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Dec 9, 2018
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AWADmail Issue 858

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

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

Speaking Two Languages May Help the Aging Brain
The Washington Post

How Did Human Language Evolve? Scientists Still Don’t Know

From: Cynthia Collins (collins.cindy gmail.com)
Subject: Gift of A.Word.A.Day

I would like to purchase a subscription for a daily postal mailing to an elderly gentleman who does not use the computer. Can this be accomplished? I love what I receive and he taught me so much about the history of words and word origins I think it would be a superb gift.

Cindy Collins, Greenacres, Florida

Well, this is the first time we have received a request for a postal version. It would be prohibitively expensive. For example, just the postage for a six-days-a-week mailing for a year would be about $150, not to mention those ink cartridges for the printer, paper, envelopes, etc. Not sure we’ll have more than one subscriber (if that) to the papyrus version of A.Word.A.Day.

We have tried a phone version but stopped it after a month when it didn’t see much use. We still have many ways to read A.Word.A.Day, but they all require a computer (or a similar device, such as a cell phone): email, web, Twitter, calendar, RSS feed, and your own site.

We have considered skywriting, but it’d be limited to a small geographic area. Once satellite time becomes inexpensive enough we might publish A.Word.A.Day with satellite-writing. Until then, share the good old email version with friends and family (and let us know of any other medium we should consider).

Back to your question, for those who don’t have a computer, give them a call once in a while (or every day) and read it to them.

There used to be a device that received email directly on a printer. Not sure it’s still around. Perhaps it self-destructed after receiving one too many emails with the signature “Please consider the environment before printing.”
-Anu Garg

From: Molly Beck (gonagain aol.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--velutinous

How lovely that you’re featuring Leah’s works, and words!

She did some beautiful drawings for Quail Ridge Books where I worked, including an enchanting mural on the arch that led into our children’s section. While she was working on it, on a scaffold, we felt Michael Angelo was in the building. The mural featured whimsical characters from numerous children’s books. Alas, it was lost a few years ago when the store moved to a new location.

Thanks for including this talented woman.

Molly Beck, Raleigh, North Carolina

From: Mary Jean Mailloux (marie-jeanne alliance-francaise.ca)
Subject: velutinous

I woke up thinking of velutinous potatoes today. You know whipped to a velutinous state. Believe in French we say “pommes de terre veloutées velouteuses”. The first time I saw this expression was on a menu in France. I thought it was so apt and the potatoes were whipped to a silky perfection.

Mary Jean Mailloux, Oakville, Canada

From: Yurii DeLaney (yuriika gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--velutinous

This was the scene as I looked to my left, whilst I read your email, this morning. I just HAD to snap a quick photo to send it to you. That was over an hour and a half ago.... I got a little carried away, personalizing it for you. I suck at font hunting. I wanted to find something velutinous looking. ;) I’m considering it a fortuitous, unintended, impromptu, artistic, collaboration between the three of us, you, the cat, and me. (Yes, I am trying to cram in as many words as possible but, I bet you know a single word that would describe an unintended artistic collaboration. lol)

Yurii DeLaney and Princess Lily Kittenradish Potato

From: Charlie Cockey (czechpointcharlie gmail.com)
Subject: Eldritch

“Eldritch” must have been HP Lovecraft’s favorite word. Before I read him, I doubt I’d even encountered it; after reading him it is forever tattooed into my brain.

Charlie Cockey, Brno, Czech Republic

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

If you say the word eldritch three times in front of a mirror in a dark room, HP Lovecraft will appear and yell adjectives at you, but only in houses with old gambrel roofs. As far as his prejudices go, I understand that he mellowed quite a bit as he got older.

Ana Ross, Honolulu, Hawaii

From: Joseph Kehm (jkehm1 gmail.com)
Subject: eldritch

Another example of the usage of “eldritch”:

“To Trump, whiteness is neither notional nor symbolic but is the very core of his power. In this, Trump is not singular. But whereas his forebears carried whiteness like an ancestral talisman, Trump cracked the glowing amulet open, releasing its eldritch energies.”
Ta-Nehisi Coates; The First White President: The Foundation of Donald Trump’s Presidency is the Negation of Barack Obama’s Legacy; The Atlantic; October 2017.

Joseph Kehm, Omaha, Nebraska

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

The lead singer of Goth band The Sisters of Mercy has long gone by the name of Andrew Eldritch eerily enough...

Alexander Nix, Cambridge, UK

From: Richard Stallman (rms gnu.org)
Subject: Kludge and Cluj

A few years ago I went to the Romanian city of Cluj to give a talk about free/libre software. During the talk, I tried to make a joke about kludge and Cluj, but no one got the joke. Asking around later, I found that young programmers seemed no longer to use or know the word kludge. So my joke was obsolete.

