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Jun 16, 2019
This week’s theme
People who have had multiple words coined after them

This week’s words
Socratic method
Midas touch
Achilles’ heel

How popular are they?
Relative usage over time

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Next week’s theme
People with multiple eponyms coined after them

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AWADmail Issue 885

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, Jan Grover (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

In the Future, Will the English Language Be Full of Accented Characters?
The Week
[When an article has a yes-no question as its title, the quick answer is no. -Ed.]

When English Is Not Your Mother Tongue

What It's Like to Be a White Woman Named LaKiesha

From: Judith Judson (jjudson frontier.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--Socratic method

That Curies vs Kardashians comparison is rather like the comparison made by one of the principal characters in Thorne Smith’s nuttiest novel, Rain in the Doorway. Three quite oddball department store owners take their reluctant new partner to a Kiarian banquet, where civic uplift and capitalist boasting are turned into a total frenzy by the four. When one gasbag is boasting about himself and his town, denigrating everybody but businessmen, the weirdest of the partners says, “Could Abe Lincoln change a tire? No. Very well then, the man was a washout.”

Judith Judson, Pittsford, New York

From: Elizabeth Block (elizabethblock netzero.net)
Subject: Nobel Peace Prize

The Nobel Peace Prize, yes. Tom Lehrer, when asked why he had stopped writing satirical songs, once said that real life had caught up with, and surpassed, satire. As an example, he said that he had thought of writing a satirical song about Henry Kissinger getting the Nobel Peace Prize -- and then he did.

Elizabeth Block, Toronto, Canada

From: Andrew Pressburger (andpress sympatico.ca)
Subject: Socratic method

Of course, Socrates knew which way to steer the thoughts of his students while pretending that they were discovering the truth on their own. As well, we have only Plato’s Dialogues as a secondary source for his forerunner’s actions.

Perhaps Xanthippe’s shrewish behaviour also contributed to her husband’s being out of the house as often as possible. Among other of her misdemeanours, it is alleged that at one time she emptied the contents of the chamber pot on the bald head of her husband. That, too, may be seen as a form of gentle persuasion.

Andrew Pressburger, Toronto, Canada

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

From: Jan Zita Grover (jzgrover gmail.com)
Subject: Midas touch

Interesting that the term Midas touch is commonly used in a positive way, isn’t it? I’ve always thought it should refer to the death or destruction of someone/something as the result of greed and hubris. The only popular instance of that take which I can recall is the theme song (video, 3 min.) sung by Shirley Bassey for the 1964 James Bond flick, Goldfinger. In it, Bassey’s phrasing, and the lyrics, make the Midas touch sound as chilling as it is in fable and legend. And in current US politics.

Jan Grover, St. Paul, Minnesota

From: John Titchener (titchener.schlee gmail.com)
Subject: Sadim touch

And not to forget the opposite of the Midas Touch, the Sadim touch, where everything gold that is touched, turns to dross!

John Titchener, Hamilton, New Zealand

From: Andrew Pressburger (andpress sympatico.ca)
Subject: Philippics

After the assassination of Julius Caesar, the orator Cicero delivered a series of speeches, challenging the legitimacy of the Second Triumvirate. He named his orations Philippics, in honour of the Greek Demosthenes who had harangued the Athenians not to give in to the threats of Philip II of Macedon. For this, Cicero paid with his life by being proscribed and ultimately decapitated. He died like a true stoic, a forerunner of Epictetus and Seneca.

Andrew Pressburger, Toronto, Canada

From: Craig Little (craig.little pearson.com)
Subject: philippic

For my generation, one cannot say philippic without adding desultory the marvelous, rambling, vaguely nonsensical diatribe from Paul Simon, A Simple Desultory Philippic (lyrics, video, 2.5 min.). For years when I was a kid, being half awake and stumbling around vaguely looking for something but couldn’t remember exactly what required someone to mumble “I lost my harmonica, Albert” to general hilarity.

Craig Little, Mahwah, New Jersey

From: Eric Henry (zetahendrake yahoo.co.uk)
Subject: Herm

Last year I had the pleasure of attending an exhibition at the National Museum of Australia of Roman artifacts on loan from the British Museum. One of the most fascinating items (to me) was one of the smallest: a theatre ticket in the form of a tiny herm. It was carved from ivory and about the length of a matchstick and the width of a pencil. I was amazed by the work that had gone into carving this and that a society that we often regard as militaristic would create something so beautiful for such a mundane purpose.

Thanks for bringing back memories of an awe-inspiring exhibition.

Eric Henry, Canberra, Australia

From: Frank Muller (frank integrow.co.za)
Subject: Herm

Whenever I see Hermes (or Mercury), I give a wry smile. As a medical doctor, I see the double-snaked caduceus of Hermes used as a symbol of medicine all the time. The original single-snaked rod of Asclepius is almost forgotten. Maybe fleet-footed Hermes, as the god of traders (and thieves...), is the correct medical symbol for our time?

