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Nov 12, 2017
This week’s theme
Unusual verbs

This week’s words

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Relative usage over time

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Toponyms from fiction

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AWADmail Issue 802

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

From: Natalie K Munden (n.munden digiwedo.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--pernoctate

I had to giggle as I read this offering at 2:32 in the morning.

Natalie K Munden, Soldotna, Alaska

From: Alain Azzam (alain tektonik.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--pernoctate

I read this message at 4:06 am in bed and felt gratitude in learning that someone was thoughtful enough to describe my situation with another word than the pejorative and dooming insomnia.

Alain Azzam, Montreal, Canada

From: William Clarkson (bclarkso sewanee.edu)
Subject: Pernoctate

John Crowe Ransom places the word in the middle of these two stanzas from “An American Addresses Philomela”:

Not to these shores she came, this other Thrace,
Environ barbarous to the royal Attic;
How could her delicate dirge run democratic,
Delivered in a cloudless boundless public place
To a hypermuscular race?

I pernoctated with the Oxford students once,
And in the quadrangles, in the cloisters, on the Cher,
Precociously knocked at antique doors ajar,
Fatuously touched the hems of the Hierophants,
Sick of my dissonance;

William Clarkson, Sewanee, Tennessee

From: Steve Warshaw (siw well.com)
Subject: pernoctate

This is perfect. Now I can tell my wife what I’m really doing when she asks me “Are you still up? Go to bed!”

Steve Warshaw, New York, New York

From: Ruth Berman (ruthie.berman gmail.com)
Subject: desacralize

What a wonderful word, “desacralize”. So sadly appropriate to use today. Just read or listen to the news. Need I say more?

Ruth Berman, Brooklyn, New York

From: Mohammed Sethi (via website comments)
Subject: desacralize

Just like the word from yesterday (pernoctate), I couldn’t help make a medical connection with today’s word. Sacrum, one of the tailbones came to my mind and when I checked its etymology it came close: “mid 18th century: from Latin os sacrum, translation of Greek hieron osteon “sacred bone” (from the belief that the soul resides in it).

I never knew sacrum was sacred, especially considering its proximity to some other places, need not to be enumerated. And one more thing, it is hallowed, not hollowed. To be easily confused with the hollowness of the pelvic cavity vis-a-vis sacrum.

Mohammed Sethi, Cedarburg, Wisconsin

From: Jens Erik Gould (jens jenserikgould.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--nuncupate

What if weddings were officiated: I now nuncupate you husband and wife.

Jens Erik Gould, Los Angeles, California

From: Ossie Bullock (via website comments)
Subject: nuncupate

This is much more commonly found in the adjectival form “nuncupative”. Genealogical researchers come across it quite often in the context of nuncupative wills made when testators were on their deathbed and unable to write even a signature (a dictated will taken down and then signed by the testator is different). Historically, ‘nuncupate’ itself was also occasionally used as the adjective, but it’s rare.

Truly nuncupative wills are seldom admissible nowadays (especially when they contradict an existing written will), though it depends on the jurisdiction. There are some exceptions, and even those that allow them attach strict conditions -- in England & Wales and some US States, for example, they can be permitted for military and naval personnel on active service.

Ossie Bullock, London, UK

From: David Schatzky (davidschatzky hotmail.com)
Subject: Reeve

In the 1960s as a child in North York (a borough of Toronto, Canada), one reeve in particular stood out, the outspoken and flamboyant Norman Goodhead. He was succeed by James Service, as dour as the name implies. In 1967 all Toronto borough reeves became mayors. Since then, the word reeve is seldom heard.

David Schatzky, Toronto, Canada

Email of the Week brought to you by One Up! -- Larceny is lovely >

From: Elaine Clow (elaine.clow gmail.com)
Subject: Hog Reeve

Here in colonial NH we still have an elected municipal official called a hog reeve. The purpose of the position is to oversee damage done by wandering animals. We still have numerous animal pounds around, too.

Elaine Clow, Boscawen, New Hampshire

From: Stan Hingston (sghingston sasktel.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--reeve

I wrote about the history of the word reeve and its derivative sheriff in a blog post in 2011.

Stan Hingston, Rosetown, Canada

From: Bill Venables (bill.venables gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--reeve

A reeve is also a female ruff, a migratory shorebird. The male has a nuptial plumage that includes a large collar of feathers used in the courting display. It gets the name ruff from the name of the exuberant collars Elizabethans wore. Returning to the shore bird ruff, the species is markedly sexually dimorphic and the female, looking so different from the male, has a separate common name, reeve, as if the two sexes were separate species.