Yet another nugget from my youth bites the dust.

Dr Richard Stallman, President, Free Software Foundation, Boston, Massachusetts

From: Elizabeth Block (via website comments)
Subject: kludge

What a wonderful word. I do this all the time, and now I have a word for it. For instance, a pot lid that has lost its knob: I replaced it with a bottle cork. Looks funny but it works fine.

Elizabeth Block, Toronto, Canada

Email of the Week brought to you by The Official Old’s Cool Education -- Bone Up Now >

From: Joe Toth (JToth161 dollarbank.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--kludge

Some called it a hack and others a kludge, but whatever you call it, the Apollo 13 tube-socks-and-duct-tape solution was one of the best ever, IMO.

Joseph R. Toth, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

From: Anushtup Haldar (anushtup gmail.com)
Subject: About kludge

I read about the word kludge today -- it was new to me. However, the concept of an “inelegant, improvised solution to a problem” is very similar to what the Hindi word jugaad describes. It is often used in Indian English articles nowadays, though as an italicised word.

Anushtup Haldar, Kolkata, India

From: Charles Harp (texzenpro yahoo.com)
Subject: kludge

Most humans, including this creaky biped, have back pain at some point in life. As we extend our shelf life, it could be said that the spine is a kludge, an inadequate solution to verticality. Having evolved from being on all fours with less pressure on our spines, gravity is not always our friend.

Charles Harp, Victoria, Canada

From: Michael Graham (mjsgraham me.com)
Subject: Kludge

In Scotland from around the 1960s, folk began to use the word cludge or more often cludgie as a term for toilet: “A’m gaun tae the cludgie” translates as “I intend to make use of the washroom facilities.”

Michael Graham, Scotland

From: William Richardson (kymrbill aol.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--kludge

I have always seen this spelled “kluge” and the spell-checkers on both MSWord and AOL accept it. Exact same meaning though, and a perfect description of the White House today.

Bill Richardson, Orange, California

From: Ray Paseur (ray.paseur gmail.com)
Subject: Xeric

Although it’s been a wet year in Washington, DC, there are still many of us here who practice xeriscaping, using flagstones or other patio surfaces to create outdoor spaces with no requirement for supplemental water.

Ray Paseur, McLean, Virginia

From: Jeb Raitt (jbrmm266 aol.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--xeric

Whence xerography -- the system of printing using “dry” ink, or toner.

Jeb Raitt, Norfolk, Virginia

From: Ullrich Fischer (ullrich.fischer gmail.com)
Subject: xeric

Xeriously - dryly as in with a dry humour.

Ullrich Fischer, Surrey, Canada

From: Esther Hermann (enhermann hotmail.com)
Subject: xeric

Very timely, since just last week I got a new prescription for Xiidra for dry eyes.

Esther Hermann, St. Louis, Missouri

From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: velutinous and eldritch

In the festive spirit of the Christmas season, I’ve reprised a popular holiday standard... dare I say, “chestnut”, “The Christmas Song”, written* and first recorded by the mellifluous Mr. Mel Tormé, nicknamed “The Velvet Fog”. The music critic Will Friedwald, writing in Jazz Singing magazine back in the day, extolled Mel’s unique vocal instrument with these words... “Tormé works with the most beautiful voice a man is allowed to have, and he combines it with a flawless sense of pitch...”. Higher praise for a vocalist would be hard to muster.
*Tormé arranged the song, but co-wrote the lyrics with Bob Wells. Credit where credit is due, I say.
velutinous eldritch
Who’d a thunk it? Before the “turducken”, that freakish trifecta of a Thanksgiving culinary creation ... a stuffed combo of a turkey, a duck, and a chicken ... merged into a singular Franken-bird, Jorge Luis Borges had actually envisioned such a living creature, but regrettably omitted it in his engaging 1967 anthology, The Book of Imaginary Beings, co-written with writer Margarita Guerrero. The Banshee, The Manticore, The Squonk, The Golem, and The Eight-Forked Serpent were just a sampling of some of the fantastical creatures of world mythology Borges had so eloquently described in this work. Here, I’ve tried to capture a pensive Borges at the moment where he’s conjuring up the hybrid beastie, The Turducken” -- perchance the inspiration for the bizarro three-in-one Thanksgiving Day freakish fowl repast? Can’t blame Borges for “tofurkey” though. Ha!

