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AWADmail Issue 175

August 28, 2005

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: new email address

After some 2500 messages a day, 90% of which were spam, I've decided it's time to retire my email address. I thank the outgoing address (garg AT wordsmith.org) for 11 years of fine service and welcome the new one (garg AT wordsmith.org)

From: Donna Pappas (donnapappasATclovisusd.k12.ca.us)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--axiomatic

I was intrigued by the Greek root for "axiomatic". You see, when a priest is ordained in the Greek Orthodox church, his vestments are bestowed one item at a time. Each item is held up by the ordaining hierarch with the inquiry, "Axios?", and then presented to the ordainee only after the congregation responds with an unequivocal "Axios!" Simply translated, it is a question of "Is he worthy?" and a response of "Yes, he is worthy!" Being married to a Greek (who also happens to be an Orthodox priest), I doubt I shall ever stumble over the definition to axiomatic again! A huge "Axios!" to Wordsmith for broadening all our horizons.

From: Diane Wing (diane.wingATfirstdata.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--legerity

My friend, Gordon Hicks, submits an even lesser-known variant of this word: lagerity. Meaning, of course, agility in handling beer!

From: Dean Kennedy (deank1220ATnetscape.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--malversation

So, "malversation" could be described as "male behavior"? I'd be offended . . . if it didn't have a certain ring of truth to it.

From: Kate Gillogly (kagilloglyATcomcast.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--sodality

Why, that's a word from anthropology! We define it as nonresidential groups that cut across kinship ties and thus promote broader social solidarity; or a group organizing people of similar interests or occupations. It's common in tribal societies -- that is, societies without any overarching or centralized government to run things. Sodalities link people across the social boundaries of kinship and village and so can be important in getting things done -- fighting wars, negotiating settlements, repairing tracks and roads, and so on. A type of sodality is age grades. Usually men, but sometimes women, belonged to these organizations for socializing purposes, charity work, or to ensure proper completion of a task.

From: Ed Pechter, MD (drpechterATaol.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--terete

I was hoping terete signaled a week of words about shapes. I invented a new method of bra measurement which I'm publishing in the plastic surgery literature but haven't been able to come up with a good term for the measurement of the distance across a single breast. Breast circumference isn't quite accurate and breast breadth is a bit awkward. I'll have to settle for breast width unless one of your subscribers comes up with something catchier.

From: Tasha Pelaez (tpelaez29ATgmail.com)
Subject: Words in Standardized Tests

Thank you so very much for presenting the few, the proud, and the nerdy who are seeking every means possible of expanding their vocabulary for tests such as the S.A.T. with this week's words As a rising senior, this is my second time taking the test (this coming October), and a more nervous wreck is not to be found anywhere else on earth, as I need to raise my score intensely. On the first try, I received a 2160 out of 2400, which seems high enough, but most schools now don't even look at the writing section, which comprised the majority of my score (an 800, a perfect score)--so the fruit of many students' labor has gone fairly unnoticed.

Many high schoolers complain that the Reading Comprehension (the renamed "Verbal" section) is their worst section on the test, but I've seen my practice scores increase since receiving A-Word-A-Day in my inbox almost two years ago. Thanks for the nervous wrecks like me back to shore.

From: Eric Shackle (eshackleATozemail.com.au)
Subject: Legerity

Goldfish display great legerity when forced to participate in races. In a fast-growing craze in US and UK bars, goldfish race in narrow troughs, hurried along by jets of water squirted at them by noisy drinkers in various states of sobriety. Some animal lovers claim it's cruel. This fishy foolishness is fully fathomed in the September edition of my e-Book.

We should have a great many fewer disputes in the world if words were taken for what they are, the signs of our ideas, and not for things themselves. -John Locke, philosopher (1632-1704)

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