Wordsmith.org: the magic of words


About | Media | Search | Contact  


Today's Word

Yesterday's Word



AWADmail Issue 553

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

From: Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)
Subject: Interesting stories from the net

Dickens, Austen, and Twain, Through a Digital Lens
The New York Times

Bearing Arms Against a Rabbit
The Web of Language

From: Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)
Subject: Overmorrow

'Day after tomorrow' comes up so often that it makes sense to have a single word to describe the concept. And it does, in many languages spoken across the globe. Read on to see what it's called around the world.

This exact concept is found in Norwegian as well. "Overimorgen" or "Overigår" for "the day before yesterday".
-Hanne Fagerjord Karlsen, Gjøvik, Norway (hmkarlsen gmail.com)

It was interesting to learn that there is such a word as "overmorrow" in English -- I thought it didn't exist! In Swedish we have the equivalent "övermorgon" - a common word meaning the day after tomorrow.
-Helena Ridelberg, Stockholm, Sweden (helena.ridelberg comhem.se)

Reading this week's focus on words with no English equivalent brought a Mongolian word immediately to mind. As a Peace Corps Volunteer in Mongolia I occasionally taught English. Mongolian has a single word for yesterday, today, and tomorrow as in English. But they also have a single word for "day after tomorrow" (nogoodor). My Mongolian friends and I settled for "tomorrow tomorrow".
You can imagine my surprise as I scrolled down to see your first selection was the word I thought was missing: overmorrow. I'll be heading back to Mongolia soon and am delighted I can now provide a one-word equivalent for nogoodor.
-Judy Gates, Marblehead, Massachusetts (judyjane.gates gmail.com)

The French word for the day after tomorrow is après-demain, literally, "after-tomorrow". Le lendemain is the day after some event, while le surlendemain is two days after.
-Rudy Chelminski, Fontainebleau, France

'Overmorrow' is indeed unusual in English, but its equivalent is perfectly common in Afrikaans, one of the official languages in South Africa. 'Tomorrow' in Afrikaans is 'more' (pronounced 'more-a') and 'oormôre' (above or over tomorrow) is used in everyday language for the rather clumsy 'the day after tomorrow', as is 'eergister' -- 'before yesterday'.
-Sally Stretch, Durban, South Africa (sestretch mweb.co.za)

I am Czech (living in the USA). Czech has "pozítří" which is derived from the word "zítra" (tomorrow) and means the day after tomorrow. "Po" is a frequently found prefix which means "after".
-Zora Dunn, Indianapolis, Indiana (zoradunn1 yahoo.com)

In Yiddish we have ibermorgn, used all the time.
-Bernice Colman, Venice, California, (beecolman earthlink.net)

In Hindi, the word for day after tomorrow is parso (परसों).
-Suneeta Padwan, Gurgaon, India (suneeta.padwan gmail.com)

I was delighted to see this word, which positively verifies that English is a Germanic language (no mystery of course). I remember a German drinking song, even though I don't drink, that talks about being "snockered" pretty much all the time: "Heute blau, und morgen blau, und übermorgen weider!" (video) Literally, word for word, "Today drunk, tomorrow drunk, and day-after-tomorrow again!" Now I know that English has, up on a dusty shelf, the same word, with the same structure. And with that, I pull the door to for this message :-)
-Terry Lindsay, Humble, Texas (tlindsay eagle.org)

German for day after tomorrow is "übermorgen". By the way, we sometimes even use "überübermorgen" for the second day after tomorrow, so *overovermorrow*?
-Uwe Finken, Rheda-Wiedenbrück, Germany (uwe.finken gmx.de)

Even with its relatively small vocabulary, Hebrew also has a word for the day after tomorrow -- macharotyim. (מחרתיים). Like its English counterpart, it's derived from the word for tomorrow -- "mah-CHAR" (מחר) -- but would deconstruct literally as "a pair of tomorrows".
-Richie Sevrinsky, Tel Aviv, Israel (sevrinsky gmail.com)

Many Dutch speakers must have felt familiar with Monday's AWAD. From the attic of the English language into a frequently used Dutch word: we do say "over-morgen" when we mean "in two days" just as we say "eergisteren" when we mean "the day before yesterday". Surrounding languages seem to merge such notions into one word too: beautiful "dopodomani" from Italian or "übermorgen" from German...
-Benoit Van Hecke, Hasselt, Belgium (benoit.vanhecke aperam.com)

