AWADmail Issue 387
November 29, 2009
A Weekly Compendium of Feedback on the Words in A.Word.A.Day and Tidbits about Words and Language
From: Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)
Subject: The gift of words
This holiday season, why not make a gift of words? Here are five suggestions:
A Word A Day
Another Word A Day
The Dord, the Diglot, and an Avocado or Two
"Just the thing if romping with words is what you want to do."
-The Washington Post
"The most welcomed, most enduring piece of daily mass email in cyberspace."
-The New York Times
A.Word.A.Day is now in its sixteenth year.
From: Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)
Subject: Interesting stories from the net
USC professor creates an entire alien language for 'Avatar'
LA Times blogs
In Greek, this bird's name indicates it's French; its Arabic name implies
it's Rome; in Turkey, it's from India. What bird is it?
From: Wendy Carter (wendy.carter optusnet.com.au)
Def: Still and quiet (used in the form: to lie doggo).
In Australia, the word "doggo" also refers to the worst shift in any
organisation, eg, hospitals, mining, etc where the business is operating 24
hours a day and rosters are established to cover those periods. There are
usually three shifts per 24 hours -- morning, evening, and doggo -- and doggo
usually refers to the 10pm - 6am (approx) period. It may be called "doggo"
because it is so tiring and unpleasant, that it is something "you wouldn't
do to a dog" or because on this shift, you become "dog tired".....I don't
know for sure but thought you might be interested to hear these comments.
From: Scott Andrews (sandlab prodigy.net)
Def: From head to foot.
Thank you. "Lock, stock, and barrel", "Alpha and Omega", and "Heaven and earth"
are examples of a figure of speech called a merism. Now I can add cap-a-pie
to the list.
It is a creative way of naming the bookends, and in so doing, emphasizing
that the unstated "everything in between" is included.
From: Andrew Pressburger (andpress sympatico.ca)
At various times, and during different periods of history, medieval knights
did not always wear full armour. The chain mail, for example, was simply
a shirt woven of interlinked small metal rings.
When they were fully clothed in plate armour, helmet, cuirass ("lapp'd in
proof", as Ross says of Macbeth), they were said to be dressed cap-à-pé. Thus
to Hamlet's query regarding the appearance of his father's ghost, Horatio
replies: "A figure like your father, / Armed at point exactly, cap-à-pé."
And somewhat further, on perceiving young Hamlet's persistent skepticism
("Arm'd, you say? ... From top to toe?"), Marcellus and Bernardo elaborate:
"My lord, from head to foot." (Hamlet, Act I Scene 2)
From: Ollie Haffenden (Oliver.Haffenden rd.bbc.co.uk)
Def: That is; namely; to wit. (used to introduce examples or details)
The abbreviated form of this word, viz "viz", is the title of an adult comic
here in the UK, which happens to be celebrating its 30th anniversary this
month. For me the comic strikes a perfect balance
between surrealism, toilet humour, and satirical social commentary.
According to Wikipedia,
even the editor, Chris Donald, claims not to remember the reason for the
title. The existence of the spin-off "Roger's Profanisaurus", a dictionary
of exotic swear words, suggests to me that Donald is a secret wordlover.
From: Buddha Buck (blaisepascal gmail.com)
Def: adverb: 1. In reference to. 2. Appropriately; relevantly. adjective: Appropriate.
My first introduction to the word apropos was when I first learned the
UNIX operating system.
The manual for UNIX is traditionally available online, and accessible
using the "man" command. One could type "man foo" to find out what the
foo command did, for instance.
The trouble comes in the reverse; many commands are obscure abbreviations
(like "man" for manual) and are hard to figure out without knowing ahead
of time what they might be.
The "apropos" helped with that, allowing you to type "apropos foo" to find
all the manual entries which might have something to do with foo.
On my system, "apropos manual" lists 37 commands, including man (an
interface to the on-line reference manuals) and apropos (search the manual
page names and descriptions).
From: Cal Christie (calc sentex.net)
As teens we had a game for adverbs calling them "Tom Swifties" (of the
Tom Swift novels).
Example: "That's the last time I'll feed an alligator," said Tom
From: Grace Godino (ecarg.onidog gmail.com)
Your words have cheered me through hard times and increased my happiness
in the easy times. I have a lengthy collection of quotations from you.
I feel part of a world-wide community of word lovers because of your
dedication and love of language. I thank you from the bottom of my heart.
A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
You have to fall in love with hanging around words. -John Ciardi, poet and
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