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AWADmail Issue 360

May 24, 2009

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

From: Al Owens (scrums aol.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--tweedy
Def: 1. Academic or scholarly. 2. Informal; casual; outdoorsy. 2. Made of or resembling tweed.

At university in the 60s, the "tweeds" wore Harris Tweed jackets, cavalry twill pants, and suede shoes. They were pretty serious and studious. The original geeks.

From: Rudy Rosenberg Sr (rrosenbergsr accuratesurgical.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--flannel
Def: Nonsense; evasive talk; flattery.

In some parts of Flemish Belgium, and particularly in Brussels, someone who is clumsy and drops everything he handles is called:

Flanellen Poten (flannel paws). This refers to the limp nature of the flannel.

It is called out the moment the object you drop hits the floor.

Very embarrassing!

From: Janette Emmerson (janettea tpg.com.au)
Subject: Another "metaphorical" flannel

Anyone who loves plants may be interested to know that there is a beautiful Australian Native flower whose common name is the "flannel" flower -- a most appropriate name because its texture and colour is that of cream flannel (in the style of cricket creams). There are 15 species altogether, 14 native to Australia and one to New Zealand. My favourite is the Sydney Flannel flower (Actinotus helianthi) each pointed petal is tipped with soft green.

From: John D. Laskowski (john.laskowski mothman.org)
Subject: Wooly Bear caterpillar (Re: A.Word.A.Day--woolly)
Def: 1. Fuzzy; unclear; confused; vague; disorganized; rough. 2. Of or relating to wool.

In reference to the word wooly the Isabella Tiger Moth larva (Pyrrharctia isabella) gets its common name from the profusion of hairs covering its body. Many of these are urticating, which produce a mild itching -- burning rash on tender skin. The rural legend of the color banding of black and brown (or orange) as a predictor of winter's severity is a myth. Many believe that the darker, more narrow bands predict a colder winter but this is a natural genetic variable. Another moth, the Giant Leopard Moth (Hypercompe scribonia), often confused with the woolly bear, is totally black which makes some observers shudder at the prospect of the coming winter.

John D. Laskowski, the Mothman

From: Mary Zelle (zelle4 comcast.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--cotton
Def: 1. To become fond of; to get on well together. 2. To come to understand.

There is also the idiom "in tall cotton", meaning things are going very well at the moment. It relates to the cotton plants thriving, and being high (tall) enough that the pickers don't have to bend over to pick the fiber bolls. I've heard that phrase all my life.

From: Ken Sanderson (sandersk berkeley.edu)
Subject: cotton on to

I suspect that "cotton to" -- come to appreciate or to like -- merged with "caught on" -- discovered the point of something -- to produce "cotton on to", which isn't just the same as "cotton to", in my opinion.

From: Sidney Besvinick (sidbes comcast.net)
Subject: Thought for the day

I enjoy the quotations as much as AWAD. Apropos Wednesday's thought, "A husband always has the last words in any argument with his wife, 'Yes, Dear'."

From: Martin Clark (mart discosatan.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--plushy
Def: 1. Characterized by luxury, extravagance, or ease. 2. Or or related to plush: soft and shaggy.

Plushy/plushie can also be a noun describing a soft toy, or even, I'm told, a person attracted to soft toys or to dressing up as a soft toy (cf. plushophiliac, furry, zoot-sex). Whatever gets you up in the morning...

From: Janet Rizvi (janetrizvi gmail.com)
Subject: Fabric words

But fabric is not, by definition, only cloth; it's anything 'framed by art and labour' (Chambers Twentieth Century Dictionary), and is derived from Latin faber, 'a worker in hard materials' (ibid.).

Suppose you'd called your theme 'textile words'? Now there's a reminder of how words and metaphors relating to textiles pervade our language. Textile is derived from Latin texere, to weave, also the origin of text -- words woven into a fabric. Then think how we lose the thread of an argument; spin a yarn; give credence (or not) to a tissue of lies; spout homespun philosophy; and travel from one airport terminal to another on a shuttle bus. Nor must we forget the Greek and Roman Fates, spinning, measuring, and cutting the thread of each of our lives.

And finally, a literary warning: 'Oh what a tangled web we weave/ When first we practise to deceive.' (Walter Scott, Marmion).

From: Rose Waring (rosesunlimited mindspring.com)
Subject: fabric words

I enjoy your A.Word.A.Day comments and quotations very much. Your message is one which can set the tone of an already beautiful day and I appreciate your efforts. This week will be particularly enjoyable for me as I coordinate a chapter for Project Linus. We provide security blankets to children. Please visit the site to learn more.

Words are timeless. You should utter them or write them with a knowledge of their timelessness. -Kahlil Gibran, mystic, poet, and artist (1883-1931)

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