Dr. Frank Muller, George, South Africa

From: Patti Wicksteed (patti.wicksteed gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--herm

Herm is also used as the short form of hermaphrodite. The Miles Vorkorsigan Series by Lois McMaster Bujold features herms.

Patti Wicksteed, Thames, New Zealand

From: Pallavi Bharadwaj (pallavibhar gmail.com)
Subject: On Achilles’ heel

Achilles Heel always reminds me of Duryodhana from the Indian epic, Mahabharata. His mother, Gandhari, asked him to come naked to her camp during the epic battle of Kurukshetra. He came wrapped up with a cloth/leaf around his loin/groin area because of embarrassment and that part was spared from his mother’s divine gaze to make him invincible/indestructible in the impending wrestling match with Bheem. Lord Krishna helped Bheem discover Duryodhana’s Achilles heel (groin area) That’s how Bheem broke his thigh during the match and put an end to his life.

Pallavi Bharadwaj, Brooklyn, New York

From: Wes Reynolds (cwr rinsey.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--Achilles’ heel

You take me back. I am 74. When I was growing up, my family lived in NY and our grandparents lived in the Midwest. We used to drive out every summer to visit them. And my mom read the child’s (Golden) edition of the Iliad and the Odyssey to us in those long ago days in the car. Despite his pride Achilles was my hero and I was devastated when Paris killed him. To this day I am still thrilled by story of the sack of Troy.

Wes Reynolds, Croton, New York

From: John Ingle (j.ingle verizon.net)
Subject: Achilles heel

The Woody Allen character in one of his movies complained of having “a whole Achilles body”.

John E. Ingle, Lovettsville, Virginia

From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: Socratic method and Achilles’ heel

Socratic method
Although the TV game show Jeopardy!, hosted for the past 35 years on ABC by Alex Trebek*, is not a pure exemplar of the Socratic method of intellectual inquiry, I nevertheless thought it would be fun to imagine three giants of philosophical thought... Socrates, Aristotle, and Plato, as contestants on this show. Trebek frequently reminds players that all answers must be framed as a question. Here, Socrates bets big on the category “Potent Potables”, i.e., alcoholic beverages. Aristotle is pondering hemlock, while for Plato, Metaxa comes to mind. Technically, hemlock is not a potent potable. Yet, say, mixed with a wee dram or two of crystal clear Grecian ouzo, and an added splash of water to create a distinctive milky elixir, it can be transformed into a decidedly potent, dare I say deadly, potable. As history chronicles, Socrates was dispatched from this mortal coil by a quaff laced with hemlock.
*Had to inject fellow Canuck, Alex Trebek’s “eh?”... eh? Ha!

Achilles' heel
Here, war-weary Achilles rests on a large stump, focusing his attention on his achy left heel, his words perchance portending his ultimate fate, as the saga goes... death from an arrow strike to that very heel. I’ve transported a youthful Trumpus Emeticus (aka Donald Trump) back in time to ancient Troy, where he admits (in another life... Ha!) that an alleged bone spur in his foot would disqualify him from military duty. As followers of the farcical political side-show of the past two years of Trump’s crazy-making tenure in office know, the Malingerer-in-Chief has frequently used this “bone spur(s)” ruse to defend his missing-in-action over the duration of the Vietnam War years.

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California

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

1. Socratic method
2. Midas touch
3. philippic
4. herm
5. Achilles’ heel

1. teach school
2. call me rich!
3. harsh speech
4. podium
5. pitied limit
     People who have had multiple words coined after them
1. Socratic method
2. Midas touch
3. philippic
4. herm
5. Achilles’ heel
1. elenctic method
2. achieve wealth
3. criticise him, hmm, or pooh-pooh him
4. sculpted pedestaled head/phallus
5. prior flaw
-Dharam Khalsa, Burlington, North Carolina (dharamkk2 gmail.com) -Robert Jordan, Lampang, Thailand (alfiesdad ymail.com)

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

She swears by her method Socratic,
but kids find her ways problematic.
“She’s s’posed to be teachin’.
Instead, she keeps reachin’
for answers. There’s bats in her attic!”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

When his wife became loud and erratic,
What else but his method Socratic?
Asking student and friend
“Will this life never end?”
He said, “Xanthippe’s such a fanatic.”
-Sara Hutchinson, New Castle, Delaware (sarahutch2003 yahoo.com)

Asking questions in ways that confused
Is the method that Socrates used.
I.F Stone wrote a book
For a whole ‘nother look
At this snob whom the public accused.
-Ben Dunham, Marion, Massachusetts (fiddlesr verizon.net)

The Socrates Method won’t preach.
It’s a highly unique way to reach
Any students who burn
Every day more to learn;
It’s a wonderful way we can teach.
-Lois Mowat, Orinda, California (lmowat1810 gmail.com)

Trump’s method’s not close to Socratic
It’s quite dumb, abusive, didactic
Has no interest in others
So, given my druthers
I’m moving soon, intergalactic.
-Joe Budd Stevens, MD, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico (joebuddstevens gmail.com)

