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AWADmail Issue 68

February 17, 2002

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: Stories from the net

Identifying language and author by zipping a file:


From: Anatole Beck (beckATmath.wisc.edu)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--fetor

Thank you for this charming addition to my collection of or/id words. These are nouns ending in -or (or -our in UK and Canada) which are etymologically tied to adjectives ending in id. Thus, fetor and fetid. Some retain the close link, as in horror and horrid or torpor and torpid, while others move somewhat apart as in rancor and rancid, or even further as in valor and valid. Occasionally, I stumble on a new pair, often quite separate in meaning. I would appreciate some examples from the linguaphiles who might know examples I haven't seen.

From: W. Goodall (winstonrdATaol.com)
Subject: fetor

Foetida as a species epithet means foul smelling as (as you can imagine) Rosa foetida, or the very fetid wild pumpkin, Cucurbita foetidissima, as well as the Iris foetidissima, commonly called the stinking Gladwin.

From: Tom Porter (porter11ATaol.com)
Subject: A.Word.A.Day--nitid

I had come to the mistaken conclusion any word ending in -id somehow had to have an unpleasant connotation (and wondered why that should be, as -id ought to be a neutral suffix): acrid, fetid, flaccid, humid, lurid, pallid, putrid, sordid, stupid, tepid, tumid ....

What a treat to learn the word "nitid". Thank you!

From: Don Moseley (dmoseleyAThersheys.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--nitid

Does this make the phrase "Nitid Shining Armor" redundant?

From: Nicole Watkins-Campbell (campbelnATgov.ns.ca)
Subject: Re: haver

We have a CD of the Proclaimers with the song "500 miles," and part way through the song the lyrics are:

"If I get drunk yes I know I'm gonna be
I'm gonna be the man who gets drunk next to you
And if I haver yeah I know I'm gonna be
I'm gonna be the man who's havering to you."

I'm SO glad to know what havering is.

The song is actually much more romantic than the above snippet suggests. The refrain is "I would walk 500 miles and I would walk 500 more just to be the man who walked a thousand miles to fall down at your door."

We first heard it watching "Benny and Joon," an American movie starring Johnny Depp, Aidan Quinn, and Mary Stuart Masterson.

From: Zvi Goren (zgorenATactcom.co.il)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--haver

It is nice, Anu, but not only Haver, or Chaver or Khaver (the H, CH or KH) stands for the Hebrew 8th letter (which sounds like X or J in Spanish) meaning a friend, or member of a group, and comrade, as well wise, sage, and as the root for Hever a group, company (in the Old Testament it is usually for a group of evil men, joking men, but later also stands for the Commonwealth, League, the group of jury and group of trustees among others), even later became the root for company (social group like community, or economical-legal corporation) or to compose, to add.

From: Damon Siefert (siefertdATmsu.edu)
Subject: Scholastic spelling errors (Re: AWADmail Issue 67

The letter about "till" in AWADmail 67 made me think about something that surprised me recently. I'm a college student and I noticed with some amusement that my psychology professor repeatedly misspells 'extrovert' as 'extravert' (likewise with related words.) He's not ordinarily sloppy, and the context were slides in a computer presentation, so I concluded that he simply doesn't know the proper spelling of the word. Then, to my surprise, I discovered that my textbook repeatedly spells it the exact same way.

I'm sure the usual form is 'extrovert', like 'introvert'. Is this simply extremely poor editing or am I confused? And if 'extrovert' is the traditional form, why does it have an 'o' when the Latin prefix is 'extra-'?

    You've getting hot in your last sentence. The original term was "extravert", from Latin extra- (outside) + vertere (to turn). With influence from "introvert" it turned into "extrovert" and today "extravert" is rarely found outside the field of psychology. "Minuscule" is another word that went through similar transformation and developed a variant: "miniscule". -Anu

No one means all he says, and yet very few say all they mean, for words are slippery and thought is viscous. -Henry Brooks Adams, historian (1838-1918)

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