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AWADmail Issue 575

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

From: Bonnie Todis (todisb cbirt.org)
Subject: Mumpsimus

When my younger cousins were small they were big fans of the TV series Rawhide, starring Clint Eastwood as Rowdy Yates. They ran around singing the theme song loudly and enthusiastically, especially the chorus, "Head 'em up, move 'em out, rowhiiiiii!" When my mother and I pointed out that it was not "rowhi" but "rawhide" my cousin Beth thought a moment, then informed us, "We say 'rowhi'." Ever since, whenever my mom and I encounter situations in which people stick to their misguided habit or principles in the face of disconfirming evidence, we look at each other and say, "We say 'rowhi."

Bonnie Todis, Eugene, Oregon

From: Adam Laceky (alaceky msn.com)
Subject: Mumpsimus

When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean -- neither more nor less.

You see, I'm a Humptidumptimumpsimus.

Adam Laceky, Helena, Montana

From: Steven Stine (scstine1672 gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--mumpsimus

I know an old joke about a mumpsimus.

A psychiatrist was working at a mental hospital.* One patient just sat in a chair all day. The psychiatrist asked him why he didn't do anything. "I'm dead," the patient replied.

The psychiatrist asked the patient, "Do dead men bleed?"

The patient said, "When you're dead your heart doesn't pump, so you can't bleed. No, dead men don't bleed."

The psychiatrist said, "Say it again." The patient repeated, "Dead men don't bleed."

The psychiatrist made him say it ten more times. Then the psychiatrist went to the lab and got a lancet (the tool that is used to prick the finger for a small blood sample). He pricked the patient's finger and of course a drop of blood appeared.

The patient stared at his finger in astonishment, and then said, "So... dead men do bleed."

(*That's a clue just how old this joke is.)

Steven Stine, Highland Park, Illinois

From: Andrew Haynes (andrewhaynes live.co.uk)
Subject: Mumpsimus

Monday's word of the day, mumpsimus, was supposedly derived from an illiterate 16th century priest's corruption of the Latin sumpsimus (first person plural indicative of sumere, to pick up). When this story (true or not) came to light it led to the word sumpsimus acquiring several new meanings: (1) a strictly correct expression that takes the place of an incorrect but more common expression; (2) adherence to or persistence in using a strictly correct term, holding to a precise practice, etc, as a rejection of an erroneous but more common form; and (3) a person who is obstinate or zealous about such strict correctness.

Andrew Haynes, London, UK

Email of the Week (Brought to you by One Up! -- Have yourself a s&y blast.)

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

My memories of Hobbledehoy stretch back to my years growing up in the UK where I can clearly remember my father bouncing me on his knee to the words of the old nursery rhyme "This is the Way the Ladies Ride". There were several verses, with the bouncing increasing in intensity, and sheer toddler fun with each verse. As far as I recall, it began with "This is the way the ladies ride...trit trot, trit trot, trit trot". I think that the gentlemen galloped, but the game reached its zenith with "This is the way the farmers ride.... Hobbledehoy, Hobbledehoy, Hobbledehoy, and ............ down into the ditch, at which point the knees suddenly parted, through which I was bounced with many shrieks of appreciation, but of course, I was always caught just in time before reaching the floor.

We, and my father carried on the same tradition with our own sons, but the game really needed an experienced Grandfather to provide the right degree of excitement and anticipation, when the song arrived at the Hobbledehoy verse!

Helen Colvin, Carlisle, Canada

From: Monroe Thomas Clewis (mtc265 yahoo.com)
Subject: makebate

Makebate: forefather (or mother) of Internet trolls. Only the costumes change. Human nature remains the same.

Monroe Thomas Clewis, Kunming, China

From: Srinivas Shastri (shastrix gmail.com)
Subject: bellygod

For me, a bellygod is the big-bellied Hindu god Ganesh.

Srinivas Shastri, Bangalore, India

From: Sarah Viaggi (sarah.viaggi gmail.com)
subject: A.Word.A.Day

My dad told me that everything in life is either educational or entertaining. If I wasn't having fun I had damn well better be learning something. I never figured out why it had to be one or the other. With A.Word.A.Day, it's both. Bless you!

Sarah Viaggi, San Jose, California

Language is a form of human reason, which has its internal logic of which man knows nothing. -Claude Levi-Strauss, anthropologist (1908-2009)

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