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Jan 13, 2019
This week’s theme
Portmanteaux

This week’s words
rurban
squiggle
palimony
guesstimate
contraption

How popular are they?
Relative usage over time

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Adjectives

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AWADmail Issue 863

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

Sponsor’s Message: Already bored and tired of your family Christmas fun and games? One Up! is wicked smarter than Scrabble. And way better than Bananagrams. No board. No complicated rules. 20 or so fast and sweaty cutthroat minutes. Rinse (off your IQ), and repeat. Congrats to Email of the Week winner, Wes Reynolds (see below), as well as all AWADers -- you can ring in the new year and ring a few bells too while you’re at it. Wise your family time up now >



From: Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)
Subject: Flower (2003-2019)

Flower (2003-2019)
Flower was a gentle soul.

We adopted her from a dog shelter when she was just a few months old. My daughter Ananya named her Flower, after a character in the Bambi story. That day as the puppy explored her new home, Ananya followed her everywhere exclaiming “How cute!” at every turn.

I knew Flower had suffered a downgrade in her cuteness rating when I heard an “Eeeww!” She had pooped right in the middle of the carpet in our living room. Had we gotten ourselves one of those stinky flowers?

Flower led a busy schedule. She chased birds to make sure they knew their place: trees, fence, but not any lower. She guarded the backyard from alien species such as squirrels. She also spent time in deep thoughts, lounging on the deck under the sun. All that, and, she still found time to catch up on her fan mail.

A dog doesn’t need much. A little food, a few pats, a treat or two. Add a walk and they are the happiest creature in the universe.

No matter what corner of the house she was in, when she sensed I was going out, she’d come running up or down the stairs. For a time, I even suspected she had some kind of supernatural ability to find out when I was going for a walk even though I had not put on my shoes or picked up her leash.

I figured that when she died, if she heard the sound of keys jingling in my hand, she’d come back to life, ready for a walk.

Ananya and I loved taking her to the off-leash dog area in the Marymoor Park nearby. It’s a doggie heaven. And also a heaven for people who love dogs. Dogs big and small, furry and shiny, black, white, brown, and so many other shades. All unique in their own way. Along the park runs River Sammamish and most dogs love jumping in and fetching tennis balls and sticks or dog paddling in water. But Flower was water shy. She still ran back and forth along the edge of the water, taking her responsibilities as a lifeguard seriously and making sure all dogs were safe in the water.

Over the years she mellowed. Her gait slowed, but she was still eager to go out and smell new smells and say hello to neighborhood dogs and their humans.

Monday, last week, I was in India when I received the message: Flower had lain down and didn’t get up. I jingled keys in my pocket. I put on my shoes. I even yelled “Flower, time for a walk!” in her general direction.

Perhaps she couldn’t hear me across 7,700 miles between Mumbai and Seattle. Maybe she just needed a nap.

She never responded.



From: Don Fearn (pooder charter.net)
Subject: rurban

I live in an area that I had referred to as “sub-suburban” but now that I’ve seen “rurban” I know that it’s the right word for where I live. I’m in a rural area and we have septic systems, wells, and woods surrounding the neighborhood, but there’s also cable and natural gas, just like the urban area about five miles away. We’re “rurban”.

Don Fearn, Rochester, Minnesota



From: Tobias Robison (tobyr21 gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--rurban

There is an older word (1955) with a very similar meaning: exurban: it refers to towns that are farther out than suburban, the difference being that they have more open spaces. “Exurban” tends to be associated with upscale homes, while I suspect that rurban is associated more with farm-style life.

Toby Robison, Princeton, New Jersey



From: Denis Toll (denis.toll outlook.com)
Subject: guesstimate

The term “ballpark figure” has been used in the UK for quite some time, which is strange because we don’t have any ballparks and baseball is a niche sport here. Kindred terms are: step up to the plate, throw a curveball, and out of left field.

