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AWADmail Issue 712

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

Sponsor’s Message: When was the last time you woke up and decided all of a sudden to go on a serendipitous adventure? Last Sunday were upin atem early for a ‘Rally Around the Donut’ tour of a few local homemade fried-dough-with-holes-in-the-middle holes-in-the-wall, and had a 3-hour sugar and caffeine comatose hoot. We’d like to invite this week’s Email of the Week winner, Sam Long (see below), as well as anyone else who’s sweet-toothsome and ludic to read all about our holey-moley adventure. Give me some (more) sugar >

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

Hats off to the Circumflex
The New York Times

Census Data Inspires Pride for Pidgin, a Hawaii Language
Monterey Herald

From: Hannah Kruse (c-kruse t-online.de)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--posthumous

One of the nobles of the house of Reuss in my area was named Heinrich Posthumus because he was born after the death of his father. He helped a lot developing the area into a prosperous region back then.

Hannah Kruse, Gera, Germany

From: Jean-Luc Popot (jean-luc.popot ibpc.fr)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--posthumous

The French humorist Alphonse Allais, keener on earning reputation and riches before than after his death, chose to publish a collection of his works under the title Oeuvres anthumes. “Anthumous” does not seem to exist in English (yet). The word is of much wider potential application than “posthumous”. However, it suffers from the serious handicap that living authors tend to be in a better position to denounce abusive paternity assignments than dead ones.

Jean-Luc Popot, Paris, France

From: Bernard Jacobson (bernardijacobson comcast.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--megrim

The wonderful line in Thomas Nashe’s Summer’s Last Will and Testament that has come down to us as “Brightness falls from the air” probably results from a misprint. Nashe is believed to have originally written “Brightness falls from the hair,” which is much less magical and evocative.

Bernard Jacobson, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

From: Hugh Saxton (hugh.saxton googlemail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--megrim

The day after reading this entry we went to lunch in the River Cottage Canteen in our local town Winchester. On the menu, and much enjoyed by one of our friends, was Megrim Sole. My Chambers Dictionary has “megrim: the scaldfish”. And it says the scaldfish is the smooth sole Argoglossus laterna. I thought I had cracked it but was curious about the etymology and googled “megrim”. From this I learned that “The megrim or whiff (Lepidorhombus whiffiagonis) is a species of left-eyed flatfish in the family Scophthalmidae.” I then wondered what about the Argoglossus. But when I googled that it turned out that Chambers may have got it doubly wrong because it is Arnoglossus the Mediterranean scaldfish. As Sherlock Holmes would say “these are deep waters”.

Hugh Saxton, Stockbridge, UK

From: Willem Friesema (friesema gmail.com)
Subject: posthumous

As a youngster growing up in Grand Rapids, Michigan, I remember seeing advertising signs of Posthumous Funeral Home and chuckling at the appropriateness of the name.

Willem Friesema, Oak Park, Illinois

From: Fred Reinagel (freinagelr aim.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--lutestring

Interesting coincidence? The Chinese lute (pipa) was historically strung with silk strings. There is some evidence that silk strings were also used on European lutes and viols in medieval and early Renaissance eras.

Fred Reinagel, Tucson, Arizona

From: Ossie Bullock (osmundbullock aol.com)
Subject: messuage

Forty years ago, when I first started reading -- or trying to read -- old wills, ‘messuage’ caused me no end of confusion. I thought I must be mis-reading it -- was it something to do with ‘message’ (from the dead?)...or perhaps an elision of ‘mess of potage’??

Now it is an old friend, present in most testamentary documents -- in fact so common that it’s about the first word I look for. Seeing how the clerk writes it can often help interpret a difficult hand -- a sort of ‘Rosetta stone’.

Ossie Bullock, London, UK

Email of the Week Old’s Cool is Old School + Wit - we still call water fountains ‘bubblers’.)

From: Sam Long (gunputty comcast.net)
Subject: messuage

There’s the famous quotation from the Canadian scholar and philosopher Marshall McLuhan, in which he awarded a house and land to a psychic and spiritualist: “The medium’s is the messuage.”

