Wordsmith.org: the magic of words


About | Media | Search | Contact  


Today's Word

Yesterday's Word



Apr 26, 2020
This week’s theme

This week’s words

How popular are they?
Relative usage over time

AWADmail archives

Next week’s theme
Words to describe people

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 930

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, Fred Ridder (see below), and hunkered-down brainiacs everywhere. WISE UP! NOW.

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

The Pandemic Also Threatens Endangered Languages
Scientific American

Origins of Human Language Pathway in the Brain at Least 25 Million Years Old

From: Virginia Sweeny (virginia.sweeny gmail.com)
Subject: Adverbial names

My nephew and his wife just named their poor baby girl Ripley -- believe it or not,

Virginia Sweeny, Venice, Florida

From: Bill Simpson (w50gsn gmail.com)
Subject: Adverbs as names

“Surely, you jest.”
“Don’t call me Shirley!”

Bill Simpson, Toronto, Canada

From: Kervyn Mach (kdmach att.net)
Subject Adverbs for names

I used to work with a fellow whose first name was Pearly Jr.

Kervyn Mach, Huber Heights, Ohio

From: Laura Burns (laurab12 sbcglobal.net)
Subject: Adverbial names

Or your name could just sound like an adverb. More than one girl has been named Norma Lee.

Laura Burns, Galveston, Texas

From: Joe Silber (bishopjoey gmail.com)(br)
Subject: Johnny Dangerously

In the 1984 gangster comedy Johnny Dangerously, the moll asks the title character, “Did you know your last name is an adverb?” He didn’t, if I recall rightly.

Joe Silber, Leiden, The Netherlands

From: Catherine Fryer Cline (cackycline aol.com)
Subject: Adverbial names

I had an ancestor named Lively Webb. Also, I have a family with the surname Easley, but at least they are not quite pronounced easily, nor spelled that way!

Catherine Cline, Amelia Island, Florida

From: Mariana Warner (marianaw6002 gmail.com)
Subject: Regarding adverb names

When I read the names Bradly, Jewelly, and Frankly, my response is to scratch my head, laugh, and respond Really? I wouldn’t be as surprised if there were baby boys named Philly, since there’s a whole city in Pennsylvania with that noun-posing-as-adverb nickname. I suppose it isn’t unseemly to fancy that if a boy named Philly had a fraternal twin sister, she might have been named Filly. Whoa! My wild imagination races amokly.

Mariana Warner, Asheville, North Carolina

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

From: Fred Ridder (docudoc hotmail.com)
Subject: Adverbing a name

At a job I had a couple of decades ago, several of my co-workers gave me a deliberately adverbial nickname by adding ly to the clipped form of my given name. On most days I tried to be friendly and helpful, but on days when I was not, I was being Fredly. A few years later when I had to choose a user ID for a shared laser printer at a different employer, I became “User: Fredly”.

Fred Ridder, Hillsborough, New Jersey

From: Eleanor Jackson (elej mindspring.com)
Subject: Adverb names

I once knew a woman named Merrily. Her parents were prophetic; she had a sunny, cheerful personality to match her name. (Spelling it Mary Lee wouldn’t have had half the effect!)

Eleanor Jackson, Gainesville, Georgia

From: Christine (2barnetts gmail.com)
Subject: Thought for today 4/20/2020

Oh, the comfort -- the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person -- having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but pouring them all right out, just as they are, chaff and grain together, certain that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and with the breath of kindness blow the rest away. -Dinah Maria Mulock Craik, poet and novelist (20 Apr 1826-1887)

Thank you for that beautiful quotation. It sums up perfectly one of the bonuses of our 50 years of happy marriage with a very understanding spouse!

Christine & Martin Barnett, UK

From: Curtis Reeves (creeves alumni.usc.edu)
Subject: perforce

Many authors of bridge columns and bridge books use perforce frequently when one of the hands is dealt a singleton (one card) in a suit, especially a high card like an ace or king. These authors typically write, “Declarer won the opening club lead perforce in dummy.” Declarer had no choice of cards to play.

Curtis Reeves, Fresno, California

From: Diane Massad (kidskills wowway.com)
Subject: cumbrously

In the worrisome whirl of this world, your missive made this morning: joyfully rhythmic... for me.

The trio of penguins toddled so repetitively across the miles to my view.

Just wanted to offer my JOY....gain by your ongoing efforts!

Diane Massad, Westlake, Ohio

From: Mary Sojourner (kali114402001 yahoo.com)br> Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--cumbrously

Penguins: “We are not cumbrous -- we cannot be tipped over!”

