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AWADmail Issue 725

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

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

Five Lost Languages Rediscovered in Massachusetts

Everyday Words That Make You Go ‘Ew’
The New York Times

Puzzling for Learning: A Crossed Stick, a Cross Tick, Acrostic

From: Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)
Subject: Results of Guess the Theme contest

What was common in last week’s words (senescence, tromometer, happenchance, natant, succus)? Each letter appears an even number of times in a word. You can say the letters ‘reappear’.

More than 900 readers took part in the contest. The winners are:

The first person to send the correct answer: Allen K. Robinson from Charlottesville, Virginia (djallenk gmail.com)

A reader randomly selected from all correct answers: Linda Yechiel from Rishon LeZion, Israel (englishwithlinda gmail.com)

They receive their choice of a signed copy of any of my books or the word game One Up!.

I wrote a Perl program to find words with doubled letters. Only about 0.06 percent of words in the English language have this property. But most of even those few words didn’t make the cut for AWAD for one or more reasons: Either they are everyday words (appall, reappear, pullup, teammate), show this property in a plural form (hotshots, intestines, sniffinesses) or non-infinitive or other suffixed/prefixed forms (arraigning, appeases, unprosperousness), or they are too obvious (murmur, lulu, redder), etc.

Thanks to everyone for participating! Read on for some of the other answers:

DAY 1: senescence

Most common: Words that use only one of the vowels.
Such words are called univocalics and we had a contest about them in the past. Check it out for some delightful reading.

Also common: Words with letters that contain neither ascenders or descenders.

That’s correct, but can you say it in English?: Each word this week will contain n number of letters, where n is an even number and the word contains n/2 pairs of identical letters.
Name omitted

Are you missing something?: All consonants are used twice.
Names omitted

Can you simplify it?: All consonants and vowels appear in pairs.
Names omitted

Huh?: If you scramble up the letters, you can still spell the same word.
Name omitted

Huh??: Are they all botanical words?
Name omitted

How?: The words are related to the movie “Beetlejuice”.
Name omitted

DAY 2: senescence, tromometer

Words having to do with Japan -- aging and prone to earthquakes.
-Michael Ott, Iowa City, Iowa (otterm gmail.com)

The words in this week’s theme have two pairs of the same two letters:
s EN esc EN ce
tr OM OM eter
-Bruce G. Barrett, Orange Beach, Alabama (bgbama mediacombb.net)

DAY 3: senescence, tromometer, happenchance

Words are connected in that they all “lost” their fights against other words with the same meaning and hence fell into disuse (e.g. happenchance -> happenstance, tromometer -> seismometer).
-Maciej Lipiński, Poland (lipinski.mt gmail.com)

Each successive word contains one more unique letter than the preceding one:
Senescence = 4 (S, E, N, C)
Tromometer = 5 (T, R, O, M, E)
Happenchance = 6 (H, A, P, E, N, C)
-Tom Handel, Wilmington, North Carolina (thandel verizon.net)

This week’s words do not have anything in common; however, the thoughts at the bottom of each page were said by people whose birthday was the same as the day the thoughts were quoted on your “Word of the Day” page.
-Name omitted

DAY 4: senescence, tromometer, happenchance, natant

The words have a vowel in each syllable.
-Name omitted

Trying too hard to fit the curve: All the words are nouns formed from other words denoting acts/states of change, fluidity, movement.
-Name omitted

DAY 5: senescence, tromometer, happenchance, natant, succus

Trying too hard to fit the curve too: The words describe the life cycle of a man from conception to old age. We are a happenchance fertilization of an egg, float in the womb, are born via a ‘tremor’ and grow old from there.
-Name omitted

The words have no el (noel).
-Raymond Schlabach, Heredia, Costa Rica (crdutchman gmail.com)
Well, that’s true, but these words don’t have 14 other letters either (b, d, f, g, etc.). And it’s not Dec yet.

Honorable mention:
When I saw the words this week, I had a gut feeling (a murmur in the intestines if you prefer) that I could figure it out. I was sitting in the noon sun with Mama and Papa, going gradually redder and redder, and I almost cracked it. The brain sees patterns everywhere, of course, as it appeases the human desire for order, and I thought maybe I should get help from a teammate once I got to the office. But Otto the Tartar was on holiday in the Caucasus mountains, Lulu was at Lake Titicaca; Anna and Vivienne are hotshots; Barbra is a tattletale who’s always arraigning people for timewasting, and Emmet is the kind of kook who comes to work in a tutu and was once caught doing the deed with a pawpaw. We haven’t heard a peep from Mimi, who’s yet to reappear following that incident with the pompom. It was a bit of a kick in the testes to realise I wasn’t going to be able to enter after all, but my hopes were dead as a dodo and I guess I’ll just have to wait until Anu does one of his signings in the UK instead.
-Ollie Haffenden, Toot-ing, London, UK (oliver.haffenden bbc.co.uk)

I was struck by how many different ways the same thing can be said. A few examples:

Every letter in each word has a “twin” elsewhere in the word.
-Frank Harris, Marietta, Georgia (mohaha1052 yahoo.com)

