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Jul 26, 2020
This week’s theme
Words coined after fairy-tale characters

This week’s words
ugly duckling
sleeping beauty
Prince Charming

How popular are they?
Relative usage over time

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Next week’s theme
Words having origins in tree names

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AWADmail Issue 943

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

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

The Biases We Hold Against the Way People Speak
The New York Times

The Shadowlands of Language
The Economist

Call a Thing a Thing
The New York Times

From: Jon von Gunten (jon globescope.us)
Subject: Goldilocks

It’s summer in LA. I have to say, “This mattress is too hot!”

Jon von Gunten, Los Angeles, California

From: Don Fearn (pooder charter.net)
Subject: Goldilocks zone

Here xkcd captures the essence of the Goldilocks zone:

From https://xkcd.com/2336/
Cartoon: xkcd

Don Fearn, Rochester, Minnesota

From: Anne Dayanandan (anne.daya gmail.com)
Subject: Goldie and her locks for today

If you still don’t understand racism, remember SHE broke into THEIR home.

Racism - Cinderella and the three bears

Anne Dayanandan, Chennai, India

From: Allen Roberts (aroberts arts.ucla.edu)
Subject: Goldilocks

In the Myth and Ritual course I have taught for many years now, I discuss the “Goldilocks” fairy tale as anything but that, insofar as it is a means for naturalizing and so inculcating white supremacist notions in the minds of Euro-heritage children. “Bears”? Yeah right.

Allen F. Roberts, Distinguished Professor, Dept of World Arts & Cultures, University of California, Los Angeles

From: Cam Ellison (cam ellisonet.ca)
Subject: Goldilocks origins

Goldilocks is a saccharine version of a story that goes back at least to the 1700s. As with many modern versions, the original point gets missed. It has always been inappropriate to break into people’s houses, regardless of who they are, eat their food, and break their furniture. The early story “Silverlocks” concerned an old lady (those were misogynistic times) who met a rather gruesome end for her attempted burglary and the damage she caused. There is also a version involving a fox who broke into a bear family’s home. Fairy tales and fables have been around for millennia, and were intended more to teach - especially moral precepts - than to entertain. Many are quite harsh, and the punishments severe. Never mind the “just right” part of Goldilocks: she broke into a house, ate the bears’ food, broke furniture, slept in a bed that wasn’t hers, and ran away when caught. No sense of responsibility there.

Cam Ellison, Gibsons, Canada

From: Glenn Glazer (gglazer ucla.edu)
Subject: Somebody’s been sleeping in my porridge!

Sometimes, to express dismay or confusion, I’ve deliberately transposed her classic line into “Somebody’s been sleeping in my porridge!”

Glenn Glazer, Felton, California

From: Alexander Nix (revajnix yahoo.co.uk)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--Goldilocks

Your comment about Dreadlocks immediately made me think of this song by the great Black Uhuru which of course is itself a reference to the film Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner.

Black Uhuru - Guess whos coming to dinner (6 min.)

Alexander Nix, Cambridge, UK

From: Richard S. Russell (RichardSRussell tds.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--Goldilocks

It’s actually used with that same approximate meaning for two different things in astronomy. The oldest and most familiar is the one you cite, on the solar-system level, where a planet is neither so hot it boils all the water away nor so cold all the water is frozen solid. But there’s an equivalent on the galactic scale having to do with supernovae, which upon explosion spray heavy elements out into the surrounding space, and those eventually coalesce into solid/liquid planets capable of supporting life. Too close to the tightly packed galactic core and the radiation from all those supernovae fry any incipient life before it can get a good toehold; too far out on a spiral arm (or between arms) and it never gets more than a dusting of those heavier elements.

Richard S. Russell, Madison, Wisconsin

From: David Mezzera (damezz comcast.net)
Subject: Goldilocks

Your MEANING [adjective: Just right; a happy medium; optimal; not at either extreme] of “Goldilocks” reminded me of the story about a client at a crystal ball reading where the fortune teller looked into the ball and began laughing. With that, the client slapped the seer across the face. When asked why, the client replied that he had always been taught to strike a happy medium!

