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May 26, 2019
This week’s theme
Tosspot words borrowed from other languages

This week’s words

How popular are they?
Relative usage over time

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Words originating in shoes

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AWADmail Issue 882

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

Sponsor’s Message: Are you looking for the perfect present for know-it-all dads and grads? The Official Old’s Cool Education is “The Holy Trinity of wit, knowledge, and fun and games,” and is chock-a-block full of gee-whiz, Shakespeare, history, soap-making, sports, anecdotes and quotes, Price’s Law, and diamonds and pearls of wisdom. We’re offering this week’s Email of the Week winner, Bill Stephany (see below), as well as all the what-do-I-get-the-man-who-has-everything AWADers a “Buy Two, Get Three” special through midnight Monday. Gift problems solved >

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

The Profanity President: Trump’s Four-Letter Vocabulary
The New York Times

The Books of College Libraries Are Turning Into Wallpaper
The Atlantic

Words, Words, Words -- One A Day, Every Day -- for 25 Years
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

From: Brett Hillyer (bluecollardj icloud.com)
Subject: Skyscraper

The word skyscraper jogs my mind back about 20 years. Having gone to architecture school, many amusing terms and phrases entered my lexicon. One of my structures professors (the great Charlie M.) had two in particular which he used often: landscrapers and interior desecrators, those who level the earth prior to the building process only to implement a “not-so-natural” palette of plant life.

Brett Hillyer, Charlotte, North Carolina

From: Arbel Vigodny (mrarbel gmail.com)
Subject: skyscraper in Hebrew

Hebrew also uses “skyscraper” גורד שחקים.

Arbel Vigodny, Tel Aviv, Israel

From: Joe Schmitt (jschmitt106 gmail.com)
Subject: skyscraper

Mandarin gives us the tosspot form of 摩天大楼 (mótiān dàlóu in Pinyin), literally rub-sky big-building. It’s a gentler method of contact with the sky, the same rub you get in 按摩 (Ànmó), massage.

Joe Schmitt, Madison, Wisconsin

From: John Wallace (via website comments)
Subject: Russian term for skyscraper

Not just Romance languages. I recall this Russian term for skyscraper (nebo screb): небоскреб.

John Wallace

From: Oliver Haffenden (Oliver.Haffenden bbc.co.uk)
Subject: matasuegras

The tosspot word that I would really like to see borrowed into English is matasuegras. This Spanish word (literally, mother-in-law-killer) refers to what Wikipedia calls a party horn. Intriguingly, the article says that “the item is not known consistently by any term in English”, so there is a yawning vacancy to be filled!

Ollie Haffenden, London, UK

From: Allen Thomson (thomsona flash.net)
Subject: Tosspot words in Spanish

Sacacorchos Corkscrew
Matamoscas Flyswatter
Matarratas Rat poison
Cubrecama Bedspread, comforter
Abrelatas Can opener
Abrebotellas Bottle opener

Allen Thomson, San Antonio, Texas

From: Bob Bokma (bobbokma gmail.com)
Subject: pasapalo

How about pasapalo, a Venezuelan Spanish word (literally, passes the drink) that refers to food items to help with your drink, a food snack that is eaten while drinking, especially before a meal.

Bob Bokma, Germantown, Maryland

From: Kathy Taylor (via website comments)
Subject: tosspot from other languages

There are many in Spanish. Parabrisas (lit. stop breezes) is a windshield. Limpiaparabrisas is windshield wiper. Sacacorchas (lit. take out cork) is corkscrew.

Kathy Taylor, Richmond, Indiana

From: Daniel Jacobson (danjayway gmail.com)
Subject: tosspots from Italian

Here are a few colorful tosspot words from Italian: combinaguai: a trouble-maker (from combinare: to be up to something + guai: trouble). Then there is grattacapo: trouble or worry (from grattare: to scratch + capo: head), and strozzapreti: priest-strangler, which is the funny name of a kind of pasta. The verb tagliare (to cut) yields several tosspot words: tagliaborse, literally cutpurse i.e, a pickpocket; tagliacarte, literally cut-papers, i.e., a letter-opener; and tagliabosche, from bosco, forest, woods, i.e. woodcutter or woodsman.