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California

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


1. velutinous
2. eldritch
3. kludge
4. xeric
5. transpicuous
1. plush texture
2. odd
3. glue trick
4. in vicious sun
5. clear
     Illustrated words
1. velutinous
2. eldritch
3. kludge
4. xeric
5. transpicuous
1. lustrous downlike textures (can suit gloves)
2. lurid
3. patch
4. drier
5. lucid
-Dharam Khalsa, Burlington, North Carolina (dharamkk2 gmail.com) -Robert Jordan, Lampang, Thailand (alfiesdad ymail.com)

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

Lawrence of Orinda is his name.
My Tuxedo, who’s yet to gain fame.
He’s velutinous,
So I make a fuss.
A cat with a Mensa brain to claim.
-Lois Mowat, Orinda, California (lmowat1810 gmail.com)

The apprentice ascetic quails
on beholding the bed of nails.
But putting dark thoughts behind,
his yoga-trained mind
sees a couch of velutinous bales.
-Shyamal Mukherji, Mumbai, India (mukherjis hotmail.com)

“In Tahiti the girls were velutinous,”
Said the crewmen, “and God urges fruitfulness.
Let’s put Captain Bligh
On a boat, wave goodbye,
Turn around, and have fun being mutinous.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Experts have found a fossil dinosaur
With full feathers growing on a front claw!
It feels quirky and eldritch
To realise that its next pitch
Would be to become a bird, and to soar!
-Monica Broom, Morogoro, Tanzania (monicabroom2015 gmail.com)

He’s got a big bunch of orange hair which
Makes him look like a bit chy old witch.
He’s both eerie and weird,
(His hair needs to be sheared),
The living example of eldritch.
-Joe Budd Stevens, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico (joebuddstevens gmail.com)

A perfect example of eldritch is
Harkness’s A Discovery of Witches.
Demons, vampires, and spells --
(page John Wellington Wells)
scratch readers’ dark, but romantical itches.
-Zelda Dvoretzky, Haifa, Israel (zeldahaifa gmail.com)

Though the group found her scary and eldritch,
The wizard had made quite a swell pitch.
In her castle a pail
Showed them how to prevail,
For the label warned, “WATER WILL MELT WITCH.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“With a wrench I’m a klutz and a stooge,”
I said, my face turning rouge.
Though I would fiddle and fudge,
the nut wouldn’t budge.
“What I need is some unthought-of kludge.”
-Duncan C. Turner, Seattle, Washington (dturner badgleymullins.com)

“The floor I just washed, do not smudge,”
Says the sign, but it’s merely a kludge.
For I walk where I wish
And wash no dirty dish,
Knowing not why my wife holds a grudge.
-Janice Power, Cleveland, Ohio (janicepower25 gmail.com)

To the notion that Christmas is huge,
“Bah! Humbug!” said miserly Scrooge.
One night that all changed
When old Marley arranged
For a wee-hour attitude kludge.
(author’s note: I will be playing Scrooge in A Christmas Carol at Fairfield Center Stage in Fairfield, CT, from Dec 14-23.)
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

The Sinai’s a place that’s xeric,
A fact that’s not esoteric.
My friend didn’t know;
His water ran low,
And that was the end of Eric.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

With an effect so grossly satiric,
The young poet, he would spout a long lyric.
At soirées he’d regale
The bored guests who grew pale
‘Cause his rhymes were so painfully xeric.
-Judith Marks-White, Westport, Connecticut (joodthmw gmail.com)

When soil blustered across the land,
And help was nowhere, not at hand,
The Big Depression
Was a horrific session;
The xeric prairies were Fate, not planned.
-Marcia Sinclair, Newmarket, Canada (marciasinclair rogers.com)

By ignoring concerns atmospheric,
What’s fertile today could turn xeric.
What goes also comes
And could empty our tums,
For the world that we live in is spheric.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Much that you men won’t admit to us,
we ladies find truly transpicuous.
While reading your thoughts,
the vibes we have caught
are basically lewd and lascivious!
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

She thought the test ridiculous,
Her study was meticulous,
But the professor said,
“Don’t overthink, instead,
The answer is transpicuous.”
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

His bluster and bluff are transpicuous,
While clothing on her is deciduous.
Will someone inform me
How Donald and Stormy
Could possibly be more ridiculous?
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

From: Phil Graham (pgraham1946 cox.net)
Subject: Ill-ly straightened puns

Oceans protest, “Stop velutinous with your oil spills!”

The mostly mundane chef knives also included an eldritch cleaver.

Rube Goldberg always came thru in the kludge.

Xeric good reason for hiking in the desert?

Should a transpicuous straights will explain that you’re not interested.

Phil Graham, Tulsa, Oklahoma

Nothing so soothes our vanity as a display of greater vanity in others; it makes us vain, in fact, of our modesty. -Louis Kronenberger, writer (9 Dec 1904-1980)

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