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Aug 12, 2018
This week’s theme
Words related to veggies

This week’s words
olive branch
couch potato

How popular are they?
Relative usage over time

AWADmail archives

Next week’s theme
Words from 1984 that are now a part of the language

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AWADmail Issue 841

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

Sponsor’s Message: Are you a closet capitalist? Then come out and play: ONEUPMANSHIP is an open invitation to everyone who’s sick to death of video game crack, or hates playing the same-old tired, unfun “classics”, or who doesn’t find card games for horrible people particularly entertaining. Kudos to Email of the Week winner, Ray Paseur (see below) -- being rewarded for intelligence and superior effort is the name of the game, innit? Game On!

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

What is the Future of English in the US?

Say What? Language Hurdles Plague Two Koreas After Years of Division
The New York Times

Can £27m a Year Bring a Language Back from Near Death?

From: Tom Finucane (tfinucan jhmi.edu)
Subject: beans

In certain corners of medical slang, the word beans refer to the kidneys, presumably because they are shaped like beans. Especially slightly indented -- kidney beans.
“He really took a hit to his beans from all that arthritis medicine.”

Tom Finucane, Columbia, Maryland

From: Tony Chloros (tchloros hotmail.com)
Subject: cool-beans

Heard from a younger co-worker “cool-beans” meaning neat or cool in my generation’s vernacular.

Tony Chloros, Winter Haven, Florida

From: Belinda Hardman (user drapplebaum.com)
Subject: Words related to veggies

A mushroom is not a vegetable. It is not related to vegetables. A pea is the seed of a fruit. An olive is a stone fruit.

Belinda Hardman, Chicago, Illinois

I can’t believe I have to explain it again when I gave the scientific fruit/veggie test less than a month ago:
Anything that goes on top of a pizza is classified as a vegetable.
-Anu Garg

From: Steve Robinson (spr lawrobinson.com)
Subject: olive branch

For demagoguery,
I hold no brief
: Sometimes an olive branch
Is but a glorified fig leaf.

Steve Robinson, Glendale, California

From: Roy Sinton (roysinton gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--cabbage

I came across yet another use for this word when I was in hospital for heart surgery. A nurse assured me that after my cabbage I would feel like a new man. She was correct... my coronary artery by-pass graft (CABG) did indeed bring me much relief.

Roy Sinton, Christchurch, New Zealand

From: Andrew Lloyd (knockroe gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--cabbage

Cabbage [n]: a gene cab in the fruit-fly Drosophila melanogaster. Flies with this gene mutated are slower on the uptake than normal in, for example, remembering smells. Other genes with similar effects were named dunce dnc, turnip tur and rutabaga rut. These genes have quite different biochemical functions, which shows that to be smart lots of things have to work perfectly: a defect in any-of-many genes will impair a fly’s mental ability. Same applies to people too, of course. Other waggish gene names in Drosophila here.

Andrew Lloyd, Knockroe, Borris, Co Carlow, Ireland

From: Travis Williamson (cthwgw1791 gmail.com)
Subject: cabbage leaf

Interestingly enough, in Korean as a form of slang we call the celedon green 10,000 won note (approx. $10) a cabbage leaf, roughly prounounced baechoo neep.

Travis Williamson, Ilsandong-gu, South Korea

From: Alan Etherington (alan-e ntlworld.com)
Subject: Cabbage

In GB we play cricket. Also we play a game called French cricket in which the only similarity is that a bat and ball are used. The idea is to get someone out by catching the ball without a bounce or to hit the feet or shins of the batsman -- a tennis ball is usually used. If someone is pretending to throw the ball and doesn’t, a cry from the batsman of “No cabbaging!” may be heard meaning that this false throwing must cease forthwith.

Alan Etherington, Billingham, UK

From: Andrew Pressburger (andpress sympatico.ca)
Subject: Cabbage

Cabbage as a term of endearment.