You pick up all sorts of stuff around here, eh?

Bill Venables, Dutton Park, Australia

From: David Policansky (davidpolicansky gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--reeve

This reminds me of James Thurber’s story “What do you mean it was Brillig?” The story is in My World and Welcome to It (1942). (Remember that Thurber’s story was written a long time ago, when political awareness had not evolved as it has today, although even by the standards of that time he wasn’t exactly a paragon.)

His “colored maid Della” had told him they’d come with the reeves. Not knowing what “reeves” were, he consulted his dictionary [the magnificent, if old, Century Dictionary] and “found out that there are four kinds of ‘reeves.’ ‘Are they here with strings of onions?’ I asked. Della said they were not. ‘Are they here with enclosures or pens for cattle, poultry, or pigs; sheepfolds?’ Della said no sir. ‘Are they here with administrative officers?’ From a little nearer the door Della said no again. ‘Then they’ve got to be here,’ I said, ‘with the females of the common European sandpiper.’ These scenes take as much out of Della as they do out of me, but she is not a woman to be put down by a crazy man with a dictionary. ‘They are here with the reeves for the windas,’ Della said with brave stubbornness. Then I understood what they were there with: they were there with the Christmas wreaths for the windows. ‘Oh, those wreaths,’ I said. We were both greatly relieved; we both laughed. Della and I never quite reach the breaking point; we just come close to it.”

David Policansky, Nantucket, Massachusetts

From: Steve Kirkpatrick (stevekirkp comcast.net)
Subject: Sagan quotation & Monty Python

For all our conceits about being the center of the universe, we live in a routine planet of a humdrum star stuck away in an obscure corner ... on an unexceptional galaxy which is one of about 100 billion galaxies. ... That is the fundamental fact of the universe we inhabit, and it is very good for us to understand that. -Carl Sagan, astronomer and writer (9 Nov 1934-1996)

The gist of the Nov 8 quotation by the astronomer Carl Sagan was also well expressed in “Galaxy Song” by the comedy team Monty Python, from the 1983 movie The Meaning of Life. May I add that our egos may be the biggest things that revolve around us?
video (3 min.)

Steve Kirkpatrick, Olympia, Washington

From: Victor L. Gagliano (wa2arq optonline.net)
Subject: Ruminating

Love your thought for the day. I look at it in a very uplifting way. To me, it’s like a sermon from the pulpit. It brings truisms to my daily life. More times than not, after reading them, I look at my cup as half full... not empty.

Victor L. Gagliano, Huntington Station, New York

From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: desacralize & reeve

Arguably, beyond the ignominious fall from grace of Nixon, both presidents Clinton and George “Dubya” Bush managed to add to the incremental “desacralization” of the most rarefied political office on the planet. During his two-term tenure, Obama restored some dignity, decorum, and gravitas to the sullied Oval Office. Yet in a mere ten months, Trump has resurrected the specter of Nixonian paranoia, character assassination, and covert political skulduggery, making a mockery of the office, while putting Americans in a state of perpetual anxiety and uncertainty as to our nation’s future and place in the eyes of the world.

Jesus proclaimed in Mathew 19:24... “And again I say unto you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God.”
Here, King Solomon, purportedly richer than Croesus, is gobsmacked by an apparent miraculous vision of a miniature camel “reeving” the eye of a needle. God surely works in mysterious ways. Solomon’s exclamation is a shout out to the film “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids”. Admittedly quite a stretch... particularly for that dexterous camel. Ha!

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California

From: Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)
Subject: Anagrams of this week’s words

1. pernoctate
2. desacralize
3. nuncupate
4. reeve
5. senesce
= 1. up late
2. decanonize
3. enter a case
4. serve
5. putrescence
    -Dharam Khalsa, Burlington, North Carolina (dharamkk2 gmail.com)

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

I’m in bed with a good book by eight.
But my three cats and two dogs pernoctate.
From sunset to dawn
The party goes on
And they wonder why breakfast is late.
-Sara Hutchinson, New Castle, Delaware (sarahutch2003 yahoo.com)

Although it is ‘cool’ to pernoctate,
With ‘Dinner, Bed-n-Breakfast’ dates,
Let us be wise
And not desacralize
Fidelity, between married mates.
-Monica Broom, Morogoro, Tanzania (monicabroom2015 gmail.com)

He whispered, “Pernoctate with me.”
She answered him hesitantly,
“That verb is so grand
I don’t understand --
Explain it before I agree.”
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