Mary Sojourner, Flagstaff, Arizona

From: Brian Stains (brian bstains.com)
Subject: Photo with askance

I love the photo with the word askance. I’m a senior citizen, and I’ve never before in my life seen a look that skeptical on a child’s face!

Brian Stains, Fairfield, Iowa

From: William Bell (bilbel276907 hotmail.com)
Subject: Shakespeare quotation

But man, proud man, / Drest in a little brief authority, / Most ignorant of what he's most assured, / His glassy essence, like an angry ape, / Plays such fantastic tricks before high heaven / As make the angels weep. -William Shakespeare, playwright and poet (23 Apr 1564-1616)

The bard had a feeling that there would be a Trump in the world’s future. He was correct even though it took 500 years.

William Bell, Toronto, Canada

From: Zelda Dvoretzky (zeldahaifa gmail.com)
Subject: Shakespeare

He must be referring to Angelo in Measure for Measure but it certainly describes a certain person in power we all know. Happy Birthday, Sweet Bard.

Zelda Dvoretzky, Haifa, Israel

Also see this.
-Anu Garg

From: Mike Reese (BCoburnree aol.com)
Subject: Askance

Writer H. Allen Smith, as a young reporter, once used the word of the day in an item he wrote in the Society column for the newspaper he worked for; the phrase he used was, “Tickets may be had for the askance.” The young woman who proofread his work asked if that was correct, and he assured her that it was. Well, the editor-in-chief saw it and scolded her for it. Later, Smith related that she came to him and said, “You are the bummest writer, ever.”

Mike Reese, Chicago, Illinois

From: Anne Cooper (anne murraycooper.com.au)
Subject: askance

“We tend to look askance at anyone showing symptoms of national fervour. We are not comfortable with outward displays of our pride in Australia and we question the wisdom and the need for individuals to express their national pride by flying the Australian flag.”
Graham Richardson; Voters Would Back Action -- If They Were to See Any; The Australian (Canberra); Feb 21, 2020.

Oh dear, oh dear! Such awkward timing of your illustrative quotation of today’s word.

This came 48 hours prior to Anzac Day, our national commemorative day when even the most laconic and unemotional Australians are preparing for a “lockdown” tribute.

Dawn services with candles in driveways, amateur brass players practising the Last Post and Reveille to play on balconies and driveways, homemade poppies and Australian flags decorating houses as we remember our war dead and veterans.

Yes, as ex-Senator Richardson said, we do not show our nationalism outwardly to a great deal but on this, which we refer to as The One Day of The Year, Australians do feel it.

In memory of my brother, ex 1 Battalion RAR- Vietnam and Malaya, died 11 March 2020
Father, ex 10/48 Battalion RAR Australia and New Guinea World War 2, died 28 June 2010
My great uncle, killed in action Flanders, 27 February 1917

Anne Cooper, Adelaide, Australia

From: Alexander Gay (alex.gay nhs.net)
Subject: national fervour

The usage example for the word askance can be applied to Britain as well. We are very suspicious of flag fliers for any reason, other than sporting events, and view nationalistic bombast with the scorn it so rightly deserves.

Alexander Gay, Wolverhampton, UK

From: Gary Muldoon (gmuldoon kamanesq.com)
Subject: Adverbs as names

How about Gladly, the cross-eyed bear?

Gary Muldoon, Fairport, New York

From: John Pearce (jms.pearce me.com)
Subject: Clipping

What about the reverse of clipping: the addition of useless words e.g. Why do people say “right now” for “now”. And why has “this moment in time” replaced “now”? Just verbal garbage, frequently heard on the BBC as well as in US media.

John Pearce, East Yorkshire, UK

From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: Askance and natch

In the throes of this hellacious killer coronavirus scourge, it’s no secret that Trump is itching to get America back to “the old normal”... most Americans back to the workplace, and our currently idle pro athletes and their legions of adoring fans back to our nation’s arenas, ballparks, golf courses, bowling alleys... well, that last one may not be a pressing imperative. Ha! At a recently televised White House COVID-19 “Task-Force” press briefing with Dr. Tony Fauci, arguably the most respected epidemiologist in the country, close by his side, The Donald shared a little factoid about Dr. Fauci; namely, that he was a pretty skilled varsity basketball player in his Brooklyn, NY, school days. Of course, Trump couldn’t resist making an aside dig at Dr. Fauci’s diminutive stature. In this scenario, I’ve embellished Trump’s Fauci-as-young-hoopster tidbit, falsely claiming that Fauci is a “huge New York Knicks fan” (the Knicks, in recent years, being a perennially losing franchise) and uses this bogus assertion to continue his prevarication by claiming that with Fauci’s blessing, in short-order, the NBA would be back to pre-coronavirus-threat regular season play. Clearly, Dr. Fauci is befuddled by Trump’s false optimism, giving him the glaring side-eye of disapproval. His abiding mantra throughout this crisis has been... “you don’t make the timeline; the virus makes the timeline.”

