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Aug 26, 2018
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Words that sound dirty

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AWADmail Issue 843

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

Sponsor’s Message: Do you think the way things were is better than the way things are? No doubt you do. Which is why you’re reading AWAD, innit? This week’s Email of the Week winner, Amy Metnick (see below), as well as all old schoolers everywhere’ll get first dibs on our unapologetically exclusive OLD’S COOL clobber -- so wicked original and well-made you’ll be handing it down to your children’s children. We’ve also announced our BOGO offer for the perfect gentleman leatherhead gift -- Indian Summer, The Original American Motorcycle Movie. Gear Up NOW!

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

UBC Professor Digs Up “Fossils” of Ice-Age Language for Hollywood

Non-Binary Russians Fight the Limits of Their Language
The Moscow Times

From: Scott Swanson (harview montana.com)
Subject: Dirty Words

Thanks for this week’s words! You are a cunning linguist.

Scott Swanson, Pendroy, Montana

You’re welcome. I’m a master debater too.
-Anu Garg

From: Adam Laceky (alaceky msn.com)
Subject: Words that sound dirty

Here’s something I wrote 10 years ago for Yankee Pot Roast. (Warning: contains offensive language)

Adam Laceky, Helena, Montana

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

Your intro to this week’s theme reminded me of when pants was a banned word from a football (soccer) forum I used as it was used in an insulting way, pants being undergarments in the UK English, so the expression American Trousers was used instead!

Alexander Nix, Cambridge, UK

From: Georgia Genie (ga.genie yahoo.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--tittup

Many of those my age will remember Elvis Presley’s appearance on TV in the 1956 Ed Sullivan Show. A showing of Elvis’s hip gyrations was considered to be “not fit for TV audiences” so censors ordered waist up shots only!

Just look what is on the TV now!

Eugenia Stephens, Georgia

From: Bob Freeman (hendon zol.co.zw)
Subject: This week’s theme Words that sound dirty

Words are made up of letters or sounds, there cannot be anything inherently dirty in them, only in the minds of some people do certain words become taboo.

But, as in the song by Tom Lehrer, in support of obscenity --

All books can be indecent books
Though recent books are bolder
For filth (I’m glad to say) is in
The mind of the beholder
When correctly viewed
Everything is lewd
(I could tell you things about Peter Pan
And the Wizard of Oz, there’s a dirty old man!)

Bob Freeman, Kadoma, Zimbabwe

Email of the Week (Enjoy Indian Summer TODAY --There are no cowboys in our movie)

From: Amy Metnick (aam3 catskill.net)
Subject: Unmentionables

Years ago we were visiting a friend in the UK. With joy in his little doggy heart, their beagle rolled over on his back to greet us. Our host said: “Oh please stop that, Fred. No one wants to see your horribles.”

Amy Metnick, Margaretville, New York

From: Gigi Gottwald (gottwalds axxess.co.za)
Subject: Unmentionables

Your amusing reference to “inexpressibles” or “unmentionables” reminded me of an episode in the German author Hans Fallada’s memoirs of his childhood. He and his young mother had to visit an ancient aunt who subjected them to an interrogation about the boy’s school marks (not great), the husband’s salary (not great), and similar painful subjects. The visit is not going well; the boy begins to fidget, the mother is getting rattled. “Hans, keep your legs still,” she says -- and the aunt nearly has a fit! The young woman is then sternly lectured about the utter inappropriateness, nay, indecency, of her choice of words. Referring to “pedestals” or “stands” might have been just, only just, acceptable, but a real lady would never dream of ever even mentioning “that down there”!

Gigi Gottwald, Polokwane, South Africa

From: Frank Brown (frank.brown travelport.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--tittup

In reading the autobiography of Gichin Funakoshi I discovered that in Japan the word for socks or stockings was unmentionable in Master Funakoshi’s time, but that had relaxed in more recent times. Master Funakoshi stuck to the old way, so his grandchildren would try to find all sorts of ways to trick him into saying it. (Karate-Do: My Way of Life by Gichin Funakoshi)

At least I think that is where I read that. I have read several books and articles about Gichin Funakoshi who is often referred to as the father of modern karate.

