Wordsmith.Org: The Magic of Words: The Magic of Words


About | Media | Search | Contact  


Today's Word

Yesterday's Word



AWADmail Issue 82

June 24, 2002

From: Anu Garg (garg AT wordsmith.org)
Subject: Interesting stories from the net

Out with the nitty-gritty

Extreme bowdlerizing

From: Gary Collins (gary.collinsATcec.eu.int)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--randy

'Randy' reminds me of an occasion when I had a New Year's Eve dinner a few years back in Moscow, at a major international hotel chain. Don't know what we were all doing there, but a hotel manageress was our host. She introduced an American guest, with the blithe introduction, 'And this is Mr Randy Pratt.'

As a Brit, this made me choke and nearly fall off my chair; not only the Randy part, but 'Prat' is an English slang word for idiot. An unbeatable combination!

From: Randahl N. Lindgren (randahl.ctr.lindgrenATfaa.gov)
Subject: Hi, I'm Randy!

Never did I understand the dictionary meaning of my name more than during my seven years of US Air Force duty in England, where the word is commonly used for its lustful meaning. Frankly, I had a ball with it. My stock introduction to British ladies at social functions, was, "Hi, I'm Randy!" Then I could just step back and look at their astonished faces. One lady replied, "What do you want me to do about it?" To which I replied while offering to shake hands, "Here, you too can feel Randy!"

From: Randee Ketzel (ketzel4ATaol.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--randy

My given name is Randee...in honor of the best man at my parents' wedding over 50 years ago; they promised him that I would be given his name no matter what, and the fact that I was born a girl had no bearing whatsoever. (Pre-sonogram era, you comprehend.) I have patiently suffered the indignity of having my name spelled with a 'Y' all my life, with the inevitable explanations of its meaning generally attendant.

Thank you for so faithfully spelling my name correctly in your pronunciation guide!

From: Brad Beam (bbeamATprodigy.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--brad

It's nice to see that somebody picked me for this week instead of my brother Chad. He got way too much attention a couple years back when he was found dangling, dimpled, and pregnant in Florida.

From: Sam Hinton (slhinton17ATaol.com)
Subject: Bobby and Peeler

It's interesting to note that the folks in England, regarded Sir Robert Peel's police with affection, and called them "Bobbies." But in Ireland (then a part of the British Empire), the English police were regarded as an invading force, and the local name for them was more contemptuous -- "Peelers." A well-known song from Ireland is "The Real Old Mountain Dew", about the illicit making of whiskey, and one of its verses says:

The Peelers all from Donegal
From Sligo and Leitrim too:
We'll give 'em the slip and take a sip
Of the Real Old Mountain Dew.

From: Ralph Walter (rwalterATkayne.com)
Subject: Names

I was quite concerned when I saw this week's topic, Names that are words. My first name, Ralph, is a vulgarism for throw-up in the States. To ralph is to be ill. It is the ugliest form of verbing. Thank you for choosing five other names.

From: Debbie Kranzler (debbieATkranzler.com)
Subject: Brad, tony, randy, ted, bobby

Brad, Bobby, Randy, Tony, Ted.... all generally male. How about a week of (Anglo) women's names? All the ones that I can come up with are names based on the word/item, whereas the male names coincide with a common word. There must be some similar female names.

April, May, June
Hope, Joy, Chastity, Grace, Constance, Faith
Laurel, Willow, Fern, Rose, Daisy, Iris
Sherry, Brandy, Ginger, Amber, Dawn
Penny, Jade

From: Meera Narayan (miranarayanAThotmail.com)
Subject: Re: what's in a name?

While on what's in a name, thought I'd say a female ass is a 'Jenny'!

From: Al Hartman (ohioalhartmanATaol.com)
Subject: What's in a name?

This week's names may make one wonder how much research prospective parents put into their choices. The Johnny Cash song, "A Boy Named Sue" comes to mind. And think of this: the kids who can spell their names backward the earliest are always Bob, Otto, Hannah and Nan.

From: Chip Proud (proudATstargate.net)
Subject: Baby Names

I've been receiving your Wonderful Word information since I read about it in the Smithsonian--the weekly theme idea is great. I just finished reading about Randy, er, I mean Dave and thought some of your readers might be interested in this site: http://www.ssa.gov/OACT/babynames . This has a list of popular US baby names as far back as 1880.

From: Roxanne Nicholson (askroxATicogitate.com)
Subject: Name words

I have been doing some work with friends on terms regarding things that relate to people's names and a question arose - is there a term for someone whose first and last name are the same? I haven't been able to find an answer to this question and it seemed like it might make an excellent word for AWAD.

    I'm not sure there is a specific word for that. Perhaps you could call that name tautonym. -Anu

From: Evonne Segall (esegallATfiestasalons.com)
Subject: RE: A.Word.A.Day--minnow

After reading the Word-A-Day (minnow) today, I thought I'd send this most appropriate quote along. I pulled it from CNN's website coverage of the World Cup. Many powerhouse teams have already been dismissed from competition such as Argentina, Portugal and France in favor of teams no one expected to do this well: Senegal, co-hosts South Korea and Japan, and the United States.

"They used to call us the sleeping giant in the old days. I think the sleeping giant has woken up," U.S. Soccer Federation president Bob Contiguglia said. "Someone said to me this is the World Cup for the minnows. The minnows are becoming bigger fish."

From: Stephanie Sandin (stephanieATeastwest.com)
Subject: A.Word.A.Day--gudgeon

Ever hear of a side-hill gudgeon? It's an imaginary creature, a sheep whose two right legs (if walking clockwise, or two left legs, if counterclockwise) are shorter than the other two legs, so it can walk horizontally on a steep mountain while maintaining an erect posture. My mother passed this bit of tongue-in-cheek lore on to my brothers and me when we were children. We got a kick out of drawing pictures of side-hill gudgeons. I guess if we'd really believed in them, we'd be gudgeons under definition 2: A gullible person.

