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May 3, 2020
This week’s theme
Words to describe people

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AWADmail Issue 931

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

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

Want to Learn French? Italian? Russian? There’s No Time Like the Present
The New York Times

Madeline Kripke, Doyenne of Dictionaries, Is Dead at 76
The New York Times
(Madeline Kripke, a collector of 20,000 dictionaries and related works, was an AWAD subscriber since 2003.)

From: Cal Callahan (calartssd gmail.com)
Subject: Ambivert
Thanks for featuring that perfect word. My friends don’t believe me when I say I’m introverted because with them I’m not.

Cal Callahan, San Diego, California

From: Ladycynthia Fogg (via website comments)
Subject: ambiverts

Today’s word brought memories of grad school some years ago. In one of my psychology classes the students were asked to divide into two groups, those who felt they were extroverts and those with introvert leanings. In no time the room had a group of laughing, animated extros on one side and quiet, pensive intros on the other -- and me in the middle. I was very much aware that I enjoyed being with my extro friends but also treasured down time, and there was no way I could commit fully to either. At the time I wondered whether I was the only person on the planet who practiced both behaviors, but of course the instructors used me as an example in a teaching moment. I don’t remember anyone using the word ambivert, but I love that there’s a word for the conundrum of me!

Ladycynthia Fogg, Tucson, Arizona

From: Mark Allison (jomali internode.on.net)
Subject: ambivert

Love this new-to-me word, since it describes me succinctly. While gregarious when I find myself in company, I am also content with my own companionship; as others have said, a useful trait in times like this. I also wonder if the self-awareness that comes with introversion moderates any tendency to impose my extroversion on evidently unwilling recipients.

Mark Allison, Strathalbyn, Australia

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

From: Laird White (lairdkw gmail.com)
Subject: ambivert

I am a natural introvert. I am also a teacher -- junior high math for students with learning differences. Teaching requires a certain amount of extroversion when dealing with young adolescents. Many naturally introverted teachers know how to flip on that extrovert switch while in the classroom. Thanks for the word to wrap up neatly that switching back and forth!

Laird White, Arlington, Virginia

From: Calvin Hennig (calhennig yahoo.com)
Subject: Ambivert

An excruciating, brilliant, and hilarious must-see movie of an ambivert character is “Who Am I This Time”, a short Kurt Vonnegut story starring Christopher Walken and Susan Sarandon. It aired as a single episode of a PBS American Playhouse series in 1982. This is a sweet, touching movie and available for streaming.

Calvin Hennig, Portland, Oregon

From: William Pease (wpease sdsu.edu)
Subject: Ambivert

Ambivert is a new word for me, but it could describe many I knew in amateur theater, surprisingly shy offstage. They were able to take on a wide range of roles drawing from their experience. A total extravert would be more limited.

Bill Pease, San Diego, California

From: Johnnie Godwin (johnniegodwin aol.com)
Subject: Mistaken to be an extrovert

In a coed study group, divided into husbands and wives for an activity, most of the wives designated me to be an extrovert. Well, I was the teacher. But my wife of many decades corrected the group consensus. She told them I tended to be about half and half. If she had known today’s word, I feel sure she would have told them I’m an ambivert. Love this personality style word.

Johnnie Godwin, Gallatin, Tennessee

From: Susan Saunders (susansaunders2008 btinternet.com)
Subject: ambivert

One advantage we introverts have over extroverts (the only one I’ve discovered so far) is that we all have to learn extrovert behaviour in order not to seem abnormal, which can give us a wider view of possible ways to be human. So we could appear to be ambivert. Extroverts may not realise there’s another way to look at life. Actually, I’ve just realised there’s another advantage in our present situation: we can handle lockdown a little better.

Susan Saunders, Teddington, UK

From: Peirce Hammond (Peirceah.03.01 gmail.com)
Subject: Ambivert

Carl Jung was one of the personality psychologists who used the distinction between introvert and extravert. He believed that the job of the second half of our lives was to become a whole person. Thus, the ideal of becoming an ambivert is one portion of that goal. As a natural introvert, I have found that, first, I am not 100 percent introverted and, second, that not everyone takes energy from me, some give me energy. So I try to maximize my encounters with those who energize me and minimize time with energy “sinks”.

Peirce Hammond, Bethesda, Maryland

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

Lucius Tarquinius, the last king of Rome, was better known as Tarquinius Superbus, due to his arrogant and disdainful personality. His overthrow in 509 BCE led to the establishment of the Roman Republic. The abbreviation SPQR (Senatus Populusque Romanus) is emblematic of the people’s determination to participate in the government practically to the time of Julius Caesar four hundred years later.

Andrew Pressburger, Toronto, Canada

From: Hindi Greenberg (hindi theunion.net)
Subject: superbious

“I find myself a superbious match,
That, of course, being me.
I made my mind up long ago:
I am what is best for me and all those with me.
Nobody else, just me.”
Cameron Mcnaughton; Imaginings; AuthorHouse; 2019.

The usage example sounds like it was written about/for/by the current US president.

