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May 17, 2020
This week’s theme
There’s a word for it

This week’s words
al desko

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Which came first: the noun or the verb?

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AWADmail Issue 933

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

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

The French Academy Wants You to Remember, This Virus Is Feminine
The Web of Language

Is Afrikaans in Danger of Dying Out?

From: Richard Leigh (richard.j.leigh gmail.com)
Subject: Gazump

I’m writing from the UK, where absolutely everyone knows what the word gazump means.

Richard Leigh, St Albans, UK

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

In one of the Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries Lord P almost gazumped when at an auction for antique books he raised a bid by saying “guineas” when a hammer almost came down on a bid in pounds... in those pre-decimal days a guinea was worth one shilling more than a pound (and was also considered a classier form -- some people’s pay and some items would be reckoned in guineas rather than pounds). Nowadays a guinea is worth one pound five new pence. But I believe an actual guinea coin is far in the past.

Judith Judson, Pittsford, New York

From: Jacque W. Leighty (inupiaq verizon.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--gazump

The term is useful in the present chaotic scramble for PPE. Wealthy agents (as, for example, federal emergency managers) will get wind of a purchase being made by a state or a city and will rush in to gazump the materials before they ship. Opinions will vary, of course, but I would regard such behavior as corrupt even if it were founded on a dereliction of public leadership duties.

Jacque W. Leighty, Silver Spring, Maryland

From: Eric Kisch (kischmir musicalpassions.com)
Subject: Trump

In today’s column you write: to trump something by the use of dubious methods

If you use a Capital T, does this become its own definition?

To Trump: Using dubious methods.

I like it!

Eric Kisch, Shaker Heights, Ohio

From: Douglas Sutherland (forse1945 yahoo.co.uk)
Subject: Gazump

You say that the use of gazumping in connection with house sales exists in the UK. This is not strictly correct as it does not exist in Scotland which has a different legal system. When buying a house a legal binding contract is created as soon as an offer is accepted. The offer can be very short, as can the acceptance. Not quite as short as this, but in principle I write to you offering to buy your house at such and such a price, and you write back to accept, there is the legal contract. This is therefore not dependent on the actual exchange of contracts which will take place later, when the delay allows the practice of gazumping to take place. So gazumping cannot take place in Scotland without legal action.

Douglas Sutherland, Gerde, France

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

From: Paul Castaldi (paulcast55 verizon.net)
Subject: Grinagoguery

Perhaps I’m overthinking the referent, but I can’t help wondering whether grinagogs refer to people who habitually -- and inappropriately -- grin frequently vs. people whose physiognomy has a “baked-in” grinning appearance independent of their emotional state.

My work involved interviewing people in stressful circumstances. Some “grinned” or smiled constantly, even when discussing serious matters, as an apparent nervous or embarrassed response to the situation. But a few had peculiar permanent smiles or grins that persisted independently of their speech and mood. Likewise, I’ve known people with a default sneer; their facial features are just made that way, so they always look like they’re sneering when they’re obviously not actually doing so.

Paul Castaldi, Havertown, Pennsylvania

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

Weird word. I wonder if the marijuana dispensaries have a new meaning for it.

Robert Burns, Ocean Beach, California

From: John Rives (rives kos.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--pot-valor

In far northern Canada back in the late 70s, we referred to this phenomenon as liquid spine.

John Rives, Kingston, Canada

From: Jim Tang (mauijt aol.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--pot-valor

Also known as Dutch courage? Really? If there’s any practice that spans all nationalities, much to our collective woe, it’s unwarranted actions (usually undertaken by males) due to alcohol’s suppression of our already-depleted common sense. Perhaps it’s time to retire that particular synonym, along with the delightful “going Dutch”. Especially since we could easily substitute “American” in both instances.

Jim Tang, Kula, Hawaii

From: Steve Benko (stevebenko1 gmail.com)
Subject: Gazump and gazunder

My 33-year career in the field of commercial real estate finance would have been so much more fun if only I had known the words gazump and gazunder. These were extremely common practices in dealing with the Donald Trumps of the world, of whom there are many (minus the appetite for the public spotlight). We called their business practices by the far more boring term “retrading”. Of course, they always had some lame justification as to why they were doing it.

