Wordsmith.org: the magic of words


About | Media | Search | Contact  


Today's Word

Yesterday's Word



May 31, 2020
This week’s theme
What the h...

This week’s words

How popular are they?
Relative usage over time

AWADmail archives

Next week’s theme
Words borrowed from Japanese

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 935

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

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

Is Music a Language, as Stevie Wonder Sang?
The Economist

Hahahahaha, Duuuuude, Yeeessss!: A Study of Stretchable Words

Slow Writing

From: Jennifer Brown (jennifer.nell.brown gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--heterochromatic

I live in Costa Rica, where this email is quite timely. Tomorrow, May 26, same-sex marriage becomes legal here!

Jennifer Brown, Cabuya, Costa Rica

From: Mark Farnsworth (mark_farnsworth fanniemae.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--heterochromatic

I read with interest the exchange with your now-former subscriber. It was very striking to me just how allergic many people have become to ideas they don’t like, and equally allergic to the people who hold them. It seems very similar to the notion of “racial purity” where even one drop of Canadian blood, for example, makes you a Canadian, no matter that all the other blood is pure New Jersey. No matter how brilliant and accomplished you may otherwise be, if you hold that one idea, then all the other ideas you have count for nothing, and you yourself are persona non grata. Failing to condemn just one idea magically transforms you from us to them.

The second thing I found striking was that the word “political” seems to be taking on the same sorts of recoil-y overtones that ‘salacious’ or “communist” have often had. The interesting twist is that “political” is completely flexible in the sense that it has no substance of its own -- just a placeholder for anything we don’t like about them. I wonder what would have been the reaction if you had shown, say, a picture of an octopus and an armadillo, both wearing bowties, at the altar ...

I was glad to see you respond, as Wodehouse puts it, “in moderate vein”. I would have been sorely tempted to respond with the verbal equivalent of a mono-digital gesture. But alas, that luxury is denied us; I’m quite convinced it’s lack of restraint that lies at the root of the whole constellation of tribalistic problems we’re all wrestling with in the first place.

Anyway, thank you for bearing the banner of civilization with unfailing poise and panache!

Mark Farnsworth, Ashburn, Virginia

From: Brian P. O’Sullivan (brian.p.o’sullivan hitchcock.org)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--heterochromatic

Thank you for your brilliant response regarding the kale/French fry (and obviously same-sex, heterosexual marriages). The great example is West Wing episode (video, 3 min.) wherein President Bartlett takes down the conservative radio host by quoting lines of scripture that she has ignored (can one play football on a Sunday since the ball is made of pig skin?). Your example of Victuals chapter and verse is wonderful! And I do believe Thomas Jefferson had a line about this, which I may have picked up from one of your daily quotations:

“It does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no God.”
-Thomas Jefferson, third US president, architect and author (1743-1826)

I am a white Anglo-Saxon and wear a “Black Lives Matter” bracelet. I have been accosted about this more than once (“White lives matter, too, you know!”).

One response I have used is, if I had a “Cure breast cancer” bracelet it would not mean I was in favor of prostate cancer. One can draw attention to a matter one feels is under-appreciated without taking away from other important matters or lives.

Brian P. O’Sullivan, MD, Manchester, New Hampshire

From: Richard Mann (richmann unforgettable.com)
Subject: Kale v. French Fries

Anyone can make up a specious comparison.

For instance, I know of a fellow who really likes killing people. Others have a “favorite book” that says not to do that. But, it’s just personal preference, right?

Perhaps you’ll tell me that killing people affects other innocent people unfavorably. Same sex marriages sometimes result in adoptions. The innocent children suffer. They don’t suffer to death, but they suffer in many ways.

Specious analogies and comparisons don’t prove anything.

Richard Mann, Ogden, Utah

Because two people loving each other is totally comparable to killing people? Talk about specious comparisons!

I was taken aback to read “Same sex marriages sometimes result in adoptions.” Are people in same-sex marriage more likely to making babies and giving them away for adoptions? Then I realized you used that construction to avoid saying “Same-sex couples sometimes adopt children.” So better to have children in orphanages than raised by two loving parents who happened to be of the same sex?

Just for the sake of discussion, let’s say that same-sex couples are not allowed to adopt. Would that make you agreeable to people having same-sex relationships?

Something tells me, not. Talk about specious arguments.

At any rate, I do agree with your last statement: Specious analogies and comparisons don’t prove anything.

