Wordsmith.org: the magic of words


About | Media | Search | Contact  


Today's Word

Yesterday's Word



Jun 2, 2019
This week’s theme
Words originating in shoes

This week’s words
old shoe

How popular are they?
Relative usage over time

AWADmail archives

Next week’s theme
Weird plurals

Send a gift that
keeps on giving,
all year long:
A gift subscription of A.Word.A.Day or the gift of books
Bookmark and Share Facebook Twitter Digg MySpace Bookmark and Share

AWADmail Issue 883

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, Marion Wolf (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 National Spelling Bee Has Not One -- But Eight Champions

In Turkey, Keeping a Language of Whistles Alive
The New York Times

From: Armand Paul (armandanthonypaul gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--sabotage

Shoe words. They are fun. I like to think of them as footnotes.

Armand Paul, Penniac, Canada

From: Peter Armstrong-See (armstrong-see dlgtele.dk)
Subject: Sabotage

It’s also permeated profusely into other languages. The Spanish equivalent are sabotaje (noun) and sabotear (verb).

Thank you for AWAD. It’s the first thing I check in the mornings.

Peter Armstrong-See, Grevinge, Denmark

From: Linda St-Cyr (linda middleearthminerals.com)
Subject: Sabotage

Sabotage has yet another life in Japanese! サボタージュ is sabotaju in katakana, the script reserved for foreign loan words (and sounds). According to jisho.org, it means work-to-rule; go-slow strike. And how culturally appropriate this subtle meaning is: in Japan one would not typically refuse to do one’s job, but if the doing of it were slow to the point of causing work to grind to a halt, well then, what can be done? There is also a verb saboru (サボる) which has the added meanings of skipping school and being idle. Linda St-Cyr, Sparks, Nevada

From: Jeanette Goodstein (jeanette.goodstein gmail.com)
Subject: Shoemakers

My husband had an Indian urologist whose family name was Bootwala. We knew the meaning of walla in Hindi, but boot? So we asked, and she said it’s English, boot, or shoe. Forever after we called her Dr. Shoemaker.

Jeanette Goodstein, Scottsdale, Arizona

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

From: Marion Wolf (marionewolf yahoo.com)
Subject: Sabotage

In the school where I once taught, the hallways were lined with the students’ open cubbies. The cubbies had gotten messy, which bothered the head of the primary school. She decided to award a weekly prize to the class with the neatest cubbies. One week we were all surprised when a class that was usually the sloppiest won the prize. The truth soon came out: one of the first-graders in that class had gone to the other hallways and deliberately made a mess of their cubbies. To this day that six-year-old is the youngest saboteur I’ve ever known.

Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey

From: Richard Stallman (rms gnu.org)
Subject: Sabotage song

I wrote a song parody about sabotage.

Dr Richard Stallman, Boston, Massachusetts

From: Betty Duckman (chorbad aol.com)
Subject: Sabot

The sabot is a dingy style sailboat. The US version of the boat was invented in Long Beach (Naples area), California, and is referred to as the Naples Sabot. During the WWII years it was difficult to purchase sailboats due to materials going to the war effort. Early versions were constructed by hand typically in someone’s garage. The boat was made out of two sheets of plywood and thus the official length is 8 feet. Although no longer made of wood, it is still a popular boat for children and there are races worldwide. It was called a Sabot because it was originally made of wood, and the front has a flat nose like the wooden shoe.

Betty Duckman, Long Beach, California

From: Supreet Grewal (supgrewal yahoo.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--roughshod

A similar term, rubber shod, is used in surgical practice. It is a usual artery forceps, covered with plastic tubing, to hold very thin and fragile sutures. So rubber shods means artery forceps wearing rubber shoes!

Supreet Grewal, New Delhi, India

From: Mary Cole (mary.cole comcast.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--old shoe

Reminds me of the huge bronze sculptures of Old Shoes in Cartagena, Colombia. (Because Cartagena is as comfortable as a pair of old shoes.)

Mary Cole, Norwell, Massachusetts

From: Paul Castaldi (paulcast55 verizon.net)
Subject: Old Shoe

I’m certain that George Harrison’s song “Old Brown Shoe” is based on the current meaning of the idiom, although like many Harrison and Beatles songs the lyrics are a matter of interpretation. (lyrics, audio, 3 min.)

Paul Castaldi, Havertown, Pennsylvania

From: Ron Schneider (nowino gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--old shoe

And then there’s this: showing the sole of your shoe has long been an insult in Arab culture. To hit someone with a shoe -- as Muntadhar al-Zaidi tried with President George W. Bush -- is seen as even worse.

Ron Schneider, Napa, California

From: Benjamin Avant (benjamin benjaminavant.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--vamp

I’m sure I’m not your only subscriber who learned today’s word from US television when I was a child in the early 70s. I loved hearing Cher belt out “She was a scamp, a camp, and a bit of a tramp. She was a V-A-M-P, vamp!” in one of my favorite recurring sketches on The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour.

