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Mar 20, 2011
This week’s theme
Seventeen-letter words to mark Wordsmith.org's septendecennial

This week’s words

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AWADmail Issue 455

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: Results of haiku contest

Thanks for your words of congratulations on the septendecennial of Wordsmith.org. On this occasion I invited you to send haiku that illustrated each word of the week and you responded with enthusiasm, with more than 6,000 haiku.

The haiku were funny, deeply personal, thought-provoking, clever, and everything in between. Entries came from across the globe. Many teachers sent haiku written by their classes.

It was truly hard to select winners from so many exceptional entries, but here they are. Winners will receive one of the following word games:
One Up!



In the spring garden
the silky yellow crocus
is suddenly there
-Basil Pessin, Douglas, Ontario, Canada (bpessin xplornet.com)


When hotels omit
offering a thirteenth floor
skip the fourteenth too!
-Jean Baird, Jenison, Michigan (jeanannbaird yahoo.com)


Twins!?!? Which one is which?
Same hair and eyes and nose and
Oh. One boy, one girl.
-Tim Jagger, Lakeville, Indiana (tjagger sbcsc.k12.in.us)


A life blowing horn
Might leave the larynx so bent
Reflux will ensue
-Brian Farrant, Ahipara, New Zealand (aniwanawa xtra.co.nz)


Is both blessing and a curse
Some things are best missed.
-Howard Distelzweig, Ann Arbor, Michigan (howard_distelzweig pall.com)

Honorable mentions

For a few more haiku selected from all the submissions, please visit our website.

Thanks to all for participating!

From: Shweta Bagade (sbagade deloitte.com)
Subject: septendecennial

Happy Birthday to WS! (And that's exactly 17 letters long)

Shweta Bagade, Mumbai, India

From: Matthew Male (male.matt gmail.com)
Subject: predestinarianism
Def: Belief in the doctrine of predestination, that the divine will has predetermined the course of events, people's fate, etc.

Here's a limerick by Maurice E. Hare (1886-1967) that perfectly illustrates the word predestinarianism:

There once was a man who said "Damn!
It occurs to me that I am
A being that moves
In predestinate grooves:
I'm not even a bus, I'm a tram!"

Matthew Male, London, UK

From: Mike Wagner (WagsTR6 bellsouth.net)
Subject: triskaidekaphobia
Def: Fear of the number 13.

There are all sorts of USA symbols with 13 in them. 13 original colonies, 13 stripes on our flag, 13 arrows in the talon of the American eagle, etc. It's a pretty "lucky" number for us Americans.

Mike Wagner, Miami, Florida

From: Sambasiva Srinivasan (srinis iitm.ac.in)
Subject: triskaidekaphobia

In Hindu culture, thirteen is considered auspicious. It is believed that when a person dies, it takes twelve days for the soul to reach the world of the ancestors and on the thirteenth day, the household returns to normal activity with the firm belief that the departed soul has reached its next stop.

Sambasiva Srinivasan, Chennai, India

From: Catherine Bolton (translations bolton.it)
Subject: speaking of 17

Your comment on Tuesday the 13th being considered unlucky in Spain reminded me that here in Italy it's Friday the 17th that's the height of bad luck. The number 17 is generally considered unlucky here, so when it falls on a Friday ...

Most importantly, congratulations on your 17th year! Your words bring a lot of joy to many people, including me.

Catherine Bolton, Bastia Umbra, Italy

From: Paul A. Foerster (foerster idworld.net)
Subject: A.Word.A.Day--triskaidekaphobia

According to my Mother (who is no longer alive to substantiate this), the unluckiness of 13 is attributed to bakers in England many years ago. There were severe penalties for merchants who short-changed their customers. So a customer who ordered a dozen items always got an extra one just in case the merchant had miscounted (hence the term baker's dozen). To help avoid having to give a freebie, the bakers started the rumor that 13 is an unlucky number. This caused the believing customers to count their merchandise, and give one back if there were 13 items in their order.

Whether this is true or not, it is interesting! By the way, as a high school mathematics teacher, I always urge my students to call negative numbers such as -13 by the name "the opposite of 13". This makes it easier for them to get the correct answer for -(-13), the "opposite of -13". So you might conclude that -13 is a "lucky number", because it is the opposite of an "unlucky" number.

Paul A. Foerster, San Antonio, Texas

From: Carolyn Jerard (cjerard hotmail.com)
Subject: triskaidekaphobia

I understand that the origin of Friday the thirteenth being bad luck is that it was the day that the Knights Templar were arrested, massacred, and driven out of France.