-Anu Garg

Heterochromatic eyes
From: Jenna Agate (jenna thestudioonthegreen.com)
Subject: Heterochromatic

I have heterochromatic eyes and have spent a lifetime being asked “Did you know...” or people stopping abruptly mid-sentence when they realised. Of course, I can’t see them so only ever think about it when that happens.

Jenna Agate, Edinburgh, Scotland

From: Laura Peebles (lhpeebles aol.com)
Subject: heterochromatic

The Washington Nationals baseball team’s ace, Max Scherzer, has heterochromatic eyes (blue and brown). It is impossible to look him in both eyes at the same time: your brain does not like looking at two different-colored eyes (I’ve tried). His former manager, Dusty Baker, worked around that: he said “Talk to the brown eye: that’s the pitching eye.”

Laura Peebles, Arlington Virginia

From: Gary Glasser (gt.glasser gmail.com)
Subject: Heterochromia

My white cat has heterochromatic eyes, as does my Siberian Husky. One blue, one yellow. I am told the blue eyes never got the genetic signal to turn yellow in both cases. My wife calls them David Bowie eyes in honor of the late, great musician.
Gary Glasser, Burbank, California

From: William Weiswasser (mediate1 telus.net)
Subject: Joseph and his heterochromatic coat

Let us not forget Joseph and his heterochromatic coat ...

William Weiswasser, Red Deer, Canada

From: Elizabeth Foster (e-bethfoster verizon.net)
Subject: Making a stand for love

I am sorry for the negative response to the photo of two women making wedding vows. Fear might be the greater root of all evil.

I am the mother of a gay daughter, who is married with a newborn. I had to learn and unlearn a lot to come to a place of acceptance of homosexuality. I walked every step in fear, but I came through it in time to rejoice when my daughter came out. I have had to endure a few shots over the bow, but I’m glad to take them for my daughter and her partner.

Thanks for making a stand for love.

Elizabeth Foster, Blacksburg, Virginia

From: Peter J Ross (zargul09 aol.com)
Subject: Thank you

Being a gay man who was stripped of his Ministry when my conservative church guessed at my closeted sexuality, I wanted to thank you for being an ally.

I also think your method of giving the motivation behind this week’s words is fantastic. Thank you.

Rev. Peter J Ross II, Wayne, New Jersey

From: Ann Mosconi (AnnaLaLoca aol.com)
Subject: your “food for thought”


PS: And it’s also okay to like neither fries nor kale salad. :)

Ann Mosconi, Dayton, Ohio

From: Jan Olsen (janolsen cnsp.net)
Subject: What comes to my mind is

Homogenated milk... I think we can all agree to such a progressive act.

Jan Olsen, Santa Fe, New Mexico

From: Martin E Cobern (mecobern cox.net)
Subject: Heterochromatic

I think your choice of the “rainbow flag” to illustrate the word heterochromatic is wonderful. In Peru, the official flag of the city and province of Cusco flies everywhere, including above the Cusco cathedral! (See photos.) It differs only by having an additional stripe of light blue. During our visit, our guide kept reminding us that it was not an LGBT flag.
The official flag of the city and province of Cusco, Peru The official flag of the city and province of Cusco flying on the Cusco cathedral
Martin Cobern, Cheshire, Connecticut

From: Glenn Glazer (gglazer ucla.edu)
Subject: color theory

For a humorous take on color theory: Calvin and Hobbes

Glenn Glazer, Felton, California

From: Mary Postellon (mpostellon hotmail.com)
Subject: heterochromatic

I hoped you’d illustrate “heterochromatic” with a horse of a different color, maybe the one from The Wizard of Oz (which was a single different color every time it appeared onscreen). (video, 1 min.)

Mary Postellon, Grand Rapids, Michigan

From: Roger Blaine (reblaine hotmail.com)
Subject: Heterochromatic

The word heterochromatic reminded me of a fantastic word I ran into in the classic book Pawn Power in Chess by Hans Kmoch. He described the Knight’s move as rotochromic because the knight lands on an opposite-colored square with each move. Instantly understandable, but I doubt the word has been used anywhere else!

Roger Blaine, Mishawaka, Indiana

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

While homo is Greek for “same”, it’s Latin for “man”. Interesting juxtaposition. The opportunities for confusion abound. Growing up in the days when homosexuals were shunned and ridiculed, the reference to Homo sapiens was always good for a laugh. Nowadays, describing the rainbow flag of the LGBTQ movement as heterochromatic might also evoke a smile. It might follow that the banner of the heterosexuals-only movement would be homochromatic.