Denis Toll, Aberdeen, Scotland



From: Marge Simon (msimon6206 aol.com)
Subject: Squiggle

Squiggle: I was so surprised and delighted to see this as our word of the day -- I’d never heard of it before when I wrote my first science fiction story. It was about an alien from outer space I dubbed a “Squiggle” and, being on the small side, lived in an empty beer can behind the house of a little boy. I was 11 years old at the time and there was no internet, no Star Trek. But there was a library in town with books by Andre Norton and others for young adults! Here’s to the Squiggle!

Marge Simon, Ocala, Florida



From: Roy Lewis (via website comments)
Subject: squiggles

Dating myself, but I remember the word squiggle from childhood when TV host Tom Hatten would create sketches from children’s random “squiggles” made on a drawing pad.

Roy Lewis, Austin, Texas



From: Mike Deutsch (mike.deutsch its.ny.gov)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--squiggle

When I was a lad, one of the local stations ran a 15-minute daily children’s program sponsored by a local bread company. One of the main features was where the host would ask one of the kids in the audience to make a squiggle. The kid would scrawl something on a large sketch pad, and the host would fill out the rest with a marker to make a rabbit, or a turtle, or whatever. I wonder how many of those kids, long since grown up, still have their “squiggles” stashed away somewhere?

Mike Deutsch, Albany, New York



From: Bruce Floyd (brucefloyd bellsouth.net)
Subject: Thought of the day

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
When you counsel someone, you should appear to be reminding him of something he had forgotten, not of the light he was unable to see. -Baltasar Gracian, writer and philosopher (8 Jan 1601-1658)

Some Wordsmith aficionados probably know that Socrates maintained that all learning, no matter how abstruse or complicated or labyrinthine, is recollection. In about the middle of the Platonic dialogue Meno, Meno asks Socrates if he can prove that all learning is recollection. Socrates promptly calls over an ignorant boy, a slave to be exact, and in the famous Socratic dialectic, which is no more than asking question after question of his interlocuter, he eventually elicits from the boy the boy’s understanding of geometry. Socrates believed that all knowledge lies within us, though of course most of it is hidden. Socrates referred to himself as a midwife, his mission to bring forth truth and knowledge that lay dormant in others. It’s probably fair to say that this pedagogical method has fallen out of favor. Some would say that we not only do not come into the world “trailing clouds of glory” but that we do not arrive replete with innate knowledge (if so, most of us, if not all of us, go to our graves with our prodigious ignorance untapped). I have no idea. The human predicament is beyond my scope and ken, and I am skeptical of anyone who avers he or she “has figured it out”.

Bruce Floyd, Florence, South Carolina



From: Lawrence Crumb (lcrumb uoregon.edu)
Subject: quotation

The quotation from Gracian reminds me of the slightly later words of Pope:

Men are best taught as if you taught them not,
And things unknown proposed as things forgot.

Lawrence Crumb, Eugene, Oregon



Email of the Week brought to you by One Up! -- Playing mind games just got serious >

From: Wes Reynolds (cwr rinsey.com)
Subject: Palimony

This link will take you back 40 years. I’m 73, so I was in my thirties then and Lee Marvin was a very popular actor. The site lays out in painful (for the parties) detail how palimony came to be. I’ve been married for 46 years and still going strong. So, my interest is only academic.

Wes Reynolds, Croton, New York



From: John Kimber (jkimber391 aol.com)
Subject: guesstimate

As an engineer who worked on estimates and proposals for new technology almost every day, guesstimate was one of my favourite terms. Another related term is SWAG -- an acronym for Scientific Wild A-- Guess.

John Kimber, Calgary, Canada



From: Alexander Drysdale (acd1 iprimus.com.au)
Subject: contraption

In the UK, there was a contraption designer called Heath Robinson. He would draw complicated machines to, for example, pour out a cup of tea. (An early edition of a Teasmaid for a cuppa in bed when you woke up.)

Alexander Drysdale, Lyndhurst, Australia



From: Steve Ganado (steve.ganado magna.com)
Subject: portmanteau

A few days ago you mentioned portmanteaus. Here’s one that we might be hearing more of in 2019:

’Renovictions’ Set To Rise In Canada In 2019, Rentals.ca Report Predicts

Steve Ganado, Belleville, Canada



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

I created a portmanteau once to help busy cosmologists shave a second or two from their conferences. Since they no longer think of space and time as separate things, I proposed the contraction “Spim” with a long “i”. I’ve submitted it to numerous forums specializing in Cosmology, but I have been assured that there is no Nobel prize for grammatical innovations in Physics. I suppose its an idea sadly ahead of its time.

