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Sep 6, 2020
This week’s theme
Words with horse-related origins

This week’s words
wheel horse
horse’s mouth

How popular are they?
Relative usage over time

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AWADmail Issue 949

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

A warm welcome to students from Stevens Institute of Technology and a big thank-you to professor Mary Robin Whitney for encouraging them to subscribe.

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

”Culture Is Language”: Why an Indigenous Tongue Is Thriving in Paraguay
The Guardian

China’s Efforts to Boost Mandarin-Use in Schools Angers Ethnic Mongols
The Economist

More Chinese Children Are Being Given Their Mother’s Surname
The Economist

From: Francis Carr (fcarr alum.mit.edu)
Subject: Saddle-y no

You wrote: “What do you call a horse who says no to riding? A neigh-sayer.”

Or, coming from the horse’s mouth: “You want to ride today? Saddle-y no.”

Francis Carr, Wenham, Massachusetts

From: Richard Turner (rt_turner hotmail.com)
Subject: Wheel horse

When I was a child (1940s), my Dad used a “wheel horse” to cultivate his small vegetable garden. This was a push-from-behind device with a three-foot diameter metal wheel in front that would fit between the rows. I haven’t seen one for many years.

Richard Turner, Cincinnati, Ohio

From: Michael Fulton (fulton.4 osu.edu)
Subject: wheel horse

There is a similar term arising from a team of oxen. Oxen are large and are driven typically by walking along their left side. The ox closer to the driver is called the nigh ox. The other, which the driver rarely sees, is called the off ox. That explains why we wouldn’t know someone from the off ox. We also don’t know much about Adam of Genesis, so an even stronger declaration is, “I wouldn’t know him from Adam’s off ox.”

Michael Fulton, Wooster, Ohio

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

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

The less a statesman amounts to, the more he loves the flag. -Kin Hubbard, humorist (1 Sep 1868-1930)

Kim Hubbard’s Thought For the Day reminds me of Kipling’s words for a mouthy, hypocritical politician, put in the mouths of bright schoolboys in Stalky & Co. -- as the fellow bloviates on about patriotism (the school is largely for sons of professional British soldiers), the cynical M’Turk declares, “this man is the Gadarene Swine” https://wordsmith.org/words/gadarene.html (schoolboys in those days knew their Bible) and the eponymous Stalky calls the fellow “a Jelly-Bellied Flag Flapper”.

Yes, indeed, have we not now Our Own Jelly-Bellied Flag Flapper?

Judith Judson, Pittsford, New York

From: Andrew Pressburger (andpress sympatico.ca)
Subject: Horse’s mouth

Nor should you look into a horse’s mouth, especially if it’s a gift horse. It is impolite to try to guess the value of a gift by looking at the teeth of the animal in order to establish its age; not to mention the danger of its biting off your fingers.

Andrew Pressburger, Toronto, Canada

From: Kenneth Kirste (kkkirste sbcglobal.net)
Subject: Horse’s mouth

I believe Joyce Cary titled his 1944 novel The Horse’s Mouth to suggest that an artist (such as his central character) is in touch with the truth in a way most are not and, therefore, can provides an honest perspective on the culture and society.

Ken Kirste, Sunnyvale, California

From: Jorge del Desierto (george_potvin yahoo.com)
Subject: chivalrous

In Mexico, men are addressed not by the title gentlemen (an upper-class person) but by caballeros, which translates into French as chevaliers and English as horsemen.

Jorge Del Desierto, La Paz, Mexico

From: Mary Jean Mailloux (mmailloux1 cogeco.ca)
Subject: chivalrous

Is it an act of chivalry or gallantry for a man to open the door and see a lady into a vehicle? I was delighted when my mechanic saw that I was comfortably and safely seated in the passenger seat of his transport vehicle the other day.

Mary Jean Mailloux, Oakville, Canada

From: Joyce Renaker (joyce.renaker gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--chivalrous

When I lived in Paris for ten months many years ago, there were signs for boucher or boucherie chevaline. It didn’t horrify me as much then as it would now, especially since I’ve been a vegetarian for many years.

