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AWADmail Issue 531

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

From: Dave Rubenstein (bulkmail thoughtful-action.com)
Subject: salutary
Def: 1. Beneficial; useful; remedial. 2. Healthful.

The Thought For Today (There is not less wit nor less invention in applying rightly a thought one finds in a book, than in being the first author of that thought) highlights the value of "rightly" reapplying an older thought. Today's Usage does exactly that.

"To see ourselves as others see us is a most salutary gift. Hardly less important is the capacity to see others as they see themselves," from Aldous Huxley (1894-1963), appears to expand on an earlier idea of Robert Burns (1759-1796):

"O wad some Pow'r the giftie gie us
To see oursels as ithers see us!
It wad frae monie a blunder free us,
An' foolish notion..."
More ...

Dave Rubenstein, Washington, DC

From: Pamela Horswell (pamela.horswell zen.co.uk)
Subject: Strop
Def: noun: A flexible material such as a strip of leather for sharpening a razor. verb tr.: To sharpen on a strop.

We British also use the word strop informally, to mean a temper or bad mood (orig 1970s) e.g. "Tread carefully he's in a right strop." The OED cites it as a possible back-form of the adjective stroppy which itself originated in the 1950s perhaps as an abbreviation of obstreperous.

Pamela Horswell, Abergavenny, UK

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

From: Loretta Moore (lmoorekc aol.com)
Subject: strop

Days of gone by: Our grandmother, a woman of great patience and kindness, kept the "razor strop" hanging on a hook by the hallway leading from her kitchen to the upstairs sleeping areas. Just the presence of that strop kept us numerous grandkids mindful of our fate if we disobeyed. But there was nothing that put fear into our hearts more than when she was rarely heard to say in her soft, sweet voice, "Bring me the razor strop"! (Wiki)

Loretta Moore, Overland Park, Kansas

From: John O'Shea (johnoshea2 me.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--strop

Strop and strap are fascinating words. And poorly understood. It's a very tactile thing to strop a razor. I have done it, only as a dilettante, but enough to know there is a 'feel' to it as important as the action.

I watched many old men sharpen tools in a lawn mower and sharpening shop (Chappie's mower and Grinding Works) that had been in existence long before I had. They took off the blades, sharpened them on jigs especially created to grind them evenly, and sometimes stropped those edges. In my understanding, the strop was an adjunct to sharpening; done for the sole purpose of taking off ragged edges that protruded beyond the main sharpened line.

Hedge shears were always stropped. The oldest guy there once told me he still had his straight razor and it gave him a great shave after forty years of use (and sharpening). He sharpened it weekly, so he said. Then stropped it to make sure the edge was of-a-piece. If you saw bits of metal that had come off the strop, as I did, you saw what looked like miniature flat almost see-through bits. These would have cut the razor-user, messed up a hedge, or ruptured grass edges leaving brown ends.

If left in place, they were in danger of folding over, breaking off at inopportune moments. or of slicing in too deep. I want to go and re-read: A Museum of Early American Tools now. Eric Sloane. Great illustrations.

John O'Shea, Hong Kong

From: wlundycan (via Wordsmith Talk discussion forum)
Subject: Strop

Good morning from a tall-ship sailor. In the noun sense, strop also describes a loop of line usually spliced into a ring, although it can take several forms depending on use.

Here are instructions for laying up (building) a ring-shaped strop. Longer ones are quite useful for wrapping around objects so as to become handles; smaller ones are often used as grommets in large sails, for example.

This link shows a longer strop made from a short length of line with an eye splice at each end. Although the origin is indeed nautical, it has applications ashore as well.

Finally, on wooden blocks (i.e., pullies), a strop is wound around the block (image) to give added strength to the block itself. Look at how many there are on a traditionally-rigged tall ship next time you visit one.

wlundycan, Canada

From: David Mezzera (DaMezz comcast.net)
Subject: Thought for the Day

Your Thought for Today . . . human wandering through the zoo / what do your cousins think of you. -Don Marquis, humorist and poet (1878-1937). . . reminded me of a poster on the door of the Anthropology Department many years ago at San Francisco State University. It was a picture of a great ape with the caption "Am I my keeper's brother?"

David Mezzera, Vallejo, California

From: Carolanne Reynolds (gg wordsmith.org)
Subject: An Orangutan's Reading List

Joke circulating on the Internet:
One day the zoo-keeper noticed that the orangutan was reading two books: the Bible and Darwin's Origin of Species. Surprised, he asked the ape, "Why are you reading both those books?" "Well," said the orangutan, "I just wanted to know if I was my brother's keeper or my keeper's brother."

Carolanne Reynolds, West Vancouver, Canada

From: David Chong (dwkchong gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--concomitant
Def: adjective: Occurring concurrently, especially in an incidental way. noun: Something that occurs concurrently.

The word concomitant is a widely used word in healthcare, for instance by pharmacists to denote drug therapies that are being used at the same time, for various conditions ("indications") that require treatment. We pharmacists are always on the look-out for harmful interactions that could occur when drugs are used concomitantly by a patient.

David Chong, Wilayah Persekutuan, Malaysia

From: Matilda Giampietro (matildag charter.net)
Subject: This week's word usage

I am always interested in reading the usage quotations but really look forward to the thought for the day. What a great week! Two! Thank you!

Matilda Giampietro, Washington, Connecticut

No man has a prosperity so high or firm, but that two or three words can dishearten it; and there is no calamity which right words will not begin to redress. -Ralph Waldo Emerson, writer and philosopher (1803-1882)

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