Wordsmith.org: the magic of words


About | Media | Search | Contact  


Today's Word

Yesterday's Word



AWADmail Issue 639

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

Sponsor's message: Summer is an action verb, and it's not past tense yet. This is a last call-to-action for all you tan double-domes out there, especially this week's Email of the Week winner, Ezra Wegbreit (see below). Purchase One Up! -- The Wicked/Smart Word Game -- a real steal at $15 (with FREE shipping), and we'll throw in a jokey lagniappe valued at "priceless" -- since we all know you can't buy brains. Today only.

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

Saving Languages Through Korean Soap Operas
The Atlantic

Cookies, Caches, and Cows
The Economist

Oy Vey: Yiddish Has a Problem
The Atlantic

Saving A French Dialect That Once Echoed In The Ozarks
National Public Radio

From: Carol Williamson (williamson sapo.pt)
Subject: modular (Re: fissiparous)

After reading your description of modular cellphones, my first thought was granddad's axe, which is at least a hundred years old. It's just had another new handle and someone had to replace the head a few years ago, but it's still the same axe.

Carol Williamson, Algarve, Portugal

From: Stephen Phillips (stephen_l_phillips talk21.com)
Subject: Your cell phone does not walk a dog?

WHAT? You have not downloaded a dog-walking app?

Stephen Phillips, Wrexham, UK

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

This reminds me of words including xylo-, from the Greek for wood. Back in the late 1960s there was a lighthearted article in the New Yorker about how American place names are Latinized for the official name of RC dioceses. The diocese of Boise is Diocesis Xylopolitanae, using a Latinized form of the Greek for wood city, since Boise comes from the French word for wood.

Lawrence Crumb, Eugene, Oregon
PS: The bishop of Fort Wayne-South Bend is Episcopus Wayne Castrensis-South Bendensis, a rhyming mouthful.

From: M Henri Day (mhenriday gmail.com)
Subject: xerophilous

And I who thought that this adjective rather applied to office workers who tended to hang around the Xerox machine (which, of course, made dry copies) and gossip !... ;-)

M Henri Day, Stockholm, Sweden

From: Yi-Chuan Ching (yching005 gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--dactyloscopy

It's not a digital rectal exam?

Yi-Chuan Ching, Honolulu, Hawaii

From: Jane Brandes (janebrandes gmail.com)
Subject: an answer to your question

The root -parous meaning 'bearing' is a suffix also used to designate the bearing of a child. By attaching a numeric connotation, doctors have a shorthand way of referring to a woman who is or has given birth to her first child, for example, as a primapara.

I was always amused at the use of the word 'elderly' in the term 'elderly primapara' which was applied to a woman who will or had given birth past the age of 35. The pregnancy of an elderly primapara was considered at somewhat higher risk and warranted closer attention.

Jane Brandes, Larchmont, New York

From: Rich Trapp (g1dfly yahoo.com)
Subject: Plutomania

Plutomania: The consistent adoration of the planet we grew up with and a refusal to re-classify it because some eggheads got the decimal place wrong. Fight the power. Pluto forever.

Rich Trapp

Email of the Week (Courtesy One Up! -- Playing mind games is wicked fun!)
From: Ezra Wegbreit (ezra.wegbreit gmail.com)
Subject: Combining forms and new words

Each time you do this theme of words made from combining forms, I try to guess what the other four words of the week are. If I had looked up all of the combinations this week, I could have obtained all four words, as none of the other combinations are dictionary words. However, given that these are combining forms, most if not all of the constructed words sound like real words.

I present you with a list of these constructed words and a definition for each. Note: in some instances I slightly modified the combining form to make nouns rather than adjectives.

fissiology the study of cracks/divisions (in rocks, institutions, or society)
fissimania / fissiphile the love of splitting hairs; one who loves to do so
fissiscope device (physical or rhetorical) used for splitting hairs
xeroparous giving birth in a dry place
xerology the study of deserts and other dry places
xeroscope a device to measure the lack of humidity in the air (opposite of a hygrometer)
xeromania obsession with keeping things dry
teleoparous the state of having just discovered one's purpose in life
teleomania / teleophilous strong investment in the idea of a higher purpose to life
teleoscope a text that one studies in order to determine one's purpose in life
dactyloparous a surface upon which fingers of frost form
dactylology the study of sleight-of-hand tricks or trickery in general
dactylophilous / dactylomania the love of (or obsession with) sleight-of-hand tricks or trickery in general
plutoparous describes a get-rich-quick venture (successful or not)
plutology the study of wealth and how to obtain it
plutophile someone who likes wealth or wealthy people; someone who likes Mickey Mouse's pet dog
plutoscope a device for seeing the stock market; a telescope aimed at the dwarf planet Pluto

Mayhap someone reading this email will see these words and use them in print, and then they will become real words.

Ezra Wegbreit, Attleboro, Massachusetts

Language is as real, as tangible, in our lives as streets, pipelines, telephone switchboards, microwaves, radioactivity, cloning laboratories, nuclear power stations. -Adrienne Rich, writer (1929-2012)

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