Daniel Jacobson, New York, New York

From: Janette Rosenbaum (janette.rosenbaum 350madison.org)
Subject: Italian

Italian generally does not go in much for compound words, but it does have some delightful tosspot words for household appliances. My favorites include aspirapolvere (inhale-dust, a vacuum cleaner), lavastoviglie (wash-dishes, a counterpart to the English non-tosspot dishwasher), and asciugabiancheria (dry-undergarments, a clothes dryer).

Janette Rosenbaum, Grand Rapids, Michigan

From: Martí­ Benach (embiti2002 yahoo.com)
Subject: Tosspot words in Catalan

In Catalan we’ve got tosspot words such as caçafantasmes: a person who hunts phantoms; contacontes: a person who tells short stories, especially to children; and trencanous: a domestic tool to break walnuts. Trencanous (trencar: break + nous: walnuts) is itself a title from a children’s tale, but that’s another story...

Martí­ Benach, Barcelona, Spain

From: Vicki Armstrong (via website comments)
Subject: casse-tout

Then there is a French casse-tout, someone who breaks everything they touch.

Vicki Armstrong

From: Alan Bennett (alanthetraveller gmail.com)
Subject: French

In French someone who is a pain in the neck is called casse-pied (breaks the foot). There’s a stronger term for that, but I shall refrain from mentioning it here.

Alan Bennett, Thenon, France

Email of the Week brought to you by The Official Old’s Cool Education -- Wit. Grit. Grad. Dad. Gift. >

From: Bill Stephany (wstephan uvm.edu)
Subject: tosspot

When I first went to Italy with one semester of language study behind me, I knew some words but had to feel my way to others. I was visiting an Italian friend and wanted to use the word towel bar. But I didn’t even know the word for towel. So for openers, I asked how do you say the thing for drying hands -- Come si dice la cosa per asciugare le mani? He looked at me oddly and said “asciuagamani”, literally, it dries hands.

Ok, so next question, what do you call the thing that supports the asciugamani, Come si dice la cosa per portare l’asciugamani? He said, “Uh, si dice portasciugamani,” with a questioning tone wondering if I was pulling his leg. So towel bar turns out to be a double tosspot in Italian, literally it carries the dries hands.

Bill Stephany, Burlington, Vermont

From: Alberto Valero (avofint gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--amuse-gueule

We have in Spanish a beautiful world tentenpié, literally mantente en pie meaning “stay standing” or “keep yourself on your feet”, for the small pieces of food that keep you vital in between the daily main courses.

Alberto Valero, Warsaw, Poland

From: Michèle Iadeluca Page (via website comments)
Subject: amuse-gueule

Being married to a French wife who’s a mind-blowing cook, I knew immediately what an amuse-gueule was when I opened AWAD today. What I didn’t know was that the word had made its way into the English language. Ritz crackers with sour cream and lumpfish eggs on top, small triangular-cut toasted white bread with smoked salmon and capers on top, and pigs in a blanket with roquefort inside are typical of French-style amuse-gueule.

Michele Iadeluca Page, Paris, France

From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--amuse-gueule

And now... sit back fellow AWAD-ers and enjoy yet another episode of the BBC’s Master(Cod)Piece Theater.

In contemplating today’s tosspot word, cache-sexe, defined as a covering for one’s “private parts”, I immediately transported myself back to courtly 15th-16th century Britain and the fashion-conscious dandies of the day, sporting the quintessential cache-sexe of that era... the codpiece. Frankly, one wonders if this often overly obtrusive male genital-shielding outer-garment, combining both form and function, was for many upper-class “gartered men-in-tights” an embellishment, or I dare say, a symbolic enhancement of their actual male member, perchance making up for a proportional deficiency in that rather delicate area of the male anatomy, i.e., the larger and more out-there the codpiece, the more likely the less endowed the wearer? Much like native Papua New Guinean tribesmen, who would traditionally wear a slender hollowed out gourd penis shield, often of extreme length, to conceal their manhood. Clearly, for both some self-conscious upper-crust Brit gents of yore and remote, isolated mountain-dwelling New Guinea tribesmen, in terms of their respective cache-sexes... size really does matter. Ha!

