Wordsmith.Org: The Magic of Words: The Magic of Words


About | Media | Search | Contact  


Today's Word

Yesterday's Word



AWADmail Issue 62

December 23, 2001

A Weekly Compendium of Feedback on the Words in A.Word.A.Day and Other Interesting Tidbits about Words and Languages

From: Anu Garg (garg AT wordsmith.org)
Subject: AWADnews; interesting stories from the net

Latest issue of AWADnews is now available. It includes list demographics, stats, and other regular features. Also don't forget to vote on Email Address of the Year AWArD.

Interesting story from the net:
A Singular Curiosity Of English

From: Jim (indy_bonesATpowersurfr.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--occiput

It is interesting that with occiput (plural occipita), you should choose, as a second example of a strange plural form, the word atlas/atlantes. The occiput of the skull of vertebrate (backboned) animals possesses the articular joints that link the skull to the joints of the first vertebra of the spinal column, the atlas vertebra. Of course, two of these would be "atlantes". As in mythology, Atlas holds up the weight of the world/skull.

From: F.C. Zanger (fczangerAThotmail.com)
Subject: Opus and Octopus

As I learned a long time ago-- "Remember, forewarned is half an octopus!"

From: Cynthia Costell (flossyrabbitATearthlink.net)
Subject: Plurals

I learned that the plural of octopus is hexadecipus.

From: Anna Geyer (anna.geyerATgawler.sa.gov.au)
Subject: numen

Some friends and I went for a quick night trip a few weekends ago to the Coorong in South Australia - a long piece of incredible beach with skinny lagoon behind it. We arrived at about 3.30 am, walked the 3 kms to the beach, and experienced "numen". One of us described it as 'energy' one of us described it as 'power', one of us described it as 'presence of god'. Very different interpretations of the same experience. But this word is perfect!

From: Ann Buxbaum (abuxbaumATmsh.org)
Subject: the numen

This entry reminded me of an incident that occurred when I was studying philosophy in college eons ago and stayed up all night to write a paper on Kant. I delivered it to my very intimidating professor at 9:00 AM, with the following poem, which actually generated something close to a smile on his gloomy face:

If we could know the numen,
We wouldn't be quite human,
So Kant, in Prolegomenon
Explores naught but phenomenon.
It takes a master wizard
To know the cosmic gizzard,
To delve into sub-strata
Beneath perceptive data.
I guess that I'll just give in
And love the world I live in!

PS--I think I got a B+ on the paper, which was better than I deserved.

From: Cathy Meadows (poetess131ATaol.com)
Subject: Re: numen

The choice of the word numen for today is ironic: The Lord of the Rings comes out today, and in it is featured men called Numenorians. J.R.R. Tolkien fashioned a language out of Latin and Finnish and came up with the language of the elves. I thought that the definition of the word numen was very interesting and shed a new light on that part of the book.

From: Holly Eliot (heliotATmed.umich.edu)
Subject: Plurals

As a medical transcriptionist, irregular plurals are my stock in trade. Today's word, chrysalis, brought to mind other words ending in "is" that have unusual plurals: arthritis - arthritides, and epididymis - epididymides (say that fast!). Thanks for the daily psychotropy (food for the mind).

From: Alice Bixler (alicejbATworldnet.att.net)
Subject: plurals

In the dog world, the plurals of many breed names revert to the native language of the country of origin. The plural of Puli (a Hungarian breed) is Pulik and the Komondor is Komondorok. The Dutch Keeshond is referred to in the plural as the Keeshonden.

From: Bernard R. Cahill, MD (brcahillATmtco.com)
Subject: I lost a word

Several months ago there was a word that describes the people who have a disorder. This disorder is the problem that causes these people afflicted to forget the word they want to use. I am afflicted with this disorder, and I would like to find the word that I can't remember!

    The word is lethologica. It's derived from Greek letho- (forgetfulness) and logos (word). Recall that in Greek mythology, Lethe was one of the five rivers in Hades. Its water caused forgetfulness in those who drank it. Wouldn't it be nice to have it around on occasion? Now, doctor, why do I have a feeling I'm going to be asked this question again soon? -Anu

From: Anu Garg (garg AT wordsmith.org)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--aptronym

Aptronym galore ...

I thought you would want to add the two authors, Bruce Payne and David Swett, who wrote on the subject of industrial engineering. There is similarly a law firm in Southern California known as Payne & Fears. They represent employers in employment litigation.
-Henry Willis (hmwATssdslaw.com)

At the British Guards Depot (the training depot of all five regiments of the Brigade of Guards) in 1953, the chief medical officer was a Captain Blood; his assistant was a Lieutenant Butcher; the Dental Officer was a Major Savage. Coincidence? Or did someone at the War Office have a vicious and warped sense of humour!
-Ron Gilbertson (glbrtsnrATkingston.net)

One of my favorite aptronyms was our local ophthalmologist whose sign read "Dr. I. Doctor, Eye Doctor." Ivan Doctor was apparently a pretty good doctor, too. He was around for quite a while... eye doctoring.
-Barbara Hostetler (jahostetlerATjuno.com)

Some time ago there was a used car dealership in a local town, run by -- are you ready -- Karl Krook! I always wondered if this was really true or an assumed name.
-Barbara Winsloe (bewbewATkyibo.com)

At the Oscar Mayer plant in Madison WI the FDA's meat inspector is named Mr. Carrion.
-Mike (clawsonATpowerweb.net)

Here is one more to add to the list if it is not too late. Our local orthopedic surgeon's name is Dr Metzger, which translated from the German, means "butcher." I expect he takes a lot of teasing from the knowledgeable patients.
-Jane and Karl Weidhofer (jkwillowhillATvolcano.net)

Jared Wooley raises sheep one town over. My mother was tended by Dr. Bone, an orthopedist in Buffalo, NY. Way back in the '70s there were two urologists in Rochester, NY named Dr. Cocky and Dr. Wee.
-Bonnie L Bowen (bbowenATattglobal.net)

Another for your collection is Dr. David Toothaker: a dentist in Arkansas, with a practice named "Tooth Acres."
-Diane Hagerty (dianeATarsat.com)

My main doctor is Dr. Coffin - yes, really! - and AFAICT he's a good doctor.
-John Gilliver (john.gilliverATbaesystems.com)

During a particularly odd time of my life, I had occasion to visit three doctors: Dr. Fearing, Dr. Sorrow, and Dr. Pray! Eerie!
-Carol Dunsworth (cdunsworthATtowson.edu)

In our town of 14000 population (Bracebridge, Ontario, Canada), we have some good ones. All of these are true names. Gord Looker is my optometrist; Bruce Sparks is an electrician; Mr. Freeze is a heating contractor; Jordan Plank operates a custom sawmill; Jim Crook is a manager at a nearby Federal Penitentiary & his assistant is Susan Penwarden. I have many more on my list, but these are enough for today.
-Sean Kelly (seankellyATlrklaw.ca)

My wife has just received excellent treatment in hospital by Dr Death. He pronounces it Deeth, but somehow i think he should change either his name or his profession.
-Eric Shackle (eshackleATozemail.com.au)

And a retronym:

Saw one at the store this past week: Natural Foods.
-Jan Maher (jcmaherATaol.com)

Words fascinate me. They always have. For me, browsing in a dictionary is like being turned loose in a bank. -Eddie Cantor, actor (1892-1964)

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