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Feb 16, 2020
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Words that appear dirty, but aren’t

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AWADmail Issue 920

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

Sponsor’s Message: What are Sleeping Beauty’s two other names? “GED” is an abbreviation for a high school equivalency diploma -- what does it actually stand for? What’s unique about the word “facetiously”? WISE UP! -- The Wicked/Smart Party Card Game asks tons of devilishly difficult questions that’ll give you know-it-alls plenty of life lessons in humility, history, sports, science, literature, and geography. And wit. Here’s another: Everyone knows the First and Second Amendments -- what’s the Third? But beware, there’s also a slew of “challenge” cards that chuck Darwinian physical and mental wrenches into the works. For example: Throw this card on the floor and pick it up without using your hands. So much humbling fun for everyone, including this week’s Email of the Week Winner, Lynn Abrams (see below). WISE UP! NOW.

From: Daryl Docterman (daryl.docterman ccuniversity.edu)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--interdigitate

Thank you so much for your word “interdigitate”! My wife is still asleep, but I am tempted to wake her up so that I can use this word. However, I’ve decided to wait until we are actually interdigitating. There’s an old joke that goes something like this: “Do I ever wake up grumpy? No! I let her sleep!” My wife is not generally grumpy, but she would be if I woke her up for something other than a tornado warning.

I usually start my day with prayer, spiritual readings, journaling, a gratitude list, 12-step readings (I’m an addict), and my report to my sponsors. However, today I started with your word. It was a wonderful decision.

Today, you will lead off my gratitude list. The word “interdigitate” will be second.

Daryl Docterman, Cincinnati, Ohio

From: Ruth Young (gvillage bigpond.net.au)
Subject: interdigitate

This made me laugh. When we were very young virginal Catholic schoolgirls, and starting to learn some Latin, we had a little joke. We would ask those not in the know “Do you believe in interdigitation before marriage?” Non-plussed, most would reply “no” and we would laugh and say “What? No holding hands?”

More than 60 years ago.

Ruth Young, Gold Coast, Australia

From: Paul Rescino (prescino pcaplus.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--interdigitate

When I first started working repairing computers 30 years ago, we were told to interface with our clients. Being accustomed with physical interfaces with cables and connectors, which have a male and female end, I thought, “Hmm, interface with clients.” Well, you get the picture.

Paul Rescino, Algonquin, Illinois

From: Lawrence Israel (larry.israel hotmail.com)
Subject: In Re Interdigitate

Myths of Human Genetics: Hand Clasping

Lawrence Israel, Rehovot, Israel

Email of the Week (Brought to you by the wicked wonderful world of WISE UP! - Yes, you can BUY SMARTS.

From: Lynn Abrams (butterflystampede2 gmail.com)
Subject: interdigitate

Bald Eagle talons locked at Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve

Lynn Abrams, Tallahassee, Florida

From: Brenda De Silva (bjtcdesil gmail.com)
Subject: Interdigitate

Interdigilock? Run your fingers through your hair?

Brenda De Silva, Port-of-Spain, Trinidad

From: Lindsey Cook Growe (lcookgrowe gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--interdigital El

I think I coined this word, but who knows?
Fidgedigitate: To fidget with one’s fingers.

My husband fidgedigitates constantly! I don’t know if this sounds dirtier or not!

Lindsey Cook Growe, Vancouver, Canada

From: Emily Anderson (emilysteinanderson gmail.com)
Subject: interdigitate

I enjoy your word of the day each morning, and this morning’s word, “interdigitate”, is actually one I use quite often while teaching Pilates and yoga. Two muscles, the serratus anterior and the external obliques, interdigitate by the ribs. It’s important to understand how they relate to understand the connection between core support and shoulder mechanics.

Emily Anderson

From: Robert Burns (robertburns oblaw.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--interdigitate

No, this is no more a word than the garbage coming from the e-trash industry. No one used many Latineeses as loanwords in 1845 outside of professional jargon which itself is of questionable legitimacy.

Robert Burns, Ocean Beach, California

From: Winnie Thomas (dwajthomas gmail.com)
Subject: Interdigital

Is also used to discuss the meeting of upper teeth with the teeth of the lower jaw.

Winnie Thomas, Townsville, Australia

From: Berna Rokus (bernarokus gmail.com)
Subject: Interdigitation

In the field of anatomy, the term interdigitation is used to describe how muscles, fibres, tendinous attachments, etc., interlock with other body parts to form opposing forces or to lock securely in place.

