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Feb 25, 2018
This week’s theme
Miscellaneous words

This week’s words
defeasible
usurious
benthos
gerent
hyperborean

How popular are they?
Relative usage over time

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Next week’s theme
Adverbs

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AWADmail Issue 817

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

Sponsor's message: Hey, Wisenheimers! When was the last time you gave a housewarming/thank-you gift to the cleverheads in your life that actually flummoxed them? Email of the Week winner, Paul Berger-Gross (see below), as well as all AWADers, can frustrate and fascinate their brainy generous frenemies for the rest of the year with our wicked smart word game One Up! - The Gift That Keeps on Unforgiving. Purchase at your peril NOW.



A warm welcome to students from Hope Middle School in Greenville, North Carolina. A big thank you to their teacher Sheri Vanhook for introducing her students to the joy of words.



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

France Bets on English to “Conquer the World”
The New York Times
Permalink

Inside the OED: Can the World’s Biggest Dictionary Survive the Internet?
The Guardian
Permalink



From: Maggie Brady (exceedyourgrasp hotmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--defeasible

I love this word and I wanted you to know how prevalent it is in the mortgage bond/debentures world. The right to defease bonds (and yes, we use that term as a verb) is built into every trust deed.

Maggie Brady, Vancouver, Canada



From: Rolf Wucherer (rolfwucherer gmail.com)
Subject: usurious

I read today’s word with great interest. My last name is Wucherer, which means usurer in German. I have in my possession a portrait of my great-great-great grandfather, whose name is also Wucherer. Our family has no evidence that we were bankers or moneylenders of any sort at least that far back; it would seem that an ancestor may well have been one in an earlier generation. There is a German verb form wuchern which means to grow in wild profusion [also, to practise usury]; my father always suggested that our family name was derived from that form, as Wucherer could be a person that wuchers.

Rolf Wucherer, Manistee, Michigan



From: Robert Carleton (enchanted128 outlook.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--usurious

For some reason, “usurious” reminds me of “carried interest” which is the excessive reward granted to the managers of hedge funds for current profits but that are taxed only at the rate of long-term investments. It derives from the old age of exploration and exploitation when investors or organizers of syndicates would fund voyages in hopes of reaping large rewards (beyond their actual financial contribution) when the ship returned.

Robert Carleton, Albuquerque, New Mexico



From: Leah Hapner (lahapner gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--usurious

Ugh, student loan companies. I have no issues paying for my education (15 years to go!), and it was definitely worth it to journey from the backwoods of northern WI and experience places many only read about (especially we low-income, first-gen college kids), but the interest rates definitely need to be comparable to auto loans and mortgages.

Leah Hapner, Washington, DC



Email of the week -- sponsored by One Up!

From: Paul Berger-Gross (pbergergro aol.com)
Subject: Architecture is inhabited sculpture

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
Architecture is inhabited sculpture. -Constantin Brancusi, sculptor (19 Feb 1876-1957)

And fashion is inhabited art as well.

Paul Berger-Gross, Bronx, New York



From: Derek Noonan (noonand ntech.ie)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--benthos

Two of James Cameron’s films, The Abyss and Terminator 2 featured a (fictional) company called Benthic Petroleum. In the first film they are the company doing the drilling, and in the second (in a nod to the first) it is the brand of service station where they stop to refuel.

Derek Noonan, Limerick, Ireland



From: Chart Guthrie (chart.guthrie dec.ny.gov)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--benthos

I read and enjoy your A.Word.A.Day almost every day and thoroughly enjoy it.

I do have a comment on a discrepancy in your definition of today’s word, Benthos. As a Fisheries Biologist, this is a common word in my vocabulary. In the community of Fisheries Biologists and Aquatic Ecologists there are two definitions of benthos -- the one that you present and also simply the material at the bottom of a body of water. In your Usage example, Steve Orr is using the second definition.

Chart Guthrie, Regional Fisheries Manager, Division of Fish and Wildlife, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, New York



From: David L. Nelson, MD (nelsondl pacbell.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--benthos

We once had a professor we called Dr. Benthos because he was the lowest layer of professor.

David L. Nelson, San Francisco, California



From: Barbara B Buff (bbb345 verizon.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--benthos

And I read a piece in The Economist about Great Lakes fish getting runoff from people’s antidepressants and developing odd traits. They become risk adverse, happy (how do you know when fish are happy?), and generally behave atypically. Moral: stay out of the lake!

Barbara B Buff, New York, New York



From: Marie-Jeanne Mailloux (marie-jeanne alliance-francaise.ca)
Subject: gerent

The word is gérant in French, from the verb gérer (to manage). I teach FSL. I also studied Latin in high school, which I have mostly forgotten. So much fun to put the puzzle pieces together.

Marie-Jeanne Mailloux, Toronto, Canada



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

We Hyperboreans do indeed get a lot of sunshine -- or at least daylight -- in the summer, but in the winter, alas, it gets very dark. That tilt of the Earth’s axis with respect to the ecliptic plane, you know...

