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Mar 29, 2020
This week’s theme
Words derived from horses

This week’s words
horse marine
horse sense

How popular are they?
Relative usage over time

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Next week’s theme
Words coined after mountains and hills

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AWADmail Issue 926

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

Sponsor’s Message: Coronavirus got you down? Feeling cooped up? Going stir crazy? WISE UP! -- is the perfect cure for cabin fever -- it’s a Wicked/Smart Party Card Game that 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. For example: Everyone knows the First and Second Amendments -- what’s the Third? Sleeping Beauty’s real name? How long is a furlong? But beware, there’s also a slew of “challenge” cards that chuck Darwinian physical and mental wrenches into the works, e.g., “Throw this card on the floor and pick it up without using your hands.” Just what the doctor ordered, especially for this week’s Email of the Week Winner, David Ornick (see below), and hunkered-down brainiacs everywhere. WISE UP! NOW.

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

During Self-Quarantine, Learn a Foreign Language Without Leaving the House
The Washington Post

The Advantages of Speaking a Second Language
The Economist

When Language Goes Viral

From: Bill Simpson (w50gsn gmail.com)
Subject: Horse Marines

Here is an old song (2 min.) about a Horse Marine. I have known the song for many years (though it was Captain Jack rather than Jinks which I learned). Until now, I figured it was a bona fide military unit. Now you have me wondering.

I’m Captain Jinks of the Horse Marines.
I feed my horse on corn and beans.

Bill Simpson, Toronto, Canada

From: Steve Harmony (steveharmo gmail.com)
Subject: horse marine

Today’s word, horse marine, rang a bell for me. I’d just read the term in T.R. Fehrenbach’s book Lone Star, A History of Texas and the Texans. On June 3, 1836, shortly after the victory at San Jacinto which essentially ended the Texas Revolution, a company of mounted Texans under Isaac Burton captured a ship with supplies bound for the Mexican army. As told in the Handbook of Texas, they seized a ship’s boat which they rowed out to board the ship Watchman. They later lured the captains of the Comanche and Fanny Butler to their captured ship and seized those officers, capturing those ships as well. Col. Edward J. Wilson of Lexington, Kentucky, writing about this incident, said he supposed the Texans would be called Horse Marines. (Ref.)

Steve Harmony, Canyon Lake, Texas

From: Kay Gunter (kgunter cox.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--horse marine

I found today’s phrase fascinating because of stories I heard from my dad, the proud WWII Marine veteran. The rivalry between Army and Navy is legendary, of course, but there is no love lost between sailors and marines, either. However the expression below got started, an extremely derogatory one devolved: “Tell it to the marines,” as in marines are gullible/stupid/etc. enough to swallow whatever story you are trying to sell. Thanks for bringing my dad back to mind in an unexpected way this morning.

Kay Gunter, Phoenix, Arizona

Email of the Week -- Brought to you by Wise Up! -- the family that plays together stays together.

From: David Ornick (david.ornick ymail.com)
Subject: Horse marine

I was surprised to see that horse marine had several definitions meaning a misfit. To me, the word had only an honorable military meaning. The Marines (note the capitalization) differ from the Army mainly in that they normally arrive at a battle zone via amphibious landings. Marines fight conventionally once they’re on shore. Prior to our present highly mechanized forces, horses and mules helped to move equipment. Mules were used extensively by the US military in the mountains of Italy during WWII. Today, the military horse connection lives on in the Army’s air cavalry, which also isn’t an oxymoron to me.

When I was in grade school (early 1950s) we sang:

I’m Captain Jinks of the Horse Marines.
I feed my horse on corn and beans.
I like the ladies in their teens,
‘cause that’s the way in the Army.

Apparently, this song was a dance tune, for the second verse was:

Salute your partner, turn to the right,
and swing your partner with all your might,
and promenade around to the right
for that’s the way in the Army.

I hope the Marines will forgive my oversimplification of their combat role.

An Army vet,
Dave Ornick, Morgantown, West Virginia

From: Joe Schmitt (jschmitt106 gmail.com)
Subject: horse’s egg

Horse marine is not unlike the Bengali expression, ghorar dim, or horse egg, a patently obvious absurdity.