Berna Rokus, Victoria, Canada

From: Richard Schmitt (raschmitt icloud.com)
Subject: Interdigitated

“Although not officially a part of any single research project, my research of the efficiency and design of interdigitated electrode chemical sensors spans two research projects and two years.”
Interdigitated Array Electrode Sensors: Their Design, Efficiency, and Applications; University of Tennessee Honors Project; Spring 1999; William Henri Grover.

Richard Schmitt, Nampa, Idaho

From: Allen Thomson (thomsona flash.net)
Subject: Interdigital

In microwave technology, interdigital filters are a type of “distributed element filter” used in radio engineering and inserted into transmission lines. From Wikipedia, “Its purpose is to allow a range of signal frequencies to pass, but to block others.”

Allen Thomson, San Antonio, Texas

From: Marge Simon (msimon6206 aol.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--titular

In keeping with the “sound dirty” words, could a title for pigs be “titular”, in the respect that they have 12-14 nipples? I can’t believe I thought of this. (Blush!)

Marge Simon, Ocala, Florida

From: Carl Geupel (cmgeupel yahoo.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--titular

So Dolly Parton is not the titular queen of country music?

Carl Geupel, Northampton, Massachusetts

From: Lawrence Crumb (lcrumb uoregon.edu)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--titular

In the Roman Catholic Church, there are three types of cardinals: cardinal bishops, cardinal presbyters, and cardinal deacons. Most cardinal presbyters are archbishops of major dioceses around the world. They are also titular rectors of churches in Rome. The term does not just mean that they are rectors in title only, for the term goes back to the time when churches in Rome were called “titles”, since legal title was held by individual Christians as long as the Roman empire did not recognize the church. In the Church of England, clergy are ordained to a “title”, meaning a church where they will have a position and are thus eligible for ordination. A typical introduction of a clergyman might include the statement “He served his title at St. Clement’s, East Oxford” (as was the case for John Henry Newman).

Lawrence Crumb, Eugene, Oregon

From: Mardy Grothe (drmardy drmardy.com)
Subject: Government controlling the affections

The government ought not to be invested with power to control the affections, any more than the consciences of citizens. -Lydia Maria Child, activist, novelist, and journalist (11 Feb 1802-1880)

Today’s Thought came from Child’s 1833 book An Appeal in Favor of That Class of Americans Called Africans. In the featured quotation today, she was writing in opposition to a 1789 Massachusetts law prohibiting marriage between “any white person” and “any Negro, Indian, or Mulatto” (her book was instrumental in getting the law was repealed in 1843). She continued: “A man has at least as good a right to choose his wife as he has to choose his religion. His taste may not suit his neighbors; but so long as his deportment is correct, they have no right to interfere with his concerns.”

Mardy Grothe, Southern Pines, North Carolina

From: Catherine Cline (cackycline aol.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--cockloft

Crude for bachelor pad?

Catherine Cline, Amelia Island, Florida

From: Jai Sehgal (jsehgal001 yahoo.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--cockloft

Sorry to be crude but when I saw this word I thought it referred to the “angle of the dangle”.

Jai Sehgal, Newtown, Pennsylvania

From: Jen Parry (jen.parry btopenworld.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--cockloft

This is one of the words which would bother an American audience more than one from the UK. We don’t use rooster often. Our children’s books are full of farmyards with cocks and hens.

Jen Parry, Didcot, UK

From: Leonore Helder (toddyfox aol.com)
Subject: cockloft

In Georgette Heyer’s Regency novels “cockloft” is used as slang for one’s head. As in “You have no sense in your cockloft!”

Lee Helder, Lansing, Michigan

From: Lars Erup (info etc-consultants.ca)
Subject: Cockloft

Similar concepts exist in other languages. In my native Danish, a “hanebjælke” (literally, “rooster beam”) is a horizontal beam between rafters -- also so named because supposedly the chickens like to rest on it. The usual English term is “collar beam”.

Lars Erup, Saint-Lazare, Canada

From: Robin Helweg-Larsen (robin income-outcome.com)
Subject: Charles Darwin

The difference in mind between man and the higher animals, great as it is, certainly is one of degree and not of kind. -Charles Darwin, naturalist and author (12 Feb 1809-1882)

The difference in mind
Between beasts and me
Is not one of kind
But merely degree.