I’m thinking a white flag might be apt.

Jim Tang, Kula, Hawaii

Email filters haven’t learned much though. For example, a corporation bounced today’s email with the message:
Policy (Block messages with profanity and obscene words)
found term [“homo”] in BODY_TEXT, score is 1
-Anu Garg

From: Ginny Stahlman Crooks (via website comments)
Subject: Thought for Today

To live content with small means; to seek elegance rather than luxury, and refinement rather than fashion; to be worthy, not respectable, and wealthy, not rich; to listen to stars and birds, babes and sages, with open heart; to study hard; to think quietly, act frankly, talk gently, await occasions, hurry never; in a word, to let the spiritual, unbidden and unconscious, grow up through the common -- this is my symphony. -William Henry Channing, clergyman and reformer (25 May 1810-1884)

The thought for today is of pivotal importance to my life. I came across it about nine years ago and emailed it to someone from my past with whom I’d struck up a correspondence and was starting to fall in love with. I told him it reminded me of him. He responded, “Could you imagine spending your life with such a person?” I remember sitting at my computer, electrified. We lived 1,000 miles apart. Both of us had other entanglements in our lives. I would have to change literally everything in my life to be with him. Nevertheless, I made a decision that day to seriously explore spending the rest of my life with him. Needless to say, we are married today! On May 30, we celebrate our fifth anniversary, in part due to William Henry Channing!

Ginny Stahlman Crooks, Bloomfield, New Jersey

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

From: Tim Buchowski (timbuchowski hotmail.com)
Subject: homophene

My wife read Tuesday’s word of the day to me (i.e., homophene) while there was a lot of background noise, so I couldn’t hear her clearly. I thought that she was saying “Cop a feel.”

Tim Buchowski, Austin, Texas

From: Helen Fryer (helenfryer1 gmail.com)
Subject: Homophene

A friend’s mother asked her, on the phone, “So, did you and your brother have a chat about my plan?”
My friend took a deep breath and replied, “We discussed it.” Her mother thought she heard her say “We’re disgusted.”
Her mother didn’t speak to her for months, until eventually the misunderstanding was discovered.

Helen Fryer, St Leonards, UK

From: Mike Dahlstrom (mike.dahlstrom frontier.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--homophene

I loved the video. I was raised in a home with a deaf Mother who read lips, no sign language except that which we improvised. Often my Mother would misinterpret the words spoken to her, with sometimes humorous or embarrassing results. I recall a book I read many years ago titled What’s That Pig Outdoors? about deaf culture and the mishaps of lip reading. The title refers to his misreading of “What’s that big loud noise?”

Mike Dahlstrom, Everett, Washington

From: Peter Wigley (wigleyparents hotmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--homophene

Being deaf is mainly a nuisance but occasionally it gives rise to some cheer. My wife and I were attending a church service to celebrate the completion of a pulpit drop made by her sister. Whilst we were waiting for the proceedings to begin, the rector’s wife approached me and asked
“Do you know anything about hand grenades?”
“Not a lot, but do you know if the pin is still in?” I replied
“I am not sure, but the lady is just over there.”
So I was led to the lady and it turned that she was not asking for help about a “hand grenade”, but a less dangerous “hearing aid”.

Peter Wigley, Chester, UK

From: Peter Frampton (peter coloraccounting.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--homophene

Research has been done showing that the puff of air that we give off when pronouncing a “p” helps a listener up to a meter or so away determine whether the speaker spoke a “b” or a “p”. The subliminal feeling of the wind on the face of the listener identifies the “p”. Amazing! What sensory creatures we are. But also thought provoking in these covid-19 times.

Peter Frampton, Versoix, Switzerland

From: Judith Shapiro (jrshapir barnard.edu)
Subject: lip-reading

There was an excellent episode of Inspector Morse that turned on this: a deaf witness was the only one who could lip read from afar, which advanced the solution of the crime up to a point, but his identification of the guilty party fell afoul of the very issue you note.

Judith Shapiro, Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania

From: Marianne Porter (marianneporter1 gmail.com)
Subject: Homophenes

From The Rolling Stones tune: Beast of burden sounds like pizza burning.

