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AWADmail Issue 391

December 27, 2009

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

From: Lynda Lunn (lmglunn yahoo.co.uk)
Subject: agoraphobia
Def: A fear of being in public places, open spaces, or in crowds.

Joke from the paper: The bad news for agoraphobics is that a cure is just around the corner.

From: Vaughn Hathaway (pastorvonh bellsouth.net)
Subject: agoraphobia

Today's economy may lead us to invent a new definition for this word -- fear of the marketplace; especially since the marketplace has not been friendly to many portfolios.

From: Maryanne Leonard (maryanne.leonard verizon.net)
Subject: agoraphobia

My husband is a real estate broker in Westlake Village, a lovely but pricey Southern California community. Homebuyers expressing sticker shock at Westlake Village home prices are often asked if they would consider homes in nearby Agoura or Agoura Hills, generally a bit more affordable areas. When clients turn up their noses at the very idea, local Realtors of course, among themselves, call that reaction Agouraphobia.

From: Carsten Kruse (c-kruse t-online.de)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--agoraphobia

In German agoraphobia is known as "Platzangst (Platz = place, Angst = fear). Platzangst nowadays has two meanings: It stands both for Agoraphobie and also Klaustropobie (claustrophobia). The latter one -- which is much more commonly used -- should be translated into Raumangst (fear of (small, enclosed) rooms) but this word is rarely used. So, within a few dozen years a word has taken a meaning which is sort of the opposite of its original meaning :-)

From: John Foyston (johnfoyston news.oregonian.com)
Subject: Re: Re: A.Word.A.Day--dipsomania
Def: An insatiable, periodic craving for alcohol.

I love the Christopher Hitchens coinage from his foreword to "Everyday Drinking", a collection of drinks columns by Kingsley Amis:
"Dipsography: Writing about drinking (in reverse of the more usual process...)"
-Christopher Hitchens

John Foyston
Beer/spirits writer
The Oregonian

From: Frank Brown (frank.brown travelport.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--dipsomania

Once again, I am learning so much. First that agoraphobia has nothing to do with bull fighters and now this - dipsomania is a craving for alcohol. Hmmm.

Here in the Southern US, dipsomania is the relentless craving for snuff (or chewing tobacco).
"Just a pinch between cheek and gum, and the world gets better for sure, by gum!"

From: Jamie Spencer (jspencer stlcc.edu)
Subject: fear and trembling : astraphobia
Def: An abnormal fear of lightning and thunder.

A friend of my parents was a fan of James Joyce and visited him at his Paris apartment in the 30s. Apparently a storm was in progress and Joyce, he learned, had an intense case of astraphobia. The great writer literally shook in fear of the thunder throughout their visit.

From: Cindy Haynes (cbd.haynes verizon.net)
Subject: astraphobia

People have nothing on dogs when it comes to astraphobia. Up to 20 percent of dogs of all ages and breeds suffer from noise phobias so severe that their people seek professional help for them. Lightning and thunder send our Sadie under the desk where three walls can protect her. I never had the word for her fear until now. I will teach it to her today. :)

From: J-Mag Guthrie (j-mag brokersys.com)
Subject: onomatomania
Def: An obsession with particular words or names and desire to recall or repeat them.

A haiku or senryu consists of three lines of words ... the first and third lines are five syllables, and the second line is seven. It's an interesting challenge to write these forms with the second line containing only a seven-syllable word.

Over and over
Over and over

From: Jan Smith (forjhsmith gmail.com)
Subject: Onomatomania

For the longest time, I've had a strong urge to recall onomatomania. Now I know why.

From: Wayne Hathaway (wayne diamondsandjeans.com)
Subject: acrophobia
Def: An abnormal fear of heights.

I suffer somewhat from acrophobia, and for me the standard "fear of heights" just didn't describe it. But one day I read a description that hit the nail on the head: When you are in a high place, acrophobia is not the fear of falling, but rather the dead certainty that you are going to jump! Of course, that's why it is a phobia, an irrational fear, but that also explains why I had no trouble doing a tandem skydive. When I was standing on the platform outside the airplane, my acrophobia started screaming "You're going to jump!", so I calmly said "You're right" and jumped!

No man, or body of men, can dam the stream of language. -James Russell Lowell, poet, editor, and diplomat (1819-1891)

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