Yours for more memorability through formal verse,

Robin Helweg-Larsen, Governor’s Harbour, Bahamas

From: Fred Glienna (fglienna aol.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--cuntline

Don’t forget the nautical term cuntsplice.

Fred Glienna, Pasadena, California

From: Alec Bamford (chanida.alec gmail.com)
Subject: Words that appear dirty but aren’t

I am reminded of the day when the UK Department of Education and Science installed an automatic “bad language” detector to delete offending emails on their system. They received a desperate phone call from one Local Education Authority complaining that they had been unable to send a single email all morning -- all had been deleted.
“Where are you calling from?”
Minutes later they had a similar call from Clitheroe.

Alec Bamford, Bangkok, Thailand

From: Laurie Kaniarz (lauriszka att.net)
Subject: Cuntline

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this increasingly “dirty” parade of words this week. “Cummingtonite” was a fabulous surprise ending to the week and utterly innocuous. I sent the “cuntline” info to my brother, a former sailor and knot tier, and he replied: “Yes, I know the term and it’s fairly common with knot tiers. There is also a cunt splice that was used on sailing ships. When Clifford Ashley described them in his Book of Knots he used the term cont line and cont splice. We sailors like cuntlines and splices.” Of course, they did!

Laurie Kaniarz, Kalamazoo, Michigan

From: Norman Holler (via website comments)
Subject: cuntline

I noticed that I had an automatic recoil tension even when part of word with a completely different meaning caught my eye. While I might respond to the Big C-word, cancer, with a level of fear and darkness depending on my relational context, the c-word for part of female sexual anatomy, or its attendant female status, brought forth an immediate response of irrational disgust. I say irrational, because I believe my reaction was not moderated by my prefrontal cortex, but more by a culturally programmed response that has embedded itself into my limbic system. Emotional response travels faster than reason. Such is the power and impact of charged words! I sense that my reaction comes from my deep-rooted trait of wanting to protect women from offensive words or actions that can add fear or a feeling of being objectified rather than seen. I’m still surprised that women aren’t more hostile towards men after millennia of (for the most part) being subjugated by men. Of course, it is not my job to be a saviour or hero, and many cases women can hold their own against ding dong boys. All power and more to them! I say boys, because most expletives, objectification of women and “dirty” words are puerile and, with few (if any) exceptions speak of a lack of imagination and maturity. Just like violence is a severe lack of imagination.

I also notice that the corresponding c-word for male anatomy doesn’t get much of a reaction in me. I imagine that the term relates to guys, and I definitely have had a lot of guy-history. I hope that the shifts in my worldview will inure me to its charge.

At any rate, thanks for getting a little edgy this week, Anu.

To the good thoughts,

Norman Holler, Whitehorse, Canada

From: Jeff Coster (Jeffrey.Coster montgomerycountymd.gov)
Subject: Feb 14 word

I just joined yesterday on the recommendation of a good friend. The connection between today’s holiday and your choice of word is astonishingly sophomoric--literally unrepeatable in a workplace setting or classroom for teachers who use the site.

Jeff Coster, Rockville, Maryland

From: Raymond Muschialli (rtm optusnet.com.au)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--cummingtonite

I interdigitated the cuntline to ensure the cummingtonite did not spill in the cockloft, as I could not afford to sully my titular reputation.

With my hands in a praying like interdigitate gesture, I balanced the cummingtonite in the rope’s cuntline to ensure that I did not spill any whilst climbing to the cockloft for my secret rendezvous. I did not want to sully my titular reputation for poor sentence construction!

Raymond Muschialli, Melbourne, Australia

From: Marlene Fair-Fischer (via website comments)
Subject: Intercourse

My dear married-to-a-preacher friend was appalled at the sign in Pennsylvania that showed Intercourse.

I asked her if she ever had social intercourse and her response “Well, I never!”

So I asked her how she got all her children, which confused her more. I wound up having to explain.

I don’t know if I should hit her with this week’s words. Oy.

Marlene Fair-Fischer, Vista, California

From: Preston MacDougall (preston.macdougall gmail.com)
Subject: masticate

The senior brothers of my high school fraternity asked new pledges (9th or 10th grade), individually and during a secretive meeting, to “masticate in front of us”. I was a very good student in both English and Biology, so there was no embarrassment. I think I asked for a piece of gum. If others had a more humbling experience, it was a well-kept secret!