The whirligig of phrases,
dazzles my mind and dazes.
I pernoctate in hope,
for a good limerick I grope.
Not just Google, I’ll need a few Larry Pages!
-Shyamal Mukherji, Mumbai, India (mukherjis hotmail.com)

On New Year’s Eve many pernoctate,
But one teen who came found a locked gate.
At the party she got drunk
And now had no place to bunk.
Her parents were inside but were prostrate.
-Janice Power, Cleveland, Ohio (janicepower25 gmail.com)

How fondly I used to pernoctate
With a girl at the end of a hot date.
At night, I’m still waking,
But not for lovemaking;
These days it’s because of my prostate.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

It may come as no secret surprise
That our Prez likes to hyperbolize.
The truth gets distorted,
Our values aborted,
As we see our world desacralize.
-Judith Marks-White, Westport, Connecticut (joodthmw gmail.com)

The position of POTUS has been
Desacralized again and again.
Will it ever regain
It’s past status again?
Presently, it remains to be seen..
-Lois Mowat, Orinda, California (lmowat1810 gmail.com)

Stephen Miller tells Trump, “I’d advise
That one statue we desacralize.
Saying all should breathe free,
She’s no Robert E. Lee,
‘Wretched refuse’ we won’t naturalize.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

In China he spoke of the Wall,
Nuncupated that it was too small.
“Mine will be stronger
And higher and longer.”
Now Xi’s horrified by his gall.
-Gayle Tremblay, Saint John, Canada (gayletremblay hotmail.com)

When joining an order religious,
the nun, in her convent prestigious,
nuncupated her vow
that of men she’d enow,
none would get past her pubococcygeus!
-Brenda J. Gannam, Brooklyn, New York (gannamconsulting earthlink.net)

“When writing a sentence, please punctuate,”
Our teachers of yore would all nuncupate.
Today they’d just moan
If they looked at a phone,
For emojis are how we communicate 😥.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Rapunzel through the window her gold braid did reeve
To her true love below, with his heart on his sleeve.
But witch Gothel with her scissors
Cut that gold braid to smithers.
This story is true -- if you choose to believe.
-Vara Devaney, Damascus, Maryland (varadevaney att.net)

We would have much less reason to grieve
if The Donald were only a reeve.
But he is the big cheese
and can do as he please.
What new gaffe has he got up his sleeve?
-Zelda Dvoretzky, Haifa. Israel (zeldahaifa gmail.com)

‘Tis a time that the US must pass through,
Tough to do when our POTUS is cuckoo.
But reeve it we must.
Can we trust and adjust?
Nope. He’s almost as bad as his hairdo.
-Joe Budd Stevens, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico (joebuddstevens gmail.com)

To Canterbury they went, female and male,
To make, each, a pilgrimage without fail;
In truth, they were touring,
Their stories outpouring,
And the Reeve, in his turn, told a tale.
-Marcia Sinclair, Newmarket, Canada (marciasinclair rogers.com)

Said Anu, “I’ll publish you, Steve,
For my words through a needle you reeve.
Should an Internet troll
Write to say you’re not droll,
You can block their address, I believe.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

I used to be young, I express,
With energy in the excess,
But as years go by,
I discover that I
Have slowed down, and I do senesce.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

I think that my life was just swell,
But cannot recall it that well.
It passed in a flurry
Of hurry and scurry
And now I senesce, I can tell.
-Anna C Johnston, Coarsegold, California (ajohnston13 gmail.com)

Cries the dowager, greatly distressed,
“I’m destined, it seems, to senesce.
This damned growing old’s
a condition, I’m told,
from which I will not convalesce!”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

Call Trump old and he says it’s a slur.
With his outbursts I never concur.
When you’re far from a goner
To senesce is an honour,
As a choice it’s the one I prefer.
-Kathy Deutsch, Melbourne, Australia (kathy deutsch.net.au)

“My formula not to senesce
Is to grab for what’s under a dress,”
Explained Trump, “While most men
Would be sent to state pen,
I’m the Donald, so girls acquiesce.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

From: Phil Graham (pgraham1946 cox.net)
Subject: Unusual blurbs

That 8-singer rendition of “Messiah” wasn’t bad pernoctate version.

Desacralize at de base of de spine.

Gangster: “In my day, an aunt and a nuncupate your respects to.”

I don’t care for the sheriff reeve elected.

Don’t fear aging --- it senescessary process.

Phil Graham, Tulsa, Oklahoma

Patience is also a form of action. -Auguste Rodin, sculptor (12 Nov 1840-1917)

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