Marianne Porter, Truckee, California

From: Timothy Bruggeman (timbru99 gmail.com)
Subject: Homophene

From an old joke I heard in grade school, probably in the late 60s:

Walking on the sidewalk in front of the parish rectory, a boy dropped his snack food in a puddle.
To which he exclaimed, “Jesus Christ, God Almighty!”
The parish priest overheard this and asked, “What did you just say?!”
The boy replied, “Father, I said ‘Cheese and Crackers got all muddy!’ You should have your hearing checked!”

Timothy Bruggeman, Shawnee, Kansas

From: Everett Nelson (neverett411 gmail.com)
Subject: Homophene

The old bit of silently mouthing “vacuum” equals “fuck you”. Try it, posing with vacuum cleaner in hand & a sultry smile “I want to vacuum.”

Peter Nelson, Nashville, Tennessee

From: Michael Troop (mtroop946 gmail.com)
Subject: a homophene

My grandfather was deaf but could read lips. Once I asked him for a safety pin and he slapped me on the side of my head. It turned out he thought I called him a “son of a bitch”.

Michael Troop, Naples, Florida

From: Lynn Javoroski (lynnjav gmail.com)
Subject: homophene

When I was a kid, we delighted in saying, under our breath, “suffer much” which appeared to be “son of a b*tch”, especially to our parents and teachers.

I’m glad to learn there’s a word for it!

Lynn Javoroski, Juneau, Wisconsin

From: Gary Lawton (grlawton315 gmail.com)
Subject: Homophene

Many years ago, while I endured a boring first-year university Sociology lecture, the professor explained the social implications of two diseases which could be inherited. He named them as syphilis and gonorrhea. From way up in the nose-bleed section came the question: “Sir, did you say Sniffles and Diarrhea?” That ended any possibility of further serious discussion.

Gary Lawton, Strathroy, Canada

From: Russ Darby (rrdarby att.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--homophene

There’s a related article in BBC news this morning. If you can’t see their lips, you can’t lip read at all.

Russ Darby, Springfield, Illinois

From: Jan Fair (fairjan2000 yahoo.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--homophene

My fav homophene ... “Exercise?” Oops. I thought you said “Extra Fries!”

Jan Fair, Las Vegas, Nevada

From: Erica Mueller (greygarious aol.com)
Subject: Mishearings

That’s the title of a charming essay written by neurologist Oliver Sacks during the last months of his life. It appeared in The New York Times and The River of Consciousness. Dr. Sacks’s auditory processing errors included “choir practice” & “chiropractor” and “Christmas eve” & “kiss my feet”.

Erica Mueller, Billerica, Massachusetts

From: Maurice Schwartz (schwartzmaurizio gmail.com)
Subject: Homophene

A favorite is the hymn “Lead on, oh King Eternal” for which we like “Lead on, oh kinky turtle.”

Maurice E. Schwartz, Greensboro, North Carolina

From: Mike Parsley (slussen2 gmail.com)
Subject: Homophene phrase

“Get three-and-four pence, we’re going to a dance” (British, 2nd World War)
“Get reinforcements, we’re going to advance.”

Mike Parsley, Malaga, Spain

From: Amy Huff (a.huff hifcm.net)
Subject: Olive juice

I remember as a kid saying “Olive juice” through the window on a dare. It stayed with me as something that makes me laugh. Even though I’m supposedly all grown up now, I taught it to my husband.

He and I still say that to each other!

Amy Huff, Owosso, Michigan

From: Steven Lipschultz (mrweevy yahoo.com)
Subject: lip reading in Seinfeld

I don’t think a real life lip-reader would make this mistake, but George Costanza ran into trouble when his hired lip reader confused sweep together with sleep together. (video, 3 min.)

Steve Lipschultz, Truckee, California

From: Dave Andrew (silverspur_dave yahoo.com)
Subject: colorful = I love you

A well-known pair is “colorful” and “I love you.”

Dave Andrew, San Diego, California

From: Michelle Brovitz (mbrovitz yahoo.com)
Subject: homophene

When I was a kid, we said “elephant shoes” not “elephant juice”. Same difference!

Michelle Brovitz, Cebu city, Philippines

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

Ever notice in most areas south of the Mason-Dixon line, ‘e’ and ‘i’ are the same:

Pin / pen
Wendy / windy

I had a (short-lived) fling with a gal from Waco, and I think the nail in the coffin was the fact that I never really knew her name. It was either Dana or Dinah. No matter how many times I heard it, sounded the same to me.