Preston MacDougall, Murfreesboro, Tennessee

From: Chris Papa (doxite32 gmail.com)
Subject: Tit and Dick

Alas, today when I ask millennials, they have never even heard of Gilbert and Sullivan. That’s why they might miss this song from The Mikado, one of the G&S top three operas. In Act 2, Ko-ko, the Lord High Executioner, sings this very familiar number:

On a tree by a river a little tom-tit
Sang ‘Willow, titwillow, titwillow!’
And. I said to him, “Dicky-bird, why do you sit
“Singing ‘Willow, titwillow, titwillow’?”
“Is it weakness of intellect, birdie?” I cried,
“Or a rather tough worm in your little inside?”
With a shake of his poor little head, he replied,
‘Oh, willow, titwillow, titwillow!’

There you go, both dick and tit!

Chris Papa, Colts Neck, New Jersey

From: Bill Hutchins (bhutchins412 live.com)
Subject: Dirty words

I am reminded of a joke from high school days where a priest from the local diocese is trying to persuade the local, not too literate, rich guy to leave his fortune to the church rather than the local (co-ed) college. Sir, did you know that, at that college, the boys and girls matriculate together? (Gasp! They do, Father?) Yes, and they all have the same curriculum! (GTDF!?). Yes, and not only that, they often masticate in each other’s presence! (GTDF!?) And before they graduate they have to show their theses to the Dean! (Gasp!) That does it! I’m leaving my estate to the church!
[GTDF = Gasp! They do, Father?]

Bill Hutchins, Jacksonville, Florida

From: Dean Amel (dean.amel verizon.net)
Subject: Words that appear dirty

My father loved horehound candy. When seeking it at the sort of shop that sells old-fashioned candy, I would often get suspicious or disgusted looks from clerks. One unalloyed advantage of Amazon is that I could avoid those looks by ordering online.

Dean Amel, Arlington, Virginia

From: Nadine Smith (ns08836 gmail.com)
Subject: Bissextile

Happy Bissextile Year, Anu!

Nadine Smith, Phoenix, Arizona

From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: titular and cummingtonite

Fellow AWAD-ers, forgive me for not cleaving to the strict definition of our word “titular”. Instead, I immediately glommed on to its “title” etymological root, recalling a particularly titillating (sorry) book title; namely the hilarious, yet unsettlingly bizarro 1972-debuted Philip Roth novella, “The Breast”. The central character in this Kafkaesque narrative, David Alan Kepesh, in a matter of a few post-midnight hours, swiftly morphs into a sensate disembodied giant female breast. All back-and-forth communication with the outside world is routed through the outsized nipple. In this admittedly absurdist cartoon scenario (just following Philip Roth’s lead, eh?), Kepesh, in his reclining mammary reincarnation, is being queried by his psychiatrist, who seems unperturbed that he’s addressing a giant talking breast. In the denouement of Roth’s surreal novella, Mr. Kepesh returns to relative normalcy... a “breast case scenario”, one might concede. (groan)

My opting for this T-shirt-centric cartoon offering was kicked off by reading Anu Garg’s little factoid regarding this risque-sounding mineral, “cummingtonite”, possibly having some use in the manufacture of T-shirts. Who knew? Here, a young, attractive gal sports a T-shirt design punning on the fact that “cummingtonite”, despite its suggestive name, is actually a rare type of rock. The goofy, bug-eyed dude leaning in from stage-right figures from the somewhat ambiguous message emblazoned on her shirt, that this comely miss is hot-to-trot. But clearly, she’s NOT, immediately curbing his misdirected, lustful advance.

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California

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

Words that appear dirty, but aren’t:
1. interdigitate
2. titular
3. cockloft
4. cuntline
5. cummingtonite
1. plait fingers
2. noble, in name
3. attic, turret (not dirty adult act!)
4. cut in rope
5. Mg rock with attitude
     This week’s theme’s words that appear dirty, but aren’t
1. interdigitate
2. titular
3. cockloft
4. cuntline
5. cummingtonite
= 1. interlock
2. re title
3. attic
4. the rut in twisted gut (yuck), strands of string, tautened twine
5. a metamorphic amphibole
-Dharam Khalsa, Burlington, North Carolina (dharamkk2 gmail.com) -Robert Jordan, Lampang, Thailand (alfiesdad ymail.com)

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

Says the vintner, “You can’t interdigitate!
I’m paying you two to facilitate
the making of wine
from fruit of the vine.
No footsie games here, I reiterate!”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