Our word “natch”, the slangy, short-form version of the adverb “naturally”, sparked my enlisting two personages from disparate realms into this week’s cartoon scenario--- pop music’s former Beatle, Ringo Starr, perhaps more acclaimed for his drumming than his vocal chops. And from the world of vintage comix, Mr. Natural (aka Fred Natural), more than a mere fleeting figment of former circa-1960s underground cartoonist Robert Crumb’s polymorphous perverse, bizarro imagination, but one of his regulars. In his comix, Crumb’s Mr. Natural fluctuated from self-ascribed guru/mystical sage to horny wise-acre/dirty old man, who had a roving eye for nubile ladies and a penchant for episodes of wanton promiscuity. Here, Ringo sings one of his most popular Beatles tunes, the Country&Western-inspired ballad, “Act Naturally”, covering the original version by Buck Owens, one of the pioneers of the central California-born honky-tonk/rock-a-billy-infused “Bakersfield Sound”. An ebullient audience of one, Mr. Natural “natch-urally” approves, sans his de rigueur flowing full-length white robe, opting to go au naturel, his long snow-white beard wafting in the summer breeze.

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California

From: Patti Keelin (p.keelin ix.netcom.com)
Subject: A Morning Mondegreen

While I was watering plants in our front yard this morning, a neighbor passed by walking her dog. From a safe distance, she paused to say hello and acknowledged how strange these days are, then added, “It’s completely unpresidented!”

Well, that’s what I heard, and when I told her about the mondegreen, she acknowledged that, sadly, this was all too true as well.

Hope you and your loved ones are all staying well. Thank you for bringing joy to each day. It has just the right viral effect we need!

Patti Keelin, Napa, California

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

This week’s theme: Adverbs
1. perforce
2. totes
3. cumbrously
4. askance
5. natch
1. oh, whatever’s best
2. complete; rucksacks
3. as burden
4. mother’s eye
5. in fact
1. perforce
2. totes
3. cumbrously
4. askance
5. natch
1. as by force
2. plumb
3. hard
4. covert stance set
5. sure can, OK
-Dharam Khalsa, Burlington, North Carolina (dharamkk2 gmail.com) -Robert Jordan, Lampang, Thailand (alfiesdad ymail.com)

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

We’re going to get a divorce --
You know that it’s really perforce --
The yelling non-stop
Was just over the top
And now nature is taking its course!
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

Armies wear masks perforce
to fight pandemics, of course.
With goggles and gloves
they part from their loves
with more than a little remorse!
-Mariana G. Warner, Asheville, North Carolina (marianaw6002 gmail.com)

“As Godiva rode nude on her horse,”
explains Tom, “I observed her perforce,
‘cause the sight was so lewd
that my eyes became glued
on it. Hence I’m exempt from remorse!”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

Our taxes, perforce, are delayed.
But taxpayers, don’t be dismayed.
At some point this year
We will pay, never fear,
A tax for each dollar we’ve made.
-Sara Hutchinson, New Castle, Delaware (sarahutch2003 yahoo.com)

For food now I’ve only one source;
My diet’s been altered, of course.
Just like Mother Hubbard,
I turn to my cupboard,
And baked beans are dinner perforce.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

At the Battle of Bosworth, perforce,
Richard offered his realm for a horse.
To record his despair
no witness was there.
For the words we know Shakespeare’s the source.
-Zelda Dvoretzky, Haifa, Israel (zeldahaifa gmail.com)

Said Erik the Red, “As we’re Norse,
It’s westward we’ll voyage perforce.
Further north is just ice,
While down south they’ve got lice,
And my ex got the east in divorce.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

The slick playboy who owned many boats,
Was quite able to score lots of votes.
All the girls had the hots
For his fleet of large yachts,
On each sail he’d seduce them so totes.
-Judith Marks-White, Westport, Connecticut (joodthmw gmail.com)

I find that I’m totes into Zoom,
The only thing lifting my gloom.
I’m glad to connect
But didn’t expect
That I’d see folks in Fruit of the Loom.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