Frank Brown, Atlanta, Georgia

From: Chip Taylor (via website comments)
Subject: unmentionables

When I was growing up in the Bible Belt in the 1950s, underwear was always your “unmentionables”. Also interesting to me is that we called pants “britches”, which I am sure was a Southernization of the word “breeches”. It wasn’t until I was a young man on my own that I found out the proper spelling and pronunciation, which confused me to no end, since I was familiar with the ordinary definition of breeches.

I can still hear my mother telling me to go cut a switch so she could warm my britches over some transgression.

Chip Taylor

From: George Reynolds (georger1998 yahoo.com)
Subject: Anything Goes

We can’t forget what Cole Porter had to say about this: Anything Goes (song, 3 min.).

George Reynolds, Whately, Massachusetts

Titup Hall Drive to Toot Hill Butts (Oxford, UK)
Map: Google Maps
From: Maurice Herson (mherson phonecoop.coop)
Subject: tittup

We have a Titup Hall Drive near us. It’s at the bottom of a steep hill on the road that used to lead from Oxford to London. The word on the street here is that it’s because the horses that drew the carriages needed a bit of encouragement to start up the hill. (Not directly relevant, but we also have a road magnificently named Toot Hill Butts near here.)

Maurice Herson, Oxford, England

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

And what about titwillow, titmouse, and other such unmentionables? The story goes that Count Camillo Cavour, architect of Italy’s unification, who was a great admirer of all things English, upon reading in the record of parliamentary proceedings the remark “a titter ran through the crowd”, had a special clerk hired whose job was to do something ineffable to the ladies sitting in the visitors’ gallery. No wonder he never lived to see the completion of his work.

Andrew Pressburger, Toronto, Canada

From: Christopher Murray (cmurray1217 gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--tittup

Now that you have given your readers license to skate closer to the edge of acceptability, today’s word, tittup, called to mind tits-up, a word for on your back, out cold, literally -- “tits up”.

Christopher Murray, Charlottesville, Virginia

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

Robert Louis Stevenson had Dr. Livesay say, “I promise you shall hang at the next Assizes” (Treasure Island), and Arthur Conan Doyle had Sherlock Holmes say, “It is not for me to judge you, since you are yourself aware that you will soon answer for your deed at a higher court than the Assizes” (The Boscombe Valley Mystery). I did not realize there was a singular form of the word. Thank you for the lesson.

Ramaswami S, Thanjavur, India

From: Ana Ross (via website comments)
Subject: weirdness

I have no respect for people who deliberately try to be weird to attract attention, but if that’s who you honestly are, you shouldn’t try to “normalize” yourself. -Alicia Witt, actress, singer-songwriter, and pianist (b. 21 Aug 1975)

You can tell Alicia Witt is young. As you get older the idea that anyone knows who they “honestly are” becomes less and less likely and the weirdest people of all are those who have learned to “normalize” themselves most successfully.

Ana Ross, Honolulu, Hawaii

From: Marvin Berkson (bingo1939 sbcglobal.net)
Subject: crunt

The substitute teacher wrote on the blackboard Mrs. Prussy and asked the class to not forget her name. Next day she asked the class, “Who remembers my name? Little Johnny pops up, “I know teacher, Mrs. Crunt.”

Marvin Berkson, Foster City, California

From: Nelson (nelsonmybalo gmail.com)
Subject: A Thought For Today

Love is like quicksilver in the hand. Leave the fingers open and it stays in the palm; clutch it, and it darts away. -Dorothy Parker, author (22 Aug 1893-1967)

In the 1952 film Scaramouche, the character Doutreval of Dijon is showing the character Andre Moreau, played by the dashing Stewart Granger, how to handle a sabre. At one point he explains, “Think of this. A sword is like a bird. If you clutch it too tightly, you choke it -- too lightly and it flies away.” I saw this film decades ago but have never forgotten that moment in the film. To be sure, I had to look it up at IMDB to get the exact quotation, but in fact I remembered it almost exactly. Rafael Sabatini wrote the novel of the same name on which the film was based. That was in 1921. That still proves nothing, as I have no idea if that line came from the novel or from a screenwriter. Perhaps it was just an element of a particular zeitgeist. While the meanings of the two quotations are clearly different, the imagery is strikingly similar.