David Mezzera, Vallejo, California

From: Dr Janet E Hildebrand (jehildebrand aol.com)
Subject: Cinderella

I’ve studied German “fairy” tales (no fairies in them) extensively. Herewith, a small summary...The German name is Aschenputtel. No fairy godmother: She asks her father to buy her some seed, and she plants a tree. It rains down three beautiful gowns on each night of the ball. The prince dances only with her. To find out who she is, he puts tar on the castle steps, and one shoe sticks. Each stepsister tries to fit her foot in the shoe by cutting off her big toe, but they leave blood. Aschenputtel’s foot fits! At the wedding, the stepsisters’ eyes are pecked out by birds on the way into and out of the chapel. “Thus they were punished for their blindness...” Hmm!

Dr Janet E Hildebrand, West Monroe, Louisiana

From: Kathryn Smith (via website comments)
Subject: Cinderella

No “perhaps” about the allusion to her day-to-day existence. Cendrillon by Perrault specifically states, “When she had done her work, she used to go to the chimney corner, and sit down there in the cinders and ashes, which caused her to be called Cinderwench. Only the younger sister, who was not so rude and uncivil as the older one, called her Cinderella.” Aschenputtel by the Brothers Grimm says, “In the evenings, when she was quite tired out with her hard day’s work, she had no bed to lie on, but was obliged to rest on the hearth among the cinders. And as she always looked dusty and dirty, they named her Cinderella (Aschenputtel, or ash-fool).” So yeah, it was DEFINITELY an allusion to her status.

Kathryn Smith

From: Anita Dumra (anitadneev gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--Cinderella

Another use -- Cinderella time -- at midnight, or when it’s time to leave :)

Anita Dumra, Bangalore, India

From: Dennis McNish (roscotruck msn.com)
Subject: Cinderella

In the Coast Guard we would occasionally be granted Cinderella liberty in a foreign port with a dubious reputation, which required that we be back aboard no later than midnight.

Dennis McNish, Lake Oswego, Oregon

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

And could there be a more gracious and attractive Cenerentola (Italian for Cinderella) than the marvelous soprano Frederica von Stade, still active today at the age of 75. This excerpt from Rossini’s opera is from a 1981 performance, and starts at 1:56:47.

Andrew Pressburger, Toronto, Canada

From: Cal Coleman (asianreflections gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--Cinderella

Cinderella story, out of nowhere, former greenskeeper, now about to become the Masters champion.
From the film Caddyshack (video, 1 min.)

Cal Coleman, Texas

From: Douglas Heidenreich (douglas.heidenreich mitchellhamline.edu)
Subject: Cinderella

James J. Braddock, who held the heavyweight boxing championship from 1935 to 1937, was known as the Cinderella Man because he had been commonly thought of as being a washed-up fighter when he beat Max Baer for the title. He lost the title two years later to the great Joe Louis. A film with the title Cinderella Man told his story a few years ago. I vaguely remember that some people also used the term in reference to Jersey Joe Walcott, who won the title at an advanced age after, I believe, a period of retirement.

Douglas Heidenreich, St. Paul, Minnesota

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

From: Michael Choi (mchl_choi yahoo.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--Cinderella

Another sense of Cinderella is a stamp-like philatelic label or sticker issued for other than postage purposes. I am not an expert, but I believe a cinderella is also called a poster stamp, probably for its primarily decorative use.

First-day cover (front) with a stamp
First-day cover (front) with a stamp
First-day cover (back) with a cinderella stamp
First-day cover (back) with a cinderella stamp

I first learned about this sense of cinderella after researching a piece in my collection of ocean liner memorabilia -- in fact, one of the earliest finds in an almost 40-year hobby -- a commemorative postal cover for the maiden voyage of the French “superliner” Normandie in 1935. Among the various celebratory illustrations and attachments (including the postage stamp issued by the French government) is a cinderella, affixed to the envelope flap, depicting a woodcut of the ship and declaring that the cover is being transported across the Atlantic by the ship itself.

While the Normandie may not be as well-known as the Titanic or the Queen Mary (the Normandie’s contemporaneous arch rival), many people may be familiar with the advertising poster created by the French artist Cassandre, which is considered an icon of the Art Deco style.

Michael Choi, Warren, New Jersey

From: Barbara Hostetler (jahostetler juno.com)
Subject: What’s done to children...

What’s done to children, they will do to society. -Karl A. Menninger, psychiatrist (22 Jul 1893-1990)

So sad but true. What Mary Trump’s book Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man illustrates perfectly is this quotation.

