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Feb 24, 2019
This week’s theme
Words with presidential connections

This week’s words
teddy bear

How popular are they?
Relative usage over time

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Tosspot words

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AWADmail Issue 869

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 you know how the world ends? We certainly do. This week’s Email of the Week winner, DG Krueger (see below), as well as all curious doomsdayers and sane naysayers can find out in our prescient blogpost: The Mouth of Truth. Meantime, why not have a quick, cutthroat wicked/smart game of One Up! while you’re waiting for the fall?

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

How Bibliophiles Flirt
The New York Times

A Town Where Most Speak Sign Language

Democracy Ends in Euphemism
The New York Times

From: Elizabeth Lapeyre (chelbby mac.com)
Subject: Presidents Day

Thank you for your insight and history of Presidents Day! For the last two years I have mourned this holiday. Today, after reading Wordsmith, I laughed a little and cried! Job well done!

Thank you once again!

Lisa Lapeyre, Beverly Hills, California

From: Mary Kolbe (marykolbe aol.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--OK

No one cares about your snide opinion on “current qualifications and job requirements” to be President. No one cares about your opinion on anything other than words. Injecting your personal bias into this website keeps me from opening my checkbook and responding to your pleas for financial support.

Mary Kolbe, Phoenix, Arizona

We value our readers irrespective of any donations. We are happy to have you here. Yes, it costs us to speak up, but if money were our motivation, we would be doing Fox News instead.
-Anu Garg

I will not grab ...

Email of the Week Brought to you by Wise Up! -- Got game?

From: DG Krueger (info dgkrueger.studio)
Subject: I will not grab ...

I thought you would enjoy seeing one of my recent works as an artist.

DG Krueger, New York, New York

From: Liisa Walimaa (bothblue gmail.com)
Subject: President’s Day is George Washington’s Birthday, or is it?

This week’s theme got us talking about President’s Day. Which isn’t legally what it is called. Nor is it Presidents’ Day, celebrating two great men. It truly is George Washington’s Birthday. Yet, it will never fall on George Washington’s birthday (Feb 22) nor on the actual day of his birth (Feb 11). Curious? Check these out to see how advertisers, astronomers, politicians, and a Pope all play a part in the confusion. (video, 1.5 min.)

Liisa Walimaa, Chandler, Arizona

From: Glenn Glazer (glenn.glazer gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--OK

You wrote: Presidents Day ...(Feel free to put an apostrophe in there somewhere, if it pleases you.)

Your comment on apostrophe reminded me of this cartoon.

Glenn Glazer, Felton, California

From: Brad Beam (b.beam suddenlink.net)
Subject: Presidents Day

Once Washington’s and Lincoln’s birthday-holidays were consolidated, the state of West Virginia took the opportunity to create Lincoln’s Day -- a state legal holiday which falls on the day after Thanksgiving.

Brad Beam, Belle, West Virginia

From: Jerry Delamater (comjhd hofstra.edu)
Subject: OK

To emphasize Anu’s comment that OK “is used everywhere”: In the ten years that I have been teaching ESL, I have had students from more than 20 countries, including Latvia, China, Korea, Ecuador, Chile, Egypt, and Germany, and every one of them has known and used OK in all the ways we do. By the way, it is more than OK by me that Anu disparages Agent Orange. I couldn’t help but think that his using the Jefferson quotation is also a not-so-subtle slap at a president who calls most newspapers “fake news”.

Jerry Delamater, New Haven, Connecticut

From: Joyce Dubin (joycedubin yahoo.com)
Subject: OK

When my mother was a child growing up in Nova Scotia (born in 1916), she was always reminded by her parents she was not allowed to use OK. She explained to me that they considered it “saloon” talk or very low class. And true to form, my mother never used the word.

Joyce Dubin, Richmond, Canada

From: SarahRose Werner (swerner nbnet.nb.ca)
Subject: Oh, Kay!

When I read today’s word, OK, I immediately thought of the 1926 musical comedy, “Oh, Kay!” and its title song, “Oh, Kay, you’re okay with me!”