Thanks, AWAD, for the frequent trips down memory lane.

Benjamin Avant, Dallas, Texas

From: Davide Migliaccio (dcmiglia gmail.com)
Subject: Vamp

As a musician, I’ve vamped many times. But as a little boy of 10, I learned one of the other meanings...

In the early ’60s, my parents would go to Cripple Creek, CO, to hear the fabulous Max Morath, a Colorado Springs native, tear up the gold piano at the Imperial Hotel melodrama. And they bought an LP of his, on yellow vinyl, that I used to play on my Bozo the Clown phonograph. It contained a song, little-heard today, and possibly a bit dated for today’s tastes, Hard-hearted Hannah:

I saw her at the seashore with a great big pan
There was Hannah, pouring water on a drowning man
She’s hard-hearted Hannah
The Vamp of Savannah, GA
They call her hard-hearted Hannah,
The Vamp of Savannah
The meanest gal in town
Talk about your cold, refrigerating mamas;
Brother, she’s the polar bear’s pajamas!
(video, 3 min.)

After that, I didn’t have to ask my parents about that particular meaning of the word!

Dave Migliaccio, Colorado Springs, Colorado

From: Myrna Witt (keyofm aol.com)
Subject: vamp

A musical vamp can be so distinctive that when you hear it, you know the song it’s introducing. A good example is the one leading into “One” from that great musical, “A Chorus Line”. After the auditions and stories, the curtain opens with the dancers in gold tuxedos and top hats ready to go. But first “da, da-da dum, da-da dum...” and then, “One singular sensation...” Forgotten are the stories and left are the dancers working in concert.

Myrna Witt, Phoenix, Arizona

From: Richard J Tilley (richardjtilley gmail.com)
Subject: vamp

One of the bands that are the picture of vamping was the Yardbirds. In their song Let it Rock, they sang about the mythos of needing more money to buy brand new shoes.

Richard J Tilley, Charleston, South Carolina

From: Joshua H. Cohen (joshua.hal.cohen gmail.com)
Subject: vamp

I frequently use another metaphorical meaning of vamp, an intransitive verb meaning to stall for time, especially in a performative setting (e.g., “When the projector went out, the speaker vamped while technicians scurried around trying to fix it.”).

Also, in musical theater, a musical vamp is not necessarily introductory; it can also underscore dialogue in the middle of a song. “Wilkommen” from Cabaret is a great example of this.

Joshua H. Cohen, New York, New York

From: Denis Toll (denis.toll outlook.com)
Subject: vamps and stilettos

It seems that stilettos have vamps and are often worn by them.

Denis Toll, Aberdeen, Scotland

From: Akram Najjar (anajjar infoconsult.com.lb)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--shoehorn

Overheard: He does not know anything about music -- he cannot tell a shoehorn from a footnote.

Akram Najjar, Beirut, Lebanon

From: Mary Jane Turner (via website comments)
Subject: Shoehorn

With a shoehorn or not, The Queen slides comfortably in her shoes. Queen Elizabeth has a staff member break in her new Anello & Davide patent heels. Wearing beige-cotton-ankle-socks, the shoe breaker walks around on the carpets at Buckingham Palace until the leather is softened, keeping the soles pristine. With so many commitments it is a must the Queen be comfortable in her shoes.

Mary Jane Turner

From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: shoemaker and vamp

Prompted by the allusion to the word shoemaker in this week’s intro, I conjured up this fanciful equine-based scenario featuring one of thoroughbred horse racing’s most popular, winningest professional jockeys of his day, Willie (Bill) Shoemaker. Here, he’s racing his charging mount to the finish-line, challenged by one of “Li’l Abner” comic strip cartoonist Al Capp’s endearing, rolly-polly alien creatures, a wily shmoo, bouncing aboard a toy horse-head-on-a-stick. Clearly, all bets are off in this contest. Ha!

Shoemaker vamp
Bawdy, bold, and beautiful, blonde bombshell, Mae West, was the quintessential vaudeville stage, and later, Hollywood silver-screen vamp... the undeniable master (mistress?) of the racy double-entendre... here, using perhaps her signature come-on line “Come up and see me sometime... anytime!” A hopelessly smitten gent has clearly fallen for siren West’s magical allure, as froggy offers up a predictably lame pun from the sidelines.

