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AWADmail Issue 148

December 18, 2004

A Weekly Compendium of Feedback on the Words in A.Word.A.Day and Other Interesting Tidbits about Words and Languages

From: Anu Garg (garg AT wordsmith.org)
Subject: The gift of words

What to give to the person who has everything? Give the gift of words. Send a gift subscription of A.Word.A.Day or A Word A Day, the book.

From: Keith R. Snyder (snyderkr1ATbigfoot.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--crinite

I love the theme this week. I've grown taller than my hair in recent years, but the rest of my body remains quite furry. Now I learn that I don't just look like the missing link -- I'm crinite! It sounds so cool now!

From: Margareta Dahlin (pmdahlinATtelia.com)
Subject: Hairy

This week's theme: "hair today, gone tomorrow" was even more funny for Swedes because the pronunciation of "hair" is exactly as the Swedish word for here - Här!

Pun fun in Swenglish! "Här i dag, borta i morgon."

From: Raymond Cobb (rcobbATharris.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--crinite

I'm not a patent attorney, but my understanding of patent law is that a patent doesn't prevent you from implementing the patent device, it merely forbids you to sell or market it. As for me, I have long since given up on comb-overs and now have my hair cut very short, almost ala Michael Jordan. Better to accept it and make the best of it than to cri all nite about it.

From: Kelley Hickey (krhickeyATzoomtown.com)
Subject: bald

My college German instructor, who often showed parallel etymologies between German and old English, explained that the bravest Teutonic warriors were not only hairless, but placed at the front of the army, so they arrived to attack first. In German, 'bald' means 'soon'. Also, baldness is linked to bravery.

From: Chris Crosby-Schmidt (crosb017ATumn.edu)
Subject: A hairy week

I attended a Jesuit high school, and one of my teachers (and my wrestling coach) was a priest named Peter Callery. When allowed, we would rib him about his very bald head; now that I'm similarly "follicularly challenged", I appreciate his calm rejoinder: "A well-traveled path has no grass."

From: Bill Nance (bill.nanceATsjsu.edu)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--crinite

As someone who has been "bald as a cueball" for well over 20 years, I look forward to this week's words. I have had countless conversations and humorous interchanges about hair, and lack thereof, over the years. One of the most common happenings is when a 3 or 4 year-old child passing by exclaims quite loudly "Mommy, look, that man doesn't have any hair!" -- to the extreme embarrassment of the said parent. My favorite story, though, comes from one of my best friends ever, who had hair down to his waist, a full beard and moustache, etc. He once said that baldness represents the ultimate evolution of the human race (e.g., compared to apes), so that I and my like are simply more genetically advanced than those who are more crinite. Sounds good to me!

From: Claire Schaeffer (claire.schaefferATmms.gov)
Subject: crinite

Your addendum to the definition of crinite re: bald/balled recalled a horse described as piebald. Now I understand that he was not hairless, but rather had white regions within the dark of his hide. And here I thought it was just a quaint term from Chaucer!

From: Robert Richter (drbobricATaol.com)
Subject: crinite

The subject of hair seems to me (I have been almost totally bald for over fifty years) one intrinsically fraught with humor. Many years ago, when I was facing an application deadline, I asked one of my daughters, then about twelve, to fill out the biographical data while I worked on the essay part. After entering my age, sex, height, etc., she came to "color of hair." She wrote "clear." Others refer to a bald pate as a little hair and a very wide part. Still others, trying to be helpful, I suppose, suggest growing my eyebrows long and combing them up.

From: Mandell Matheson (okie56ATswbell.net)
Subject: crinite

I prefer using "hirsute" to describe a hairy body. After living nearly 60 years I've grown used to having a glabrous (essentially hairless) chest. When questioned or challenged I simply reply: "Hair doesn't grow on steel."

From: Isabelle Picard (isabelle.picardATamgmedical.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--crinite

Thanks for your instructive newsletter. English being my second language, I get to impress my Anglo friends and co-workers thanks to you!

Today's word made me smile. It reminds me of "crinière" (noun), which is the French word for a horse's mane or a woman's abundant hair. No doubt it comes from the same root, but it doesn't quite describe the same state of hairiness.

From: Erica (email.address.excluded.upon.request)
Subject: trichotillomania

Trichotillomania or compulsive hair-pulling affects a huge number of people, but because of shame most people don't ever learn that this is a common disorder. Concerned families often think it's some form of medical alopecia, rather than a psychiatric disorder. See trich.org.

From: Meera Narayan (miranarayanAThotmail.com)
Subject: Re: Hairy words

One hairy word that I remember from my childhood and that never fails to make me smile is the word "horripilation" - the word for when your hair stands on end. When I was a child, I called them goosebumps and my grandfather who was a professor of English very patiently sat me down and said the word was 'horripilation"! :)) Of course I saw an alarming drop in my circle of friends - which 8 year old says horripilation and holds on to friends?!! Which prospect was so horripilating I quickly dropped the word for the neutral goosebumps.

From: Linda Karmann (karmannATfreeway.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--pileous

Just last week, a pileated woodpecker landed at my birdfeeder in the back yard. I knew there was at least one in the surrounding woods, but never had one so blatantly come into the yard! It was quite a sight! I had only mildly wondered what pileated meant, but never bothered to look it up. Now I know, and thank you!

When I make a word do a lot of work like that, I always pay it extra. -Lewis Carroll (1832-1898) [Through the Looking Glass]

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