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AWADmail Issue 377

September 20, 2009

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

From: Henry Wray (hcwray3 aol.com)
Subject: Beau Brummell
Def: A man who pays excessive attention to his clothes and appearance.

A "Beau Brummell" also refers to a type of dressing table, presumably used by dandies in their emulation of the man himself. It usually had multiple compartments, for holding whatever a man would need during his toilet and dressing, and usually a mirror as well.

From: Frank McIntosh (legiblegraphics yahoo.com)
Subject: Beau Brummell

Fairly recent neologism expressing same concept is metrosexual.

From: Erin Olson (ebye juno.com)
Subject: Beau Brummell

There is a reference to Beau Brummell in the song You're Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile from the movie/musical Annie:

Your clothes may be Beau Brummell-y
They stand out a mile
But brother you're never fully dressed
Without a smile.

My brother and I used to sing and act out the songs as children, however I never knew exactly what the reference meant until today.

From: Mark Ball (msball ucsd.edu)
Subject: Beau Brummell

Also the name of a very attractive little fish in the Damselfish family, found in the waters around Mexico and the Caribbean.

From: Andrew Young (casperdbn gmail.com)
Subject: Beau Brummell

Ironically South Africans would associate the name Beau Brummell with nudity, being more familiar with a controversial nudist of the same name.

From: Jane Mallison (jcmallison yahoo.com)
Subject: termagant
Def: A quarrelsome or overbearing woman.

Those of us who are "Hamlet freaks" think of the Prince's criticism of overacting. He notes, "I would have such a fellow whipped for o'erdoing Termagant; it out Herods Herod."

He's referring to the painting of the lily: overacting a character (Termagant or Herod) who's already outsized!

From: Rosemary Ayres (rayres alyrica.net)
Subject: termagant

Imaginary deity: Isn't this a redundancy?

Yes, but not in this particular usage. As the origin of the word termagant explains, some people imagined (erroneously) this deity was being worshipped by others.
-Anu Garg

From: Suzanne Kapp (swkapp comcast.net)
Subject: termagant

Just what we need -- to be reminded that the denigrating, disparaging, vile, nasty, insulting word list to describe women is endless. I was going to suggest that nasty words to describe men should be your next topic, but there is no comparison and no need to keep fostering contempt. How about just not prolonging the life of these words -- some are meant to die forgotten.

From: Carolyn Bryant (carolyn_bryant avivacanada.com)
Subject: Termagant - I resemble that remark!

As a woman who enjoys a good debate, I've been accused of being difficult. I now have a title I can use with pride!

From: Hari Krishna (harimocherla gmail.com)
Subject: termagant

The word virago is a close synonym of termagant. One gentleman, whose wife is a termagant, went to a jewelry shop along with his wife to buy a lucky stone for her. Usually these stones are recommended on the basis of zodiac signs. Her zodiac sign is virgo. When asked about his wife's zodiac sign, the husband answered: virago.

From: Scott Valentine (svalentine lanl.gov)
Subject: Joss Whedon quotation

As a fan of Joss Whedon, I was very glad to see him quoted on 15 Sept 2009. However, I also note the slight irony of the word of the day: termagant.

Joss is known for writing very strong female characters that are often perceived (by weaker male characters) in such a way. He is also a huge advocate of Equality Now, an organization dedicated to action for the civil, political, economic, and social rights of girls and women.

From: fredwho (via Wordsmith Talk bulletin board)
Subject: Pleiad
Def: A group of (usually seven) brilliant persons or things.

So when the Chicago 7 appeared before the judge, William Kunstler said "They pleiad, not guilty."

From: Rich Angell (richangell2 yahoo.fr)
Subject: Re: Pleiad

Speaking of Pleiades, that is the meaning of Subaru, the Japanese car. Next time you see one, look for the stars (constellation) on the front.

And while we're on the subject of Japanese cars, Mitsubishi means three diamonds. Mitsu (mittsu, three) + hishi (diamond) = Mitsubishi. Next time you see one, look for the three diamonds on the front.

From: Mary Feeney (mmfeeney aol.com)
Subject: Pleiad

Any French college French major (even those not educated at the "Seven Sisters") and/or lover of literature will tell you that "La Pléiade" is a group of Renaissance poets, the most famous of whom was Pierre Ronsard.

Checking this on Wikipedia, I realized there was much more to "La Pléiade" than I realized. It also refers to an earlier group of troubadours. Furthermore, Ronsard himself was apparently the only one of his contemporaries who used the term. Such self-promotion is hardly surprising from a writer whose most famous sonnet imagines his love object becoming an old woman who sighing by the fire "Ronsard me célébrait du temps que j'étais jeune."