Bill Topazio, Zena, New York

From: Mariana Warner (marianaw6002 gmail.com)
Subject: homophenes

This cartoon makes me laugh. Two days after you introduced me to the word homophone, it appears that “vows” and “vowels” are homophones.

Mariana Warner, Asheville, North Carolina

From: Bob Richmond (via website comments)
Subject: heteroclite

I learned “heteroclite” from the scientific name of the Atlantic topminnow or mummichog, Fundulus heteroclitus, a little fish every biology major knows about, a denizen of our Atlantic coastal waters.

The fish was named in 1766 by Linnaeus, the founder of the classification of animals and plants in universal use today. I don’t know why he chose this name, but he had a great sense of humor.

Linnaeus knew the mummichog from a preserved collection from around Charleston, SC. He actually named it Cobitis heteroclita, grossly misclassifying it among the loaches, Eurasian eel-shaped, bottom-dwelling fishes. I wonder if he was suspicious he was misclassifying it, since it didn’t really look much like a loach, and named it “different” for that reason.

Bob Richmond, Maryville, Tennessee

From: John Southworth (johnfsouthworth icloud.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--heterography

William Clark (of Lewis and Clark) was noted for his inconsistent spelling. In the best-known example, he spelled Sioux twenty-seven different ways in his journals of the expedition. I am not sure many of us, including myself, could do that if we tried.

John Southworth, Santa Monica, California

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

I once came upon a will of Rev. John Murray, older half-brother of the 1st Earl of Atholl, also named John Murray, in which the testator’s name was spelled three different ways. That was in the mid-17th century.

Robert Burns, Ocean Beach, California

From: Craig Little (craig.little pearson.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--heterography

I’m reminded of a fascinating episode of Nova about the written Maya language. Through amazing detective work, linguists were able to crack the code when they realized that the same word could be represented by combining several different glyphs in different ways or using alternate glyphs meaning the same thing. Using this, they could write the same word in dozens of different ways depending on the context and the meaning to be conveyed. How much more powerful could our languages be if by shifting how it is written we can say even more than just the word itself! Our italic, bold, and underlining variants are poor substitutes.

Craig Little, Mahwah, New Jersey

From: Louise Fink Smith (louisesmith698 hotmail.com)
Subject: heterography

The multiple spellings of Shakespeare in the illustration reminded me of tenth-grade English way back when we still hand-wrote our term papers in cursive. The fellow sitting in the desk behind me spelled the bard’s name some “other” way. When it came time to turn in our papers, we both feared the worst for his paper. I can’t remember whether the teacher knew that the bard himself used heterography for his own name.

Louise Fink Smith, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

From: Ele Richardson (nielandeleanor roadrunner.com)
Subject: heterography

One place where heterography is practiced nowadays is in kindergarten and first grade, where children are learning how written language works. I was surprised when my grandchildren brought home written work with words spelled the way they sounded, whether it was “correct” or not. I believe this is exactly as it should be. Let the children learn that they can pass their ideas on to someone else by means of letters that have sounds and worry about correct spelling later. Incidentally, I had a very erudite uncle who spelled words phonetically all his life, as a matter of principle. [See inventive spelling]

Ele Richardson, Bedford, Ohio

From: Marvant Duhon (mduhon bluemarble.net)
Subject: heterography

Cajuns are traditionally more accepting of variation, including heterography, than Anglos, and all variations are accepted. I pronounce my last name with an H, for my father the H is silent, and when alive his father would pronounce it in the Languedoc fashion as DOO-YAHN. The last name was invented in the 18th Century as DuHon. The noble enclitic Du indicated we were the Lords of the Castle Hon (there is no such castle). Afterwards, some capitalized the H (one of my nephews does so today) and some did not, and some wrote their name both ways. And of course since the name was invented there have been half a dozen other ways to spell it.

Marvant Duhon, Bloomington, Indiana

From: Kathy Andrew Smith (kathy.leapbaby gmail.com)
Subject: heterography and genealogy

Variant spellings for names can be a problem for genealogists when searching old records. I have ancestors named Breiner, who immigrated to the USA in 1820. It wasn’t always easy finding them in census records. In addition to the correct spelling, I also found them listed as Bryner, Briner, Biner, and Primer. Research in Spanish can also be challenging. In old records, certain letters were often used interchangeably. Most commonly B and V, J and X, S and Z. The same person could be found under Baldes and Valdez, or Trujillo vs Truxillo. Don’t get me started on the abbreviations!

