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Jul 29, 2018
This week’s theme
Tosspot words

This week’s words

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Relative usage over time

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Words that appear to be coined by flipping the letter p

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AWADmail Issue 839

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

Sponsor’s Message: Summer is a verb, in our world-view: sailing, fishing, hiking, motorbiking, camping, Nantucketing, suntanning, and screaming for ice cream. In that ludic spirit, we’re offering this week’s Email of the Week winner, Larry Tubelle (see below), as well as all surfers, sun-worshipers, backpackers, and beach bums everywhere FREE SARDINES -- the best-selling travel version of our wicked/smart word game One Up! -- with any purchase of $26 or more, today only. FUN UP! YOUR SUMMER NOW.

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

Behemoth, Bully, Thief: How the English Language Is Taking Over the Planet
The Guardian

Why Mistranslation Matters
The New York Times

Trump’s “Emoluments” Battle: How a Scholar’s Search of 200 Years of Dictionaries Helped Win a Historic Ruling
The Washington Post

Can #MeToo Fix Spain’s Language Problem?
The Atlantic

Hunting for Fossils in the Quirks of Language
The Economist

From: Vicki Lane (vicki3lane gmail.com)
Subject: tosspot words

What if a grabp--sy, a manglespeech, a boastself, a fleejob, an ignorefact, and a toadyputin were POTUS? Yeah, it’s too horrible to imagine.

Vicki Lane, Asheville, North Carolina

From: Barbara Chmielewska (b.chmielewska uw.edu.pl)
Subject: Tosspot

Tosspots were quite common in medieval Polish. What is interesting, they are mostly words with pejorative meaning:

cutpurse: robber
breakbone: robber
crushmountain: strongman
mournsoul: someone who complains
countturnip: a scrounge, etc. etc.
All tosspots mentioned above are literal translations. :)

Barbara Chmielewska, Warsaw, Poland

From: Greg Hope (ghope lacsd.org)
Subject: Tosspot words

Here are some of the fantastic tosspot words they have in Spanish:

matamoscas (kill flies): flyswatter
parabrisas (stop breezes): windshield
limpiaparabrisas (clean windshield): wiper
rascacielos (scratch skies): skyscraper

There are tons more here and here.

Greg Hope, Alhambra, California

From: R Kathleen Dillon (rkdillon verizon.net)
Subject: Swallowtale

Swallowtale: a person who believes anything D. Trump says.

Kathleen Dillon, Brooklyn, New York

From: Garth Pettersen (via website comments)
Subject: Jingle Pot Road

In Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada, there is a Jingle Pot Road, named for what the cook at the mining camp would do to call all to dinner.

Jingle Pot Road, Nanaimo, BC, Canada
Map: Google Maps

Garth Pettersen, Canada

From: Brenda J Gannam (gannamconsulting earthlink.net)
Subject: Tosspot words

While reflecting on this week’s words, the following tosspots came to mind:

moochdaddy: a person of mediocre talent and ambition who uses his/her father’s wealth and connections to start a business, run for political office, etc.

slingpoo: a person who continually and gratuitously denigrates, maligns, or otherwise besmirches the reputations, physical appearances, ideas, or accomplishments of others.

stealstage: a person who, whenever and wherever possible, interrupts the conversation or redirects the proceedings in order to make him/herself the center of attention.

pullpity: a person who recounts in minute detail all their misfortunes and negative experiences, past, present, or future, thus “forcing” others to respond with expressions of sympathy and reassurances of their support and affection.

Brenda J. Gannam, Brooklyn, New York

From: David Phillips (via website comments)
Subject: tumpgubmint

tumpgubmint: to totally overturn the norms, ideals, and effective operation of government.

David Phillips

From: Ellen Blackstone (ellenblackstone gmail.com)
Subject: Squintprint

Squintprint: the tiny type on a pill bottle or at the bottom of a contract that you very much need to know and cannot read.

Situation common to those of a certain age.

Ellen Blackstone, Seattle, Washington

From: Laura Lea (laura94520 gmail.com)
Subject: starepage

Coining new words -- my favorite pastime! Here’s mine: starepage (aka writer).

