)
Subject: Palooka

I remember seeing this way back when: Joe Palooka Monument.

Barbara Degyansky, Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania

From: Eunice Walker (eunicewalker mac.com)
Subject: Palooka - mampara

I come from a mixed household with an Afrikaans dad and an English mum (whose Afrikaans was also impeccable). The words palooka and mampara were used interchangeably no matter what language you used. They are such nice explosive words, you can either roll them around on your tongue and then say them gently with sympathy or spit them out in disdain. They are so useful now, given that we are surrounded by politico-palookas and MP-mamparas. Tonight, when the palooka-mamparas are on the TV I will shout at them. Thank you for the reminder.

Eunice Walker, Chesterfield, UK

From: Lorraine Mackler (lnmackler gmail.com)
Subject: Lycanthropy

Our city, Pittsburgh, is host to the furries convention every year: Anthrocon. Thousands of people afflicted by these anthropies. Mostly harmless, but creepy (to me) nonetheless.

Lorraine Newman Mackler, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

From: Stannous Flouride (stanflouride yahoo.com)
Subject: Lycanthropy synchronicity

This also arrived in my inbox this morning:
How the 18th-Century French Media Stoked a Werewolf Panic

Stan Flouride, San Francisco, California

From: Stuart Klipper (sklipper bitstream.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--lycanthropy

A friend, when at Harvard medical school in the 60s, observed an extremely rare instance of lycanthropy. It’s an extreme form of porphyria, which at the onset of puberty in an afflicted male, precipitates changes to the face and head appearing wolf-like in structure and distribution of facial hair. Sadly, this individual died at a young age.

Stuart Klipper, Minneapolis, Minnesota

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

Fear of the sun is a healthy instinct in some respects: ask Icarus. And, as far as the rest of us are concerned, you can suffer serious damage to your eyes if you stare directly at the sun.

But since we just celebrated the solstice and the beginning of summer in the northern hemisphere, this is as good a time as any to quote Wallace Stevens’ “Credences of Summer,” in which he appears to propose that we do precisely that:

Let’s see the very thing and nothing else.
Let’s see it with the hottest fire of sight.

Don’t try this at home or anywhere else.

You can hear Stevens reading his poem in its entirety here.

Henry Willis, Los Angeles, California


This week’s theme: There’s a word for it
1. Palooka
2. Lycanthropy
3. Heliophobia
4. Pizzaiolo
5. Sciamachy
= 1. Physically inept
2. Ooh, he’s a wolf!
3. Torch hysteria, or Hawaii episode
4. Ooh, pizza maker!
5. Mock battle
= 1. Thick yahoo, hoi polloi
2. Become wolfy
3. Oh, I say shade tolerant
4. Pizza maker
5. Ah, I spar with spectre
-Dharam Khalsa, Burlington, North Carolina (dharamkk2 gmail.com) -Julian Lofts, Auckland, New Zealand (jalofts xtra.co.nz)

Make your own anagrams and animations.



There once was a guy in Paducah,
Who behaved like a bloomin’ palooka.
And man! I’m not jokin’ --
Just what’s he been smokin’
In that thingamajig called a hookah?
-Rudy Landesman, New York, New York (ydur36 hotmail.com)

Here I come, a teenager, Boy Scout,
To the ring, sorta waltzing about
When this palooka appears,
Boxes both of my ears
And -- no big surprise! Knocks me out!
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

She brought home a boyfriend named Bud,
Who seemed to be chewing his cud.
That great big palooka
So loved his Bazooka,
Her parents pronounced him a dud.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

Raged the Führer, “Schnell! Into your stukas!
Und you soldiers, pick up your bazookas!”
“But ve’re losing,” they sighed.
“Global conqvest ve tried,
But vound up as dummkopfs und palookas.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


You’d be suddenly covered in hair,
And your neighbors would all stop and stare.
You would speak with a growl
Or perhaps you would howl --
Oh, thank goodness, lycanthropy’s rare!
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

“I mostly belong to humanity;
At full moons, though, I practice lycanthropy,”
Said the werewolf. “I howl
And am utterly foul --
As a person, that is. Name? Sean Hannity.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


Your beauty, my dear, gives delight;
But the spotlight, it’s clear, gives you fright.
You have heliophobia;
I won’t, then, disrobe ‘ya
Until I have turned off the light.
-Rudy Landesman, New York, New York (ydur36 hotmail.com)

The heliophobe was quite pale;
The glare of the sun he’d bewail.
But it worked out all right --
He would stay up all night
And sleep through the day without fail.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

If ya suffuh from heliophobia,
Then ya won’t want a suntan all ovuh ya.
But if everyone’s nυde
At de beach, don’t be rude;
Jus’ preten’ like dey all have myopia.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


A good pizzaiolo will know
Just what he should do with the dough.
He’ll toss it up high,
And we’ll all watch it fly --
He’ll put on a really great show.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

Vincenzo, a brash pizzaiolo,
Would put on a show, when he’d throw dough.
Too much vino he had.
Made his aim very bad.
So the pie landed splat. He cried, “Oh, no!”
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“The galaxy’s best pizzaiolo
Is right here, Luke, I swear,” said Han Solo.
“You and Leia will lust
For his sauce and his crust;
To a Jedi, all others are so-so.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

sciamachy or skiamachy

Pretending that he was a knight,
The youngster engaged in a “fight”.
Sciamachy’s fun!
If properly done,
The chances of bloodshed are slight.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

“We’ll win with a bit of sciamachy;
‘Rigged election!’ we’ll scream. ‘A calamity!’”
suggested Steve Bannon.
“My favorite loose cannon!”
laughed Donald. “No shred of humanity!”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


“Palooka-way from that hussy!” Ma warned her man.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“Hey palooka-t me!” squealed the little boy riding his bicycle without training wheels for the first time.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“Anu, we sure like lycanthropy words like your animal examples,” said Old McDonald’s backup singers.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“I don’t like flying in a chopper,” the recruit told his captain. “I have heliophobia.”
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“Y’all afeerd o’ gittin’ married? Ah kin heliophobia,” said L’il Abner’s therapist.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“You stole my pizzaiolo-down, no-good thief,” said Clint Eastwood on the set of the spaghetti western.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“Behave yourself down there, for me up here in skiamachy to good rains, good hunts, and calm volcanoes,” said the deity in Oog’s prayer book.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“Here in Sciamachy to success is keeping your head lower than mine,” the king commanded Anna.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Not that I want to be a god or a hero. Just to change into a tree, grow for ages, not hurt anyone. -Czeslaw Milosz, poet and novelist (30 Jun 1911-2004)

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