Wordsmith.Org: The Magic of Words


About | Media | Search | Contact  


Today's Word

Yesterday's Word



AWADmail Issue 417

June 27, 2010

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

From: Terry McCreary (terry.mccreary murraystate.edu)
Subject: Weathercock
Def: 1. A weathervane, especially one with the figure of a rooster on it. 2. One who changes readily or often.

We use this word a lot in hobby rocketry. When a fin-stabilized model or high-power rocket lifts off, the presence of significant wind will cause the rocket to fly into the wind to some degree; the rocket weathercocks. In a very strong wind, a very stable rocket may take a trajectory almost parallel to the ground.

From: Christopher Schemm (cmschemm comcast.net)
Subject: Weathervane with a rooster

In Europe it is common to see a rooster on top of a Protestant church to remind Roman Catholics that the founder of the R.C. church, Peter, denied Christ three times before the cock crowed as Christ said Peter would. Protestant farms in Northern Germany often have roosters on the barns.

From: Dianne Spotts (diaspot verizon.net)
Subject: weathercock

After conversation in a Chinese restaurant yesterday (for a Fathers' Day dinner), and discussion about the Chinese Zodiac signs, your word tickled me. Not that I'm amused that some people have to expend great energy to maintain some normalcy in life, but that we can put weather in front of the other signs besides the cock, and have a new slant on, say, a weatherrabbit: interchangeably both entertaining and detached.

From: Roy Hogrebe (royfish aol.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--weathercock

We paddlers describe the tendency of a kayak to turn into the wind on the beam as weathercocking. Some boats are more susceptible to weathercocking than others.

Email of the Week - Courtesy Uppityshirts: Well-(Read) and Well-(Bred).

From: Erlinda E. Panlilio (epanlilio mac.com)
Subject: Weathercock

Apparently, Quebec legislators are more onion-skinned than their Filipino counterparts. Every time there is a new President (now it's the late President Cory Aquino's son Noynoy), our politicians change parties or sides to that of the power-that-is. We have a word for it: balimbing [also known as starfruit], after the many-sided local fruit that's also indigenous to Indonesia and Thailand. In reality, they are all weathercocks, and don't take too much offense when called such.

From: John Whitley (john.whitley blueyonder.co.uk)
Subject: persnickety
Def: 1. Fussy about minor details. 2. Snobbish. 3. Requiring keen attention to detail, as a job.

Persnickety is what we say in Scotland. Pernickety is English, not for the whole of the UK.

From: Linda Landau (LLandauCPA aol.com)
Subject: Bromidic
Def: Commonplace; trite.

The musical South Pacific leaped into my mind upon reading bromidic. What great Rodgers & Hamnmerstein music and lyrics:

I'm as trite and as gay as a daisy in May,
A cliche comin' true!
I'm bromidic and bright
As a moon-happy night
Pourin' light on the dew!

I'm as corny as Kansas in August,
High as a flag on the Fourth of July! ...

From: Michael Tremberth (michaelt4two googlemail.com)
Subject: bromidic derived from bromine (Greek bromos = stench)

Like Bromine, Osmium (from Greek osme) is another element with a distinct odour, which is caused by the presence of traces of osmium tetroxide in the otherwise pure element. A related word is anosmia.

Osmium has the distinction of being the densest element known, although it is not particularly hard.

From: Andrew MFC (andrewmfc aol.com)
Subject: esurient
Def: Hungry; greedy.

No discussion of the word "esurient" is complete without at least one mention of the Monty Python Cheese Shop sketch!
(video, text)

From: Amy Rogers (cathedralsfan ymail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--weathercock

I don't remember where I saw this -- it may have been the title of a book -- but I like the saying, "Everybody's normal till you get to know them."

A living language is like a man suffering incessantly from small haemorrhages, and what it needs above all else is constant transactions of new blood from other tongues. The day the gates go up, that day it begins to die. -H.L. Mencken, writer, editor, and critic (1880-1956)

We need your help

Help us continue to spread the magic of words to readers everywhere


Subscriber Services
Awards | Stats | Links | Privacy Policy
Contribute | Advertise

© 1994-2024 Wordsmith