Laura Lea, Concord, California

From: Amir Goren (agoren1 gmail.com)
Subject: tapkey

How about “tapkey” as a modern word describing anyone whose job involves sitting in front of a computer all day, programming or writing emails, etc.?

Amir Goren, Tarrytown, New York

From: David Nutt (dcnutt gmail.com)
Subject: stopwater

My favorite tosspot is stopwater. A stopwater is a softwood dowel that is put in a hole drilled in both of two pieces of wood such as those pieces forming the stem or stern structures in wooden boat construction. This is done before the planking is fastened to the boat and its purpose is to stop water from leaking in the joint between these structural components because it is impossible to caulk this joint once the planking is fastened.

David Nutt, Edgecomb, Maine

From: Margaret Stein (stein_margaret bah.com)
Subject: tosspot

I thought I’d try my hand at creating some tosspots.

Sellsoul: Less profitable than a Westeros sellsword (mercenary), a sellsoul is one who barters his/her good name and principles for a mess of pottage.

Firefoe: One who deals with a personal affront by seeking to eliminate an adversary’s employment. A contemptible, spiteful, cowardly lot.

Sneersage: One who treats experts in a field with contempt. Usually has no personal knowledge (and many misconceptions) of the field.

Margaret Stein, Omaha, Nebraska

From: Sara Traver (straver1010 gmail.com)
Subject: Tosspot questions

Here are some tosspot questions to ponder:

Can slapstick comedy be accompanied by squeezebox music? (That would be worth a snapshot.)

Would I be a killjoy if I suspect a turnkey business opportunity is a scam?

Would you gain weight on a steady diet of shoofly pie and hushpuppies?

Would a scatterbrain be more focused if they used a stopwatch to complete tasks?

Sara Traver, Eastampton, New Jersey

From: Johan Daniel Rich (ohan.d.rich gmail.com)
Subject: braaivleis

In South African English there is the word braaivleis often shortened to braai which is a barbecue or meal consisting mostly of meat and other delicacies such as bread or corn roast over the coals of an open fire -- a very popular form of entertainment in this country. It is derived from the Afrikaans or Dutch words braai = roast (from the same root that gave English brand) and vleis = meat (same root as English flesh and German fleisch).

Johan Daniel Rich, East London, South Africa

Blue Highways by William Least Heat Moon From: Walter Meyer (walt.meyer28 gmail.com)
Subject: Shunpike

I have never heard shunpike before. And I love it. It reminds me of William Least Heat Moon’s Blue Highways. Three times I have shunpiked across the US. Not to avoid the tolls so much as to see the country. The interstates of Maine look a lot like those of Kansas, but on the back roads you can certainly see the differences of this vast and varied country.

Max Meyer, San Diego, California

From: Jack Harrington (harrington_nw yahoo.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--shunpike

I was delighted to learn the meaning of the word shunpike. When my father took the family west from New York City in 1952, we made good use of shunpikes, avoiding toll roads like the Pennsylvania Turnpike to save money. There were no Interstates then. When we arrived in California, we were delighted to discover the freeway.

Jack Harrington, Hansville, Washington

From: Bhavna Jha (bhavnajha gmail.com)
Subject: Shunpike

I am pretty sure you will receive several other mentions of this, and I want to add to the chimes of Harry-Potter-addled brains crying “Stan Shunpike”! I hadn’t ever explored the meaning of Shunpike for it seemed like an innocuous name, unlike Remus Lupin and Sirius Black who also made their first appearances in the Prisoner of Azkaban (apart from the brief mention of Sirius’s bike in Philosopher’s Stone, of course). I should have known JK Rowling better than to believe that the name of such a colourful character would have been left to mere chance! As the conductor of the Knight Bus which not only avoids tolls, but cars, garbage bins, buildings, and alleyways that get in the way of its destination, Stan could hardly have been better named.

Bhavna Jha, Ranchi, India

From: Toni Broaddus (tjbroaddus48 gmail.com)
Subject: Jerkwater

Ours is the jerkwater town you featured in your photo ... the Cumbres & Toltec Railroad’s Water tank at the depot.