Steve Benko, New York, New York

From: Rob Marsh (swampster23 bigpond.com)
Subject: Gazunder

In the Australian Navy we used to call Submarines “gazunder boats” as they go under ships.

Rob Marsh, Lake Haven, Australia

From: Faith Steinberg (faith10023 gmail.com)
Subject: gazunder

There is a homophone for gazunder that has no relation to today’s definition. The German/Yiddish word “gesunter” which means a healthy person. Gesundheit is a derivative, the expression one uses sometimes after someone sneezes.

Faith Steinberg, New York, New York

From: Gary Muldoon (gmuldoon kamanesq.com)
Subject: gazunder

This evokes a similar word, gazinta, which Max Baer on The Beverly Hillbillies famously explained. Two gazinta four twice, two gazinta four, two times. Three gazinta nine, three times.

Gary Muldoon, Rochester, New York

From: Bill Prindle (bill.prindle gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--gazunder

Magicians have a term for a set of boxes which has the largest box fitting into the medium box which then fits into the smallest box, or something like that. The trick is known as a gazinta box.

Bill Prindle, Medfield, Massachusetts

From: Geoff Kennedy (geoffkennedy07 gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--gazunder

My mother used the word Gazunda to refer to an item, sometimes a gift, which was not attractive or useful, and was thus something that gazunda the bed.

Geoff Kennedy, Peninsula, Ohio

From: Bob Weggel (bob_weggel mindspring.com)
Subject: Gazinto & gazoutta

A Texan cryogenics engineer with whom I worked at Brookhaven National Laboratory from 2000~ to 2002 termed his inlet and outlet plumbing feed lines “gazinto” and “gazoutta”. He also termed the office of his one-man consulting business his “International Headquarters”.

Bob Weggel, Reading, Massachusetts

From: Hugh Hanley (hugh hughhanley.com)
Subject: gazunder

Made me think of my father’s word “gazinta”, for the “male” part of an electrical or mechanical connection.

Hugh Hanley, Arlington, Massachusetts

From: Bill Topazio (btzena hotmail.com)
Subject: Gazunder

In my career as technician and engineer, one of our vernacular slangs is guzinta, referring to an unnamed or unfamiliar piece of hardware. “Here, put this guzinta right in that thingy and torque it to 10 inch-pounds.”

Bill Topazio, Zena, New York

From: Tine Ugarte (via website comments)
Subject: Gazunder

When I worked in a wallpaper pattern book factory in the UK in 1970, a gazunder was the name given to the hydraulic pallet-lifting truck used to move heavy loads around the warehouse. It took me a while to work out the origins of the name.

Tine Ugarte, Brazil

From: Anne Casey (writan netspeed.com.au)
Subject: Gazunder

In Australia, gazunders refers to underwear, because they go under your clothes :-)

Anne Casey, Canberra, Australia

From: Stuart Newstead (stuartnewstead msn.com)
Subject: gazunder

Gazunder is also a term in cricket. When the bowler bowls the ball, it normally bounces after it pitches. Very occasionally it hits a crack and shoots along the ground. This is completely unpredictable and always takes the batter by surprise and the ball is a gazunder -- because it goes under the bat.

Stuart Newstead, Oxford, UK

From: Ken Freeborn (kenfreeborn gmail.com)
Subject: Gazunder

Gazunder to an older English person would be a chamber pot that “gazunder” the bed for nighttime’s relief in the days when the WC may have been “down the garden”. Many of these chamber pots are now being used as flower planters or collectors of household items. A good reminder of the time I spent in England in my earlier years.

Ken Freeborn, Vancouver, Canada

From: Georgia L. Morehouse (gmoreho mchsi.com)
Subject: gazunder

Seeing that word this morning reminded me of that old saw about how to tell the difference between a rich man and a poor one. The rich man has a canopy over his bed and the poor man has a can of pee under his bed.

Georgia L. Morehouse, Columbia, Missouri

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

As a leader, you have to have the ability to assimilate new information and understand that there might be a different view. -Madeleine Albright, diplomat and author (b. 15 May 1937)

I fear Ms Albright will instead be remembered for a very different quotation: “... We think the price is worth it.” (video, 1 min.)