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California

From: Eric Grosshans (ericgrosshans gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--gainpain

Let’s not forget that Game of Thrones frequently used “sellsword” (sell sword, not sells word) to describe a mercenary.

Eric Grosshans, Loveland, Colorado

From: Cheryl James (cherylacurrie hotmail.com)
Subject: skitterbrook

Your word of the day took me back to my childhood in Northern Ireland where most children were referred to as skitterbockers (or skitterbuggers, for the less refined) and we naively thought it was a term of endearment! With hindsight, the epithet was probably spot on!

Cheryl James, Viry-Châtillon, France

From: Franco Piccolo (via website comments)
Subject: scaldabanco

This shows us an interesting situation: how words can change meaning over time. Nowadays, in Italian, my mother tongue, scaldabanchi like scaldapanche means “negligent pupil who does not benefit from teaching”.

Franco Piccolo, Treviso, Italy

From: Phil Igney (philigney gmail.com)
Subject: A.Word.A.Day--scaldabanco

If you have knowledge, let others light their candles in it. -Margaret Fuller, author (23 May 1810-1850)

If Margaret Fuller were alive today, her quotation would read, “If you have (dubious) knowledge, share it on social media.”

Phil Igney, Pensacola, Florida

From: David Micklethwait (micklethwait hotmail.com)
Subject: Skitterbrook

What in England we call breeches, in Scotland are breeks, both words cognate with the Dutch word broek. I had not come across the word Skitterbrook, but the same intestinal accident is, I believe, described by the colloquial British exclamation “Shit a brick!”

David Micklethwait, London, UK

From: Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)
Subject: Anagrams of this week’s words
1. amuse-gueule
2. skitterbrook
3. cache-sexe
4. scaldabanco
5. gainpain
= 1. began a meal
2. chicken
3. sex curio
4. bodacious as speaker
5. gauntlet
     1. amuse-gueule
2. skitterbrook
3. cache-sexe
4. scaldabanco
5. gainpain
= 1. nibble (nosh)
2. sneak
3. gee, a tapa-sexo! Gucci?
4. audacious talker
5. merc
-Dharam Khalsa, Burlington, North Carolina (dharamkk2 gmail.com) -Robert Jordan, Lampang, Thailand (alfiesdad ymail.com)

From: Phil Graham (pgraham1946 cox.net)
Subject: Thank you

Anu, I appreciate your asking me to edit the limericks, with the understanding that I was to help those who were struggling. I feel as if I’ve done that and I think most readers will agree that all the selections have scanned and rhymed recently.

Those contributors who worked hard to “write ‘em right” should be extremely proud! Several have improved their games dramatically -- to the point that I’m handing the editorial reins back to you.

Thanks for having put your faith in me and thank you, poets, for your many appreciative emails. Instead of “yada, yada, yada” I’ll close with da-da-DA, da-da-DA, da-da-DA. <wink>

Phil Graham, Tulsa, Oklahoma

Thank you, Phil, for serving as the limerick editor.
-Anu Garg

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

There once was a fine Chef, name of Paul,
Who cooked meals that were shockingly small.
He would serve the elite
With his dishes petite,
Namely tidbits known as amuse-gueule.
-Judith Marks-White, Westport, Connecticut (joodthmw gmail.com)

At our neighbor’s grand housewarming do,
amuse-gueules are superb: guests stand in queue
to replenish, refill,
unmindful, soon they will
be too full to eat hostess’ famed stew.
-Shyamal Mukherji, Kolkata, India ( mukherjis hotmail.com)

The Apprentice was just an amuse-gueule,”
Said Trump, “where I learned to effuse bull.
As a bigly celeb,
I now weave quite a web
Of deceit, and all kinds of abuse pull.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

It took her only one quick look
To tell he was a skitterbrook.
Not a man that she
Could agree to see.
She continued reading her book.
-Lois Mowat, Orinda, California (lmowat1810 gmail.com)