They are anagrams of another word twice. That is, “senescence” is “scene” twice, rearranged.
-Joe Fusion, Portland, Oregon (jfusion gmail.com)

The words of this week can be split into two halves with each part having exactly the same letters.
-Elango Ravi Rose, Chennai, India (elango.regum gmail.com)

I’m seeing double! Two of everything..and in the case of senescence, double double vision!
-Cynthia O’Connor, Sherman, Connecticut (cynthianewlin2 gmail.com)

Words in which each letter has its own double.
-Matt McNally, Grahamstown, South Africa (mattmcn telkomsa.net)

None of the words has a lonely letter.
-Scott Swanson, Pendroy, Montana (harview montana.com)

The words contain a small number of different letters, but the words become longer by repeating each of those letters one time.
-Scott Robbins, Spartanburg, South Carolina (scott.robbins converse.edu)

For every word, for each letter in the word, there is a corresponding equal occurrence of that letter elsewhere in the word.
-Peter Cirigliano, Sunnyvale, California (peterc007 aol.com)

Tthhiiss wweeeekk’ss tthheemmee iiss wwoorrddss ffoorrrmmeedd eexxcclluussiivveellyy wwiitthh lleetteerr ppaaiirrss.
-Susan Peck, Albuquerque, New Mexico (speck peak.org)

A fair number of readers sent the answer that the words had doubled vowels and as many suggested that the words had doubled consonants. If you are one of them, don’t feel bad. It happens to all of us. The story goes that Newton, one of the greatest minds in history, had two holes made in his door: one for his cat and a smaller one for the kitten.

From: Jeanette Horn (jeanetteconstancehorn gmail.com)
Subject: Senescence

My introduction to “senescence” was in one of Ogden Nash’s delightful verses:

Senescence begins
And middle age ends
The day your descendants
Outnumber your friends.

Jeanette Horn, Lanseria, South Africa

From: George Simons (diversophy gmail.com)
Subject: senescence

Now that I have reached the age of 25 (that’s in Celsius... in Fahrenheit, I’m 78), I have become concerned about the depletion implied in “senior” as it is used today rather than the fullness of age and dignity in earlier usages and derivatives. I find it worth noting that in France where I live someone has coined the term “plenior”, which is a more satisfying replacement.

George Simons, Mandelieu-la-Napoule, France

From: Pam Krumm (pkrumm1 gmail.com)
Subject: senescence

I was speaking with my 15-year-old grandson this morning about yesterday’s word, senescence. I asked him if he knew what it meant and he asked me to use it in a senescence for him.

Pam Krumm, Newberg, Portland

From: Dr. G. Nadarajan (dr.g.nadarajan gmail.com)
Subject: natant

Yes as medical students in biochemical labs, we were instructed to “drain the supernatant fluid off.”

Dr. G. Nadarajan, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

From: Robert Wasko (rmwasko aol.com)
Subject: succus

As I was eating couscous and mahimahi with tartar sauce I began to murmur to myself what a dodo I had been not to see that many reduplicatives contain exact pairs of letters as do this week’s words. My face turned redder when I realized that some palindromes also have exact pairs, like today’s word succus.

Robert Wasko, Brooklyn, New York

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

The anagram to the right is comprised of the letters in all five words below, plus this heading:
1. senescence
2. tromometer
3. happenchance
4. natant
5. succus
1. life phase when getting to the end (of cash!)
2. instrument to detect earth’s rolls and upheavals
3. a “perhaps” occurrence
4. swimming
5. secretion (stomach bile)
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

“A prescription for antidepressants
Will someday be good for senescence,”
King David foretold
When he’d grown soft and old,
“But for now bring me girl adolescents.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

The woman, reclined on the chaise
Looked flushed from a touch of malaise.
“I need a thermometer,
Perhaps a tromometer,
The earth moved last night.” (So she says).
-Judith Marks-White, Westport, Connecticut (joodth snet.net)

‘Cross a crowded room or at a dance,
where the mood and the music enhance
every impulse romantic,
a question pedantic:
Cupid’s arrow or mere happenchance?
-Zelda Dvoretzky, Haifa, Israel (zeldahaifa gmail.com)

If asked in a room for consent,
Who was the great queen of natant,
Esther Williams, they’d say,
In a water ballet,
Her musicals were heaven sent.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

Donald Trump is alarmingly raucous,
And intent upon wooing his caucus.
But those in the know
Simply wish that he’d go,
Before he depletes us of succus.
-Judith Marks-White, Westport, Connecticut (joodth snet.net)

From: Phil Graham (pgraham1946 cox.net)
Subject: Once a pun a time

To Jahweh, the odor of a burning sacrifice was a senescence.

When his mother-in-law shows up, dad gets so mad he wants to tromometer.

General H.H. Arnold’s trips to Las Vegas could be called Hap’n’chance.

Irish Priest: “I natant remind ye ‘tis a sin to swim on the Sabbath.”

A black hole would fluidly succus in.

Phil Graham, Tulsa, Oklahoma

A word in a dictionary is very much like a car in a mammoth motorshow -- full of potential, but temporarily inactive. -Anthony Burgess, author (1917-1993)

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