Barbara Hostetler, Phoenix, Arizona

From: Beth Tuttle (macbef swbell.net)
Subject: Prince Charming

After Prince Charming, the fairy-tale hero of many stories, such as Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella.

I join the chorus of those who say that Prince Charming is a bigamist!

Beth Tuttle, St. Louis, Missouri

From: Sandra J. Kisner (sjk3 cornell.edu)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--Prince Charming

Ever since Sondheim’s Into the Woods appeared, Prince Charming has had a lot to answer for! (video, 1 min.) “I was raised to be charming, not sincere. I didn’t ask to be born a King, and I am not perfect. I am only human.” (to give the full quotation, though his excuse is a bit lame; he’s had plenty of time to change/grow up as the other characters did.)

Sandra Kisner, Ithaca, New York

From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: Goldilocks and Cinderella

For decades, political cartoonists in the West have used the trope of a menacing, brutish bear to symbolize the former USSR/now-Russia. In seeing our word Goldilocks, I conjured up the image of a certain flaxen-haired contemporary, namely, Trump. I pictured him in the guise of the blonde, porridge-sampling Goldilocks. Instead of the fairy-tale mama, papa, and baby bear’s bowls, I depicted three Putin monikered ones, spelling out his entire name. Ultimately, “Putin Bear” (hardly Pooh Bear... Ha!) is about to spoil Trump-as-Goldilocks’s day.
"Putin" on the Blitz Cinderella Story
One of the most stunning and memorable Cinderella stories in the annals of golf was of the 20-year-old Francis Ouimet, who handily won the 1913 US Open in an 18-hole playoff, pitted against two of the greatest players of their day, Brit pros Harry Vardon and Ted Ray. Ouimet, who embraced the game as an 11-year-old caddie at his hometown course, The Country Club, in Brookline, Mass., was self-taught. By his late-teens he had won several regional and national amateur titles. As luck would have it, his incredible 1913 Open triumph was at The Country Club, his home course and he had friend and local caddie, 10-year-old Eddie Lowery, on his bag. Ouimet’s improbable victory at the Open, as an amateur, prompted the coining of his lasting moniker... “The father of US amateur golf”. A pretty lofty mantle to uphold.

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California

Anagrams of This Week’s Words

Words coined after fairy-tale characters:
1. goldilocks
2. cinderella
3. ugly duckling
4. sleeping beauty
5. prince charming
1. cheerful, right
2. rustic, lacked recognition
3. a late-blooming cycle
4. napping Disney girl (lacked dwarfs?)
5. a lady rescuer
-Dharam Khalsa, Burlington, North Carolina (dharamkk2 gmail.com)


The chef selects one of his woks.
“Of the two, this is more Goldilocks.
The other, I’ve found,
has a bottom too round,
so I have to take care, or it rocks.”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

Said Trump to Mike Pence, “This house really rocks,
it is where I can get my best stress detox.
With a bunker below,
Where the Dems cannot go,
It’s my perfect escape, oh-so Goldilocks!”
-Judith Marks-White, Westport, Connecticut (joodthmw gmail.com)

The weather is perfect today --
A Goldilocks zone, you could say!
We won’t sweat or freeze;
We love days like these.
New Jersey’s not always this way.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

The thermostat wars that seemed age-old,
Would make their home too hot or too cold;
Till the two compromised,
and together devised,
a Goldilocks clime for the household.
-Shyamal Mukherji, Mumbai, India (mukherjis hotmail.com)

Joe Biden’s positions are Goldilocks,
And he’s decent and kind, and all told he rocks.
With that big toothy grin
He deserves to get in,
Plus the guy who’s there now stinks like moldy socks.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“Behold!” cries the young extrovert.
“My legs are completely ungirt!
Long-smothered patellas
become Cinderellas,
set free by this bold miniskirt!”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

“Just who’s the anonymous fella
Who made this superb mozzarella?”
The gourmand exclaimed,
“He ought to be named --
Give credit to this Cinderella!”
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

Here’s to you, Doctor F., Cinderella!
We think you’re a hell of a fella!
Your own legerdemain
Will (we hope) keep you sane
While you’re under this pres’s umbrella!
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

Her life story was like a novella
or a madrigal sung a capella;
early years very poor
with a future unsure --
happy ending: A real Cinderella.
-Zelda Dvoretzky, Haifa, Israel (zeldahaifa gmail.com)