Ana Ross, Honolulu, Hawaii



From: Diane Caouette (dcmoll yahoo.com)
Subject: Portmanteaux

When my brother was about eight, he coined the portmanteau “sinserious” when he wanted to really express his serious sincerity.

Diane Caouette



From: Alison Dundy (alison.shore.dundy gmail.com)
Subject: Portmanteaus

Your riff on portmanteaus brings mutts to mind. There are so many new words now to define dogs: labradoodle, chorwhich (chihuahua/Norwhich terrier), etc. My brother jokes that he will breed bulldogs and shitzuhs and market them as Bullshits. Meanwhile, when people ask what kind of dog my beloved mutt is, my answer is “One of a kind...like you.”

Alison Dundy, New York, New York



From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: rurban & squiggle

I’ve visualized the ultimate rural/urban hybrid gent... a “rurbanite”, if you will. He’s literally straddling the two disparate spheres of the country and the city, taking both in stride, reflecting how many of us are torn between the lure of the bustling urban jungle and the call of the wild. For most of us, a balance of both seems to be the ideal scenario. Perhaps easier to contemplate in the abstract, but harder to attain in reality?

rurban squiggle
A creative chimp squiggles apparently at random, sweeping pencil strokes on paper, perhaps as adept with her right foot as with either hand. But, you may ask... “Is it really ART?” My frog character, as artiste, appears to challenge the seemingly delighted, self-satisfied simian with his implying that to draw a stickman takes far more skill. Yet for most folk queried as to their draughtsmanship ability, they would often sheepishly admit that... “I can’t even draw a stickman”, the seemingly default minimal standard for drawing prowess. My caption is a riff on the old adage “A chip off the old block.” Of course, “Braque”, is referencing the early 20th-century seminal French artist, George Braque, who along with Picasso, co-invented the Cubist style, essentially launching what we have come to know as the Modern Art movement.

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California



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

1. rurban
2. squiggle
3. palimony
4. guesstimate
5. contraption
= 1. a city pig run?
2. loops
3. amenable grant
4. must question
5. rig
-Dharam Khalsa, Burlington, North Carolina (dharamkk2 gmail.com)




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

There was a young man from Durban
Who was drowning his sorrows in bourbon.
He was feeling so down
For he lived out of town
But not in the country being rurban.
-Denis Toll, Aberdeen, Scotland (denis.toll outlook.com)

There was a young fellow from Durban
who declared that his city was rurban.
On the Indian Ocean?
That’s such a daft notion!
Perhaps he has been at the bourbon.
-Zelda Dvoretzky, Haifa, Israel (zeldahaifa gmail.com)

In the 30s I had trouble curbin’
Sex thoughts ‘bout a young actress rurban.
I found it quite groovy
To sit in a movie
And lust over Deanna Durbin.
-Phil Graham, Tulsa, Oklahoma (pgraham1946 cox.net)

“When you speak of a lifestyle rurban,”
Said Woody, “I reach for the bourbon.
Outside of Manhattan,
It’s deader than Latin;
The quiet I find too disturbin’.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


The druggist alone could read
squiggles in a doctor's screed
Once, a doc who couldn't decrypt
his own hand-written script
had to call him in desperate need.
-Shyamal Mukherji, Mumbai, India (mukherjis hotmail.com)

A tickle-fest with cousin Ben
Seemed torturous for little Jen.
She’d squirm and wriggle;
She’d squeal; she’d squiggle;
But then she’d beg, “Oh, do that again.”
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

After he retired, John studied fine art,
As a Chartered Accountant, he’d done his part.
On a concert program he would scribble,
The conductor would materialise from the squiggle.
It’s accurate spontaneity charmed my heart!
(PS: This is a true-life limerick about my beloved late husband!)
-Monica Broom, Morogoro, Tanzania (monicabroom2015 gmail.com)

