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AWADmail Issue 386

November 22, 2009

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

From: Govind Mukundan (govind.mukundan gmail.com)
Subject: homologate
Def: 1. To approve officially. 2. To register a specific model of a motor vehicle.

This must be a stress-inducing verb for many individuals. It certainly was for me, in my days as a firmware engineer for a German automobile supplier in Bangalore. At the near end of each (two- to three-year) project, the electronic control units that we wrote software for would be sent for homologation tests. Bugs found during homologation were not taken lightly, and many a sleepless night was spent trying to solve such bugs or prove they were features!

From: Steve Leone-Ganado (steve.ganado magna.com)
Subject: homologation

For the first time since I started subscribing to AWAD many years ago, the "things you most likely don't do every day" does not apply. I spend my day designing stuff with the intent of getting it homologated for the European market. The word "homologate" is as common in this office as the word gingivitis is in a dental office.

The automotive world has a few strange words that outsiders rarely hear of. Some examples are chmsl (pronounced chimsel), jounce, and gimp.

From: Stu Tarlowe (starlowe earthlink.net)
Subject: Homologate

GTO or Gto is also the abbreviation for the Mexican state of Guanajuato; I remember seeing lots of license plates there that said GTO, and they certainly weren't on "Grand Touring" cars!

From: Greg Mitchell (wolf write-brain.net)
Subject: Homologate

You wrote, "The initials GTO listed after some auto names (Ferrari, Pontiac, etc.) mean 'Gran Turismo Omologato'..." In the early 1960s, many fans of Pontiac's "Goat" thought GTO stood for gas, tires, and oil -- what it burnt the most.

From: Laura Null (tigerpast verizon.net)
Subject: subserve
Def: To help to further something.

For a moment I wondered if this word was derived from my field -- service of process. We "serve" individuals named in suits or subpoenas with the documents, and then file an affidavit with the court. If we serve the pleadings on someone else at the same address, who can accept for the person we are serving, we say we "subserved" the pleadings.

From: Cindy H (charper mail.colgate.edu)
Subject: Faithfulness


One can promise actions, but not feelings, for the latter are involuntary. He who promises to love forever or hate forever or be forever faithful to someone is promising something that is not in his power. -Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche, philosopher (1844-1900)

Which brings you to the conclusion -- the promise to love faithfully in marriage is a promise of an action, not a feeling. And some value that kind of faithfulness over the easier kind.

From: Betsy Wilson (Elizabeth.Wilson jpl.nasa.gov)
Subject: Subserve vs subverse

Interesting juxtaposition, one is to further something, the other is to impede/undermine/slow.

From: Petronella J.C. Elema (pjc.elema planet.nl)
Subject: subserve

Most people nowadays would use the word "facilitate" for this meaning, I guess.

From: Larch Miller (larch.miller gmail.com)
Subject: grasp the nettle
Def: 1. To irritate. 2. To sting.

When I was young, I was told that grasping a nettle firmly actually makes it hurt less than if you merely brush it. It still hurts, to be sure, but less. Thus I've always understood the expression "grasping the nettle" to mean that an unpleasant task will be less onerous, although still unpleasant, if you stop dithering and go about your business decisively.

From: J.R. Dingfelder M.D. (Drjimding aol.com)
Subject: nettle (genus Urtica )

Medical types will no doubt see the connection between nettle and genus Urtica since urticaria means allergic "hives".

From: Jamie Spencer (jspencer stlcc.edu)
Subject: nettle and Hotspur

I suspect that the British/Australian phrase "grasp the nettle" is a direct borrowing from Shakespeare's Henry IV, Part One. In it the rebel Hotspur claims "from this nettle, danger, we grasp this flower, safety." I bet even the Brits use it. They know their Shakespeare over there too.

From: Dominique Mellinger (dominiquemellinger yahoo.co.uk)
Subject: How to help Antoinette

When I started exchanging emails with Antoinette thanks to AWADmail, a few years ago, I didn't expect we would become real friends and that she would email me chapter after chapter of the novel she has written, partly based on her childhood memories as a little Jewish girl in occupied France, and partly on her former partner's, a poor Scottish boy taken from his family. She did so to alleviate my chemo sessions but I think her novel really deserves being published and deserves having more than one reader. Here is Antoinette's address : Antoinette C (n21et1 gmail.com) It would be great if you could help her find a way to get published. I loved her text and I'm sure many people would like it too. Thanks.

A word has its use, / Or, like a man, it will soon have a grave. -Edwin Arlington Robinson, poet (1869-1935)

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