M Henri Day, Stockholm, Sweden

From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: grinagog and pot-valor

When I’d absorbed the meaning of this week’s word, grinagog”, the perpetually grinning Cheshire Cat from “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” came immediately to mind. So it didn’t require a great leap of imagination to picture Trump in the guise of the infamous fixed-grinned fictive feline. As is the wont of most cats, birds are high on their prey (and play) list. Here, smiling Trump-as-orange-tabby has captured the Twitter bluebird, clenched between his teeth, claiming he’s merely toying with the iconic symbolic birdie. Truth be told, Trump is more prone to exhibiting a glum “frownagog” expression, if you will. But on the occasions when he does broadly grin, either out of embarrassment, or more frequently, after words of self-praise, in my view, it comes off as put on, phony as a three-dollar bill or the credibility of his long-defunct Trump University.

In this somewhat risque scenario, I’ve harkened back to the hollers of Appalachia, where moonshine was once “king”, and roadkill was viewed by the local yokels as fair-game for the stewing pot or the sizzling griddle. Here, I’ve resurrected cartoonist Al Capp’s Li’l Abner comic strip character, Pappy Yokum, who’s hitting the homemade hooch pretty hard, trying to muster enough moxie (pot-valor) to even approach this young mountain-gal, attending to her weekly outdoor ablutions. To be continued...

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California

From: Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)
Subject: Anagrams of this week’s words
This week’s theme: There’s a word for it
1. gazump
2. al desko
3. grinagog
4. pot-valor
5. gazunder
1. swindle
2. at a desk
3. sport a grin
4. guzzler somehow fought apartheid!
5. revoke mortgage
     This week’s theme: There’s a word for it
1. gazump
2. al desko
3. grinagog
4. pot-valor
5. gazunder
1. I haggle over what’s agreed for more
2. at work
3. a smug git
4. spunk sozzled
5. I drop the ante
-Dharam Khalsa, Burlington, North Carolina (dharamkk2 gmail.com) -Robert Jordan, Lampang, Thailand (alfiesdad ymail.com)

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

For morals he’s lacking a compass;
I feared all along he’d gazump us.
The man is a fraud,
Who’s terribly flawed --
Among all his victims I’d lump us.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

One thing you can say about Trump,
The voters he sure did gazump.
He claimed, “I can fix it”,
But just dirty tricks it,
And he played them all for a chump.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

Said Forrest, “Mah rule as a Gump
Is ‘In business thou shalt not gazump.’
Though mah surname may rhyme
With a fella who’s slime,
All his deals in the end go kerthump.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Self-righteously, boss lets the rest go
quite early, while he stays al desko.
But once coast is clear,
he grabs a quick beer,
then heads for a bawdy burlesque show!
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

While admiring a fancy old fresco,
The young ladies all craved an espresso.
They had tripped about Rome,
But now wished to go home,
Where they dined on biscotti al desko.
-Judith Marks-White, Westport, Connecticut (joodthmw gmail.com)

She crushed on her colleague Francesco,
And dreamed of their luncheon al fresco.
But sans any date
Her sandwich she ate
And settled for dining al desko.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

We’re sequestered, that means no al fresco.
It means we’re all working al desko
at home and online.
Though it’s tough I don’t whine
or repine. Anything for success, no?
-Zelda Dvoretzky, Haifa, Israel (zeldahaifa gmail.com)

From Melbourne to Minsk to Modesto,
Our parties are now held al desko.
“No pants” is preferred,
So the whole scene’s absurd
Like a play by Eugene Ionesco.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

The Cheshire Cat met with a frog
Who stared at him, face all agog --
And said “Wow! What are you?
Here, have a cigar, you
From now on are Sir Grinagog!
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

On the first tour of office he took,
Drab front-desk staff left the chief shook.
“Remove these men,” he said,
“Hire grinagogs instead.
They’d lend this place at least a bright look.”
-Shyamal Mukherji, Mumbai, India (mukherjis hotmail.com)

In synagogue once did I see
A grinagog beaming at me.
“Rejoice and be glad
Though bad times we’ve had;
From Egypt did God set us free!”
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