When Stormy on stage starts to jiggle,
Not a man in the room has a squiggle.
Their parts all stand tall,
And though some may be small,
For six figures she’ll try not to giggle.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


At lunch every day it’s baloney,
And for dinner each night macaroni?
Away I got carried,
Thank God we’re not married!
(I hope I don’t owe palimony).
-Janice Power, Cleveland, Ohio (janicepower25 gmail.com)

Cried parrot to pirate, “I quit!
On your shoulder no more will I sit!”
Now free and alone, he
receives palimony,
shuns rum, and adores aquavit.
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

Joanie found her boyfriend Tony,
A phony, full of baloney.
When she saw he kissed her
Young, innocent sister,
She sued him for palimony.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“What the heck does she mean, ‘Palimony?’”
Said Lee Marvin, “I say that’s baloney.
The idea is bizarre;
I’m a wanderin’ star
With the right to ride off on my pony.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


The political question that arises to date
Is how we assess a leader, and rate
His stance, his voice,
Discretionary choice;
In the case of Big D, I can guesstimate.
-Marcia Sinclair, Newmarket, Canada (marciasinclair rogers.com)

Oh, there once was a brash Head of State,
Whose sole purpose was to legislate.
With much guts and with gall,
He ruled over us all.
“I know everything,” he’d guesstimate.
-Judith Marks-White, Westport, Connecticut (joodthmw gmail.com)

He constantly touts his IQ,
His guesstimate’s three-hundred and two.
My brain’s so unique
You can tell when I speak
That my wisdom and wit will ensue.
-Gayle Tremblay, Saint John, Canada (gayletremblay hotmail.com)

Our dysfunction continues to escalate;
Its end point we can’t even guesstimate.
As we’ve made a joke cruel
Of our try at self-rule,
Oh good Queen, take us back, please don’t hesitate!
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


Of all the contraptions god’s wrought --
despite his perfection, as taught --
the pudendum of males
next to female’s quite pales!
“Good lord, what was it you thought?!”
-Brenda J. Gannam, Brooklyn, New York (gannamconsulting earthlink.net)

“Shut your big contraption!” he’d yell.
Listening to her was pure hell.
He was in the bag,
But when she would nag,
He’d just pour more booze down the well.
-Lois Mowat, Orinda, California (lmowat1810 gmail.com)

The Cheeto-Head fools just a fraction
With his juvenile tools of distraction.
But he’ll soon strike his colors,
For back at Bob Mueller’s,
They’re cracking the whole damn contraption.
-Alex Forbes, New York, New York (alexforbesmusic gmail.com)

Our Land has become a contraption
Vitals on the verge of prolapsion
Trump’s crisis of the heart”
A snub of the smart
Our virtue now a quaint abstraction.
-Charles Harp, Victoria, Canada (texzenpro yahoo.com)

A contraption whose use has increased
Is a modern-day oracle or priest.
It helps all us mortals
With internet portals
But when it breaks down it’s a beast.
(limerick riddle: A computer)
-Sara Hutchinson, New Castle, Delaware (sarahutch2003 yahoo.com)

“The wall’s a dual-purpose contraption:
First of all, it wins votes Anglo-Saxon,”
Says Donald, “And second,
When Moscow has beckoned,
It gives the Fake News a distraction.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)



From: Phil Graham (pgraham1946 cox.net)
Subject: Puns which blend a bit

(but sound as weird as Hindemith.) Those AWADs almost drove this por’manteau drink!

As they approached the Emerald City the travelers began rurban their hands expectantly.

When someone said, “This squiggle hide your birthmark, Mr. Gorbachev,” there was hell toupee.

Because Roy Rogers married Dale, nothing triggered giving up his golden palimony.

Finding dog hair on the bedspread the hotel manager asked, “Is your guesstimate?”

By birthing the assembly line, Henry Ford got his contraptions down to one per minute.

Phil Graham, Tulsa, Oklahoma



A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
To move freely you must be deeply rooted. -Bella Lewitzky, dancer (13 Jan 1916-2004)

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