Joyce Renaker, Berkeley, California

From: Paul Rescino (paul.rescino gmail.com)
Subject: horse

Speaking of horses, I can prove that horses existed before 1596.

Mathematician and philosopher René Descartes was born in 1596.
If horses did not exist before 1596,
That would put Descartes before de horse.

Paul Rescino, Algonquin, Illinois

From: Charles J. Valorz (cjvalorz juno.com)
Subject: horses

A week with words coming from horses. Brought back to mind one of the verses by the side of the road from my days of often driving Route #66 from Chicago to Los Angeles and back (in the 1950s).

Drinking Drivers
Nothing worse
They put the quart
Before the hearse
Burma Shave

This is part of my early years, the Burma Shave signs.

Charles J. Valorz

From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: horse’s mouth and wheel horse

Seeing the phrase “horse’s mouth” took me back to Nostalgiaville and the sitcom Mister Ed that aired from 1961-1966. The star of the show was a gelded, talking palomino, Mr. Ed (aka Bamboo Harvester... off-screen name), along with co-star Alan Young, who played his owner and partner in sitcom hilarity, architect Wilbur Post. Frankly, totally swallowing the show’s premise of a talking horse was a bit of an exercise in suspended disbelief. Although, there was a filmic precedent for a talking equine, namely the handful of 1950s’ Francis the Talking Mule flicks. Here, Wilbur engages the talkative Mr. Ed, as Froggy looks on, slightly bemused.

Horse Sense Balancing Act
In the realm of competitive cheerleading, the team’s designated “wheel horse”, the “lifter”, is the athlete who carries the weight of the routine on his shoulders, often literally so. It’s invariably a vigorous, strong young man, hoisting up and balancing two or more cheerleaders. In this scenario I’ve depicted the wheel horse doing his thing, whilst two perky gal teammates pull off a deft “clutch” move. Symmetry in motion.

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California

Anagrams of This Week’s Words
Words with horse-related origins:
1. wheel horse
2. caballine
3. horse’s mouth
4. chivalrous
5. cock-horse
1. wholehearted worker
2. shall motivate
3. basic source
4. heroic, shows us honor
5. child’s sorrel (neigh!)
-Dharam Khalsa, Burlington, North Carolina (dharamkk2 gmail.com)


Of a carriage and six he was wheel horse,
But one night he said, “Fellas, I feel hoarse.
Every time that I’ve swallowed,
It feels like I’ve followed
A mouthful of prickles with hot-sorse.”
-Robert Arndt, Houston, Texas (theveryword aol.com)

“With fabulous parents we’re blessed!”
said the children. But then they confessed,
“Though Dad is the wheel horse,
our mom is the resource
we really appreciate best!”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

The mad couple decide to divorce,
Said she screaming, “He’s so mean and coarse.”
He said, “Nay, ‘tis not true,
It is she who’s the shrew,
I’m the diligent burdened wheel horse.
-Judith Marks-White, Westport, Connecticut (joodthmw gmail.com)

This wheel horse deserving of praise
Does numerous jobs nowadays.
She cares for her spouse,
Her kids, and their house,
Plus holds a position that pays.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

People long for an earnest wheel horse;
one who listens, works hard, stays the course.
One whose values are real --
not just after a deal.
That’s the candidate we should endorse.
-Zelda Dvoretzky, Haifa, Israel (zeldahaifa gmail.com)

Though Junior thinks “I’m quite a wiz,”
The achiever’s his big sister Liz.
But Mom’s the real force,
Their home’s true wheel horse;
Dad asserts, though, all kudos are his.
-Shyamal Mukherji, Mumbai, India( mukherjis hotmail.com)

He said, “I’ll never disparage,
The glue that holds tight our marriage.
My wife’s the real force.
She is the wheel horse.
I just think I drive the carriage.”
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“On this wagon train, I’m the wheel horse,”
Said the master, “I keep us on course.
Every morning we go
When I shout, “Westward ho!
For Nevada has quickie divorce!”
-Janice Power, Cleveland, Ohio (powerjanice782 gmail.com)