Joe Schmitt, Madison, Wisconsin

From: Debbie Wolf (djwolf51 yahoo.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--chevalier

Readers of a certain age could not see the word chevalier without thinking of Maurice! With his dashing French elegance, roguish smile, and impeccable manners, he epitomized the definition.

Debbie Wolf, Lansing, Michigan

From: Jerr Boschee (boscheejerr gmail.com)
Subject: unhorse

One of my father’s favorite stories about his childhood (he was born in 1910) concerned a day when he was ten, riding bareback and racing his horse homeward. When they hurtled up to the tethering rail, the horse stopped -- but my dad didn’t. He flew well over the horse’s head and landed in the front yard of his North Dakota home.

Jerr Boschee, Dallas, Texas

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

The Shakespeare allusion is to the Battle of Bosworth, where Richard III, having been unhorsed, offers his kingdom for a horse. At the end of the day, the score stood: Lancaster 1, York nil. It hasn’t changed much over the centuries, Manchester (in Lancashire) being one of the main forces in English soccer, with both City and United.

Andrew Pressburger, Toronto, Canada

From: Allan Miles (allanwmiles gmail.com)
Subject: On Hippocrene

I was very pleasantly surprised to see this word and grateful to learn more about it. It occurs in John Keats’s Ode to a Nightingale --

O for a beaker full of the warm South,
Full of the true, the blushful Hippocrene,
With beaded bubbles winking at the brim,
And purple-stained mouth;

Oh, that Keats! All these years I assumed he’d used the word because it had just the right sound, and was a real, though exotic, wine. But he was packing more meaning into his poem than I knew!

Thank you for this, and for all the other pleasures your work has given me over the years!

Allan Miles, Ashland, Oregon

From: Kath O’Sullivan (pudsyduck gmail.com)
Subject: Frankl quotation

We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms -- to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way. -Viktor Frankl, author, neurologist and psychiatrist, Holocaust survivor (26 Mar 1905-1997)

It is 2 am on the third day of total lockdown in New Zealand. I am awake and inspired by this quotation. It is at times like these the prayer, attributed to St Francis, “May I not seek to be consoled as to console” comes to mind. How appropriate that the author bears a similar name. Those of us who survive this time of trial, I am 93, will come out of it stronger, like iron from a forge.

Kath O’Sullivan, Auckland, New Zealand

From: Bob Wilson (wilson math.wisc.edu)
Subject: Horse sense, or lack thereof

Society seems to picture horses as very sensible and cows as simple minded. But the people I have known who had both horses and cows on their farms told me that cows were far more sensible. One example cited was that in cold weather, with freezing rain falling, cows would return to the barn while horses would stay outside and freeze to death.

It would not surprise me to discover that this brings out passionate arguments similar to whether cats or dogs are smarter, but none of the farmers I have known ever expressed the opposite opinion re cows and horses. Maybe this comes from the roles of cows and horses in childhood books, or maybe it is yet another of the fictions pushed by old cowboy movies.

Bob Wilson, Oregon, Wisconsin

From: Martin Mahowald (m.mahowald mahowald.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--horse sense

There is a wonderful W.C. Fields quotation a propos of this: “Horse sense is the thing a horse has which keeps it from betting on people.”

Martin Mahowald, St. Cloud, Minnesota

From: Alasdair McNeill (alasdair.mcneill cctechnology.com)
Subject: Re: Horse sense

You wrote “...in Jonathan Swift’s 1726 satire Gulliver’s Travels, Houyhnhnms is a race of horses endowed with reason, contrasted with Yahoos (boorish humans)”

The Houyhnhnms are not just endowed with reason, they’re portrayed as being extremely moral, in contrast to the immoral Yahoos. Just as the character of Gulliver is physically in the middle between the tiny Lilliputians and the huge Brobdingnagians, he’s morally in the middle between the Houyhnhnms and the Yahoos. Clever stuff!

Alasdair McNeill, Glasgow, Scotland

From: Gray Frierson Haertig (gfh haertig.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--horse sense

It may quite well be that having horse sense means nothing about horses having any sense, but about people having sense about horses. In times past (and to some, now), being able to judge a horse and and bend it to your will was a very valuable asset, indeed!