Nelson, Ha Noi, Viet Nam

From: Frances M Hendry (francesmhendry2704 gmail.com)
Subject: cockade

How do people with “cock” in their names manage online? Pincock, Cockburn, etc.? Can they send emails, or are they blocked and unpersoned? What happens with weathercock, cock of the walk, cocked hat, cock a snook at, stopcock? Bowdlerism gone mad.

Frances M Hendry, Nairn, Scotland

From: Charlie Cockey (czechpointcharlie gmail.com)
Subject: Cockade, blocked by schools

I have had personal experience with a robot blocking emails of mine because of my last name, Cockey -- same reason that “cockade” may be blocked, as you surmise, by some schools.

What made my experience unusual and more than a little humorous was that the emails were business letters dealing with a film festival, and were sent to ... an Australian LGBT festival (though in those days it was just “Gay & Lesbian”).

I ended up having to call them long-distance, and we all had a good chuckle over it.

Charlie Cockey, Brno, Czech Republic

From: Marc Chelemer (mc2496 att.com)
Subject: Cockade

I first came across this word in the name of an endangered bird in the southeastern USA: the Red-cockaded Woodpecker. The male has tiny red feathers on the sides of its head, just behind the eye. These “cockades” are difficult to see in the field but apparently are visually striking when displayed. The species has a specialized habitat that makes it vulnerable to human encroachment and development.

Marc Chelemer, Tenafly, New Jersey

From: Helen Colvin (tcolvin sympatico.ca)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--cockade

When we lived in England, cockerel, or cock for short, was the normal name for a male chicken. I don’t remember any snickers. After moving to Canada over thirty years ago, my children quickly educated me that one absolutely does not refer to a male chicken by any name other than a rooster. Sometimes however, particularly if my children are present, I cannot resist returning to my nomenclature roots.

I have a German friend who originally genuinely thought that cock was both the correct and acceptable word. At one memorable party, she was insisting on referring to a picture of a rooster as a cock, and of course, the more that people shushed her, the louder her pronunciation became. Why? What is wrong? That’s a cock, and, pointing to our host, “Well, that is ___’s cock!” We still chuckle, at least twenty-five years later.

Helen Colvin, Mountsberg, Canada

From: Prunella Barlow (prunella shaw.ca)
Subject: Cockade

It was very confusing to me, when I arrived in Canada many years ago, that words which I considered to be scatological and forbidden were freely used, whereas a male chicken provoked horrified rebuke, as did a twisted nail, as well as an entire genus of small British bird, which seemed to be slang for a part of female anatomy.

Prunella Barlow, North Vancouver, Canada

From: Janet Rizvi (janetrizvi gmail.com)
Subject: cockade

No Scot, with the slightest knowledge of their history or culture, will ever take cockade for a dirty word. The white cockade was the chosen emblem of the Jacobites at the time of the 1745 Rising, led by the inept, but charming, greatly loved, and above all, Bonnie Prince Charlie.

Here’s the best version of the song (2 min.) commemorating it.

Dr Janet Rizvi, Gurgaon, India

From: Michael Gatzkiewicz (gatzcape comcast.net)
Subject: Invictus

It matters not how strait the gate, / How charged with punishments the scroll, / I am the master of my fate: / I am the captain of my soul. -William Ernest Henley, poet, critic, and editor (23 Aug 1849-1903)

In the mid-1950s a Fairbanks, Alaska, radio announcer began his 15-minute commentary program, saying:

"I recently had the opportunity to reread W.E. Henley’s wonderful poem Invictus, with its mighty last lines ‘I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul,’ and it occurred to me that Mr. Henley had never been out on the tundra during mosquito season."

