Wordsmith.org: the magic of words


About | Media | Search | Contact  


Today's Word

Yesterday's Word



Mar 11, 2018
This week’s theme
Five words that use all letters of the alphabet

This week’s words

How popular are they?
Relative usage over time

AWADmail archives

Next week’s theme
Tosspot words

Send a gift that
keeps on giving,
all year long:
A gift subscription of A.Word.A.Day or the gift of books
Bookmark and Share Facebook Twitter Digg MySpace Bookmark and Share

AWADmail Issue 819

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

Sponsor’s Message: Let is snow, let is snow, let it snow. We’re going to take a Stephen King quotation about books and apply it with impunity to our wicked smart word game: “(One Up!) is uniquely portable magic.” It’s also way faster and funner than Scrabble. No board. No complicated rules. 20 or so cutthroat dynamite minutes where stealing is definitely the name of the game. Rinse (off your ego), and repeat. Congrats to Email of the Week winner, Eric Chaikin (see below), as well as all AWADers -- you’ll not only get older and wiser real quick, you’ll also get “Free Sardines” with every order of $26 or more. Laugh your cabin fever away NOW >

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

Mothering Sunday Cards Are Using ‘Mom’ Instead of ‘Mum’ as a Language Expert Warns of Americanisation
The Daily Telegraph
[Also read about my informal study on the Americanization of spelling from eight years ago]

In the Court of Common Usage, an Old Pronoun Is Losing Its Case
The Economist

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

Thank you for your enthusiastic feedback for the new Pangram Finder. So far A.Word.A.Day readers have found the shortest pangram in any book to be Catch-22 by Joseph Heller:

Colonel Korn gave Major Danbys shoulder a friendly squeeze without changing his unfriendly expression.” (88 letters)

Can you find a shorter one in a book? Email us at (words at wordsmith.org).

Also, have you found a pangram in the wild: on a road sign, in an ad, on a restaurant menu, in an office memo, and so on? Let us know. Be sure to take pictures.

If you are an author working on a book, see if you can add a short pangram in your writing as part of the story or the topic at hand. Here’s a tool that comes handy in manually creating pangrams.

If you are a published author, find out what pangrams you already have in your text. Let us know what you find and we may be able to display it on the Pangram Finder site.

Happy pangramming!

Email of the Week brought to you by One Up! -- Snow much fun >

From: Eric Chaikin (via website comments)
Subject: pangrams

Here’s an article on pangram windows I wrote for Word Ways: The Journal of Recreational Linguistics a few years back. It mentions the discovery of what at the time was the shortest known “naturally occurring” window (47 letters) which I found on an online movie review site: “JoBlo’s mo(vie review of The Yards: Mark Wahlberg, Joaquin Phoenix, Charliz)e Theron...”. This was subsequently beaten by computer searches of both the Twittersphere and the Google corpus, setting the record at 36 letters. Ben Zimmer’s 2014 article summarizes these. But last week I discovered a 123-letter window in the lyrics of David Bowie’s “All the Young Dudes”:

...Freddy’s got spots from rip(ping off stars from his face
Funky little boat race
The television man is crazy
Saying we’re juvenile delinquent wrecks
Man, I need a TV when I’ve got T. Rex)

Eric Chaikin, Westlake Village, California

From: Dharam Vir (babita.dharam gmail.com)
Subject: Pangram

Saving newborn planets from a fiery demise is just one step in the quest to understand cool earth-sized, earth-like extrasolar planetary systems.

I am from the Astronomy and Astrophysics research field. We are used to seeing appealing long titles for manuscripts so that they are picked, (not necessarily) read and cited. Credit to above pangram goes to “Wandering Worlds -- Saving newborn planets from a fiery demise is just one step in the quest to understand the mysterious planetary systems around other stars” (1663, Los Alamos Science and Technology Magazine, March 2011). I had to add and delete just the right amount.