I've been studying English for about 10 years now and I've really been longing for a single word to address the day after tomorrow. In Russian, which is my mother tongue, there is one -- "послезавтра" (the transliteration looks like "poslezavtra") Therefore, I suggest organising a great Internet flash-mob to support the word "overmorrow", which is really easy both to pronounce and to spell. Let's make everyone aware of them, posting info on them in Facebook, Twitter, and every other popular social network. And, most importantly, let's start using them in everyday life. Why leave them to slowly die in ancient books and 100-year-old articles?
-Eugene Trukhachev, Moscow, Russia (et61195 gmail.com)

In Japanese the equivalent in everyday use (not obscure) is asatte.
-Wayne Schafer, Catonsville, Maryland (waschafer gmail.com)

In Italy if you're trying to get some work done on your house you might ask a worker: "When can you begin?" And he might well answer "Dopodomani" -- literally, after tomorrow. I used to assume that person would then show up on the overmorrow but quickly came to realize that all he was promising was that he'd come sometime after tomorrow -- exactly when was anyone's guess. When he showed up ready for work about two weeks later I began to have a sense of what dopodomani means and have since come to appreciate the vagueness built in to many Italian words and expressions.
-Bruce Adgate, Spoleto, Italy (rossgate gmail.com)

From: Hope Moore (hmoore tuc.com)
Subject: Rhwe

Just a quick response to the Tsonga word Rhwe. I ran the word by a friend who is a Tsonga translator from South Africa (Tsonga is his native language). He told me he is unfamiliar with that word. So, A.Word.A.Day, you are correct.

Hope Moore, Chicago, Illinois

From: Ian Gordon (awad ipgordon.me.uk)
Subject: Overmorrow

I wonder -- would the film The Day After Tomorrow have achieved better or worse ticket sales if it had instead been titled "Overmorrow".

Ian Gordon, Surrey, UK

From: Craig Herold (cherold7 msn.com)
Subject: overmorrow

Well, logically then today must be the undermorrow.

Craig Herold, Wayne, Indiana

From: Jon Vegard Lunde (jonvlunde lillehammer.online.no)
Subject: Words not in English There is one very common word in Norwegian which does not exist in English, French, German, or Spanish. It is døgn. The word means a span of 24 hours. The other languages have to say "24 hours" or "a day and a night". Swedish (düger) and Danish (dügn), and I suppose Icelandic, have corresponding words.

Jon Vegard Lunde, Lillehammer, Norway

Please see nychthemeron.
-Anu Garg

From: Serge Liberman (siliberman ausdoctors.net)
Subject: Filipendulous

Very reminiscent of the story of Damocles's sword in 4th-century BCE Syracuse which hung by a single hair of a horse's tail over his head.

Serge Liberman, Glen Iris, Australia

From: Helen Colvin (tcolvin sympatico.ca)
Subject: filipendulous

Gardeners will recognise the term filipendulous from the Meadowsweet plant which is also known by its Latin name Filipendula. It is actually a tall, non-drooping plant with pink flowers, but derives its name from its root tubers which sometimes hang together by a drooping (Latin pendulus) and fine fibrous thread (Latin filum).

Helen Colvin, Carlisle, Canada

From: William Tavolga (tavolga aol.com)
Subject: Filipendulous

Filipendula is a genus of perennial herbs in the Rosaceae family. There is a species that is native to the Caucasus region, whose common name in Russian is "tavolga". The stems possess a particularly tough fiber which the original Cossacks used to braid into their whips ("knut" in Russian). These were fearsome weapons, and back in tsarist days, they were used in contests. A cossack would come galloping across the main square of the Kremlin, and, at full speed, attempt to split a peasant in half with his whip. The supply of peasants was ample. There are sayings in Russian extolling the toughness of the tavolga.

William Tavolga, Sarasota, Florida

From: David Davis (jerseydavis gmail.com)
Subject: filipendulous

I have been a reader of AWAD for a long time, and never have I felt like this. I'm in love with this word. It's like seeing Christie Brinkley on the cover of Sports Illustrated when I was a teenager. I don't even need to use it -- I just carry it around with me all day. Filipendulous!

David Davis, Scotch Plains, New Jersey

From: Chris Weaver (chrweave gmail.com)
Subject: armscye

From the definition, it would seem that an armscye is an opportune place to attach a maunch, or medieval heraldic sleeve. Either that or you attach nothing so that you can show off your muscular definition when arms wrestling wyverns.