Sam Long, Springfield, Illinois

From: Lynda Lunn (lmglunn yahoo.co.uk)
Subject: ‘n’s written as ‘u’s

My grandmother and others in the family always wrote their cursive ‘n’s to look like ‘u’s, ‘w’s like ‘m’s and vice versa. I, too, always have to be really careful when writing them.

Lynda Lunn, Bracknell, UK

From: Gregory Nelson (doitdiff earthlink.net)
Subject: messuage-alternate idea

Concerning “the misreading of the letter n as u”: Having set type by hand, my first thought was that a typesetter set the “n” upside down, so that it looks like a “u”. Easy to do, though the proofreader should have noticed the offset baseline.

Gregory Nelson, Milpitas, California

From: Shannon O’Hara (sohara28 hotmail.com)
Subject: Frontispiece

This word reminds me of one of my favorite episodes of Arrested Development. The Bluth family has traditionally participated in various living tableaux, recreations of famous paintings. Buster Bluth doesn’t want to participate because he’s embarrassed by the “frontispiece” he’s supposed to wear (photo). His nephew George Michael agrees to take Buster’s place in the tableau. Then he discovers that his costume for the role will be a faux muscle suit and the “frontispiece”, a cloth replica of Adam’s genitalia for Michelangelo’s “The Creation of Adam”. He scandalizes the art world by modestly deciding to wear a pair of cutoff shorts in the tableau.

Shannon O’Hara, Chicago, Illinois

From: Ron Betchley (emef2012 aol.com)
Subject: frontispiece

While on a visit to Cuba, I was surprised to find a Masonic Temple in the city of Cienfuegos. I wanted to share this information with fellow cruisers telling them how I recognized the logo, sign, sculpture thing above the doors. But what to call it? Opened my AWAD this morning and there it was, “frontispiece”. Thanks again.

Ron Betchley, Yarker, Canada

From: Dharam Khalsa (dharamkk2 windstream.net)
Subject: Anagrams of this week’s words

All five words below, plus this heading, are equal to the one anagram:
1. megrim
2. posthumous
3. lutestring
4. messuage
5. frontispiece
1. glumness
2. powers after death
3. smooth slip/gown material
4. house, outbuildings, plus the acreage
5. first image in novel; marquee
The text in the right box is an anagram of the text in the left.
Dharam Khalsa, Espanola, New Mexico

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

When you’re trying to banish her megrims,
Try ice in a tall glass of Seagrams.
Tell jokes, make her snicker,
But liquor is quicker.
It helps you to skip all the prelims.

-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

A Roman who was distraught said,
“I wish that my folks named me Fred,
Now I am burdened thus,
Since I’m named Posthumous,
And people all think that I am dead.”

-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

Two silkworms who wed in the Spring
Spent all summer doing their thing.
By the end of the Fall
They’d produced all in all,
Forty square metres of lutestring.

-Oliver Butterfield, Kelowna, Canada (obutterfield shaw.ca)

Weird coven that lived in old messuage
held contest to see who was best witch.
Strange potions they mixed,
and they played many tricks
until one of them won. Can you guess which?

-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

Have you read the new blockbuster press release?
It is proof that God’s miracles never cease.
And here is what’s odd --
It’s not a façade;
It’s the real him -- Donald’s new frontispiece.

-Oliver Butterfield, Kelowna, Canada (obutterfield shaw.ca)

From: Phil Graham (pgraham1946 cox.net)
Subject: Puns

“Don’t overfeed your pet. Megrim.”

When a relative has posthumous grieve a while.

“I couldn’t eat another bite,” she said, while lutestring her gossamer belt.

Illegal immigration is a messuage we must solve.

The thief gave the stolen gun to a fence to frontispiece.

Phil Graham, Tulsa, Oklahoma

The true alchemists do not change lead into gold; they change the world into words. -William H. Gass, writer and professor (b. 1924)

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