Dharam Vir, Pune, India

From: Victoria Daskalova (victoria.daskalova gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--vaquero

Very interesting! Vaqueros means jeans in Spanish. For example, vaqueros de hombre -- men’s jeans. Not a native Spanish speaker but this much Spanish I know. :)

Victoria Daskalova, Tilburg, The Netherlands

From: Ken Doran (kendoran execpc.com)
Subject: Vaquero

“Vaquero” is probably better known to speakers of American English through its derivative buckaroo, which turns up in sports, movies, and popular music.

Ken Doran, Madison, Wisconsin

From: Lawrence Crumb (lcrumb uoregon.edu)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--vaquero

The last movement of Erik Satie’s Sonatine bureaucratique is marked Vivache, rather than Vivace, since it is supposed to suggest the movements of a cow.

Lawrence Crumb, Eugene, Oregon

From: Verla Schmidt (verlaschmidt comcast.net)
Subject: azymous

When I was a little girl (many, many, many) years ago, we had Jewish neighbors and they gave me matza bread and I always begged for more. Thanks for bringing this fond memory back for me.

Verla Schmidt, Baltimore, Maryland

From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: pangrams and azymous

The quick brown fox alphabet swoop azymous
As a neophyte student typer back in my junior-high days, I recall our beginners’ exercise of repeatedly typing out the pangram “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog”. This was at the tail-end of the conventional typewriter era and the dawning of electric typewriters. Back then, liquid white-out and correction tape were still a typist’s best friend. (A love/hate relationship, at best. Ha!) Frankly, I never regretted learning how to type in my mid-teens. In fact, I took pride in never having to pay someone else to type a single term paper or essay while earning my Poli. Sci. BA degree (1970) at York University, Toronto, Canada.

“From the evening of the 14th day of the first month, until the evening of the twenty-first day, you are to eat matzo.” (Exodus 12:18) My knee-jerk response to reading the definition of our word “azymous” was conjuring up the sacred Jewish Passover/Seder flat, crispy, unleavened bread/cracker referenced in the Torah as matzo (matzah). As a full-fledged goy (non-Jew) growing up in the demographically Jewish-dominant Toronto suburb of North York / Downsview, circa 1950s to early-1960s, I could truthfully say that “some of my best friends are (were) Jewish.”. I have fond memories of casual weekend visits, sharing leftover Shabbat roast chicken, matzo (with jam... Yum!), and scrumptious macaroons at my Reform Jewish best buddy’s loving, warm, and welcoming home.

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California

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

1. expergefaction
2. vaquero
3. azymous
4. whipjack
5. vendible
= 1. revives
2. gaucho
3. quick matza
4. Popeye fled?
5. jar in new box
= Ace idea! The quick brown fox even jumps over a lazy pig. = 1. woke
2. ranch job (gee-up!)
3. re matzo
4. spiv (ex-navy face)
5. liquid
    -Dharam Khalsa, Burlington, North Carolina (dharamkk2 gmail.com)   -Robert Jordan, Lampang, Thailand (alfiesdad ymail.com)

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

As soon as I saw the word expergefaction
I figured the limerists would all take action.
Into the locker room they’d retreat
And never miss a beat
And then retreat with a look of satisfaction
-Betty Ziesmer, Albuquerque, New Mexico (bettylarryz gmail.com)

With early expergefaction,
Our leader leaps into action.
On Twitter he’s back
Still on the attack,
Providing us all with distraction.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

When Kate was of the “late night student faction”,
She drove Melissa, her Mom, to distraction.
Persuasion had no traction,
It had to be “action”
To achieve her a.m. expergefaction.
-Monica Broom, Morogoro, Tanzania (monicabroom2015 gmail.com)

One morning, upon expergefaction,
The vaquero said, “Now for some action.”
His cows were expendable
So he made them all vendible
And joined PETA to get satisfaction.
-Sara Hutchinson, New Castle, Delaware (sarahutch2003 yahoo.com)

“It excites me to expergefaction,”
Says Trump of the air’s putrefaction.
“Pollute more! Yes, do it!”
He cries to Scott Pruitt,
“Oh, yes!” and achieves satisfaction.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