Kathy Andrew Smith, Goodyear, Arizona

From: Nancy R. Griffith (rahijasaad hotmail.com)
Subject: homo and hetero

Regarding “homo” and “hetero”: The world is changing, and often for the better. Even my Babbel Spanish lessons have multi-ethnic and same-sex illustrations for words, including a same-sex wedding photo.

Nancy R. Griffith, Sacramento, California

From: Steve Benko (stevebenko1 gmail.com)
Subject: Hetero and homo

I noticed you alternated hetero- with homo- words. You must be attempting to be politically correct, like a reporter who insists on avoiding infection by wearing his mask at a White House press conference. Still, you used hetero- three times and homo- only twice. Expect a gathering of protesters on your front lawn later today.

Steve Benko, New York, New York

From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: homophene & heteroclite

The notion of lip readers misreading certain words or phrases merely by misconstruing the movement of the speaker’s lips immediately rekindled memories of George H. W. Bush (US president No. 41), and his now infamous declaration “Read my lips! No new taxes!” Of course, Bush ultimately reneged on what proved to be a hollow, perhaps aspirational, promise. Here, my Froggy character mishears/misreads George H.W.’s vow...”No new taxes”, hearing instead “No newt axes.” A clear example of a homophene, which gives Bush’s exhortation a totally different meaning than intended. Newts are kind of reptilian cousins to salamanders, geckoes, and frogs. Why they’d have any use for “axes” is beyond me. Ha! Oh, I forgot, there is a rather irritating pol of the diehard Republican persuasion, Newt Gingrich... cold-blooded, but hardly a reptile.

Heteroclite "Lite"
Playing off the definition of our word “heteroclite”, defined as “a person who is unconventional: a maverick”, here, I’ve imagined duded-up Trump in the guise of the popular James Garner poker-playing card-shark, hard-living Old West TV character, Bret Maverick, Garner being the star of the late-’50s-early-’60s eponymous series for the first three seasons of its six-year run. Of course, Trump would be the more malevolent version of Garner’s Maverick, who was hardly an angel himself. Here, mounted on his GOP-branded steed, maverick Trump proclaims that he’s essentially the new boss in these here parts. My “DEADWOOD” signage is both a nod to a real, infamous Wild West town, but also a reflection of the caliber of most of Trump’s administration’s sycophantic, incompetent, and corrupt minions who do his daily bidding.

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California

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

This week’s theme:
1. heterochromatic
2. homophene
3. heteroclite
4. homologate
5. heterography
1. more color
2. rhyme meets the lip (whee, hee; hoe, toe)
3. other
4. to OK a machine part
5. GHost, hiGH, etc.
     This week’s theme is what the h...
1. heterochromatic
2. homophene
3. heteroclite
4. homologate
5. heterography
1. color rich
2. lip shape/motion: hear what some see agog
3. heretic he
4. OK
5. Thom, teeth, teethe: how the th rhyme
-Dharam Khalsa, Burlington, North Carolina (dharamkk2 gmail.com) -Robert Jordan, Lampang, Thailand (alfiesdad ymail.com)

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

Her heterochromatic hair
Caused so many people to stare,
Which did not bother her.
It’s the look she’d prefer.
What they all thought, she did not care.
-Lois Mowat, Orinda, California (lmowat1810 gmail.com)

The artist was somewhat erratic.
Her work wasn’t heterochromatic.
She only used blue
And occasionally ecru.
Her work ended up in the attic.
-Sara Hutchinson, New Castle, Delaware (sarahutch2003 yahoo.com)

A girl who was so idiosyncratic
Had a flair toward the overly dramatic.
By day she’s so serene,
But at night caused a scene,
With a wardrobe: heterochromatic.
-Judith Marks-White, Westport, Connecticut (joodthmw gmail.com)

I’ll say in a way that’s emphatic:
A bagel that’s het’rochromatic
Is simply bizarre.
It’s going too far --
Amusing it’s not; it’s erratic!
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

When our world went heterochromatic
me and Dorothy Gale were ecstatic;
Technicolor was Oz --
though the witch gave us pause
and encounters were often traumatic.
-Zelda Dvoretzky. Haifa. Israel (zeldahaifa gmail.com)

Now feeding my baby took care.
The meal did wind up everywhere.
But, tot was ecstatic,
With food over face, hair, and chair.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

As a nation, we’re heterochromatic,
Causing illnesses psychosomatic.
In such patients we see
That they think to be free
Means possession of guns automatic.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