Said Donald, “To get people’s votes,
For the virus we’ll need some scapegoats.”
He had brought back Hope Hicks
The pandemic to fix,
And she answered, “We’ll find some, sir, totes!”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Young seeker of truth was dead set
on finding himself in Tibet.
But lacking a compass, he
made his way cumbrously.
Likely, he’s lumbering yet.
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

This creature, so loved from its birth,
Cumbrously moves, long of trunk, wide of girth.
To help it survive
We humans must strive
To make sure it remains on the Earth.
-Sara Hutchinson, New Castle, Delaware (sarahutch2003 yahoo.com)

When describing Biden, one might state
He makes some gaffes as a candidate.
He can act cumbrously,
Or so it seems to me.
Will it matter? We’ll just have to wait.
-Lois Mowat, Orinda, California (lmowat1810 gmail.com)

He cumbrously lumbered along
Whenever the band played our song.
Though I’m quite well aware
That he’s no Fred Astaire,
My love for this stumbler’s still strong.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

Now poor Freddy had two left feet,
And could not hear the musical beat.
So quite ungraciously,
He would dance cumbrously,
But his bride-to-be thought it was sweet.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“The tower they’re building in Tuscany,”
The inspector reported, “leans cumbrously.”
“No need for goodbyes;
If it falls, it will rise,”
The pope answered, “like Jesus did wondrously.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

She couldn’t help looking askance
at the fellows who asked her to dance.
Ev’ry one of those guys
had a gleam in his eyes
that suggested expected romance.
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

Americans once looked askance
At porcelain common in France.
But now it may pay
To have a bidet
And paper-free hygiene enhance.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

“I adore you, but fear our bromance
Will by Putin be looked at askance,”
Whispered Kim. “Have no fear,”
Smiled Donald, “C’mere,
For I’ve cleared it with him in advance.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

I can’t get a haircut, so natch,
I’ve grown an unruly, gray thatch.
When locked down no more
I’m heading straight for
My stylist with all due dispatch.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

Who knows what mad plan he will hatch --
how from triumph defeat he will snatch!
He has caused so much pain;
he’s our burden, our bane.
Will they choose him again this time? Natch!
-Zelda Dvoretzky, Haifa, Israel (zeldahaifa gmail.com)

“We can make a great roof from it, natch!”
Said the builder, “There’s nothing like thatch.
Your house will look quaint
And you’ll have no complaint;
On a dry day, just don’t light a match.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

From: Phil Graham (pgraham1946 cox.net)
Subject: Adverbs if you want punny sentences

“Howdja like a cold sup perforce down your throat?”

The stevedore moved bags of grain so rapidly he was nicknamed Totes Wheat. (tout de suite)

At Appomattox Courthouse one valet told the other, “I’ll brush Grant, you cumbrously.”

Did you know that only askance section of Iceland lies inside the Arctic Circle?

Katherine Hepburn was so accustomed to winning she referred to her 4th Oscar as, “just another natch in my belt”.

Phil Graham, Tulsa, Oklahoma

From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: Trump’s Foibles & Follies

Trump's Foibles & Follies
Trump, love him or loathe him, is determined to get reelected this November, a prospect that roughly 60% of the electorate would despair and dread with extreme prejudice, in light of his almost four chaotic years in office, governing by incessant tweets, while fomenting conflict and divisiveness.

His early 2016 campaign mantra “Make America Great Again” was a catchy slogan in seducing his hapless, pliable “true believers”... ever-Trumpers. The mantra inevitably morphed into more like a covert “Make America Hate Again”, with Trump’s strategy of divide-and-conquer coming to the fore.

In this new weekly feature, I’ll hopefully be speaking more truth-to-power, than just hyperbolic venting. I know, for the most part, I’ll be preaching to a majority choir of thoughtful, progressive-leaning AWAD-ers. Hopefully, my offerings are music to you ears... and eyes. :-)

Defying the recent strong directives to all Americans issued by his own White House COVID-19 Task-force team to maintain social-distancing and wear a protective face mask (or bandanna or scarf) in all public settings, Trump adamantly continues to refuse to don a face mask, or even consistently adhere to the social distancing dictum. Hmm... a prime reflection of the old adage... “Do as I say, not as I do”?

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California

Everyday language is a part of the human organism and is no less complicated than it. -Ludwig Wittgenstein, philosopher (26 Apr 1889-1951)

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

© 1994-2023 Wordsmith