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AWADmail Issue 533

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

From: Tom Zelinski (frtom thecapuchins.org)
Subject: munificent
Def: Extremely generous.

I am glad to say that there are lots of munificent people in my life: generous with time, money, talent, compassion, kindness.

Tom Zelinski, Marathon, Wisconsin

From: Lawrence N Crumb (lcrumb uoregon.edu)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--munificent

In 1961-62 I was a graduate student at General Theological Seminary in NYC. A previous dean, who came from a wealthy family, was always referred to as "our most munificent benefactor". Dean Hoffman had given, inter alia, a copy of the Gutenberg Bible, which was lent to the Vatican pavilion at the NY World's Fair of 1964. It was eventually sold to raise money for new books that would actually be read.

Lawrence Crumb, Eugene, Oregon

From: Laura Burns (laurab12 sbcglobal.net)
Subject: Fastidious
Def: 1. Hard to please; exacting. 2. Meticulous. 3. Excessively concerned about cleanliness, propriety, etc.

Brought to mind the old limerick:

There once was a sculptor named Phidias
Whose manners in art were invidious:
He carved Aphrodite
Without any nightie,
Which startled the ultra-fastidious.

Laura Burns, Galveston, Texas

From: Owen Simon (owensimon aol.com)
Subject: Fastidious

There's Henny Youngman's memorable line -- "Those two are a fastidious couple. She's fast and he's hideous."

Owen Simon, Sherman Oaks, California

From: Shakambharee Rajesh (shakambharee gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--imperious
Def: 1. Domineering; dictatorial. 2. Urgent; imperative.

Reminds me of the Imperius Curse which is one of the unforgivable curses in Harry Potter. The Imperius Curse forces the victim to obey the caster's commands.

Shakambharee Rajesh, Salem, India

From: Mike Stahl (yofoureyes msn.com)
Subject: Impeccable
Def: 1. Faultless or blameless. 2. Incapable of sin or error.

Around 35 years ago, sometime near my 19th birthday, I was still fairly new on the job as a busboy at an upscale restaurant.

The owner, who was onsite most every day, was fastidious about the table settings, among other things.

The folded napkin was to be perfectly centered in front of where the customer would be sitting, and utensils on each side equidistant from the napkin. All of the above had their bottom edges, or handle tips right at the edge of the table, and the water glass arked at the tip of the table knife.

One day, Owner exclaims emphatically, "Mike, these tables are IMPECCABLE!"

I had absolutely no clue as to what "impeccable" meant, but was concerned that if it contained "peck" in it, it might be bad.

Since this guy didn't show much emotion, it was hard to read him. So, I gave the safe answer of; "Well, I just do my best"

That evening, after the bus ride home, I excitedly grabbed the trusty ol' American Heritage, and looked up "impeccable".

Needless to say, I was quite relieved, and enjoyed my delayed pleasure at receiving a compliment!

Mike Stahl, Seattle, Washington

From: Gerald Pragier (gerry e-medcom.com)
Subject: This Week's Theme

Your fastidious attention this week to finding genuine quotations which employ today's as well as yesterday's word is impeccable, and will not have gone unnoticed by your readership.

Hoping that I do not offend your truly-admirable efforts by the following digression, I am reminded of a conundrum which always goes down well, especially with friends for whom English is not their native language.

Having asked them to generate a sentence in which the following three words appear -- defence, defeat and detail -- they make brave efforts, but never arrive at the "correct" answer:

De horse jumped over defence, first defeat, den detail.

With apologies to my British grammar school English teacher, may he rest in peace.

Gerald Pragier, Israel

Prolonged study of the English language leaves me with a conviction that nearly all the linguistic tendencies of the present day have been displayed in earlier centuries, and it is self-evident that the language has not bled to death through change. Vulgarity finds its antidote; old crudities become softened with time. Distinctions, both those that are useful and those that are burdensome, flourish and die, reflourish and die again. -Robert W. Burchfield, lexicographer (1923-2004)

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