“It’s a pity we can’t interdigitate,”
Said the bull to the cow to commiserate.
“My heart with you lingers;
True love needs no fingers,”
She answered. “Come here and I’ll illustrate.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

They call him the boss, but it’s titular.
I think that it’s so he won’t hit you or --
Do something far worse
Than just mouth off and curse:
In a reference, say what a bitch you were.
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

They snubbed their firm’s titular head,
But his latest rant made them see red.
For the Luddite now raged,
“Your mobiles have you caged;
I’ll put rotary phones in, instead.”
-Shyamal Mukherji, Mumbai, India (mukherjis hotmail.com)

As titular head of the state,
Elizabeth’s certainly great.
While she’s doing fine,
Poor Charles, next in line,
His turn he will just have to wait.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

My concerns wouldn’t be so particular
if his leadership merely were titular.
But the norms that he breaks
and decisions he makes
bring the chaos and catastrophes which occur.
-Zelda Dvoretzky, Haifa, Israel (zeldahaifa gmail.com)

“You’re the Skipper, but that’s only titular,”
Sniffed the Howells, “for this island is insular.”
“Our pride,” added Ginger,
“By shouting you injure;
You catch me with honey, not vinegar.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Two rodents discuss where to go
for lunch. Suggests one, “Let me show
you a little cockloft.
I find it stocked oft
with acorns -- by whom, I don’t know.”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

Our hats we in unison doffed
To Mrs. Robin whose nest was so soft,
With feathers and twigs,
Bits of cloth, a few sprigs,
And she built it so neatly in my cockloft.
-Marcia Sinclair, Newmarket, Canada (marciasinclair rogers.com)

The cockloft in which I would stay
Was full of his stuff stored away.
Amidst all the junk,
I found in a trunk
A picture of Dorian Gray.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

“It’s cold in my poor little cockloft,”
The stevedore down at the dock coughed.
But the doctor replied,
“That excuse has been tried;
This you caught from a skank with her frock doffed.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“This hairdo’s all wrong, I’m afraid,”
says she to her personal maid.
“Although the front’s fine,
you know the cuntline
is crooked. ‘Twill need a re-braid!”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

The child, tangled in her jump rope,
Said “The cuntline’s not damaged, I hope.”
Her mother was there,
Grabbed the girl by her hair
And the kid’s mouth now tastes just like soap.
-Sara Hutchinson, New Castle, Delaware (sarahutch2003 yahoo.com)

Said the vintner when pouring the red wine,
“A bad harvest will just make me opine.
When the season is slow,
And my grapes will not grow,
I pour tears between every cask’s cuntline”
-Judith Marks-White, Westport, Connecticut (joodthmw gmail.com)

Tiger Woods was one day on the front nine,
When a putt spiraled in like a cuntline.
Do his golf balls have eyes?
They’re not all quite so wise;
After tee shots, I have to go hunt mine.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

How funny! These rock-hounding teams
Seem to wind up with sexual memes!
“How’s your cummingtonite?
Is your cleavage just right?”
Are pervasive, if misleading, themes!
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

Life used to look sunny and bright.
But nowadays nothing seems right.
We’ve been in decline
since they closed the old mine
when it ran out of cummingtonite.
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

Discussions of cummingtonite
Bring chemistry students delight.
They laugh and they squeal,
But that name is real,
And, yes, I’m pronouncing it right.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

The geologist wasn’t quite bright
When asked about cummingtonite.
Did not mineral spy,
So he made this reply,
“That’s so gneiss, thank you for the invite.”
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

A young miner for Liverpool cummingtonite
Said, “My days are spent underground, out of sight.
But with practice, my band
Will one day tour the land,
So with John, Paul, and George I’ll be drumming tonight.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

From: Phil Graham (pgraham1946 cox.net)
Subject: Pitiful puns on potty-full words

In preparation for Henry Tate’s burial the gravedigger remarked, “Soon you’ll find interdigitate.”

“Titular any birds in with your new duck call?”

A guy can’t join the Mile High Club unless he takes his cockloft.

That squad of cheerleaders cuntline up worth a damn!

“Get on your knees. The Queen is cummingtonight you.”

Phil Graham, Tulsa, Oklahoma

Politics, as a practice, whatever its professions, has always been the systematic organization of hatreds. -Henry Adams, historian and teacher (16 Feb 1838-1918)

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