This narrow gauge train runs as a tourist attraction now, owned by NM & CO together. But when I was in school, it still ran commercially.

Small mountain village, lots of winter snow. Great place to live.

Toni Broaddus, Chama, New Mexico

Email of the Week -- Brought to you by One Up! -- Fun Up! your summer today >
From: Larry Tubelle (larrytubelle outlook.com)
Subject: jerkwater

I would call Flint, Michigan, a jerkwater town. Jerks are in charge of the water there.

Larry Tubelle, Indio, California

From: Betty Feinberg (bgfeinberg cox.net)
Subject: jerkwater

Railroads have had a huge effect on the language. I’m told that the town of Coalinga, CA, got its name because before it was a town it was the site of a coal refueling station called Coaling A. There must also have been a Coaling B and C and so on.

Betty Feinberg, Tucson, Arizona

From: Meg Devereux (megeux aol.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--catchpenny

“Spend a penny” means using the restroom. To use a public restroom in the UK in the 1960s you needed a penny for a stall.

Meg Devereux, West Grove, Pennsylvania

From: Sandra de Mornay Davies (sandydmd yahoo.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--cutpurse

When one of my sons was younger and travelling through Europe staying in Hostels I told him to keep his passport and money in his underpants when he was asleep. Not hygienic, but one night all his friends had their money taken overnight and he still had his!

Sandra de Mornay Davies, Chesham, UK

From: Kaye Fisher (kaye_fisher telus.net)
Subject: pickpocket

My companion and I, in all our travels, have never had our pockets picked. We always felt safe in India. That is not to say that we haven’t been aware of attempts made in Capetown, Lima, or Harare. I did have my purse stolen in Singapore, but that was carelessness on my part.

The best protection is to use a round the neck money pouch. Safe travels,

Kaye Fisher, Claresholm, Canada

From: Banna Rubinow (bcdande twcny.rr.com)
Subject: Pickpockets in Manila

I used to work for an international relief and development agency. One of our staff in Manila had been warned about the prevalence of pickpockets there; he had a zipper sewn into the inside breast pocket of each of his suit jackets.

One day, he discovered that an enterprising and very adept pickpocket had not only removed the billfold from his pocket but had reclosed the zipper. Now there’s a true professional!

Banna Rubinow, Oswego, New York

From: Judy Tinelli (judytinelli hotmail.com)
Subject: pickpocket

I like your pickpocket story. Reminds me of when my brother-in-law, Takis Kyriakeas, was riding the Metro with me from the Athens airport to Monistiraki Square. When we got there, he noticed his wallet was missing. “Where was it, Takis,” I asked. “In my pocket,” he said, “I didn’t know anyone could get it there.” I had to tell him that that’s why they call it “pickpocket”! Duh!

By the way, Greece is a relatively honest country, so when anything like this happens, they are quick to blame others, currently it’s Albanians.

Judy Tinelli, Easton, Maryland

From: Thomas Hatch (tphatch gmail.com)
Subject: Mr Cautionpassenger

Your Mr Cautionpassenger story in India reminded me of an old Car Talk Puzzler which quizzed why complaints of pickpocketing in an area increased after warning signs were posted.

Thomas P. Hatch, Pensacola, Florida

Andy Kaufman as Latka Gravas
Photo: Wikimedia
From: Paul Castaldi (paulcast55 verizon.net)
Subject: Cutpurse/Pickpocket

The mention of “pickpocket” reminds me of a long-ago episode of the sitcom Taxi.

Latka Gravas, a lovable but goofy mechanic, pulls out a missing item from his pocket. When his boss asks Latka how the item got there, Latka replies with a tosspot neologism: “I must have been the victim of a putpocket!”

Paul Castaldi, Havertown, Pennsylvania

From: Ronnie Raviv (raraviv99 gmail.com)
Subject: knockwood

Your commentary on Thursday inspired:
knockwood (overseas, touchwood): a superstitious person.

