Wordsmith.org: the magic of words


About | Media | Search | Contact  


Today's Word

Yesterday's Word



AWADmail Issue 475

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

From: Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)
Subject: Last week's theme -- Yours to discover

Last week's contest was to identify the commonality in the week's words: oeNOPhile, inteRSTitial, STUpefy, DEFalcate, and soMNOlence.

All those words have three consecutive letters from the alphabet appearing consecutively. Only about 0.9% of words in the English language have that property.

The fiRST one to send correct answer was aSTUte reader Carolyn Gilbert (carolynjgilbert gmail.com) of Auckland, New Zealand. She sent her answer within an hour of receiving the first word.

A reader randomly selected from all correct answers was David Blagg (davidblagg gmail.com) of Silver Spring, Maryland.

They win their choice of a copy of the word game One Up! or an autographed copy of the book A Word A Day.

Here are a few selections from the responses that came in as the week progressed:

MONDAY: oenophile

Most common answer:
Words with more vowels than consonants.

Most creative answer:
The pattern that might follow in the words to come this week is that these words when pronounced sound like a phrase totally unrelated: Oenophile: In a file.
Akhil Gupta, Mumbai, India (akhil.gupta db.com)

TUESDAY: oenophile, interstitial

Most common answer:
Words with five vowels.

Random answer:
Words related to man and arts.
Ferliza Arcilla, Mandaluyong City, Philippines (ferliza.t.arcilla accenture.com)

WEDNESDAY: oenophile, interstitial, stupefy

Most common answers:
Words associated with Poe's The Cask of Amontillado.
Words from Harry Potter

Most creative answer:
Is the link between the words to do with being not of sound mind? Oenophiles would be drunk, interstitial may refer to having a hollow brain, and someone stupefied isn't thinking straight?
Andrew Millard, Doha, Qatar (andrew11121 gmail.com)

THURSDAY: oenophile, interstitial, stupefy, defalcate

Most creative answer:
Thus far, all the words contain people's names: oenoPHILe interstitiAL STUpefy defalCATE.
Monica Kissane, Jericho, Vermont (mjkissane myfairpoint.net)

Random answer:
The Grape Grain Robbery?
Dave Gill, San Antonio, Texas (davegill52 gmail.com)

FRIDAY: oenophile, interstitial, stupefy, defalcate, somnolence

Almost-got-it answer:
Each of the words has at least two (2) consecutive letters from the alphabet.
Name withheld.

Most common answer:
Words to describe Washington politicians.

Congratulations to all the readers who solved the puzzle and thanks to all for participating.

From: Ron Turner (ron lastgasp.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--oenophile
Def: Someone who enjoys wine, especially as a connoisseur.

When I was attending Fresno State U. in the 60s I came upon the School of Oenology. UC Davis also had such a school. The library was filled with cases of great work, ready for study. We coined a term for college-educated winos back then: An oeno. It is a relevant distinction to those who know the difference between Thunderbird, white port, or Night Train, but not a Pinot Grigio or an Old Vine Zinfandel. We had a great study group.

Ron Turner, San Francisco, California

From: David Brugger (djbonline verizon.net)
Subject: interstitial
Def: Concerning or located between things, especially those closely spaced.

When I was working in the world of public television, interstitials was a noun used to refer to the promotional material or messages between programs.

David Brugger, Washington, DC

From: Venkataraman Balakrishnan (venkataraman.balakrishnan gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--interstitial

Interstitial is the word used in physics for a common form of defect in crystalline solids, where an atom occupies an interstitial position (what else!) in an otherwise regular array of atoms.

Venkataraman Balakrishnan, Chennai, India

From: Amitava Guha (amitavaguha yahoo.com)
Subject: Interstitial

Being a metallurgist, I learned early on that steel is an interstitial solid solution of carbon in iron!

Amitava Guha, Cleveland, Ohio

From: Pat Locklin (patricia.a.locklin maine.gov)
Subject: Interstitial

Wow! We use this word at work all the time. How do you know when a buried gasoline tank may be leaking? The alarm indicates that there is fluid in the interstitial space.

Pat Locklin, Augusta, Maine

From: James Friend (frienddjp comcast.net)
Subject: Re: Interstitial

One of my all-time favorite definitions comes from Samuel Johnson's dictionary:

Network. n.s. [net and work.] Any thing reticulated or decussated, at equal distances, with interstices between the intersections.

Of course, our current understanding of the word has extended Johnson's meaning to include such things as radio and TV stations, electrical grids, and social connections, none of which is characterized by having equal distances, but certainly do have interstices between the intersections when represented graphically.

James Friend, Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania

From: Ken Kirste (kkkirste sbcglobal.net)
Subject: Stupefy
Def: 1. To make someone so bored or tired as unable to think clearly. 2. To amaze.

This word took me back to my grammar school days when we were given an assignment to teach us to use the dictionary. We were given a week to discover a new word, look up its meaning, and report our findings in front of the class. My teacher's jaw dropped when I illustrated the word stupefy by passing around the previous Sunday's Li'l Abner comic strip featuring "Stupefyin' Jones" a woman so voluptuous her looks stopped men in their tracks.

Ken Kirste, Sunnyvale, California

From: Amrit Chavada (amrit.chavada raymond.in)
Subject: Stupefy

There's a spell in the Harry Potter series -- Stupefy -- which stuns the opponent

Amrit Chavada, Mumbai, India

From: Robert Montgomery (rmont sympatico.ca)
Subject: Stupefy

When you speak French, the meanings of some English words can be easy to deduce. In French, a "stupéfiant" is a narcotic. Knowing this makes it easy to talk to teens about avoiding narcotics, recreational drugs, and alcohol because the word sounds like stupid.

Robert Montgomery, Gatineau, Canada

Thought is the blossom; language the bud; action the fruit behind it. -Ralph Waldo Emerson, writer and philosopher (1803-1882)

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