A deaf man relying on sight
May never get homophenes right.
Some sounds look the same,
And that is a shame --
To misunderstand is his plight.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

Everyone doesn’t get what we mean
when we speak. Beware the homophene.
Meanings might be obscure.
We can never be sure
that they heard the word that they’ve just seen.
-Zelda Dvoretzky, Haifa, Israel (zeldahaifa gmail.com)

As my senior years are appearing,
I’m beginning to lose my hearing.
A word may seem obscene,
But it’s a homophene.
A hearing aid’s use is now nearing.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

Getting “married” and “buried” are homophenes,
And equally, two rather loco schemes.
To do both with repute
One must put on a suit,
But I really prefer my old Polo jeans.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

She always liked a heteroclite,
As they seemed really clever and bright.
Not having to conform
To being in the norm,
They would follow their unique insight.
-Lois Mowat, Orinda, California (lmowat1810 gmail.com)

She married a heteroclite,
A man most eccentric and bright.
Though some thought him weird,
To her he appeared
Uniquely a source of delight.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

When you first meet some folks, they’re polite
And seem like most others: all right,
But they may hold a past
You discover at last
That’s delightfully heteroclite!
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

“You mammals are mere neophytes,”
Said the T-Rex, “and heteroclites.”
“What rises will fall,”
Shrugged the tiny fur ball,
“We’re not bothered by meteorites.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

He looked at a new GTO,
Imagined how fast it would go.
“It’s highly rated,
But can I afford it? Why, no.”
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

“Your model they shouldn’t homologate,”
Said Barbie to Ken, “You’re the doll I hate!”
Answered he, “Buttercup,
Please let’s kiss and make up,”
But they lacked the parts needed to copulate.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

The spelling of Doughnut’s not tough,
like Ruffian, which differs from Rough.
Heterography, though,
tells us, don’tcha knough,
that consistency’s out. Enuff!
-Mariana Warner, Asheville, North Carolina (marianaw6002 gmail.com)

I’m brilliant; at all I excel,
Including the way that I spell.
Heterography’s fine --
I’m delighted with mine! --
My critics can all go to hell!
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

Have you had an exchange student, ever?
Well, mine was most wonderfully clever,
But “coughing” and “ghetto”
She just couldn’t get, so
‘Twas heterography versus endeavor!
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

“The President used heterography;
‘Covfefe’ was spelled that way consciously,”
Sean Spicer explained.
His expression looked pained,
But he’d found he has talent for comedy.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

From: Phil Graham (pgraham1946 cox.net)
Subject: The h-word for these is “hideous”

Bourbons like Will heterochromatic nite if spilled near a fire. (Willett or Old Crow might ignite)

If you don’t protect your homophene might break in, looking for drugs.

Clyde missed the last ferry but a boatman appeared and said, “I’m heteroclite across the channel.”

When training racehorses your job is to give homologate that’s smooth and fast.

“The call girl? You thought I heterography was too high.” (had ‘er? Aww the fee was...)

Sorry for the parenthetical reveals... I hate when my puns are so obscure. Blame Anu!

Phil Graham, Tulsa, Oklahoma

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

Heterochromatic: The shiny, plated third-story dwelling of a binary couple.

Leading the drunks to the door, the bartender said, “Go homophene, and take omeara and oshea with you!”

My new car has a sensor for everything -- I drove over some stones today, and the heteroclite came on.

To secure the gap in the wood fence, in front of my homologate was added.

I thanked the pollster for the clear depiction of his data on “straight” relationships, and turned to go. “Wait!” he cried, “You haven’t paid my heterography!”

Bob Webb, Central Lake, Michigan

We'll see what happens
From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: Trump’s Foibles & Follies

When this coronavirus first impacted the US early in the new year, for weeks hence, Trump attempted to downplay the seriousness of the mounting contagion spreading in our midst, painting a rosy future scenario... that essentially this “invisible enemy” was a mere iteration of the common flu, no worries, and that it would be completely vanquished by this (now past) April... America would be back to normal in no-time... NOT! Moreover, he suggested that this COVID-19 bug would be just a mere “blip” on the nation’s epidemiological radar screens. Hence, my portrayal of the earlier pie-in-the-sky optimistic Trump, in the guise of the quintessential fictive optimist... Pollyanna.

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California

A riot is the language of the unheard. -Martin Luther King Jr., civil-rights leader (1929-1968)

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