SarahRose Werner, Saint John, Canada

From: Robert Hamilton (bobbonedoc gmail.com)
Subject: Medical “OK”

There is an evolved meaning for the word OK in the medical community. It is easiest to hear in a frantic emergency situation where many are rushing to save a life.
Example: “We’re going to put a tube in your (fill in the blank) to make you better ... OK?”
Translation: This huge hose is going where you really don’t want it to go and your disapproval is irrelevant.

Robert Hamilton, MD, St Petersburg, Florida

From: Frank M Sheffield (via website comments)
Subject: OK

I have of necessity spent unwanted but useful time in medical facilities (to include dentistry) where I found it impossible to even begin counting the instances of staff usage of OK. More specifically “OK?” I estimate the whole system would collapse within minutes if the word were banished.

Frank M Sheffield, San Diego, California

From: Mark Taylor (via website comments)
Subject: OK is now OK in Scrabble

You forgot the biggest news of the past year regarding the word OK. It is now accepted as a legitimate word in Scrabble. OK!

Mark Taylor, Wheaton, Illinois

From: Craig Fairhurst (teacher94 verizon.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--OK

What started off as a two-letter word or abbreviation eventually lengthened into a four-letter word “okay” and then through text-speak was shortened again into a one-letter word “k”.

Craig Fairhurst, Ridgewood, New York

From: Mike Eldon (mike.eldon depotkenya.org)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--OK

One of my favourite books is I’m OK -- You’re OK by Thomas Harris. First published in 1967 it’s about Transactional Analysis, and I use it all the time. Most people go through life in an “I’m not OK-You’re OK ego state, and the aspiration is to get to the OK-OK state. It goes along with developing Adult-Adult rather than Parent-Child relationships. There was also a follow up, “Staying OK”.

Mike Eldon, Nairobi, Kenya

From: Vidya K R (vidya.kr gmail.com)
Subject: Presidents Day

Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter. -Thomas Jefferson, third US president, architect, and author (1743-1826)

Modern version:
Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without Twitter, or Twitter without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.

Vidya K R, India

From: Geoffrey Wildanger (edward_wildanger brown.edu)
Subject: How many presidents

While it is true that there has so far been 45 presidents, that number comprises only 44 men. Grover Cleveland, having served his two terms non-consecutively, is both the 22nd and 24th president of the USA. Unfortunately, in regards to his passion for much younger women and indifference to sexual ethics, Cleveland quite resembles the office’s current occupant.

Geoffrey Wildanger, Comparative Literature, Brown University, Berlin, Germany

From: Mary Kaye Bates (via website comments)
Subject: sockdolager

We used to call heavy rainstorms sockdolagers in Maryland.

Mary Kaye Bates, West Palm Beach, Florida

From: Jake Sigg (jakesigg earthlink.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--sockdolager

One of the several nasty rapids in the Grand Canyon is Sockdolager Rapids. Can’t tell you who named it or why, but it could have been John Wesley Powell in his historic 1869 trip down the Colorado through the Canyon.

Jake Sigg, San Francisco, California

From: Eric Bott (eric_bott notes.k12.hi.us)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--teddy bear

May I suggest that your notes on the origin of the Teddy Bear do not do justice to this unique story. Teddy’s “people” who helped get the bear were actually led by a former Southern slave, Holt Collier, who, in a truth-stranger-than-fiction tale, fought for the Confederate side. He remained in the South after the war and became a well-known hunter/guide (was reputed to have killed over 3,000 bears -- more than Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone combined) and was hired for Roosevelt’s hunt. A National Wildlife Refuge is named in Collier’s honor (more here).

Eric Bott, Honolulu, Hawaii

From: Russell Lott (russellwlott comcast.net)
Subject: Re: teddy bear

I opened this morning’s teddy-bear edition of AWAD with anticipation, as the etymology of this term is one that we Mississippians are familiar with and of which we are quite proud. I expected to find at least one mention of our beloved state in your post, however, I was disappointed. Teddy’s bear hunt incident occurred in November of 1902 in the Mississippi delta near the town of Rolling Fork back when much of the delta was still forested and the American black bear was still plentiful.