We admire the dashing vaquero
riding tall; handsome ‘neath his sombrero --
but the cattle he herds
aren’t fighters, they’re nerds
of no interest to any torero.
-Zelda Dvoretzky, Haifa, Israel (zeldahaifa gmail.com)

If you take a job as a vaquero,
You’ll look cute in your chaps and bolero,
But seldom is “Herd!”
An encouraging word,
When your saddle is cold, hard, and narrow.
-Phyllis Morrow, Fairbanks, Alaska (phyllismorrow1 gmail.com)

Who knew my handsome vaquero
Knew how to dance the bolero.
His moves are just right,
So rhythmic and tight,
Watching it makes me love him so.
-Lois Mowat, Orinda, California (lmowat1810 gmail.com)

As he herded them off from the Pharaoh,
His escape with the Hebrews was narrow.
“The desert,” warned Moses,
“Is no bed of roses.
Now, vamos!” said Yahweh’s vaquero.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

The tall Greek was a man who’s most amorous.
He wooed ladies with a style that’s so glamorous.
When it came to a dame,
The great claim to his fame
Was hot “rolls” in some hay that’s azymous.
-Judith Marks-White, Westport, Connecticut (joodthmw gmail.com)

If you require an azymous comestible,
You’ll forego some food that’s delectable:
Yeast bread is in doubt,
And tangy sauerkraut,
But still, the diet’s digestible.
-Marcia Sinclair, Newmarket, Canada (marciasinclair rogers.com)

With the welcome mat rolled out for confusion,
He continues to bleat “no collusion”.
We’ll suffer no fools
Who break all the rules.
Give his azymous brain a transfusion.
-Gayle Tremblay, Saint John, Canada (gayletremblay hotmail.com)

“While Pharaoh is feeling magnanimous,”
Said Moses, “We’ll bounce with bread azymous.”
Thus God’s word he proclaimed,
Democratically framed:
“One to nothing,” he said, “It’s unanimous.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

A whipjack quite down on his luck
Was looking to make a quick buck.
He soon had a deal
In black market steel.
Donald’s tariff plan then ran off amok.
-Judy Distler, Teaneck, New Jersey (jam1026 aol.com)

On this cold and dank wind-blown day,
eating chowder with ale, by the bay,
the whipjack, unceasing, regales,
us, with his old sea dog tales.
Feeding him is a small price to pay.
-Shyamal Mukherji, Mumbai, India (mukherjis hotmail.com)

“On her cruise we are paying a whipjack,”
Said Putin, “to Hillary’s disk hack.
She’ll see this poor sailor
And ask him to nail her.
Like me, he’s got abs like a six-pack.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

eBay is so dependable
To list your products vendible,
But it can’t be too big,
Or alive, like a pig.
Surely must be something that’s sendable.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

Says the banker, “A loan’s not extendable
to you. Though your goal is commendable,
still no one is buying
the product you’re trying
to sell. It seems not to be vendible.”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

Says Donald, “My brand is so vendible
That whatever I do is commendable.
I tear up our treaties,
And ‘Trump ate his Wheaties!’
They cheer, so I grab something genital.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

This limerick’s a pangram, she muttered,
Quite seductively, eyelids were fluttered.
But its sex appeal’s zero.
It lacks any hero,
With extraneous words it’s just cluttered.
-Gil Hillman, Madison, Wisconsin (grhillman post.harvard.edu)

From: Phil Graham (pgraham1946 cox.net)
Subject: After reading these you’ll pangraham

If you want to awaken the world to a belief, never ask your expergefaction need.

Have you herd the children’s song, “Vaquero where has my little dog gone?”

A baker has to take care when making matzah azymous not add yeast.

His manager derided the boxer by saying, “You can’t whipjack!”

No china remained vendible finally left the shop.

Phil Graham, Tulsa, Oklahoma

Isn’t it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too? -Douglas Adams, writer, dramatist, and musician (11 Mar 1952-2001)

We need your help

Help us continue to spread the magic of words to readers everywhere


Subscriber Services
Awards | Stats | Links | Privacy Policy
Contribute | Advertise

© 1994-2024 Wordsmith