Michael Gatzkiewicz, Eastham, Massachusetts

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

Shortly after I joined the Episcopal Church as a sophomore in high school, the rector said in a sermon, “I may be the captain of my soul, but there is an admiral behind me somewhere.” Sometime later, I sang a musical setting of the poem, called Invictus, in our high school choir.

Lawrence Crumb, Eugene, Oregon

From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: tittup and crunt

Samantha Bee, host of the TBS comedy show, “Full Frontal With Samantha Bee”, created quite the kerfuffle after her May 30th, 2018, telecast, where she’d called Ivanka Trump a “feckless c**t”... the dreaded C-word. In my cartoon scenario, Ms. Bee attempts to clarify what she’d actually meant to say. Hmm... right. Ha! Amazing how a measly one letter of inclusion, or omission, could foment such a major brouhaha.

Crunt Tittup
At ancient Knossos, late Bronze Age Crete (3200-1100 BCE), they flew through the air with the greatest of ease, these topless Minoan maidens, the gigantic raging bull by the horns they did seize. Strict modesty clearly was not a priority for these athletic women of Minos, as they performed their ritualistic acrobatic leaps in veneration of the mighty, mythic bull, whom their culture had imbued with almost godlike attributes. The bras came much later. Ha!

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California

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


1. tittup
2. assize
3. crunt
4. cockade
5. fallacious
1. zeal
2. in court
3. attack
4. disc put as focus
5. lie
     Words that sound dirty
1. tittup
2. assize
3. crunt
4. cockade
5. fallacious
1. frisk
2. statute; law
3. dunt head; pound ditto
4. colors
5. casuistic; crazy
-Dharam Khalsa, Burlington, North Carolina (dharamkk2 gmail.com) -Robert Jordan, Lampang, Thailand (alfiesdad ymail.com)

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

Tittup made me think of, yes, a brassière.
An unmentionable -- rather like derrière!
That is at first glance,
But it means to prance,
Like a self-proclaimed “stud” whose “bed” is his métier!
-Monica Broom, Morogoro, Tanzania (monicabroom2015 gmail.com)

So eye-catching was her tittup
That Stormy often got hit up.
Amazing to view!
She drew Donald too --
But soon thereafter they split up.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

When I saw her, my feet did a tittup;
My oft-gloomy face quickly lit up.
She was gorgeous and nude,
And I told myself “Dude,
For this painting the price you must bid up.”
-Janice Power, Cleveland, Ohio (janicepower25 gmail.com)

Donald: entranced with Stormy’s tittup,
That caper: a way to get it up.
He’s liked many ladies,
May spend time in Hades.
Three wives so far, time for a split up?
-Joe Budd Stevens, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico (joebuddstevens gmail.com)

Click your heels when you feel light;
Enjoy such occasions with all your might;
It could be good chance,
It could be a dance:
A tittup or a knees-up will set you right!
-Marcia Sinclair, Newmarket, Canada (marciasinclair rogers.com)

As he entered the bank in a tittup,
The thief shouted, “This is a stickup!”
But an armload of cash
Made him nervous, not brash,
And he dropped it and started to hiccup.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“He kept smelling our food, but didn’t pay,”
the chefs complaining to his lordship, say.
The ruling is short and wise,
The accused’ll, states the assize,
by jingling his coins at the chefs, defray!
-Shyamal Mukherji, Wakefield, Massachusetts (mukherjis hotmail.com)

I have learned that today’s word “assize”
Has a link to the pol we chastise
In the word “president”.
Now our poets can vent
On the person whose name they despise.
-Ben Dunham, Marion, Massachusetts (fiddlesr verizon.net)

The barrister dragged to assize,
With a cold it seemed might bring demise.
When the judge -- a big lout
Sneered “Speak up or get out!”
He sneezed, hitting judge ‘twixt the eyes.
-Anna C. Johnston, Coarsegold, California (ajohnston13 gmail.com)

Donald Trump with an ego full-size
Liked to rant and to demoralize.
His great need to impress
Puts us under duress.
He’s a one-man judicial assize.
-Judith Marks-White, Westport, Connecticut (joodthmw gmail.com)