In the memorable movie with Helen Mirren playing the title role, Prince Phillip asks Her Majesty for more room in the bed they share, with the words: Move over, cabbage.

If this does not constitute lese majesty, I don’t know what would.

Andrew Pressburger, Toronto, Canada

Email of the Week brought to you by Oneupmanship -- Are you a player?

From: Ray Paseur (ray.paseur gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--cabbage

In French “mon petit chou” is idiomatic, and a common term of endearment. Except in humor, I have never heard an English speaker use the literal translation “my little cabbage”. A better translation would be “my little cream puff”.

The idiom works in French because “chou” has a double meaning, and in the expression “chou” does not refer to “cabbage”. It’s more closely aligned with “chou à la crème”, (a cream puff) and a more endearing term.

Ray Paseur, McLean, Virginia

From: Judy Fisher Winograd (judy99 winograd.net)
Subject: cabbage

I spent a year in London in 1975 and the garment workers I studied with spoke of “cabbage” as the garments they could sell on the side in local markets. Those clothes were made from the leftover fabric husbanded by the cleverness of the cutters.

Judy Fisher Winograd, Decatur, Georgia

From: Dave Horsfall (dave horsfall.org)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--mushroom

Then there’s the mushroom treatment, i.e., kept in the dark and fed, ahem, manure...

Dave Horsfall, North Gosford, Australia

From: Susan Stiles (susan.stiles zoominternet.net)
Subject: Broccoli Rhubarb Mushrooms

This goes back to Pres. Bush Sr.’s lack of appreciation for broccoli, which caused a controversy. A newspaper writer penned the lovely and unforgettable headline: “Broccoli Rhubarb Mushrooms” in describing how the controversy grew. Well done!

Susan Stiles, Jarrettsville, Maryland

From: John Birsner (jbirsner aol.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--mushroom

When I was growing up in Bakersfield, CA -- south-central San Joaquin Valley -- we had a phrase called a “mushroom couple”. This referred to a male and female who would probably never get a partner, but had somehow found and were happy with each other.

John Birsner, Lancaster, California

From: Alex Adams (alex.adams yahoo.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--mushroom

As an amateur mycologist, I have learned that there are a slew of weird things going on in the world of fungi. Among them is that fungi are apparently more closely related to people than to plants.

Alex Adams, Denville, New Jersey

From: Alexander Nix (revajnix yahoo.co.uk)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--mushroom

Why did all the vegetables want to go out with the mushroom? Because he’s a fungi to be with.

Alexander Nix, Cambridge, UK

From: Vanessa Cooling (vanessa.cooling gcc.tas.gov.au)
Subject: Mushroom

An amusing use of the word mushroom can be found in Georgette Heyer’s novels of Regency England. Individuals who are considered to be trying to edge themselves into the upper class without adequate societal qualifications are referred to as “mushrooms of society” or, my favourite, “encroaching mushrooms”.

Vanessa Cooling, Hobart, Australia

From: Richard Kaplan (r.kaplan ucl.ac.uk)
Subject: Couch potatoes

In 2011, when detailed data about the genome of the garden potato was published in Nature and revealed that there were about 39,000 genes, I was unsurprised and observed in The Times (London) on 17 July that it should have been expected: the garden potato has a larger number of genes than the couch potato. The human genome contains about 20,000 coding genes.

Rick Kaplan, Farnborough, UK

From: Simon (simon newcastle.edu.au)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--couch potato

An alternative view of couch potatoes comes from zany Australian cartoonist Michael Leunig.

Simon, Ourimbah, Australia

From: Jo Sandrock (josandrock gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--couch potato

A boob tube is also a circle of fabric, probably elasticised at the back, worn round the breasts to conceal them on the beach and elsewhere.