Hindi Greenberg, Nevada City, California

From: M Henri Day (mhenriday gmail.com)
Subject: Inventor

I learn that ten percent of all the world’s species are parasitic insects. It is hard to believe. What if you were an inventor, and you made ten percent of your inventions in such a way that they could only work by harnessing, disfiguring, or totally destroying the other ninety percent? -Annie Dillard, author (b. 30 Apr 1945)

With respect to the prevalence of parasitic insects, perhaps the answer is that there is no “inventor”, and that evolution has simply taken advantage of the niches that have opened up; cf the present pandemic -- viruses always harness and sometimes destroy the cells, archaeaic, prokaryotic, or eukaryotic, they infect. And when it comes to the manner in which H. sapiens exploits the rest of our natural world, - harnessing, disfiguring, and destroying is putting it mildly.

M Henri Day, Stockholm, Sweden

From: Steve Damewood (sdamewood1 gmail.com)
Subject: Thought for the day


Do any big agrochemical businesses come to mind?

Steve Damewood, Kalama, Washington

From: Peter Daspit (peterdaspit hotmail.com)
Subject: Quotation regarding parasites

Re A THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Annie Dillard and parasitic insects.

How would the inventors feel? Probably pretty good if it was capitalism... 10 percent lunching off the 90 percent. I don’t see a lot of regrets among the parasites these days.

Peter Daspit, Kailua, Hawaii

From: Judy Deegan (judydeegan2 yahoo.ca)
Subject: hoary

Interesting that we talk about hoarfrost, i.e., “frost frost” in English.

Judy Deegan, Ottawa, Canada

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

Originally what nowadays we call schizophrenia was referred to as dementia praecox (premature dementia).

As for apricot (prematurely ripening peach), in Hungarian both apricot and peach are known as peach. The first is called yellow peach, the second autumn peach.

Andrew Pressburger, Toronto, Canada

From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: precocious and hoary

When I did a Google-search for images of classical music phenom Mozart, I stumbled on a cheek-to-jowl composite pic of a youthful Mozart (obviously, a painted portrait, not a photo... D’ah!) next to a face-on recent photo of the precocious 17-year-old Swedish environmental activist, and now globally-recognized mover-and-shaker, Greta Thunberg. The juxtaposed dual portrait was used as a visual for a recent online article from the Brit satirical site, The Daily Squib. The essay’s “header” read: “Is Greta Thunberg the reincarnation of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart?” From a number of painterly portraits I’d gleaned of young Wolfgang, it was uncanny how these two mature-beyond-their-years young people, from vastly different cultures and times, in my view, looked so uncannily alike. So here, I’ve brought young Greta and young Wolfgang together in a kind of face-off, telescoping the real-time continuum. I dare say, if Ms. Thunberg makes even half the positive impact on this world in her mission to help save our planet from possible armageddon as Mozart made in putting his unique impress on classical music... advancing the genre to even more rarified heights, then she will have left her indelible, lasting, and heroic mark. Greta and Wolfgang... two peas in a pod?

Over the long history of gag cartooning, in my mind, three now-classic scenarios have attained elite “groaner”, cliché status; firstly, the guy at sea, marooned on a tiny island, accompanied by a lone palm tree (or squawky parrot); second, the hapless soul crawling across the vastness of desert dunes with nary a drop of water to drink; and thirdly, the aged, reclusive sage... the oracle-on-the-mount, if you will. So, somewhat sheepishly, in this scenario I’ve revisited the latter clichéd gag set-up, with a weary young huntsman having ascended to the mountain peak, seeking the wisdom of this venerable hoary-haired recluse, querying... “What is the meaning of life?” The answer is surely a huge disappointment to the inquisitive young man. Like many an oldster since time immemorial, odds are our hearing acuity deteriorates with age. In defense of our possibly hearing-challenged cave-dwelling guru, our word “hoary” and the word “horny” do have a bit of a homophonic affinity.

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California

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

This week’s theme: Words to describe people
  1. ambivert
  2. hapless
  3. superbious
  4. hoary
  5. precocious
  1. sociable recluse
  2. be overcome
  3. proud at best, so uppish is she
  4. smoky/powder whites
  5. ratheripe
     This week’s theme: Words to describe people
  1. ambivert
  2. hapless
  3. superbious
  4. hoary
  5. precocious
  1. homebody, social - we pick whatever’s best
  2. poor, per the bruises
  3. pompous
  4. elder
  5. the saucier sis
-Robert Jordan, Lampang, Thailand (alfiesdad ymail.com) -Dharam Khalsa, Burlington, North Carolina (dharamkk2 gmail.com)

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

With a wink, she admits, “I’m a flirt,
but to silence I sometimes revert.”
Says her shrink, “You appear
to exhibit, my dear,
the signs of a fine ambivert!”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

The quiet man’s feelings were hurt
When he heard himself called a stuffed shirt.
Among friends he was hearty
The life of the party:
A misunderstood ambivert.
-Sara Hutchinson, New Castle, Delaware (sarahutch2003 yahoo.com)