From: Lisa Reber (lwreberATnetcarrier.com)
Subject: Gudgeon

My husband and I work at a historic woodworking mill that was originally water powered. A gudgeon was used as the bearing surface for the shaft of the water wheel. When showing people around, we frequently say "Here's a word you won't run into in daily life - gudgeon. That's the name of that big, winged cast-iron gizmo on the floor." Here's an illustration of the gudgeon in use, click on picture #5.

From: Susan Lopez (slopezATmail.ewu.edu)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--tope

I found out that the Spanish word "tope" means "speed bump" in Mexico. Learned this the hard way traveling a little too fast in an RV in Baja. This also seems to fit with the dome-shaped monument definition.

From: James D Ertner (ertnerjdATpsnsbsn.navy.mil)
Subject: AWADmail -- feedback

On May 4, I won the "Punniest of Show" competition at the 25th Annual O.Henry Pun-Off World Championships in Austin, Texas. Here is my first-place routine:

There's a little known animal that begins with the letter X. It's actually a Greek swordfish, spelled X-I-P-H-I-I-D-A-E, and it's pronounced ZIFF-EYE-IH-DEE. As Paul Harvey might say, "Now for the rest of the story." I'd like to present an ABC primer on animal puns. AARDVARK a million miles to put 26 animal puns in alphabetical order. I'd BADGER you and I'd keep CARPING on the subject, until I have no i-DEERs left. I'd have no EGRETs, however, as I FERRET out more animal puns. If necessary, I'd even GOPHER broke. Some may say it's a HARE-brained attempt; but, IGUANA tell you, I'm no JACKASS -- and I KID you not. I'm not doing this for a LARK (although maybe just a MITE). So don't NAG me. In fact, you OTTER try to PARROT me. But don't QUAIL from the challenge. After all, you don't have to be a RACCOON-teur. So just SALMON up some courage, before you take a TERN for the worse. Don't be afraid of people saying to you, "UNICORNiest person I know." Stop crying and VIPER nose. Then say, "WALLABY a son-of-a-gun," and start singing, "Zip-a-dee doo-dah, XIPHIIDAE ay." Soon you'll be a YAK-of-all-trades, and can put all of these animal puns in a book called "Who's ZOO".

From: Deb Dore (ddoreATaventail.com)
Subject: ...and thanks for all the fish! (Re: minnow

I wanted to drop you a line (hee! punny!) to tell you how much I appreciated your story about saying "Good luck" to the fish. I do the same thing, but I usually don't say it out loud. Maybe I will from now on, thanks to your inspiration. A friend's husband is a hunter (ick), and whenever he mentions that he's getting ready to go hunting, I'll say, "I'm rooting for the elk!" (or whatever type of animal he's preparing to stalk). He thinks it's funny, but I say it with a completely straight face. It's no joke... Luckily, he doesn't have much luck as a hunter. Woo-hoo! Go, elk!

From: Clare Chamberlain (chamberlainclareAThotmail.com)
Subject: fish words

A bit of a red-herring (!), but at my Grammar School, the three history teachers were Mr Trout, Mr Sturgeon and Mrs Goodyear.

From: Mary Jo Peden (mjopedenATyahoo.com)
Subject: The letter J

This week's newsletter prompted me to write and tell you about the fact that there are almost no drug names in the U.S. that begin with the letter J (fewer than 5, out of thousands of drug names). I've been a pharmacy technician for 17 years and it still amazes me how few pharmacists ever notice this. I contacted the editors of 'Facts and Comparisons', a well-known, often used drug reference. They told me the reason for this was that most pharmaceutical companies have global interests, and that in some languages the letter J doesn't exist.

    Or it does exist but is pronounced differently... -Anu

From: John Holt (johnholtATsprynet.com)
Subject: 'Ums' and 'uhs' contain meaning

A relative of mine coined a word a few years ago that helped introduce his son's eventual fiancée and wife. They had been living together for a year or so and attended family gatherings. When ever my cousin had to introduce the young lady he would simply refer to her as his son's - "Um - Uh." It certainly broke the ice and showed great understanding.

From: Hope C Dawson (hdawsonATling.ohio-state.edu)
Subject: "W" in French (Re: AWADmail Issue 81)

This is indeed "cool", but, unfortunately much of this is also incorrect, as a quick check with the OED or any etymological dictionary can confirm.

1) 'water' and Spanish 'agua' are not from the same original root.

2) 'what' and 'que' are indeed from the same root; the explanation given, however, was completely wrong. The original initial sound of this root in Indo-European was *kw- (a voiceless labio-velar). This is accurately represented exactly by the Latin 'quod' [kwod]. The Romance languages have lost the labial (rounding) element. In Germanic, the original *kw- became *hw- by the shift in the consonant system known as Grimm's Law (the same thing that accounts for English 'father' vs. Latin 'pater'). In English, the older version of 'what' was spelled and pronounced with an initial hw-, but the sounds metathesized (switched orders), giving the modern English 'what' (still pronounced with the 'h' sound by some people like newscasters or others who are concerned with enunciation).

3) 'warranty' and 'guarantee' are BOTH borrowings from French (i.e. neither is an original Germanic word). The difference in the initial sound reflects a dialectal difference within French itself, and has nothing to do with English.

The music that can deepest reach, / And cure all ill, is cordial speech. -Ralph Waldo Emerson, writer and philosopher (1803-1882)

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