While sinning, I feel like a grinagog,
But I ask for forgiveness in synagogue.
When God’s mercy I seek,
I try this, sounding meek:
“In Thy scheme we are naught but a little cog.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Strapped for cash, and her rent overdue,
with reluctance the poor ingenue
dons makeup for pallor,
sips wine for pot-valor,
and goes to a job interview.
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

With pot-valor drunkards may act,
And bar fights are frequent, in fact.
The very next day
When sober, they’ll pay
For all that’s no longer intact.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

Said Donald, “Come put on a Speedo,
And we’ll talk of you creditors’ credo.”
But they needed pot-valor
To on his yacht gather,
For fear he might use a torpedo.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Young buyer committed a blunder
by making attempt to gazunder
his offer. Old seller,
a quick-tempered feller,
just tore their agreement asunder.
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

Said a man who was shopping, “By thunder!
This isn’t a sale, it’s a plunder!”
He turned to the clerk
Who he thought was a jerk
And regretfully tried to gazunder.
-Maxwell Schoenstein, Age 13, New York, New York (maxwellclyde gmail.com)

He knew that he had made me wonder
When the dude began to gazunder
The deal we just made
As to the price paid
For my house. What a royal blunder.
-Lois Mowat, Orinda, California (lmowat1810 gmail.com)

He keeps in his room a gazunder.
How much it is used one must wonder.
When brought to his bed,
One girl shook her head --
That chamber pot there really stunned her.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

The tension was making us wonder
if buying this house was a blunder
as we watched in dismay
two realtors play
their game of gazump and gazunder.
-Zelda Dvoretzky, Haifa, Israel (zeldahaifa gmail.com)

Shady hucksters they try to plunder.
So a buyer they might gazunder.
And, sometimes they’ll gazump,
Playing buyer for chump.
If they land in jail, it’s no wonder.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“For the way he’d gazump and gazunder,
My dad went to jail and no wonder,”
Said Jared, “The rules
He knew well are for fools,
But got caught and that’s such a big blunder.”
(Author’s note: Jared Kushner’s father was a client of mine during my career in commercial real estate finance. When asked for a reference by other employees of the company I worked for who wanted to do more business with him, I answered, “He belongs in prison.” Two years later, that’s where he was.)
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

From: Phil Graham (pgraham1946 cox.net)
Subject: There’s a word but these won’t reward

By the time you gazump the car I’ll be packed and ready to leave.

When it reopens I’ll desko straight to the library.

I was (after seeing Lohengrin) agog for more Wagnerian opera.

Grandpa told Valerie, the maid, “Empty the chamber pot-valor you’re fired.”

He exhorted the lifeguard, “Hurry before she gazunder a 3rd time!”

Phil Graham, Tulsa, Oklahoma

From: Bob Webb (rhw3fl aol.com)
Subject: More puns

I LOVE AWAD! It introduced me to the wonderful wit of Phil Graham, who’s become a friend. I thought I’d try out a few of my own:

Explaining why stock markets fluctuate, I told my students, “What gazump, must come dowmn.”

A guy with mirrors on his boots was apparently trying to gazunder my wife’s skirt.

As I was leaving for my morning run, my wife reminded me I had a conference call in 15 minutes. “Thanks, luv, al desko around the block a few times, then.”

The interviewer asked Mr. Kilmer, “Are you just using pot valor do you take other drugs, too?”

Say, if this diving mask doesn’t make you grinagog gle might be a better choice...

Bob Webb, Central Lake, Michigan

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

Feeding the Beast

BREAKING NEWS: Trump’s naval officer/valet tests positive for the novel coronavirus. Among several duties at the president’s behest, this now-sequestered valet was responsible for serving Trump his lunches at the White House. In this scenario, I’ve pictured Trump’s valet presenting a super-sized COVID-19 burger, where Trump, ever the junk food junkie, was expecting a McDonald’s burger and side of fries. So, even the inner sanctum of the Oval Office is clearly not immune to the spread of this scary killer virus. Who knows? With Trump and his chief sycophant VP Pence’s continued unwillingness to wear face masks in public, and most White House staffers eschewing donning protective masks, the West Wing could well become the next COVID-19 mini-”hot-spot”. Mercy!

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California

A change in perspective is worth 80 IQ points. -Alan Kay, computer scientist (b. 17 May 1940)

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