When our moods often change and divert,
With a need to veer off and convert,
A Clark Kent attitude,
Morphs to Superman dude,
We emerge as a true ambivert.
-Judith Marks-White, Westport, Connecticut (joodthmw gmail.com)

Just ask me what kind of a guy
Can sometimes be bold and then shy,
With more than one side
(Like Jekyll and Hyde!?!) --
“An ambivert!” I would reply.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

Sundays: Life of the party, she flirts.
Next day to childhood shyness reverts.
Fridays: quiet home gal,
Saturdays: femme fatale --
are all teen-age girls ambiverts?
-Zelda Dvoretzky, Haifa, Israel (zeldahaifa gmail.com)

Since my son was no more than a squirt,
With the ladies he’s been quite a flirt.
But at times in a crowd
He seems nervous and cowed;
Now I finally know: he’s an ambivert!
-Janice Power, Cleveland, Ohio (jpmarlin456 gmail.com)

Be they intro- or extro- or ambiverts,
All the guys now sit home in their undershirts.
Their top halves they’ll groom
For a meeting on Zoom,
But below, there are some wearing miniskirts.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Hapless Pauline, to railroad tracks tied,
“I am hopeless and helpless” she cried.
But here comes our hero,
Pauline’s perils now zero.
He frees her and makes her his bride.
-Sara Hutchinson, New Castle, Delaware (sarahutch2003 yahoo.com)

A wardrobe malfunction arose;
She blushed from her head to her toes.
A swimsuit that’s strapless
Is bad for the hapless
And often some bits will expose.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

A lady I know who was chapless
Did pine that she was quite hapless.
So she took a chance,
For at the next dance
She wore a gown that was strapless.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“To find it should not take an atlas,”
Said Stormy, “Your efforts are hapless.”
Answered Donald, “The pleasure
I give is full measure;
The problem’s the fault of the mattress.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Okay! What percentage of you
Will write one about you know who?
That superbious guy
Whose ego is sky high,
Making your limerick ring true.
-Lois Mowat, Orinda, California (lmowat1810 gmail.com)

Superbious snoots make it plain
That everyone else they disdain.
They feel they’re the best;
They’re so self-obsessed,
They think that their pee is champagne!
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

If you think of yourself only “ME”,
Like a man in our Presidency,
His actions superbious
Are always discourteous.
No one else’s concerns does he see.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“Though the doctors may think me superbious,
To the virus I’ll show I’m impervious,”
At the clinic said Pence,
With a mask I’ll dispense;
If I wear one, the boss’ll be furious.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

‘Tis said woman’s hair is her glory.
Alas, as she ages, she’s sorry
to find it not so.
Locks continue to grow,
but get thinner and ever more hoary.
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

There’s good words and bad words, it’s true.
Horehound candy is good; hoar frost too.
And there’s old, which is hoary,
And the point of this story
Is: the good words have no double-u.
-Sara Hutchinson, New Castle, Delaware (sarahutch2003 yahoo.com)

His full head of hair had grown hoary --
He called it his great crowning glory!
But the wind blew away
That most gorgeous toupee,
Revealing a bald Uncle Maury.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

The joke that he told was so hoary
that everyone there knew the story.
Then he kept digressing;
the laugh lines kept messing:
He got points for guts, but no glory.
-Zelda Dvoretzky, Haifa, Israel (zeldahaifa gmail.com)

Though she’s growing increasingly hoary,
There’s no one in her category.
Stay alive, RBG!
You’re a true bel esprit;
As a Justice you’re still in your glory.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

At three, he had learned how to read,
but to library rules paid no heed.
The kid was precocious,
his actions atrocious,
and bookshelves disordered indeed.
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

Now grandma thought grandson precocious,
His behavior though was atrocious.
When he drew on the wall,
She would tell one and all,
“An artist!” She’d cry, braggadocious.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

As a childhood tea party hostess,
Martha Stewart was always precocious.
And “Your bread will stay flat
If you leave just like that,”
At a Seder she once advised Moses.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Poor Boris it hit like a lorry;
He’s returned, but he looks a bit hoary.
Yet it stopped immigration,
A clear indication
That COVID is surely a Tory.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

From: Phil Graham (pgraham1946 cox.net)
Subject: These words may disrupt, not describe people

Tired of annual floods the mayor said, “Let’s build a levee ambivert the river.”

The USAF became hapless when General Arnold died.

To make superbious pecially gentle when making love to her.

Martha Washington said, “George, put on your powdered wig and hoary!”

Their leader was only 25, still the pro footballers did everything precocious instructions.

Phil Graham, Tulsa, Oklahoma

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

Here I’ve depicted Trump taking some of his own recommended medicine, having proposed that one inject or ingest household disinfectant bleach, Lysol and such, as a treatment for coronavirus. Medical professionals were aghast at such a preposterous and dangerous suggestion. A day later, a very defensive Trump claimed he was merely using “sarcasm”. Right.

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California

A prince who is not wise himself will never take good advice. -Niccolo Machiavelli, political philosopher and author (3 May 1469-1527)

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