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AWADmail Issue 425

August 22, 2010

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

From: Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)
Subject: Interesting stories from the net

How the Internet is Changing Language

New Words in the Dictionary
The Guardian

From: Tara Gallagher (fruitbat speakeasy.net)
Subject: Estival
Def: Relating to or occurring in summer.

I first learned this word from hedgehogs. African Pygmy hedgehogs -- the kind most often kept as pets in the US -- are desert animals and will estivate, a form of hibernation in extremely hot, dry weather. Hedgehogs also are crepuscular (active at dawn and dusk -- but you knew that). Keeping pets is educational in so many ways!

From: BJ Boulter (bj oxala.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--estival

Estival in Portuguese is the state of torpor brought on by summer heat in some animals... visibly... tourists lying supine on the beaches!

From: Anna Santos De Dios (alsdd_2 hotmail.com)
Subject: Re: estival

Many words have lesser-known counterparts, and I like to play a mental game I call "Complete the Set". Vernal and autumnal are familiar thanks to the equinoxes, and estival is one of my favorite words, completing the seasonal quartet along with hibernal.

Another set with amusement value: oriental, occidental, austral, and boreal are adjectival forms for the cardinal directions. But interestingly, the east-west and north-south pairs are generally used in different contexts -- culture and geography vs. nature and climatology.

And for bonus points, long-ago AWAD entries for hesternal and hodiernal inspired the search for crastinal, although the latter seems limited to describing a grammatical tense. Is there a better analogue?

Email of the Week - (Courtesy One Up! - Are you wicked/smart?)

From: Thomas B. Lemann (tblemann liskow.com)
Subject: irenic
Def: Promoting peace or conciliation.

Famous Ancient Greek pun: "Eirēnē pantessi, episkopos eipen epelthōn." (Irene being also the name of an eminent courtesan)

Meaning "Peace be to all, said the bishop as he approached." Or "Irene is for everybody, said the bishop as he approached."

From: Don Stevens (donzost pacbell.net)
Subject: Rotund
Def: 1. Plump; fat. 2. Round in shape. 3. Having a full-toned, resonant sound.

From Wikipedia's entry on the U.S.'s second President, John Adams:

"In the first year of Washington's administration, Adams became deeply involved in a month-long Senate controversy over the official title of the President. Adams favored grandiose titles such as 'His Majesty the President' or 'His High Mightiness' over the simple 'President of the United States' that eventually won the debate. The pomposity of his stance, along with his being overweight, led to Adams earning the nickname His Rotundity."

From: Dr. Guru Nadarajan (dr.g.nadarajan gmail.com)
Subject: rotund

In the base of the skull there are so many openings for structures to pass down below from the brain, especially nerves and blood vessels. There are called foramina. One such foramen is foramen rotundum meaning it is almost round in shape.

From: Sam H. Shirakawa (parsifal400 gmail.com)
Subject: tail-less word

How about doing it from behind, if you'll pardon the expression, e.g. rotunda?

From: Dan Rees (lametiger yahoo.com)
Subject: reheading the words

Your theme this week started out reasonably enough, with "festival" being a much better known word than "estival". However, a stated theme of "words that appear beheaded" fails somewhat if you have to resort to words that are very familiar as "beheaded" forms of unfamiliar words. I am much more familiar with "rotund" than "orotund." (Now if you had said that "orotund" looks as though it has grown an extra head ... ) And I had never heard of "futilitarian". As my wife commented to me, presenting "utile" as an apparently beheaded form of "futile" would have made sense, but not the "-itarian" pair you did use.

From: Billie J. Grey (billie.grey va.gov)
Subject: re-heading the words

estival - festival
auteur - hauteur
irenic - sirenic
utilitarian - futilitarian
rotund - orotund

The words were very well chosen. They got harder as the week went on and the fact that Friday's word begins with a vowel, but so many consonants could have gone before the "r" made it really tricky. Good one. Or good five, I suppose.

You live a new life for every new language you speak. -Czech proverb

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