Russell Lott, Hattiesburg, Mississippi

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

The -gate suffix is so hackneyed now in the UK that journalists can only use it tongue-in-cheek. Apart from Gategate referenced above we’ve had Colegate, a sex scandal involving footballer Ashley Cole and Gardengate, the cancellation of the Garden Bridge folly.

Denis Toll, Aberdeen, Scotland

From: Bryan Todd (boyanlj gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--watergate

This has made its way into languages around the world, including Mandarin, where “men” is the common term for a door or gate. As with English, the word can be tacked onto the end of an expression to indicate a scandal.

One example from a few years back is “Jie Shuo Men”, or CommentatorGate. A Chinese sportscaster was calling a World Cup match and went berserk as the team he was rooting for (which was a no-no) scored the winning goal. There was an uproar in the media and he eventually lost his job.

Bryan Todd, Lincoln, Nebraska

From: Laura Burns (laurab12 sbcglobal.net)
Subject: Watergate

My younger son as a teenager, noticing the ubiquitousness of the -gate suffix for scandals, wondered why earlier dome (as in Teapot) did not get picked up to be used in the same way.

Laura Burns, Galveston, Texas

From: Peter Gross (plgrossmd gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--throttlebottom

Of Thee I Sing is indeed a brilliant political satire. I was introduced to it as a teenager (60 years ago) by my dear (and also brilliant) friend Mike Hechtman. The space given to it in today’s AWAD bespeaks its timeless excellence. POTUS and the VP are not the only ones skewered by the wit of Kaufman and Ryskind. The nine justices of the Supreme Court are pompously enumerated by the Chief who then declares, “Only we can take a law and make it legal.” I listened to Of Thee I Sing on a 7” reel-to-reel tape recorder and perhaps rerecorded it as technology changed, but eventually lost [8-?] track of it and it is now, after several moves, nowhere to be found. Today’s AWAD has given me the impetus to rediscover it. Thank you.

Peter Gross, MD, Falls Church, Virginia

From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: Presidents Day and teddy bear

Presidents Day
Earlier this week (Feb 18) we celebrated Presidents Day, a compromise official date sandwiched between the birth date of our Great Emancipator, Abe Lincoln (Feb 12, 1809) and our first president, George Washington (Feb 22, 1732). Traditionally, it’s regarded as a very hallowed day for Americans when our nation honors all US presidents, past and present. Although in light of this typical Trump rabble-roused campaign rally scenario that I’ve depicted here, where the concerned specters of much revered presidents Washington and Lincoln loom large over the bloviating Prevaricator-in-Chief, one must seriously question, in the context of the two tumultuous years of Trump’s tenure in office, if the most elevated and esteemed political office in the land has been majorly sullied, at best (hardly “best”) or at worst, irreparably damaged? “Make America Great Again” has become a shibboleth... a tired trope still espoused by a so-called leader who appears to be at the helm of an ever-shifting ship of fools. (Note the sea of foreground red “Make America Great Again” (MAGA) hats worn by Trump’s true believers.

teddy bear
I suspect like many of my fellow AWADers, for some time I was unaware that the teddy bear moniker for the toy ursine was inspired by Theodore Roosevelt, our 26th president. At one point in his political career, 1912 to be precise, the then ex-two-term president formed and later lead the independent, progressive, reform-leaning Bull Moose Party. A whole litany of satirically barbed editorial cartoons sprung up on the op-ed pages of the day, either maligning or praising Roosevelt and his upstart reformist party. In my cartoon scenario I’ve clearly moose-ified Teddy, while mama bear comforts her bemused cub, assuring him that this particular bespectacled/mustachioed moose is a real big softie at heart.
Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California