Chris Weaver, Phoenix, Arizona

From: David Ferrier (ferrierd shaw.ca)
Subject: armscye

This word reminded me of a certain Bible passage that ranks high on the obscurity scale:
"Thus saith the Lord GOD; Woe to the women that sew pillows to all armholes..."
Ezekiel 13:18 (King James Version)

David Ferrier, Edmonton, Canada

From: Dagny Haug (fiberbabe gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--armscye

As a lifelong stitcher (please don't call me a "sewer", homographs can be so cruel...), I've known the term armscye since I started making clothing. Seeing its etymology brings to mind when I taught English in Korea. Students always had difficulty with the words "wrist" and "ankle" because the Korean words for those body parts translated literally to "hand neck" and "foot neck". All of it makes a certain kind of sense.

Dagny Haug, Portland, Oregon

From: LukeJavan8 (via Wordsmith Talk online forum)
Subject: armscye

What Larry the Cable Guy uses as dress apparel.

LukeJavan8, Omaha, Nebraska

from: Barbara Malaisé (noodle mweb.co.za)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--overmorrow

I am fascinated to see that you have written nak*d! Why? Is the word unacceptably rude? I am a detester of the politically correct, and I find this ridiculous. In South Africa, in the newspapers and on the radio, for example, people seem to avoid the word "died". Instead, we hear about a terrible car accident in which three people "passed on", or, even worse, "passed"!! Grrrr! It infuriates me. Anyway, thank you for your always thought-provoking A.Word.A.Day.

Barbara Malaisé, Durban, South Africa

We want to make sure AWAD goes through email filters at various corporations and schools that do not want their staff and students corrupted by such words. On our website we publish without any asterisks.
-Anu Garg

Email of the Week (Courtesy One Up! -- Chill Après-Ski)

From: August Graham (august92 hotmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--overmorrow

There is a word in Swedish which has (according to what is claimed) no equivalent in any other language. The Swedes are very proud of their word lagom which is defined as 'just enough', or sometimes translated as 'a moderate amount', however both those translations kind of miss the beauty of the word which is that it means not necessarily JUST enough, more it has the connotation that it could be a little bit more or less than is needed - i.e. not necessarily the correct amount, but close to it.

This word, as Swedes have become more international, less Christian, and less nationalistic, has come to be a symbol of Sweden and is now vital for Swedes' self-image. They now see themselves as the nation of 'lagom' - living comfortably and avoiding excess, with a Volvo, a dog, and a safe (if not brilliantly paid) job.

August Graham, Liverpool, UK

From: Larry Ray (callball bellsouth.net)
Subject: onomastics

I spent three years in Italy as a young man, and was delighted to learn that not only are birthdays celebrated, but on your onomastico, or Saint's day you also get presents and a party. Traditionally children are named after a chosen saint at Baptism. And in Italy every day of the year celebrates the feast of one or more saints. My name, Larry, derived from Lawrence, is Lorenzo in Italian. Feb 2nd, groundhog's day, is my birthday. So I was puzzled and delighted to get all sorts of greetings and invitations to dinner on August 10th which is the day when San Lorenzo, or St. Lawrence of Rome is venerated. 55 years later, I still get phone calls and cards from Italy on my onomastico!

Larry Ray, Gulfport, Mississippi

From: Carlos Cueto (ccuetor941 hotmail.com)
Subject: onomastic

This word in Spanish means your birthday. As it was customary to use the saint's name of the day you were born to celebrate your birthday, onoma refers to the name of the saint rather than you per se. Some Latin American countries still keep this custom, as does Greece and some cities in Spain. In fact here in Peru we refer to your birthday as your "Saint" instead of your birthday.

Carlos Cueto, Lima, Peru

From: Candas Jane Dorsey (woodendoor truthandfiction.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--onomastics

My mother, Marie Dorsey, was, before her retirement in 1980, the Geographical Names Officer for the province of Alberta, Canada. Her research-based work in onomastics set a standard for geographical feature naming across Canada. She is now 97 and still telling the stories of her career as a toponomyst (place-names expert: the subset of onomastics having to do with place names is toponymy).

There is a journal of naming-related research in Canada called Onomastica Canadiana which has some wonderful research articles. My partner, Timothy J. Anderson, a playwright, adapted a journal article "The Etymology of 'Iroquois': 'killer people' in a Basque-Algonquian pidgin or an echo of Norse Irland it mikla 'Greater Ireland'?" into a successful play.

Candas Jane Dorsey, Edmonton, Canada

Words are a commodity in which there is never any slump. -Christopher Morley, writer (1890-1957)

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

© 1994-2023 Wordsmith