Said The Donald to Pence, “you just look,
I am hardly some loathsome old schnook.
While some think me so bad,
Just ask Jong-un and Vlad,
Who will vouch I am no skitterbrook.”
-Judith Marks-White, Westport, Connecticut (joodthmw gmail.com)

Of squirrels she had a great fear.
As she ate in the park, one came near.
The critter took lunch.
Skitterbrook, in the crunch,
took fright and took flight, the poor dear.
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

In nastiness Donald takes pride
With nicknames to foes he’s applied.
His bullying act
May cover in fact
A skitterbrook deep down inside.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

I bargained like no kind of skitterbrook
In Morocco one day in a little suq.
“It’s too much for that rug!”
I exclaimed with a shrug,
While inside me, my heart and my liver shook.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

If no other swimmer objects,
I’ll bathe in my modest cache-sexe.
For what could go wrong
if I’m wearing a thong
sufficient for what it protects?
-Duncan C. Turner, Seattle, Washington (dturner badgleymullins.com)

When the lover did surprise his ex,
He just wore a small thong as his cache-sexe.
She said in voice, steamy,
“Are you glad to see me?
For I see before me Homo erect’s.”
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

Tap the cache-sexe account down in Dover.
Tell the Feds “a retirement rollover”.
The most I will pay
Is just $130K,
Then lie low till this whole thing blows over.
-Tim Titus, Columbia, Maryland (patapscohistory gmail.com)

Said young Dubya, “A whiff of your cache-sexe,
And I’ll conquer whole worlds like the Aztecs.”
Answered Laura, “Your drinkin’
Has set me to thinkin’:
No touchin’, you’ll give me a rash, Tex.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Elmer Gantry was a scaldabanco,
but his fervor was far, far from frank-o.
A classic stem-winder,
a pulpit spellbinder.
His faith? There the man drew a blank-o.
-Zelda Dvoretzky, Haifa, Israel (zeldahaifa gmail.com)

A great scaldabanco once spoke,
And sleeping parishioners woke.
He conjured up hell
And did it so well
That some left their pews for a smoke.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

The scaldabanco believes he’s admired
Yet in scandalous mud he is mired.
As we wait in the wings
He pulls all the strings
With no training or brain cells required.
-Gayle Tremblay, Saint John, Canada (gayletremblay hotmail.com)

A Calgary cowboy’s young bronco
Once threw him halfway to Toronto.
He came down in a church
Where men’s souls they besmirch,
For the priest was a real scaldabanco.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

A fighter of old might just deign,
With reluctance, because he was vain,
To show off his armour
(Pretend he’s a charmer)
And display his mail and gainpain.
-Marcia Sinclair, Newmarket, Canada (marciasinclair rogers.com)

The old peace-loving neighborhood baker
to the thief said, “Now, son, I’m a Quaker,
but if thou act like an oaf,
and run away with that loaf,
my gainpain will convert thee to Shaker.
-Duncan C. Turner, Seattle, Washington (dturner badgleymullins.com)

The Hessian was sent to maintain
the strength of King George the Third’s reign,
but after that fray
he decided to stay
a free man, and no more a gainpain.
-Zelda Dvoretzky, Haifa, Israel (zeldahaifa gmail.com)

Said Macduff, “We’ll retain any gainpain
Who can help us defeat that insane thane.
There’s no ifs, ands, or buts,
For his wife has gone nuts;
Macbeth’s blood we must now from his brain drain.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

From: Phil Graham (pgraham1946 cox.net)
Subject: Tosspots (As for these, tossed parts would be better)

Is a milkmaid amuse-gueule? (a moos girl... hate when I must explain.)

The insects known as water striders can walkonponds and skitterbrooks.

If she exists, credit the prostitute who doesn’t demand cache-sexe.

When my Mexican company needs a loan I say, “Let’s scaldabanco.”

What did they expect to gainpain $100K or more to cheat their kids into college?

Phil Graham, Tulsa, Oklahoma

But the fruit that can fall without shaking, / Indeed is too mellow for me. -Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, author (26 May 1689-1762)

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