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

1. ok
2. sockdolager
3. teddy bear
4. watergate
5. throttlebottom
1. looks good
2. targeted remark
3. Tatty
4. thwart
5. elected boob
     Words with presidential connections
1. ok
2. sockdolager
3. teddy bear
4. watergate
5. throttlebottom
1. bit better; good
2. corker
3. go down to the woods today, little critter
4. scandal; shame
5. inept wanker(s)
-Dharam Khalsa, Burlington, North Carolina (dharamkk2 gmail.com) -Robert Jordan, Lampang, Thailand (alfiesdad ymail.com)

From: Phil Graham (pgraham1946 cox.net)
Subject: Rules for limerick writing

I have been composing limericks since my high school days and have written well over 3,000 of them. In that time (to co-opt the Farmer’s Insurance slogan) I’ve learned a thing or two. Here’s the summary of my thoughts on how to write a limerick.

1. A limerick verse has five lines. The metrical foot used is anapest -- two unstressed syllables followed by one stressed one. It is also permissible to begin lines 1, 2, & 5 with an iamb --- a poetic foot containing two syllables --- one unstressed, one stressed. However, anapestic feet must immediately follow.

2. Musically, the rhythm is 12/8, spread across four measures, with the first, second, and fifth lines each filling an entire measure while lines 3 & 4 together comprise a measure.
Lines 1, 2, 5 have three sounded feet --- da-da-da, da-da-da, da-da-da. Since that accounts for only nine “beats”, those three feet are followed by one unsounded foot (rest-rest-rest.) Lines 3 and 4 have only six syllables each. Every line should begin with one or two unstressed “pickup notes” (unless the preceding line provides them.)

3. The lines need not contain a full 12 (or 6) spoken beats. End-of-line rests (pauses) may be used to fill out measures and/or to provide continuity into the succeeding line.

4. Once a line begins there must not be any pauses until end-of-line.

5. As with all strict forms of poetry, the final stressed syllables of paired words must rhyme -- not just their last syllables.

6. “Near-rhymes” are to be assiduously avoided.

7. If possible, line 5 should provide a surprise ending.

Many limerick writers break Rules 5 & 6. In fact, I doubt most of them even know that Rule 5 exists.

Phil Graham, Tulsa, Oklahoma

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

He married a timid doe, Kay.
They sought bridal bed right away.
When she asked that night,
Had she done it right?
Said he, “Oh Kay, more than OK!”
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

Yeah Trump! But don’t get carried away!
OK, but which way will I sway?
He’s mean and he’s stupid,
Less attractive than Cupid,
But spends less on the Wall than on hairspray.
-Joe Budd Stevens, MD, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico (joebuddstevens gmail.com)

OK has many meanings to convey.
It might mean “Yes”, “That’s alright,” “I’ll obey!”
Or approval, “Hey, that’s really OK!”
An exclamation instead of “I say!”
A little word, to support and inveigh!
-Monica Broom, Morogoro, Tanzania (monicabroom2015 gmail.com)

Said George at Mount Vernon one day,
“Dear, I’m really not feeling OK.”
Answered Martha, “You rogue,
That word’s not yet in vogue,
It’s for giving Van Buren cachet!”
-Janice Power, Cleveland, Ohio (janicepower25 gmail.com)

Though “D’accord” is the French for “OK”,
They quite often express it our way.
Returning the favor,
In two years we’ll savor
This word for the Donald: “Passé”.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Choosing Putin before his own men,
The sockdolager stuns once again.
“Our friendship is strong,
Not a thing can go wrong.
In my friend-book he rates as a ten.”
-Gayle Tremblay, Saint John, Canada (gayletremblay hotmail.com)

Mass shooting -- a tragic sockdolager.
But “I know my rights!” roar Glock-haulagers.
And “Guns aren’t the trouble.
It’s that human rubble!”
Cry naive, unseeing, schlock-knowledgers.
-Anna C. Johnston, Coarsegold, California (ajohnston13 gmail.com)

A disaffected student, under duress,
gave in to pressure from others, I guess,
And so he gave --
Some thought him brave --
A truly sockdolager valedictory address.
-Marcia Sinclair, Newmarket, Canada (marciasinclair rogers.com)