Ronnie Raviv, Chicago, Illinois

From: Claudine Voelcker (claudine.voelcker googlemail.com)
Subject: scapegrace

Today’s word immediately brought to mind the Italian expression: “essere fuori dalla grazia di dio”, literally, to be outside god’s grace. However, it has quite a different meaning from the English one: when one is fuori dalla grazia di dio, one is livid with rage, goes berserk.

Claudine Voelcker, Munich, Germany

From: Ramaswami S (ramaswami.s gmail.com)
Subject: Re: scapegrace

“Poor George, only a year older than his scapegrace brother [Tom, who was forty-six], looked sixty.” So writes W. Somerset Maugham in his short story “Ant and the Grasshopper”. George is the ant, Tom, the grasshopper. The story has the trademark Maugham twist in the ending, leaving us to wonder if, perhaps, Tom has the grace of God after all.

Ramaswami S, Thanjavur, India

From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: jerkwater & cutpurse

In this folksy scenario, I’ve reprised the decidedly creepy young hillbilly banjo player from the 1972 backwoods action/thriller film, Deliverance, paired up with stand-up comic and actor-turned-banjo-strummer, Steve Martin. The two are engaged in a lively back-and-forth call-and-response-like exchange of banjo licks, while periodically tossing in their preferred terms for remote, rural, backward climes, i.e., podunk and jerkwater, respectively. Interestingly, there are several small, unremarkable towns in the US actually named Podunk, in Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, and Iowa, for starters. In-the-know historians suspect podunk is rooted in the Algonquin language, attributed to a tribal branch indigenous to present-day Connecticut. So far, have yet to locate a town named Jerkwater. Still looking. Ha!

jerkwater cutpurse
Here’s a not uncommon professional cutpurse’s ploy, where an unsuspecting tourist comes to the aid of a distressed street gamin, feigning that’s he’s lost his dad, whilst the kid’s older partner-in-crime is deftly fleecing the distracted good samaritan of his back-pocketed cellphone. Tourists beware!

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California

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

1. shunpike
2. jerkwater
3. catchpenny
4. cutpurse
5. scapegrace
1. spurns turn
2. picayune
3. cheap
4. see jacker get pack
5. wretch
     Tosspot words
1. shunpike
2. jerkwater
3. catchpenny
4. cutpurse
5. scapegrace
= 1. scorn charges, reroute; wends past
2. puny
3. just cheap
4. pickpocket
5. waster
-Dharam Khalsa, Burlington, North Carolina (dharamkk2 gmail.com) -Robert Jordan, Lampang, Thailand (alfiesdad ymail.com)

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

A trait he had I really did like
Was he always chose a shunpike.
The great times we had!
Some good, and some bad.
And usually adventure would strike.
-Lois Mowat, Orinda, California (lmowat1810 gmail.com)

He shunpikes 80 miles a day,
Refuses to stop at a toll booth to pay.
A car trip to Miami I fear,
Would take him more than a year.
It’s HIS way and not the highway.
-Judy Distler, Teaneck, New Jersey (jam1026 aol.com)

Said Mike riding his motorbike,
“There’s something that I surely like.
It’s always my goal
Avoiding the toll,
So I strike out on the shunpike.”
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“My interstate highways,” said Ike,
“Will be faster than any shunpike.”
This was back in the day
That when asked how he’d pay,
A Republican answered, “Tax hike.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

A jerkwater town has a tank
With a spigot the trainman must yank.
If the spigot is stuck
He says, “I’m in luck.
At the next stop they serve pinot blanc!”
-Ben Dunham, Marion, Massachusetts (fiddlesr verizon.net)

“Remote, unimportant, or small”
Does “jerkwater” define Donald at all?
He is tall, got some votes.
“I’m important!” he gloats.
I’m appalled by his ongoing gall.
-Joe Budd Stevens, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico (joebuddstevens gmail.com)

“The rest of the world is jerkwater,”
Says Trump, “Every treaty I’ll slaughter.
But my mood always plummets
At news of my summits;
Next time, I’ll be sending my daughter.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