Jo Sandrock, Johannesburg, South Africa

From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: olive branch & couch potato

For millennia, a pure white dove grasping an olive branch in its bill has been recognized as a symbol of peace. Here, for me, my sadly deceased dove-of-peace is starkly symbolic of the longstanding barriers between Palestinian Arabs and Jews... physical barrier... the steel, running wall of separation... religious barrier... Islam versus Judaism. My dove-of-peace has fatally smashed into the dividing wall that separates the Arab quarter from the Israeli, exemplifying the fragility of any prospect for peace.

Olive branch Couch potato
Following up on our “couch potato” USAGE example, and being an avid pro golf fan, in this scenario I chose to cut last year’s US Open champ, Brooks Koepka, some deserved slack, while conceding that he reportedly did go through a spell of couch potato-ing (vegging out?), while also recovering from some surgery in the months after his convincing Major victory. The driven, super-talented American golfer ultimately resumed his regular robust gym workout routine, dedicated hours on the practice range, returning to mid-season form in a handful of pre-2018 Open spring tour events, and amazingly, back in mid-June, captured his second US Open victory... I guess a little couch potato-ing goes a long way? Ha!

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California

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

1. olive branch
2. cabbage
3. pea-brained
4. mushroom
5. couch potato
= 1. a graphic about peace
2. cash, to rob
3. dumb
4. bloom
5. non-achiever
= 1. gave hope
2. cash
3. in a dunce cap
4. to bloom
5. armchair boob-tuber
     1. olive branch
2. cabbage
3. pea-brained
4. mushroom
5. couch potato
= 1. overture
2. poach; rob; bacon
3. a dash inept
4. magic; boom
5. bauchle
-Dharam Khalsa, Burlington, North Carolina (dharamkk2 gmail.com) -Robert Jordan, Lampang, Thailand (alfiesdad ymail.com)

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

Popeye acted with gal carte blanche,
She did hate his choice of dude ranch,
And to win her back,
He tried a new tack,
So he gave her a real Olive branch.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

An olive branch, please, to this bird.
(An illegal alien, I've heard.)
It was Mozart's young darling
This much-reviled starling
Live and let live. That's my word.
-Sara Hutchinson, New Castle, Delaware (sarahutch2003 yahoo.com)

A profound question, with monumental odds!
"Did the gods make humans, or humans create the gods?"
If of objection, there is an avalanche,
Let me offer an olive branch --
Charles Darwin stated that we evolved our own human bods!
-Monica Broom, Morogoro, Tanzania (monicabroom2015 gmail.com)

He offered Vlad an olive branch,
Let Russian hackers have carte blanche.
What Kompromat
Accounts for that?
I hope that he's not bet the ranch.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

Two brash cowboys who lived on the ranch,
They spent years under an avalanche
Of brash words cold and crude,
'Til Jim Bob said: "Hey, dude,
Let’s extend us the old olive branch.”
-Judith Marks-White, Westport, Connecticut (joodthmw gmail.com)

“I won’t give Saddam any olive branch,”
Said Dubya one day on his cattle ranch.
“I talked to Dick Cheney,
And man, that dude’s brainy,
Explaining how violence a war will stanch.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

It was all about cabbage to her.
A man who’d buy diamonds and fur.
Love was not important;
She got every want.
Was she happy? You know the answer.
-Lois Mowat, Orinda, California (lmowat1810 gmail.com)

When your world’s being run by a “cabbage”,
there’s no end to collateral damage.
(I searched hard a long time:
“cabbage hasn’t a rhyme
“so this is the best I can manage.”)
-Zelda Dvoretzky, Haifa, Israel (zeldahaifa gmail.com)

The thief robbed the bank for some cabbage,
Running out with it stuffed in his baggage.
As he fled, his car stalled;
Getting caught, he recalled
Murphy’s Law as the relevant adage.
-Janice Power, Cleveland, Ohio (janicepower25 gmail.com)

Says she, “Yes, you’re loaded with cabbage.
But that’s only part of the package,
from my point of view.
I’ve noticed that, too,
you’re overly-loaded with baggage!”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