“Now lower your top,” the photographer
said. “A bit more,” he admonished her.
“Wow! I can tell,”
he yelled as it fell,
“this shot’s gonna be a sockdolager!”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

“In his bed you were quite the sockdolager,
Now keep quiet,” the fixer admonished her.
“I got Donald off cheap,”
He then bragged to the Veep;
“Praise the Lord!” said the chief apple polisher.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Une demoiselle, acting on a dare,
in a show of bravado quite rare,
strutted forth dans la rue
snagged a teddy bear, or two ...
her nude teddy made ‘em think she was bare!
-Brenda J. Gannam, Brooklyn, New York (gannamconsulting earthlink.net)

Said Mike Pence to his wife, “I declare,
The White House makes me just want to swear.
Lordy me, I’m regressing,
Washington is depressing,
‘Mother,’ bring me my toy teddy bear.’”
-Judith Marks-White, Westport, Connecticut (joodthmw gmail.com)

Though he seems like a darling old teddy bear,
He bites if he thinks you’re a billionaire.
With Bernie as Prez,
We might hear, “Simon says
Now step forward and sign up for Medicare.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

To repeat history is the fate
of the ones with that “know-nothing” trait.
They won’t learn from the past
and their powers don’t last,
but we’re mired in today’s Watergate.
-Zelda Dvoretzky, Haifa, Israel (zeldahaifa gmail.com)

The man who brought us Watergate
Is hardly one I’d venerate.
But Roger Stone
With tat has shown
That Nixon he’s fixed on as great.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

“If Nixon like me was in real estate,
He could’ve just purchased the Watergate,”
Says Trump. “With a key,
He could break in carefree,
With no trace for fake news to investigate.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

After the veep in Gershwins’ political parody, why
in the name of Sam Hill would another guy
hanker to be Vice Prez of the USA anyway?
Is playing Throttlebottom to Number 45 OK?
Our veep today gives us cause to moan and sigh.
-Mariana Warner, Asheville, North Carolina (marianaw6002 gmail.com)

When I survey the political scene,
I see great men few and far between.
Most are throttlebottoms,
their dopiness awesome,
with acts that make us vent our spleen.
-Shyamal Mukherji, Mumbai, India (mukherjis hotmail.com)

It seems to make a lot of sense.
A few of you will use Mike Pence
For Throttlebottom.
And, I’m sure that some
Will say that’s because he is dense.
-Lois Mowat, Orinda, California (lmowat1810 gmail.com)

Said Yahweh, “They’re sinning in Sodom,
And the mayor? A real throttlebottom.”
Up in heaven, the Lord
Was that day feeling bored,
So with fire and brimstone, he got ‘em.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

From: Phil Graham (pgraham1946 cox.net)
Subject: I almost presided not to submit these

“To run amok: ends with (but is not) OK.

If he really was a spy someone should have sockdolager Hiss in the mouth!

After Chappaquiddick how could Teddy bear to look at himself in the mirror?

While painting her fence, the woman wondered watergate color should be.

First Mr. Throttle examined the items; then throttlebottom.

Phil Graham, Tulsa, Oklahoma

From: James Ertner (jde31459 gmail.com)
Subject: Words with presidential “criminals-kiss & caress-avoids” (“con-neck-shuns”)

As the Canadian said, after looking at a large tree: “That’s an OK.” (oak, eh)

A person who makes puppets out of footwear is a sockdolager.

The nurse, while trying to administer a flu shot to young Theodore and convince him that it’s fairly painless, said: “Hold s-teddy, bear-ly hurts.”

If one lives in a safe, friendly neighborhood, then Watergates for?

As the stern British mother said to her misbehaving child, “Throttlebottom time!”

Jim Ertner, Greensboro, North Carolina

When once the itch of literature comes over a man, nothing can cure it but the scratching of a pen. -Samuel Lover, songwriter, composer, novelist, and artist (24 Feb 1797-1868)

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