South Africa’s brave Cinderella
Was a fellow named Nelson Mandela.
From prison set free,
He implored, “Follow me”
With the power of Brando’s “Hey, Stella!
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“You see, just between you and me,
I thought you would turn out to be
a transformed ugly duckling,”
she tells hubby, chuckling.
“Alas, ‘twas naive fallacy!”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

Mrs. Warthog said “Research has shown
That beauty is not much alone.
Ugly ducklings succeed
In the future, indeed.”
But her child looked the same when full-grown.
-Sara Hutchinson, New Castle, Delaware (sarahutch2003 yahoo.com)

Although she was scorned in her youth,
You needn’t feel sorry for Ruth.
For now she is chuckling --
This ex-ugly duckling --
At puberty out came the truth.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

In the mirror the young girl did stare.
She just hated her body and hair.
When will her luck bring
No more ugly duckling.
Said her Mother, “There is a swan there.”
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

When she’d finished his trousers unbuckling,
What she saw was a real ugly duckling.
He had done so much bragging
Concerning his shagging,
That Stormy just couldn’t stop chuckling.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“Our lawn’s been severely neglected.
The mower must be resurrected,”
says she. “It’s your duty
to wake Sleeping Beauty.
Get out there and do as expected!”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

With masks and with distancing, too,
This single young girl’s feeling blue.
A sociable cutie,
She’s no sleeping beauty --
With virtual dates she’ll make do.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

Said Donald, “It’s time I woke Rudy.
After years as New York’s sleeping beauty,
On TV he belongs
Justifying my wrongs;
I just love when he says something fruity.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Young fellow she met at the dance
seemed eligible at first glance.
But she learned that Prince Charming
was into hog farming.
Alas, not a chance of romance!
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

Melania’s dearest Prince Charming
Has taken a turn that’s alarming.
His cops from the border
Are sowing disorder --
The people of Portland they’re harming.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

The candidate is disarming.
A veritable Prince Charming.
Now I will ask you,
Do you think it’s true,
Or simply find it alarming?
-Lois Mowat, Orinda, California (lmowat1810 gmail.com)

At first she found him quite disarming
but his subsequent behavior alarming.
She got rid of that dope,
but not of her hope
of some day finding her real Prince Charming.
-Zelda Dvoretzky, Haifa, Israel (zeldahaifa gmail.com)

Which one of them’s going to win?
How soon can the cleanup begin?
Though Joe’s no Prince Charming
He can’t be as harming
As President Donald has been.
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

I think that it is quite alarming,
And in the end it will be harming,
For girls to aspire
To nothing that’s higher,
Than waiting to find their prince charming.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“Chairman Kim, you’re my handsome prince charming,”
Said Donald, “so let’s try disarming.
To show we’re no threat
We’ll our people beset;
I’ll use COVID while yours you keep starving.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Young Goldilocks warned Cinderella,
“That Prince Charming guy cheats, lemme tell ya.”
His defense? “It’s my duty
To kiss Sleeping Beauty...
Ugly ducklings don’t interest this fella.”
-Bob Webb, Central Lake, Michigan (rhw3fl aol.com)


Did you hear that Ms. Meir, a former prime minister of Israel, loved smoked salmon? It was Golda lox.
-Jim Ertner, Greensboro, North Carolina (jde31459 gmail.com)

Ms. Hawn’s mother kept some Goldilocks along with the usual baby memorabilia.
-Bob Webb, Central Lake, Michigan (rhw3fl aol.com)

Bete said to Belle, “Look at that frog you kissed! He sleeping, Beauty!”
-Bob Webb, Central Lake, Michigan (rhw3fl aol.com)

Said Michelle Marvin when her ex tried to avoid palimony, “Ugh, Lee ducking!”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

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

Although he would never fess up to it, Trump is a bona-fide white-supremacist, a racist who refuses to come out of his hate-filled closet. He’s demonstrated that he cares more about retaining and glorifying the hateful symbols of the Old (racist) South, rather than addressing the concerns of the #BlackLivesMatter movement. Here, I’ve pictured Trump bloviating at a rally of some of his most ardent supporters, the KKK faithful, conflating this gathering of intolerance with the current masking imperative in fighting the spread of the coronavirus.

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California

The propagandist’s purpose is to make one set of people forget that certain other sets of people are human. -Aldous Huxley, novelist (26 Jul 1894-1963)

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