Trump’s full of cabbage, or so I have learned.
Could we review his old tax return?
Plus he’s brainless, impaired,
And quite unprepared
And full of what else? Your turn to discern.
-Joe Budd Stevens, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico (joebuddstevens gmail.com)

“Mrs. Clinton’s campaign ve vill ravage,”
Said Vlad, “Vith ze emails ve’ll cabbage.
Ve’ll elect Mr. Trump
Eef ze sanctions he’ll dump;
Ve’ll approach older son vith brain damage.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

We like our politicians trained,
Regret when we see powers waned;
But what we hate,
And have seen of late,
Is one who shows himself pea-brained.
-Marcia Sinclair, Newmarket, Canada (marciasinclair rogers.com)

Halfway to the lockup, said the thief,
“Be back, wait here please, left my shoes on the reef.”
The pea-brained cop, dismayed
the thief will flee, said,
“No way. You wait here. I’ll go fetch ‘em in a jiff!”
-Shyamal Mukherji, Wakefield, Massachusetts (mukherjis hotmail.com)

Said Donald to Don, “Are you pea-brained?
To a road gang you want you and me chained?
Your emails to Vlad
Are Bob Mueller’s launch pad;
On us both are his sights now with glee trained!”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

For my five deferments I’m grateful,
The pain in my spurs was so hateful.
Plus my mushrooming brain
Is still causing me pain.
A burden like mine is a plateful.
-Gayle Tremblay, Saint John, Canada (gayletremblay hotmail.com)

Extending an olive branch to my
Cabbage-laden family, I thought I
Would be wealthy one day.
It was pea-brained, I’d say.
My debts mushroom to an all-time high.
-Lois Mowat, Orinda, California (lmowat1810 gmail.com)

With Mueller’s inquiry mushrooming,
Republican losses are looming.
I was one of them once,
Until dunce after dunce
Such as Dubya and Newt began blooming.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“Another new sofa, I see!”
says her friend. “Yes, it’s numero three.
Sustaining the weight o’
the old couch potato
all day killed the others,” says she.
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

A couch potato in DC
Cannot stop watching Fox TV.
“I’m never bored
When I’m adored --
Sean Hannity’s the man for me!”
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

The academy founded by Plato
Was the place for a Greek couch potato.
While athletes pursued
Playing sports in the nude,
They read books and ate pasta alfredo.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

It’s utterly impossible to legislate
For writing that’s totally illiterate
When a series of words
Are completely absurd
Give up and just vegetate!
-Denis Toll, Aberdeen, Scotland (denis.toll outlook.com)

From: Phil Graham (pgraham1946 cox.net)
Subject: You’ll turnip your nose at these radicchioless puns

I told the tree surgeon, “Trim the first three limbs but leave olive branch 4 alone.”

Hurray! “Cash Cabbage” back on TV this summer!

In “Lonesome Dove” Pea brained outlaws to subdue them.

Totally inebriated I asked, “Why mushroom spin like this?”

When planting the seeds, don’t couch potatoes before they patch.

(Yes, they’re corny but don’t beet me up, please.)

Phil Graham, Tulsa, Oklahoma

From: Jim Ertner (jde31459 gmail.com)
Subject: Let’s veg out!

Termite No. 1: “What part of a tree do you like best?” Termite No. 2: “Olive branch the best.”

When asked for his identification, what does a taxi driver show? His cabbage.

When asked what he had to do after the daylong trip (with no stops) and how he felt, he replied, “Pea-brained dead.”

As one fun guy said to another in the crowded bus, “There’s not mushroom in here.”

What did the man exclaim after sitting on a tuber (that sounded like a portmanteau of a bovine in pain)? “Couch potato!”

Jim Ertner, Greensboro, North Carolina

It has always seemed strange to me that in our endless discussions about education so little stress is laid on the pleasure of becoming an educated person, the enormous interest it adds to life. To be able to be caught up into the world of thought -- that is to be educated. -Edith Hamilton, educator and writer (12 Aug 1867-1963)

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