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California

From: Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)
Subject: Anagrams of this week’s words
Words originating in shoes:
1. sabotage
2. roughshod
3. old shoe
4. vamp
5. shoehorn
1. voodoo
2. harsh; gnawing horseshoe
3. ol’ husband?
4. tramp
5. goes into rigid shoes
1. sabotage
2. roughshod
3. old shoe
4. vamp
5. shoehorn
1. hurt
2. so harsh
3. as home/good pal
4. bodge
5. shove on
-Dharam Khalsa, Burlington, North Carolina (dharamkk2 gmail.com) -Robert Jordan, Lampang, Thailand (alfiesdad ymail.com)

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

After weeks of themes somewhat contrived
A great new motif has arrived.
For my soul is elated,
My soles fascinated
By these words which from shoes are derived.
-Judith S. Fox, Teaneck, New Jersey (Jsfoxrk aol.com)

They vamped my old shoe -- that was sabotage.
So I’m roughshod each day on the plage.
To fit over my corn
I use a shoehorn.
My poor foot is then subject to frottage.
-Mike Young, Sedgefield, South Africa (youmike mweb.co.za)

“For my project I’ll make a collage,”
Said the girl, “of me, doing dressage.”
But before she was done
Someone ruined the fun,
For her saddle they stole. Sabotage!
-Janice Power, Cleveland, Ohio (jpmarlin456 gmail.com)

An hour at Helga’s Massage
Works the kinks from my old fuselage.
In her kneading I bask
As she bends to the task
And dispels Father Time’s sabotage.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Not too long ago many women
Were treated roughshod by lots of men.
Now most will cry, “No!
Or else you must go.”
They won’t tolerate abuse again.
-Lois Mowat, Orinda, California (lmowat1810 gmail.com)

As he watched the wrestling match
His animus started to hatch.
I hope that you do know
I’d be better at Sumo.
I’d run roughshod with nary a scratch.
-Gayle Tremblay, Saint John, Canada (gayletremblay hotmail.com)

“Over poor fig-leafed folks you run roughshod,”
Said Adam and Eve, “You’re a tough God.
An apple a day
Keeps the doctor away,
But one bite and now here comes the vice squad.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Through the years as their romances grew,
The high school entourage always knew
That the heartthrob named Sal,
Would end up with the gal,
Who cooked sauce and became his old shoe.
-Judith Marks-White, Westport, Connecticut (joodthmw gmail.com)

A good candidate should be an old shoe.
Someone who’s easy to relate to.
A sneaker, no dispute,
Should be given the boot,
And a loafer, too, we bid adieu.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

My sex life’s now like an old shoe;
Acrobatics could trigger code blue.
Not to mention the risk
That I’d rupture a disk,
Or that porn stars these days like to sue.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

The sensuous, smoldering vamp
denied she was hussy or tramp.
“Though I flutter my eyes
men will soon realize
I can bob and weave like a champ.”
-Duncan C. Turner, Seattle, Washington (dturner badgleymullins.com)

There once was a Southern Belle, Lana;
Men thought her a gift, much like manna;
They all flocked to her side,
Eyes and mouth open wide:
She was really the Vamp from Savannah.
-Marcia Sinclair, Newmarket, Canada (marciasinclair rogers.com)

“Though I raised you to be a good vamp,”
Said Count Dracula, “now you’re a tramp.
You’ll bite any old boy,
Whether Jewish or goy,
It’s for this that I sent you to camp?”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Sighed the woman who lived in a shoe,
“There were too many kids hitherto --
and now there’s a a newborn!
But thanks to my shoehorn,
I’ve managed to squeeze him in. Whew!”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

In his head new ideas you can’t shoehorn.
What’s already there’s musty and shopworn,
nasty, vulgar, and mean,
a disaster machine
and he blabs it on Twitter, his bullhorn.
-Zelda Dvoretzky, Haifa, Israel (zeldahaifa gmail.com)

The two stepsisters languished, forlorn,
Lamenting the day they were born.
The slipper, petite,
Fit only the feet
Of their sister, without a shoehorn.
-Sara Hutchinson, New Castle, Delaware (sarahutch2003 yahoo.com)

“I could not fit you in with a shoehorn,”
Said the innkeeper, “I don’t care who’s born.
There’s a manger out back;
The cows moo, the ducks quack,
And three men have come too, on a mule borne.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

From: Phil Graham (pgraham1946 cox.net)
Subject: That Graham guy... heel pun on anything.

When his favorite wife died Emperor Shah Jahan told his architect, “Let’s sabotage built for her.”

Your comments were rough schadenfreude would have suggested therapy for me.

On New Year’s Eve we tell the old, “Shoo!”

Electricians have vamp and ohm meters.

Upon returning from a visit to his former country, the Hispanic ex-pat asked his friend, “While I was gone did shoehorn in on my girlfriend?”

Phil Graham, Tulsa, Oklahoma

The business of the poet and the novelist is to show the sorriness underlying the grandest things and the grandeur underlying the sorriest things. -Thomas Hardy, novelist and poet (2 Jun 1840-1928)

We need your help

Help us continue to spread the magic of words to readers everywhere


Subscriber Services
Awards | Stats | Links | Privacy Policy
Contribute | Advertise

© 1994-2024 Wordsmith