Mother Earth will soon hold an assize,
And we’d better start buying supplies.
“You’ve made me all cockeyed
With carbon dioxide,”
She’ll say, “Why the look of surprise?”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

The caveman, trying a new stunt,
With his club gave his mate a hard crunt.
When he found she was dead,
He just scratched his head
And went on his way with a grunt.
-Del de Souza, Mumbai, India (deldesouza hotmail.com)

Said the cave man, “I see you’ve a yen
for my woman! If ever again
you pull such a stunt,
I’ll give you a crunt
with a rating much greater than ten!”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

Poor Donald cries, “It’s a witch hunt,
No collusion!” He will confront.
He obstructs and impedes,
But if Mueller succeeds,
Impeachment will fall like a crunt.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“You talk to me only in grunt,”
Said Oog’s wife, “And no good do you hunt.
All day long I clean cave;
You no wash, you no shave,”
She continued, and gave him a crunt.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Madame Tussaud has Trump on display
With a cockade and hair made of hay.
This wax figurine
Is slightly obscene.
You can tell it has thoughts of foul play.
-Gayle Tremblay, Saint John, Canada (gayletremblay hotmail.com)

When he told her he loved his cockade,
He really startled the pretty maid.
It entered her head
He’d use it in bed
Once he seduced her there to get laid.
-Lois Mowat, Orinda, California (lmowat1810 gmail.com)

Said Prez Cock to the chickens he’s played,
“I promise you tarts marmalade!”
Though my treacle you suck,
You’re muck out of luck!
All you get? A red MAGA cockade.
-Brenda J. Gannam, Brooklyn, New York (gannamconsulting earthlink.net)

For sterling work with a spade
Big Don deserves a cockade
Because around the house
As quiet as a mouse
A wall and ditch he made.
-Jan Bosman, Cape Town, South Africa (jbosman media24.com)

Napoleon’s often portrayed
In a hat with tricolor cockade.
But his wife Josephine
Said, “Eet’s not Halloween,
Take zat off or l’amour I’ll blockade.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

We had someone informed and sagacious.
What we have is a person mendacious,
a know-nothing master
whose reign’s a disaster
and whose tweets are completely fallacious.
-Zelda Dvoretzky, Haifa, Israel (zeldahaifa gmail.com)

Our lovely green planet is spacious
With room for all creatures, but gracious!
Human beings still breed
Far more than we need.
To continue this way is fallacious.
-Sara Hutchinson, New Castle, Delaware (sarahutch2003 yahoo.com)

While his attitude’s crudely salacious,
His excuses are plainly fallacious.
He sneers and he chuckles
While his pants he unbuckles
Protected by spokesmen mendacious.
-Gil Hillman, Madison, Wisconsin (grhillman post.harvard.edu)

“I love when a man gets fallacious,”
Said the tart, “Then I do things salacious.”
For she thought the word dirty;
“What’s soft I make sturdy,”
She bragged, “with my body curvaceous.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

From: Phil Graham (pgraham1946 cox.net)
Subject: Impertinent puns on prurient words

I told my bed-ridden aunt, “Tittup and tee who came to vitit you.”

When ah attend a trial assize up the jury.

Repeated blows to the head will crunt your growth.

If you’re poor and white you can receive Cauc aid.

On a shoestring budget? Fallacious go somewhere cheap to buy them.

Phil Graham, Tulsa, Oklahoma

From: Pat Lehman (ratstap gmail.com)
Subject: Thank you

Thank you for reminding me that it was on this day, one short year ago, I made one of the most perspicacious decisions of my three quarters of a century long life and hit the subscribe button on your website. I have been gifted, daily, and for that I bless you.

Love in a bun dance from Pat o’ Perth in Western Australia

No matter that patriotism is too often the refuge of scoundrels. Dissent, rebellion, and all-around hell-raising remain the true duty of patriots. -Barbara Ehrenreich, journalist and author (b. 26 Aug 1941)

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