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AWADmail Issue 492

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

Wow, the response to the Dry (wit) T-Shirt Contest delighted us almost without qualification, and depressed the heck out of us at the same time. We used to think we were clever and smart. Seriously, we received hundreds of cheeky and creative entries that had us chuckling and smiling all week... and the punny groaners were mercifully few and far between! Check out our Top 25 picks (and find out the winning entry).

From: Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)
Subject: The gift of words

This holiday season, why not make a gift of words? Here are a few suggestions:

"A delightful, quirky collection."
-The New York Times

A Word A Day: A Romp through Some of the Most Unusual and Intriguing Words in English Another Word A Day: An All-new Romp through Some of the Most Unusual and Intriguing Words in English

"The most welcomed, most enduring piece of daily mass email in cyberspace."
-The New York Times

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From: Michael Tremberth (michaelt4two googlemail.com)
Subject: redolent
Def: 1. Fragrant; smelling. 2. Suggestive; reminiscent.

I've thought of the power of this and other words that connect us to our sensory memories. Proust explored this space; so did Dickens and others who explored the pollution of the 19th century in terms of the sights, smells and sounds of the urban environment; Keats described a vintage "Tasting of Flora and the country green,/Dance, and Provenšal song, and sunburnt mirth!" -- though his imagery is so powerful that you don't at first notice how he makes tasting do duty for other forms of sensory perception implied by his words, viz hearing, seeing and smelling. Olfaction seems to be the most powerful of these, which perhaps explains why the meaning of redolent has become extended.

Michael Tremberth, Cornwall, UK

From: Molly Kalifut (molly.kalifut mdcourts.gov)
Subject: Hegemony
Def: Predominance over others, especially of a country over other countries.

I loved the illustrated H for 'hegemony' -- the top cat being carried in a sedan chair. In other words: kitty litter.

Now I have to go back and study the rest of the week's illustrations much more carefully!

Molly Kalifut, Annapolis, Maryland

From: Michael Tremberth (michaelt4two googlemail.com)
Subject: terrene, terrine
Def: Relating to the earth; earthly; worldly; mundane.

Another word derived from Latin terra is terrine (tuhr-REEN). Terrene and terrine may be confused in speech because terrene can also be pronounced with the stress on the final syllable. Terrine, a loan word from French, is both a prepared food, ideally cooked in a tureen (terracotta utensil); and also the name for the utensil in which the food has been cooked. Lasagne (Italian) is a word of the same type, meaning both the food, and the utensil, literally a "chamber pot", in which it is baked. You may not have realised that Italian cookery is so eclectic!

Michael Tremberth, Cornwall, UK

From: Brooke Richards (brooker renovatechnology.com)
Subject: antediluvian
Def: Extremely old; old-fashioned; primitive.

Not many of the words that you feature appear in the lyrics of popular music!

Not so for antediluvian! From Atlantis by Donovan:

The great Egyptian age is but a remnant
Of the Atlantian culture.
The antediluvian kings colonized the world;
All the Gods who play in the mythological dramas
In all legends from all lands were from fair Atlantis.

Brooke Richards, Norcross, Georgia

From: Elizabeth E. Vaughn (elonvon hotmail.com)
Subject: antediluvian

Hadn't thought of this word since Donovan's recording of Atlantis. Worth a YouTube search. Then listen to Hey Jude. Next, trick your children by playing the New Christy Minstrels' version which superimposes these two songs. Yes, I'm old and the first time I heard this done I thought my friend personally blended these songs.

Elizabeth E. Vaughn, Henderson, Kentucky

From: Janet Nelson (jen micross.co.uk)
Subject: antediluvian

Years ago when I was at college, our lecturer in Quaternary Geomorphology, the esteemed D.Q. Bowen, caused great amusement to some of us by saying that in contrast to what he was teaching, "... all biblical ideas about creation are positively antediluvian."

Janet Nelson, UK

From: Raj Vaswani (raj.vaswani aya.yale.edu)
Subject: Illustrated Words

I wanted to say how much I enjoyed this week's illustrated words. Normally, by the following week, I find it somewhat challenging to recall the meanings of the daily words. That task was made much easier however, with the illustrations -- I urge you to consider continuing to couple words with visual cues!

Raj Vaswani, New York, New York

Email of the Week (Sponsored by One Up! - Get brained.)

From: David Hoyler (dwhoyler yahoo.com)
Subject: A picture is worth a 1,000 words

Re: "A picture is worth a thousand words." Forty years ago I led week-long field trips of 8th graders to the Poconos. Students kept journals of their experiences; one boy wrote, "They say that a picture is worth a thousand words, but the real thing is worth a thousand pictures." That affirming sentiment about the value of experiential learning has remained with me over the years.

David Hoyler, Lee, New Hampshire

If a homological adjective is one that is true of itself, e.g. "polysyllabic", and a heterological adjective is one which is not true of itself, e.g., "bisyllabic", then what about "heterological"? Is it heterological or not? -Grelling's Paradox

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