In law school, the method Socratic
For students is highly traumatic.
If they’ve failed to prepare,
The professor’s cold stare
Has them flopping around like a haddock.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

No wonder we’re feeling so cross;
Our bank account’s nothing but dross!
Unlike that of Midas.
Our touch doesn’t guide us
To profit, but rather to loss!
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

A Midas Touch Plan, it’s agreed,
Would bring the US up to speed.
We could pay for our health care,
Our highways and welfare,
By having the POTUS we need!
-Judy Distler, Teaneck, New Jersey (jam1026 aol.com)

Said Donald to Pence, “Life is such
That I’ve got the correct Midas touch.
I do things, so I’m told,
That turns all to pure gold,
And so why do Dems hate me so much?”
-Judith Marks-White, Westport, Connecticut (joodthmw gmail.com)

Our investment adviser is shrewd,
he’s focused on markets, quite cued.
We have profited much
from his great Midas touch.
Sad! they’ve for price-rigging now jailed the dude.
-Shyamal Mukherji, Kolkata, India( mukherjis hotmail.com)

I promise to try not to write as much
Of the man who claims, “I’ve got the Midas touch.”
For he’s cured all his ills
By not paying his bills,
And collusion, it seems, is no crime as such.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Philippic’s a word that won’t rhyme
With too much, but the sense is sublime.
It would fit with a screed
Against Trump or Boss Tweed,
Though it comes from Demosthenes’s time.
-Ben Dunham, Marion, Massachusetts (fiddlesr verizon.net)

Seth Meyers as part of his spiel
Delivers philippics with zeal --
Attacking with style,
A wink, and a smile,
He voices what most of us feel.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

Oh, The Donald likes waxing prolific,
Except all of his talks are philippic.
His rants are so dense,
Often making no sense,
He might just as well speak hieroglyphic.
-Judith Marks-White, Westport, Connecticut (joodthmw gmail.com)

“Little Rocket Man,” Donald’s philippic,
He abandoned and crossed the Pacific.
Kim’s launch of a missile
Now gets a wolf whistle
And afterglow smiles beatific.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

When the architect laid out the plot
He erected a herm at each spot.
But his work was abhorred,
And so for his reward
The erections were all that he got.
-Gordon Tully, Charlottesville, Virginia (gordon.tully gmail.com)

There once was a man from New Yawk
Who told all Hispanics to walk.
He built golden hermae
To aid in their journey,
But they trashed them with paint and with chalk.
-Tim Titus, Columbia, Maryland (patapscohistory gmail.com)

Whoever expected to find
A bust and a phallus combined?
They call it a herm,
And we girls can confirm
That it shows off the best of mankind.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

Said Trump, “As we seek a new term,
There’s something I need to affirm:
I am quite presidential,
So much, it’s essential,
My head be made into a herm.”
-Judith Marks-White, Westport, Connecticut (joodthmw gmail.com)

Her boss’s instructions were firm:
“You can’t give a statue a perm.
You can’t curl its hair
‘cause there is no hair there.
Don’t believe me? Go try trim that herm.”
-Zelda Dvoretzky, Haifa, Israel (zeldahaifa gmail.com)

There are so many things that upset him
As his cronies all aid and abet him.
So a herm he erected
Just as we expected,
Ensuring we’d never forget him.
-Gayle Tremblay, Saint John, Canada (gayletremblay hotmail.com)

I knew a weird woman named Alice,
Who would sometimes do things out of malice,
And I now can confirm,
She beheaded a herm;
So what’s left, sad to say, is a phallus.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

When the time comes to make Donald’s herm,
It’ll wriggle and wiggle and squirm.
There’s no stopping his mouth,
But at least further south
Will be nothing to spread any sperm.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

The Donald just loves to apprise
Everyone that he’s stable and wise.
But he cannot conceal
An Achilles-like heel:
It’s his love of evasions and lies.
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

What’s he trying so hard to conceal?
Are his taxes Achilles’ weak heel?
Has our tycoon-in-chief
come to financial grief?
If he has, where’s The Art of the Deal?
-Zelda Dvoretzky, Haifa, Israel (zeldahaifa gmail.com)

As a boy, I loved making Aunt Tillie squeal;
She was bossy, but mice? Her Achilles’ heel.
Just one in her bed
And her screams woke the dead;
Said my uncle, “This ruins my willy’s zeal.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

From: Phil Graham (pgraham1946 cox.net)
Subject: Look what’s eponym to these AWADs

“Why must you be Socratical of everything I say?”

“I Midas well not say anything at all.”

Hold your temper instead of philippic someone off.

I couldn’t dream up a pun using “herm”. Then I Wouk.

Trump’s podiatrist c. 1968: “Shall achilles heel spurs for you?”
Donald: “NO!”

Phil Graham, Tulsa, Oklahoma

The [Nobel] prize is such an extraordinary honor. It might seem unfair, however, to reward a person for having so much pleasure over the years, asking the maize plant to solve specific problems and then watching its responses. -Barbara McClintock, scientist, Nobel laureate (16 Jun 1902-1992)

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