A royal wedding prompts many a store
To stock catchpenny cups, plates, and more;
But buyer beware,
Unless you don’t care
That you’re stuck with junk hard to adore.
-Marcia Sinclair, Newmarket, Canada (marciasinclair rogers.com)

Our leadership’s merely catchpenny.
Of wisdom and foresight, ain’t any.
On weird impulse they hatch
Schemes that manage to snatch
From victory’s jaws defeats “plenny”.
-Zelda Dvoretzky, Haifa, Israel (zeldahaifa gmail.com)

The Apprentice’s viewers were many,”
Said Donald, “So why not an Emmy?
The system is rigged,
For they all think I’m wigged,
But this hair is no dime-store catchpenny.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

A thief found a poet one day
out walking, and stopped him mid-way.
Dismayed, the cutpurse
gained nothing but verse
and a book by some man named Roget.
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

Simon was a successful cutpurse.
His pickpocketing skills were even worse.
With his neatly obtained cache
Of notes, coins, and hard cash,
Gambling debts, he would reimburse.
-Monica Broom, Morogoro, Tanzania (monicabroom2015 gmail.com)

There was once a professional nurse
Who succumbed to a patient cutpurse.
‘Twas his usual norm
To slit her uniform,
Stealing money he’d not reimburse.
-Judith Marks-White, Westport, Connecticut (joodthmw gmail.com)

A ride in the back of a hearse
Is the end for a thief or cutpurse.
“You want in?” says Saint Peter,
“But you were a cheater;
Your victims you must reimburse.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

She has terrible taste in men.
She’s dating a scapegrace again.
She follows her heart,
Which isn’t so smart --
She visits him at the State Pen.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

What is it with all these scapegraces?
At deception they’re best, they’re the aces!
In flagrante delicto,
they make sure we’re all tricked, so
the proof’s stashed in very odd places.
-Brenda J. Gannam, Brooklyn, New York (gannamconsulting earthlink.net)

St. Peter met, at the gates of heaven,
the young scapegrace and his pious live-in.
He was a cad, ruffian,
but seeing on the pillion
a face devout, the saint let them both in!
-Shyamal Mukherji, Wakefield, Massachusetts (mukherjis hotmail.com)

In a constant state of confusion
He screams “There was no collusion.”
The scapegrace takes no blame
For his antics and shame
He lives in a world of delusion.
-Gayle Tremblay, Saint John, Canada (gayletremblay hotmail.com)

I’d advise any cad or scapegrace
Against seeking my daughter’s embrace.
You’ll be given input
With the tip of my foot
That will launch you from here into space.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

From: Phil Graham (pgraham1946 cox.net)
Subject: Poorly-punned tosspots

The medieval soldier axed, “I have halberd and mace, but shunpike be included, too?”

“You’re such a jerkwater you pestering me for?”

She remained faithful -- yes, Odysseus was lucky to catchpenny.

“Times are tough. You’ll have to take a pay cutpurse section II of your contract.”

Black & White TV made Superman’s scapegrace ‘stead of red.

Phil Graham, Tulsa, Oklahoma

From: James Ertner (jde31459 gmail.com)
Subject: Toss me a pot

After discovering the tallest “peak” in the Rocky Mountains in Colorado, the young lieutenant heard his commanding officer shout, “Atten-shunpike!”

When Lieutenant Pike then appeared to be horsing around in a nearby pond, his commanding officer shouted, “Hey, jerkwater you doing over there?!”

Lieutenant Pike replied, “My girlfriend, Penelope, had just slipped on a rock on the pond’s shore and I was trying to catchpenny.”

When asked whether he preferred a cut or uncut diamond as an engagement ring for his girlfriend, Lieutenant Pike replied, “Un-cutpurse-onally speaking.”

While Lieutenant Pike was “entertaining” Grace (a friend of his girlfriend Penelope) in his home and he saw Penelope pulling up in the driveway, he exclaimed, “Quickly escapegrace!”

Jim Ertner, Greensboro, North Carolina

If only I may grow: firmer, simpler -- quieter, warmer. -Dag Hammarskjold, Secretary General of the United Nations, Nobel laureate (29 Jul 1905-1961)

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