M Henri Day, Stockholm, Sweden



From: James Hutchinson (James.Hutchinson thenbs.com)
Subject: Hyperborean

The northernmost point of Russia, Europe, and Eurasia is Cape Fligely on Rudolf Island, which was first visited in 1874. The island is almost completely glaciated and, due to its steep terrain, can only be accessed by a small snow strip 1,000 feet up a glacier. This strip was the staging area for the first Soviet manned drifting station, North Pole-1. The cape itself is named after the Austrian cartographer, August von Fligely (1811-1879).

James Hutchinson, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK



From: Michael Klossner (klossner9 aol.com)
Subject: Hyperborea

Hyperborea was a country of Northern barbarians in the Conan stories by Robert E. Howard. When the film Conan the Barbarian came out, one witty critic called it “hyper-boring”.

Michael Klossner, Little Rock, Arkansas



From: Mary Nell Murphy (marynellmurphy mac.com)
Subject: Hyperborean

In the opening chapter of James Joyce’s Ulysses, “Stately, plump Buck Mulligan” tells Stephen Dedalus “I’m hyperborean as much as you”, in a reference to Nietzsche -- who uses that same word discussing the Ubërmensch. Joyce celebrated the Everyman... from North, South, East, or West.

Thanks for the trip down Dublin’s Memory Lane!

Mary Nell Murphy, Chicago, Illinois



From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: benthos & hyperborean

Admittedly, I’ve stretched the parameters of what “organism” means, as referenced in our definition of the word “benthos”, beyond the familiar narrow notion of microscopic life-forms to include this cartoony trio of confirmed bottom-feeding fishes... namely, a catfish, a sucker, and a halibut.
Here, my opportunistic catfish, perhaps fed up with his constant search for sustenance in the muck-and-mire of lake, river bottoms, or creek beds, literally rises to the bait, eyeing a freaked out, likely doomed earthworm.
PS: Nitpickers out there might notice that I took some cartoon license in combining two freshwater fish species (the catfish and sucker) with a seafaring flatfish... the google-eyed halibut.

In this scenario, two iconic denizens of frigid Arctic climes, Jolly Ol’ Saint Nick and a darling young Inuit girl, perform the traditional Eskimo nose-rubbing greeting ritual, framed by the splendiferous shimmer of the Aurora Borealis. Perhaps Santa’s favorite reindeer, Rudolph, is next in line? Ha!
As they say in The Great White North... “When in Nunavut, do as the Nunavutites do.” (groan)

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California



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

1. defeasible
2. usurious
3. benthos
4. gerent
5. hyperborean
= 1. futile
2. grabby
3. see our hue in deep sea
4. boss
5. northern
= 1. thus the European Union
2. be greedy
3. sea life
4. boss
5. brr
    -Dharam Khalsa, Burlington, North Carolina (dharamkk2 gmail.com)   -Robert Jordan, Lampang, Thailand (alfiesdad ymail.com)


From: Mary Pendleton Jogger (mcpiano2 aol.com)
Subject: A.Word.A.Day

Thank you for Wordsmith! I appreciate how your word choices, usage examples, and final quotations all contribute to a few moments of calm thoughtfulness in my day.

Mary Pendleton-Hoffer, Tempe, Arizona



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

The model agreed to a deal;
Their sordid affair she’d conceal.
That ridiculous vow
Is defeasible now --
That squeezable gal’s gonna squeal.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

Her marriage was short, but not sweet,
From that folly, she did retreat.
Quickly defeasible,
Assets were seizable,
A mistake, she’d not soon repeat.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

When laws are deemed to be defeasible,
It makes the process of governance risible.
If the masses saw “truth”
As the arbiter, forsooth,
The whole world would become appeasable.
-Monica Broom, Morogoro, Tanzania (monicabroom2015 gmail.com)

“You ladies are surely defeasible,”
Said Whipple, “Though Charmin’s so squeezable.
My hot-button issue
Is touching the tissue;
You’ll find me on this unappeasable.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


Though China’s a lender usurious,
Our president’s life is luxurious.
“A trillion a year,
why, it’s nothing, my dear.”
But it makes my blood boil, I’m so furious.
-Lou Gottlieb, Hubbard, Oregon (gottlieb wbcable.net)

While the Orange Blimp lives life luxurious,
Mar-a-Lago dues have grown usurious,
Playing golf on his day off,
Giving playmates a payoff.
He will never be known as uxorious.
-Adam Perl, Ithaca, New York (adam pastimes.com)

The musician was outraged and furious,
Having borrowed at rates quite usurious
For the Steinway he bought
Which he didn’t think ought
To hit notes that were sounding so spurious.
-Janice Power, Cleveland, Ohio (janicepower25 gmail.com)

