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AWADmail Issue 42

Aug 12, 2001

A Compendium of Feedback on the Words in A.Word.A.Day and Other Interesting Tidbits about Words and Languages

From: Anu Garg (garg AT wordsmith.org)
Subject: Interesting story(ies) from the net

English at work in Europe:

From: Mary Perez (mperezATsyntroleum.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--warren

One of the largest and finest hotels in Tulsa is the Doubletree Hotel at Warren Place. I have always envisioned the bell hops in bunny suits!

From: Kathryn W. Dirig (kwarrenerATyahoo.com)
Subject: Re: warren

Oh, thank you so much for "warren"! I don't know most of the words-a-day when they reach me, but this one yes. For I am a rabbitkeeper by name. When I was little and I learned what my name meant, I was so completely fascinated. I could play with its new found meaning and use it as code, even if I didn't have any interest at all in breeding rabbits! Thanks to my dad for the name, and thanks to my mum for the gift of AWAD.

From: James Dignan (grutnessATsurf4nix.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--vexatious

This word and its relatives causes plenty of puns in flag-collecting circles - the study of flags being vexillology (from vexillae, the small banners carried by Roman legions - this word itself coming from the word vela, meaning sail)

From: David Ziff (davziff2ATmac.com)
Subject: Re: Vexatious

Your definition today for vexatious is too narrow. In your example Sherlock wasn't irritated or annoyed by the case, he was troubled by it or vexed intellectually by it. See the following definition of vex in the Third International, to wit: "d : to cause difficulty to in respect to finding a solution or answer *a puzzle to vex the keenest wit* e : TEASE, TORMENT *don't vex the cat*." Also, see definitions 3 and 4 of vexation in the OED.

    Also, don't wax the cat. -Anu

From: Brendan Atkins (atkinsbATidx.com.au)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--scud

Another use of 'scud': it's the name of a small freshwater crustacean.

"Closely related to the Isopoda is the order Amphipoda, known vernacularly in North America by the exceedingly ugly name of 'scuds', and in England by the less ugly but somewhat imprecise name 'freshwater shrimps'." WD Williams, Australian Freshwater Life (Macmillan, Melbourne, 1980, p.158)

From: Darren Bush (darrenATpaddlers.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--scud

In aviation parlance, "scud-running" is the act of flying low to avoid clouds and thus avoid flying in conditions that would require an instrument rating. It's a derogatory term, because it's often done by low-experience pilots without experience flying in instrument conditions, in order to get home for work the next day when a more experienced pilot would find a good book and wait patiently for the inclement weather to cease. It unfortunately often ends up in flying into power lines, the side of a hill, or simply becoming disoriented in clouds and flying full power into the ground, a most unpleasant thought.

From: Francis (astroscriptorATaol.com)
Subject: scud

In Bedminster, one of the local dialects of Bristolian, a scud is a synonym for a scab i.e. the healed surface of a wound. Another interesting word from the same source is a spreeve (or possibly even sbreeve). This refers to a sore place on the neck caused by the chafing of a highly starched collar especially when a cold wind was blowing. One suffered at such times from a "spreeved neck".

From: Ward Schumaker (warddrawATbest.com)
Subject: scuddin' the strip!

When I was young (back in the fifties) in Omaha, kids on the north side used to pass the evenings driving up and down Thirtieth Street, repeatedly. They called it "scuddin' the strip."

From: Tom Murray (tamurrayATsympatico.ca)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--scud

Today's word reminds me of an expression from my past: "scuttle along", which means "hurry away". My American Heritage Dictionary says of "scuttle": "intr.v. To run hastily, scurry. --n. A hurried run; a scurrying pace. [Variant of dialectical scuddle. frequentative of SCUD.]"

From: Bruce & Evelyn Brown (strathmoreATbloomingdaletel.com)
Subject: Re: scud

My Quakerly nature rejoiced that thee did not include SCUD the Missile from Gulf War days! I give you credit for excluding deliberately? How it rather diminishes the vision of scudding clouds and scudding waves!

    We are kindred spirits here, however, the missile didn't find a place in the entry simply because it just happens to be a product -- albeit a notorious one -- with the word scud as its name. To take another example, the entry for the word sun doesn't need to mention any of the thousands of products under the sun which are named after it.

    Did you notice, the word missile begins with the word "miss"? That explains a lot about how these things work. -Anu

From: Rudy Rosenberg Sr. (rrosenbergsrATaccuratechemical.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--cormorant

Would a Cormorant be someone working for a Greedy person?

Fishermen use cormorants to fetch the fish. The bird is on a tether, and has a ring around his neck so he cannot swallow his catch. Now and then, the fisherman removes the ring and lets the bird swallow a fish. Failing to do that, the cormorant would soon tire of the whole exercise.

And so it is in life. If someone is performing a service for a boss, he has to be allowed to swallow a fish now and then.

From: Darren Setlow (dsetlowATplumbdesign.com)
Subject: A cormorant story...

Today's word "cormorant" and its second meaning of "greedy person" moved me to share a story with you about these birds. I am a bird enthusiast and the cormorant happens to be a favorite, and I was moved to tattoo its likeness on my shoulder along with a totem, or spirit, image of the bird. What inspired this was an article with color photos on the front page of the NY Times about three years ago. Seems a consortium of fishermen in Lake Ontario considered a colony of cormorants to be threatening their charter fishing tours by eating so many fish. So the fishermen went to the island where the colony nested and shotgunned nearly 1000 birds. "That'll learn 'em!"

I guess it just strikes me as ironic that "greedy people" carried out the supreme act of greed on the animal from which we get the colorful description of our own behavior.

From: Dipesh Navsaria (navsariaATprairienet.org)
Subject: Cormorants and Greed

If memory serves me correctly, cormorants were associated with greed because they were thought to derive great pleasure from swallowing food down those long, curved necks. In Paradise Lost, Milton has Satan take the form of a cormorant who sits upon the Tree of Life when he first enters Eden to spy on Adam and Eve.

From: Suzanne (suzy807qATaol.com)
Subject: lots of vowels in a word

I know this comment doesn't bear any direct relevance to recent words, but I've noticed this oddity for quite a while and thought I'd share it with you. There is a word in French which has all five vowels in a row with no consonants separating them. The word is "jouaient," and as well as having all five vowels consecutively, it has only 3 consonants. "Jouaient" is the third person plural imperfect form of the verb jouer, "to play", and is pronounced approximately "joo-ay." Another word in French that follows this pattern is "louaient" ("they were renting"), from "louer" (to rent), and there are likely others as well.

Words are also actions, and actions are a kind of words. -Ralph Waldo Emerson, writer and philosopher (1803-1882)

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