From: Tim Cornelius (tcornelius solomoncorp.com)
Subject: Triskaidekaphobia

Interestingly "Fear of the number 13" also has 17 letters.

Tim Cornelius, Salina, Kansas

From: Jennifer Lyons (jennifer.lyons psc.qld.gov.au)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--triskaidekaphobia

I managed a relocation of our office a year ago and had to look up this word after writing an update for our newsletter -- there were 130 defects to rectify after our move to the 13th floor, and 13 weeks after the move, the remaining defects numbered 13! I'm not superstitious, but those statistics were rather disconcerting!

Jennifer Lyons, Brisbane, Australia

From: Jenny Bennett (bennyjennett yahoo.com)
Subject: 13

I've read that 13 is a lucky number for pagans/ followers of the lunar calendar, as there are 13 lunar months -- or should I say, 13 moonths -- in a year. Part of the Church's stomping out of pagan practices was a combination of taking over their holidays and replacing them with their own, a la Midwinter/Christmas, and also branding other significant symbols as 'unlucky'. The Church was the original triskaidekaphobics!

Jenny Bennett, New York, New York

From: Rudy Rosenberg Sr (RRosenbergSr accuratechemical.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--triskaidekaphobia

Is there a word for liking the number 13? Perhaps antitriskaidekaphobia or triskaidekaphilia?

We were just at the Westin Ottawa and were surprised to find our room # 1313. It pleased me as I feel 13 is a lucky number and double 13 would be at least twice as lucky (all the results are not yet in)!

Some buildings, hotels, etc. do not even have a 13th floor!

Rudy Rosenberg Sr., Westbury, New York

From: Carolyn Reiffman (creiffman aol.com)
Subject: theme: 17-letter words

I am a literature teacher in a small school, where I teach students in grades 5-8. I enjoy bringing your love of words to my classroom! Your enthusiasm shines through when I read your themes to my students. They are really having fun with the "long" words this week. My fifth grade class is doing an excellent job of breaking down this week's words into their roots, prefixes, and suffixes, to uncover the definitions. They even tried their hands writing some haiku poems yesterday defining and illustrating triskaidekaphobia. Because of student privacy, I don't think I am allowed to submit them for your contest, but I wanted you to know how much fun we have with your A.Word.A.Day! Thank you!

Carolyn Reiffman, Denver, Colorado

From: Steven J. Serenska (awad banksurance.com)
Subject: triskaidekaphobia



noun: Fear of the number 18; specifically a low-level fear that readers will need to slog through a week's worth of unusable 18-letter words during AWAD's eighteenth anniversary, one year from now.

From Greek oktokaideka (eighteen), from okto (eight) + kai (and) + deka (ten) + phobia (fear). Earliest documented use: 2011.

Steven J. Serenska, Bristol, Rhode Island

From: Michael Carpenter (mccarp dakotacom.net)
Subject: laryngopharyngeal
Def: Of or relating to the larynx (the part of the throat holding the vocal cords) and pharynx (the part of the throat that leads from the mouth to the esophagus).

A related word is uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP), a surgery for treatment of sleep apnea. Didn't solve the problem for me.

Michael Carpenter, Tucson, Arizona

From: Tony Furnivall (tfurnivall gmail.com)
Subject: Far-seeing'ness

I love your daily messages, and think the 17-letter words for an anniversary is a great hoot (I hope you'll be able to find a similar trove of 18-letter words next year).

However, isn't it 'perspicacity' rather than 'perspicaciousness'? (Of course, you may have used the other spelling five years ago on the 12th anniversary ;-)

Tony Furnivall, New York, New York

From: Connie Smith (constance.smith siemens.com)
Subject: Haiku

Tweets are the haiku for the new millennium. The 140-character limit creates a structure for the communication. While that 140 characters is more than sufficient for utilitarian information such as meeting times and places, it obviously drives a thoughtful conciseness for more complex ideas. It would be interesting to view some of the tweets that drove the recent uprisings in the Middle East, since they are the modern equivalent of the writings of Thomas Paine.

Constance Smith, Oviedo, Florida

When I feel inclined to read poetry, I take down my dictionary. The poetry of words is quite as beautiful as the poetry of sentences. The author may arrange the gems effectively, but their shape and lustre have been given by the attrition of ages. -Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., writer and physician (1809-1894)

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