Wordsmith.Org: The Magic of Words: The Magic of Words


About | Media | Search | Contact  


Today's Word

Yesterday's Word



AWADmail Issue 307

May 18, 2008

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

From: Amanda Kentridge (ajkent 012.net.il)
Subject: facial hair (Re: sideburns)

My grandmother was a great fan of facial hair, saying "Kissing a man without a moustache is like eating an egg without salt." Needless to say my grandfather had a very handsome moustache.

From: David Mezzera (damezz att.net)
Subject: Re: beards

One of the first phrases I was required to memorize in my freshman Latin class was: Philosophum non facit barba. What scares me is that it was 48 years ago and I still remember the phrase and its translation (A beard does not make one a philosopher)!

From: Art Haykin (theart bendbroadband.com)
Subject: Beards

I cannot help recalling that old saw that goes something like this:
If whiskers were a sign of wisdom,
Then billygoats would be sages.

From: Meera Narayan (meeranarayans yahoo.com)
Subject: Re: beards

My husband always says the beard (and the mustache) are the only things where God proposes and Man disposes.

From: Jim McIntyre (jimcint aol.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--sideburns

My favorite "bearded" word is Pogonophobia: fear of beards. For me it brings to mind two people reading the comics.

The first says "Pogo?"
And the second responds in explanation, "No. Phobia."

Which seems to me to perfectly fit the dry humor of Walt Kelly.

From: Lucas Brown (lucascbrown gmail.com)
Subject: Re: Words about beards

Whether it is a coincidence or not, you could not have picked a better time of year to use this theme! Right now we are in the midst of the NHL's Stanley Cup Playoffs and as hockey fans know, there is a great tradition of growing playoff beards. The players stop shaving at the beginning of the playoffs which results in some pretty hefty beards by the winning team at the end. As a fan myself, I decided this year to stop shaving at the outset of the playoffs and (while I wear a beard anyway) it's reached a new fullness since my team (the Philadelphia Flyers) is still in it! There was a nice article about the history of the Playoff beard last month at As a bearded man, kudos for the topic and nod to facial hair!

From: Alexander Drysdale (acd aapt.net.au)
Subject: feedback: sideburns

Sideburns, specifically flowing ones, are also known as Piccadilly Weepers after 'Lord Dundreary' in a play called Our American Cousin. I remember this from my school days and some authors writing about the 19th century refer to them as such.

From: Dagny Haug (dagny visi.com)
Subject: Sideburns

Sweet! This provides the perfect opportunity to share one of my top two favorite salon names! My hometown of Portland is divided into quadrants, East & West by the Willamette River, and North & South by Burnside Street. Sure enough, there's a salon called Sideburns on Burnside. (Number two is just plain clever wordplay -- "Crops & Bobbers" in Minneapolis, MN)

From: Brenda Seabrooke (seabrooke verizon.net)
Subject: feedback: dundrearies

Dundreary wearers
who worked around food,
should have been required
to wear a pair of snoods.

Could yesterday's
imperial thatch
be masquerading
as today's soul patch?

From: Robin Salant (slowblink earthlink.net)
Subject: vandyke

Vandyke is also a word used to describe an antique photo process akin to cyanotype, but brown, named so for the browns in Van Dyck's paintings.

From: David R. Ginsburg (pentax earthlink.net)
Subject: A.Word.A.Day--vandyke

One cavil with the definition of "Van Dyke" as a beard: It is distinguished from another type of "short, pointed beard" -- the goatee, which is limited to hair on the chin, as on a goat -- by the inclusion of a moustache, often connected to the hair growth on the chin. See this.

From: Andrew Pressburger (andrew.pressburger primus.ca)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--bluebeard

See also George Steiner's Bluebeard's Castle: A Redefinition of Culture (1971), a seminal undertaking about the revitalization of Western culture. I am not quite sure though what the book has to do either with Perrault's horrific tale or with Bela Bartok's equally horrific opera.

From: Bruce E. LaVigne (bruce.lavigne hp.com)
Subject: Jericho

The second usage example, while it refers to the same city, is in a totally different context. The people of Jericho were very arrogant because they had a wall around their city to keep them safe. The walls of Jericho were toppled by God, as the tribe of Israel followed his instructions to walk around the city for seven days and then blow trumpets and shout. This is described in Joshua chapter 6. So in that context, it does not refer to an "out of the way place", but to the fame of its walls.

From: Shrisha Rao (shrao nyx.net)
Subject: barbe a papa

A related term in French is 'barbe a papa' (papa's beard), for the children's confectionery that is called 'cotton candy' in U.S. English.

From: Chris Papa (doxite verizon.net)
subject Re: beards

With a full week's worth of beards, all nouns, we must recall that the word is also a verb.

W.S. Gilbert's libretto for the third act of "Princess Ida", a comic opera where women lock themselves in a college and foreswear men, comes this exchange between Princess Ida and King Hildebrand, who has come to rescue his son, who is being held prisoner:

Prin. Audacious tyrant do you dare
To beard a maiden in her lair?

Hild. Since you inquire,
We've no desire
To beard a maiden here, or anywhere!

The footnote that Isaac Asimov supplies in his Annotated Gilbert and Sullivan: "Here 'to beard' is an archaic term meaning 'to grasp by the beard', a dreadful insult and sign of contempt, particularly if done on the bearded person's home grounds, which redoubles the contempt. Hildebrand, however, uses 'to beard' in another sense meaning 'to supply with a beard'.

Leave it to Gilbert, who knew how to deliver insults and double entendres with the best of them.

From: Marie Ottiker (ottix speedy.com.pe)
Subject: beards

About beards and hair -- The square beards that the Egyptians sported and were shown in their paintings and sculptures were false, and served merely as a personal adornment. Also they shaved their heads so that their enemies could not seize them by the hair in battle. Modern man has other means of defending himself from his enemies, but he still shaves his face daily. At an average of ten minutes per shave, a man who shaves his face completely every day spends 60 hours a year in this chore! Something to be said in favor of a beard.

From: Chris Rubino (studio chrisrubino.com)
Subject: A.Word.A.Day BEARDS

I'd like to offer up a "beard word" for you. This group (which I am co-founder of) has been going strong for five years. It's called Bearduary (beard growth during January and February). This past season we discussed the hirsute pursuit on NPR and the Today Show, and people have responded well.

From: Rob Oldham (rob_awad riverweb.co.uk)
Subject: Beard Quiz

To finish off a beardy week is something rather juvenile but amusing nonetheless! Name That Beard.

Modern prose has become, like modern manners and modern dress, a good deal less formal than it was in the nineteenth century. -James Runcieman Sutherland, professor and writer (1900-1996)

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