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AWADmail Issue 499

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

From: Marion Greene (marion888 yahoo.com)
Subject: Sagacity
Def: Keen judgment or wisdom.

I learned "sagacity" in about 7th grade from Archie Comics. Moose (the caricature of a big dumb sweet jock) got smart for a week, and Archie and the gang were completely confused.

The memory of where you learn a new word can be powerful.

Marion Greene, Minneapolis, Minnesota

From: Randy Schwartz (hrschwartz2 earthlink.net)
Subject: Sage

This word made me think of an observation I've made: In France when a parent drops off their kid they say "Sois sage" (translates to "Be good"). In the States they're more likely to say "Have fun." Is that a commentary on differences in the cultures?

Randy Schwartz, Raleigh, North Carolina

From: Susan Webb (sbwdesign gmail.com)
Subject: stochasticity
Def: Involving chance; random; probabilistic.

I learned this word a year or so ago from a Radiolab podcast with an amusing musical bonus video, which certainly helped embed the pronunciation and meaning in my memory!

Susan Webb, Citrus Heights, California

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

From: Lindsay Staniforth (lindsaymas talktalk.net)
Subject: stochastic

I recall asking my scientific son why, when you put a load of bedding in the washing machine, the pillowcases always end up twisted inside the duvet cover. Stochastic motion, he said. ?? I asked. It's like a drunk man walking along a street with a wall on one side and a gutter on the other. He will always end up in the gutter because if he stumbles against the wall he'll bounce back onto the pavement. A good explanation, I thought. Now I button the duvet covers before washing them.

Lindsay Staniforth, Aberdeen, UK

From: Michael D. Cherry (mike.cherry orlandohealth.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--stochastic

In conventional offset printing, dots of color are printed in a regular grid pattern and the dots vary in size based on the density of color desired. In stochastic printing the dots are all the same size but they are randomly (within parameters) placed and the color density is determined by the number of dots. This eliminates problems like moire or rosette patterns that can show up in conventional prints.

Mike Cherry, Orlando, Florida

From: Martha Nix (quadranix juno.com)
Subject: venial
Def: Minor; easily excused.

Doubtless every one of your readers with an upbringing in the Catholic Church will respond to this word! How it brings back memories of catechism classes, where the concept of "venial sins" (as opposed to "mortal sins") was drilled into us. The example of a "venial sin" which lodged in my memory was hitting a baseball through the stained glass window of a church, and then running away!

Martha Nix, Huntington, West Virginia

From: Charles Hart (chart duanemorris.com)
Subject: connubial
Def: Pertaining to marriage or the married state.

W.S. Gilbert uses this word twice in Pish-Tush's song "Our great Mikado, virtuous man", a cautionary tale about overreaching in the name of family values. The Mikado, we are told, has decreed, "in words succinct, that all who flirted, leered, or winked (unless connubially linked), should forthwith be beheaded." And so,

The youth who winked a roving eye,
Or breathed a non-connubial sigh,
Was thereupon condemned to die --
He usually objected

Charles Hart, Cherry Hill, New Jersey

From: Eric Shackle (ericshackle bigpond.com)
Subject: stochasticity

I suppose buying a helium shark would be stochastichitous. See here.

Eric Shackle, Sydney, Australia

Jokes of the proper kind, properly told, can do more to enlighten questions of politics, philosophy, and literature than any number of dull arguments. -Isaac Asimov, scientist and writer (1920-92)

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