America’s hijacked by the usurious,
Lording over the obsequious.
The kool-aid’s been drunk,
The Left’s in a funk,
And now we survivors are furious.
-Charles Harp, Victoria, Canada (texzenpro yahoo.com)

With this week’s words, all miscellaneous,
This limerick can’t be spontaneous.
What’s more, I am furious
At the government usurious,
For at tax time my money’s extraneous.
-Sara Hutchinson, New Castle, Delaware (sarahutch2003 yahoo.com)

It’s a crime hungry people penurious
are exploited by loan sharks usurious.
When I see every day
others throw food away
the inequity makes me just furious.
-Zelda Dvoretzky, Haifa, Israel (zeldahaifa gmail.com)

A monkey named George was so curious
That he borrowed from lenders usurious.
Like the Donald he bet
He could pile up debt
And still live in a style luxurious.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


Where the ocean is deep beyond measure,
The benthos survives under pressure.
You’d have to be titan
To live like a chiton,
Your days full of stress, never pleasure.
-Phyllis Morrow, Fairbanks, Alaska (phyllismorrow1 gmail.com)

I intend to steer very clear
Of something I certainly fear.
I am sure that you know
It’s the benthos below
In a depth I’ll never get near.
-Lois Mowat, Orinda, California (lmowat1810 gmail.com)

With his short fingers in the world’s pie
He’s giving us all a black eye.
Embarrassment festers
With this foolish court jester
As he feasts on his benthos supply.
-Gayle Tremblay, Saint John, Canada (gayletremblay hotmail.com)

Says Donald, “Just like ‘The Apprentice’,
‘You’re fired!’ I say to the benthos.
I’m draining the swamp
With my usual pomp
And some money the Russians have lent us.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


They had hoped he would be a good gerent
they could trust and could follow where he went,
but that didn’t apply,
he’d just waffle and lie
and the guy often knew not what he meant.
-Zelda Dvoretzky, Haifa, Israel (zeldahaifa gmail.com)

In my office, tyro, or gerent
all have a common trait, inherent.
They’re all habitual liars,
hyping our products to unwary buyers.
There seems no one ethical or decent!
-Shyamal Mukherji, Kolkata, India (mukherjis hotmail.com)

Donald Trump, he was always hell-bent
On his being our country’s gerent.
With his words sharply bitter,
He relies on his Twitter,
While he vents with a push of a “sent”.
-Judith Marks-White, Westport, Connecticut (joodthmw gmail.com)

To me it’s extremely apparent
We elected an extremely bad gerent.
He’s transparent and dumb,
Defines the word humdrum.
The plus side? I don’t think he’s my parent.
-Joe Budd Stevens, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico (joebuddstevens gmail.com)

Dear Donald, I’d be an adherent
If only your tweets were coherent.
Is using good grammar
When nonsense you yammer
Expecting too much of our gerent?
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


The Nautilus, now in dry-dock,
was the first of a nuclear flock
whose hyperborean goal
(it passed under the pole!)
would make the US roll ‘n’ rock!
-Brenda J. Gannam, Brooklyn, New York (gannamconsulting earthlink.net)

Have you heard all about the Thermostat War?
Almost a blood bath took place just next door.
If she used more oil,
Her spouse would just boil,
Hyperborean he -- “Get a blanket,” he’d roar!
-Judy Distler, Teaneck, New Jersey (jam1026 aol.com)

I watch the Olympics with my cup of tea:
The young and the strong are a great sight to see.
There’s luge and bobsled,
Vying head to head,
And mighty hyperboreans who ski and ski.
-Marcia Sinclair, Newmarket, Canada (marciasinclair rogers.com)

Says yeti in accents stentorian,
“The reason I’m not amatory ‘n’
things of that sort’s
that freezing aborts
such thoughts in a man hyperborean.”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

If you’re dating a girl Singaporean
Your toes she will find hyperborean.
“Are you an ice skater?
I’m from the equator,”
She’ll say, “So let’s keep things Victorian.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)



From: Phil Graham (pgraham1946 cox.net)
Subject: These puns may be misc-ing something

Buy a bovine but defeasible, don’t try to milk him.

When the loan shark told me the interest was 20% per week I said, “Usurious?!”

“Look here. A fish hook can’t be straight, it needs to be benthos.”

As I observe his running the US, something appears to have possessed the gerent.

Climatologists may start hyperborean ice core samples but they drill for great depths.

Phil Graham, Tulsa, Oklahoma



A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
The struggle to see things as they are is perhaps the fundamental driver of Western civilization. There is a long but direct line from Aristotle and Archimedes to Locke, Hume, Mill, and Darwin, and from there through Orwell and Churchill to Martin Luther King writing his “Letter from Birmingham City Jail”. It is the agreement that objective reality exists, that people of goodwill can perceive it, and that other people will change their views when presented with the facts of the matter. -Thomas E. Ricks, journalist and author (b. 1955)

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