From: Shweta Bhat (shwetapbhat gmail.com)
Subject: Pleiades

As I read the sentence "The other one is supposed to be Merope, hiding in shame for loving a mortal", I thought about the Harry Potter saga with a jolt of understanding. Voldemort's mother was called Merope Gaunt, and she fell in love with, married, and bore the child of a muggle, Tom Riddle Sr! That child grew up to be one of the most fearsome evil characters I have ever come across!

From D. Karthikeyan (karthikeyan.d gmail.com)
Subject: pleiad

In Hindu mythology, Pleiades is referred to as Krittika, the six sisters who raised the god Murugan (son of Shiva and Parvathi). So, he is also known as Karthikeya (literally "Him of the Kartika (sisters)"). Also see other references to Pleiades in folklore & literature.

From: LukeJavan8 (via Wordsmith Talk bulletin board)
Subject: pleiad

Several Native American nations have stories of seven brothers being chased by a bear up the sides of what we call Devil's Tower in Wyoming. As the bear scratched the side climbing, the brothers were rescued by the Great Spirit and took up residence in the sky realm, and those seven stars are these brothers. It varies from nation to nation.

From: Maria Scurrah (scurrah gmail.com)
Subject: pleiad

Andean Farmers are familiar with the Pleiades. On June 24, before dawn they are carefully observed and used to predict the climate for the following growing season. If bright, a drought year or late rains are predicted, if dull, a rainy year is expected. See 2000 B. Orlove et al Nature 403 68-71 who showed with NASA data that it was based on water vapour in the stratosphere and did correlate with rainfall. Spanish-speaking farmers call them "las siete cabrillas". I don't know what the Quechua- and Aymara-speaking farmers call them. Definitely not pleiades.

From: Henry Willis (hmw ssdslaw.com)
Subject: Gordon Bennett
Def: Expressing surprise, puzzlement, incredulity, annoyance, etc.

Your mention of "Gordon Bennett" as an interjection reminded me of a similar story involving the great singer Bessie Smith. At some time in the 1920s, after New York intellectuals had discovered the Harlem Renaissance, blues, and African-American culture in general, Carl Van Vechten invited Smith to one of his soirees, where she sang for his guests. At the end of the party Van Vechten's wife tried to give Smith a kiss as she left; Smith objected, saying "I ain't never heard of such sh*t", and knocked the woman down as she left or was led away.

Or so the story goes. At any rate, in the aftermath "Bessie Smith" became a euphemism for some Harlemites for the word that Smith had used, as in "I never heard of such Bessie Smith." All the details and more are in Chris Albertson's biography Bessie (which also lays to rest at least one myth about her -- but you'll have to read the book to get that).

From: Dov Bensimon (dov.bensimon ec.gc.ca)
Subject: RE: A.Word.A.Day--Gordon Bennett

There is a relatively small island in the East Siberian Sea named Ostrov Bennetta, ultimately named for Gordon Bennett.

It is rather appropriate that his name has taken the sense of surprise, puzzlement, and incredulity. This island is known to produce rather interesting cloud plumes that can be mistaken for volcanic ash plumes in satellite images. Meteorologists such as myself often feel a sense of surprise and incredulity to see this kind of signal emerge in such a remote location and from such a small island.

The process by which these cloud plumes form is not unique, however, and can be observed elsewhere. See here for more information.

From: Pat Bartels (patmcmbartels nyc.rr.com)
Subject: Gordon Bennett

The James Gordon Bennett Medal was established in 1869 after Gordon Bennett Sr. and for years was the sole decoration awarded for valor in the Fire Department of the City of New York. Because of its seniority among FDNY (NY Fire Dept) medals, it is now awarded annually for the most outstanding act of heroism performed by a member of the FDNY.

From: Ernie Thor (ernie.thor cingular.com)
Subject: International Talk Like a Pirate day

Gorblimy! Today's AWAD and associated links made me think of this whimsical day when I get to talk like a pirate. I think a mention of it in AWAD would be much appreciated by us arm-chair pirates, whilst bringing to the forefront another area rich with contractions, euphemisms, and naval jargon. S'truth! International Talk Like a Pirate Day: Sep 19.

From: Nikita Shpilberg (nikeetz. gmail.com)
Subject: Satire (Pasquinade)
Def: A satire or lampoon, especially one displayed in a public place.

I've got the perfect pasquinade that is making itself heard right now: See YouTube.

It's the Billionaires for Wealthcare, a group of protest-savvy billionaires who are merely making their voices heard on the streets about healthcare reform.

Words, like nature, half reveal and half conceal the soul within. -Alfred, Lord Tennyson, poet (1809-1892)

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