Gray Frierson Haertig, Portland, Oregon

From: Robert Wasko (rmwasko aol.com)
Subject: This week’s theme introduction

In this week’s theme introduction you mention the phrase “beating a dead horse”. This brings to mind the following line from Woody Allen’s What’s Up Tiger Lily:
Teri Yaki: [talking about Shepherd Wong] “I’d call him a sadistic, hippophilic necrophile, but that would be beating a dead horse.”

Robert Wasko, Brooklyn, New York

From: Dave Horsfall (dave horsfall.org)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--horse marine

Apparently my surname Horsfall comes from old German meaning someone who tends to horses in a field. As I’m English by birth that would make linguistic sense.

Dave Horsfall, North Gosford, Australia

From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: Unhorse and horse sense

For our equine-rooted word, “unhorse”, I concede that I fudged a tad, putting the (presumptive) Democratic candidate for the 2020 run for the presidency, Joe Biden, in the guise of the long-standing mascot of his Party... a donkey... not a horse. Our anthropomorphized donkey-as-Biden has just undonkey-ed, if you will, oblivion-bound Donald Trump with a swift kick of his hind hoof. This is purely wishful thinking on my part. The preeminent political cartoonist of the 19th-century, Thomas Nast (nasty Nast?), helped popularizing the donkey (jackass) as the mascot of the Democratic Party, along with the Republican’s symbolic pachyderm. Interestingly, the donkey moniker stemmed from the 1828 election campaign of Democratic candidate Andrew Jackson, whom an irate political rival called a jackass. Rather than taking umbrage at this insult, Jackson turned it around as a positive, putting donkey imagery on all his campaign posters and fliers. Oh, by-the-by, Jackson was victorious in the election, ultimately becoming a two-term president. The DEM donkey was here to stay!

Horse Sense
Here, I’ve portrayed Trump in the guise of a horse, yet still sporting his ill-fitting charcoal-gray suit and signature red tie, while he points out, as is often his wont, that he’s a bona fide “stable genius”. I’ve put a little linguistic twist on Trump’s self-ascribed brainiac moniker with my “out-of-the-stable” speech bubble phrasing, connoting a horse enclosure, i.e., “stable”, versus the word “stable”, meaning being of normal/sound mental or emotional well-being. As a self-admitted neophyte politician, Trump often argues that he does things his own way (“a horse of a different color”?) and often takes little heed to or stock in what the so-called experts or his closest advisers tell him, while touting his boundless common sense (horse sense?)... that he has all the right answers and is by far the smartest guy in the room. I would argue, based on his record, and on-the-job deportment over these almost four years in the Oval Office, evidenced by his erratic, reactive, confrontational style of governance, that his tenure as president reflects far more non-sense, than horse sense.

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California

From: Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)
Subject: Anagrams of this week’s words
Terms originating in horses
1. horse marine
2. chevalier
3. unhorse
4. hippocrene
5. horse sense
1. changes role in high crisis
2. hero, heroine
3. overturn
4. inspires Athens poems
5. mere reason
     Terms originating in horses
1. horse marine
2. chevalier
3. unhorse
4. hippocrene
5. horse sense
= 1. mismatch
2. he or she is a hero (or heroine)
3. oust
4. erelong inspiring verse
5. per her canniness
-Dharam Khalsa, Burlington, North Carolina (dharamkk2 gmail.com) -Robert Jordan, Lampang, Thailand (alfiesdad ymail.com)

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

The Loch Ness monster is of course seen
By many as a great horse marine.
But, folks do insist,
That it does exist,
After drinks at the local canteen.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

A handsome young cowboy from Abilene
Once told me I looked like a beauty queen.
But from beans on the trail,
He had gas on a scale,
That in public, young Tex was a horse marine.
-Janice Power, Cleveland, Ohio (jpmarlin456 gmail.com)

“Though our boat is a lovely pea green,
At sea I’m a real horse marine,”
Said the pussy, “It’s nice
That for snacks you brought mice,
But dear owl, did you pack Dramamine?”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

So let’s see... at the end of the day
Did you act like a true chevalier?
Did you help out a neighbor
With difficult labor?
Or maybe run errands, let’s say?
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

Says he, “May I buy you a beer?”
“No thank you” says she, “for I fear
that in all likelihood,
you are up to no good --
and you’re certainly no chevalier!”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

Many women like bad boys, it’s true.
A chevalier one simply won’t do.
The excitement is real.
It always makes them feel
An adventure will surely ensue.
-Lois Mowat, Orinda, California (lmowat1810 gmail.com

On the dusty and far-off frontier,
Dwells a cowboy all others do fear.
His idea of much fun
Is to shoot off his gun,
But by night he’s a suave chevalier.
-Judith Marks-White, Westport, Connecticut (joodthmw gmail.com)

You can say that it is pretty clear,
It’s so hard to find a chevaLIER.
For those who shall say,
Instead cheVALier,
Either way, very few do appear.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

At Starbucks while sipping a latté,
The girl met her shining chevalier.
“They’re supposed to be chaste,
But it seemed like a waste,”
She confessed the next day to her padre.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

It’s becoming increasingly clear
that he’s obviously insincere.
We voters, perforce,
must rise and unhorse
the guy, make forty-five disappear!
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

Let’s pray for the day Trump’s unhorsed
And out of his office is forced.
Please let it be noted
That when we have voted
Joe Biden’s the one we’ve endorsed.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

“Ivana I plan to unhorse,”
Said Marla, “and be the main course.”
And her dream became real
As the next Happy Meal
Of the Donald until their divorce.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

So... Pegasus’s hoof gave a knock
And water sprang out of some rock?
Sounds like Moses’s scene
With his staff. Hippocrene
Seems to always evolve from some shock!
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

The pub that they’ve dubbed “Hippocrene”
is their favorite place to convene.
After several beers,
these old sonneteers
become bold, and their poems obscene.
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

Though a horse-based theme seemed like a godsend,
The deadline now loomed, yet he hadn’t penned
His limerick; he’d been
Without hippocrene,
But he hoped this would change ere the weekend.
-Shyamal Mukherji, Mumbai, India (mukherjis hotmail.com)

She finds when she showers each night
That her Hippocrene moves her to write.
Her mind’s at its best
When she is undressed
And no pen or paper’s in sight.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

Writing poetry’s never routine.
We all pray the muse will intervene,
and while meter and form
are always the norm
even lim’ricists need hippocrene.
-Zelda Dvoretzky, Haifa, Israel (zeldahaifa gmail.com)

While writers were once fueled by nicotine,
The word of the day is my hippocrene.
Poor Wilde and Updike,
John Steinbeck and such like
Lacked Anu to waken their lim’rick gene.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

We could use an electrical force fence
To keep people inside who’ve no horse sense.
And while on that theme
It surely does seem
That there ought be some way to out-source Pence.
-Phil Graham, Tulsa, OK (pgraham1946 cox.net)

She found herself deep in despair
over hubby’s longstanding affair.
Then, applying her horse sense,
she got a divorce. Hence
her life is now devil-may-care.
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

We ought to respect our leaders, of course,
They make speeches and visits, full force;
What on earth does one do
When the guy is not true,
And you know he’ll be hard to unhorse?
-Marcia Sinclair, Newmarket, Canada (marciasinclair rogers.com)

A Mensa member with a high IQ
May not actually have horse sense, too.
A brilliant mind
Will not always find
That simple solution to what to do.
-Lois Mowat, Orinda, California (lmowat1810 gmail.com)

By Easter the churches he’d pack
And bring all the businesses back.
The experts once more
He’ll simply ignore --
For horse sense this man seems to lack!
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

The mistakes that he makes are immense.
He’s all ignorance, bombast, pretense.
He’s not up to the task!
Is it too much to ask
for a leader who has some horse sense?
-Zelda Dvoretzky, Haifa, Israel (zeldahaifa gmail.com)

“I let immigrants in if they’re Norse, Pence,”
Said Donald to Mike, “It’s plain horse sense.
And I never would frown
On a Saudi, though brown;
They pay cash for the latest in ordnance.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

From: Phil Graham (pgraham1946 cox.net)
Subject: Horsin’ around

The hors d’oeuvres all contained shrimp or lobster. They were hors marines.

The wild stallions ran from the hillside down into chevalier.

Being fluent in French, Richard III actually said, “My kingdom for unhorse.”

In the animals’ roller skate race you should have seen the hippocrene around the corners.

At some brothels during The Great Depression you only paid horse sense, not dollars.

Phil Graham, Tulsa, Oklahoma

Kindness is always fashionable. -Amelia Barr, novelist (29 Mar 1831-1919)

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