“At the writing of code you’re a wheel horse;
These dashes and dots are for real, Morse,”
Said his wife, “When we’re scrapping,
Our jaws won’t be flapping;
No more must we shout and then feel hoarse.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

When asked what inspires him to write,
says the author, “I stay up all night
consuming caffeine,
which is quite caballine.
Then I just type away till first light.”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

When he was no longer inspired,
The poet then sadly retired.
“My Caballine well
Dried up, I can tell --
My license poetic’s expired.”
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

In the current political scene
there are few I would call caballine.
To be perfectly fair
there are some good guys there
but in power the pickings are lean.
-Zelda Dvoretzky, Haifa, Israel (zeldahaifa gmail.com)

A ranch hand who worked around Abilene
Found AWAD each morning most caballine.
While her friends fooled with guns,
She wrote lim’ricks and puns,
Though she found she was lacking the anagram gene.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

When at times I’m a little confused,
and wond’ring which word should be used
(e.g. drought or drouth)
I will trust horse’s mouth:
thesauruses duly perused.
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

Whose horse’s mouth do I refer to
Saying I heard it from you know who?
The ultimate blowhard
Falls on his own petard.
Come November, you know what to do.
-Lois Mowat, Orinda, California (lmowat1810 gmail.com)

I once won a whole lot of money
On the Derby. My friends thought it funny.
But I placed my large bet
On advice from the vet
And not from the horse’s mouth, honey.
-Sara Hutchinson, New Castle, Delaware (sarahutch2003 yahoo.com)

His Press Sec. with vigor endorses
the veracity of all his sources.
She swears, north and south
they’re the true horse’s mouth.
A strict fact check your sensible course is.
-Zelda Dvoretzky, Haifa, Israel (zeldahaifa gmail.com)

“We should move from her back to her belly,”
Said the tick, “for I’ve chatted with Nellie.
From the wheel horse’s mouth
Comes the word that down south
Is much warmer, though equally smelly.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Says she, “Sir, I find your continuous
attentions to me quite lascivious.”
Says he, with a leer,
“You wrong me, my dear.
I assure you, they’re meant to be chivalrous!”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

She pictured a knight in her mind
And for this ideal always pined.
But needless to say
In downtown L.A.
A chivalrous guy’s hard to find.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

Among all of the gents that I’ve known,
My friend Thomas stands out on his own
Old now but still with us
Everlastingly chivalrous --
An escort and friend to the bone!
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

Said Guinevere, “Arthur, you’re chivalrous,
But a girl sometimes needs someone frivolous.
There’s a knight on your staff
Who all day makes me laugh,
Plus he wields quite a lance with much skillfulness.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

She cries in surprise, “Where’s your steed?”
He replies, “This is all that I need.
And it’s cheaper, of course,
to keep a cock-horse.
No stable, no saddle, no feed!”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

It has been many years for me
Since I have had a chance to see
A cock-horse for my
Anxious little guy
To mount and ride, yelling “Whoopee!”
-Lois Mowat, Orinda, California (lmowat1810 gmail.com)

The cowboy rode cock-horse all day,
Then walked in a really odd way.
For sitting astride
A horse that is wide
Is kind of a stretch you might say.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

Annie Oakley said, “When I ride,
I like to have my legs astride.
Don’t side-saddle endorse,
But for me, a cock-horse.
I shoot better that way,” she sighed.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

After riding a porn star a cock-horse,
Donald’s off for the day to the golf course.
Then he stiffs all his lenders
And that night surrenders
Our friends to a Communist bloc force.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


“Elmer Fudd, do you have a frog in your throat? You sound wheel horse.”
-Peter Jennings, Stony Lake, Canada (peterj benlo.com)

“Either we’ll be responsible and diligent or wheel horse around.”
-Jim Ertner, Greensboro, North Carolina (jde31459 gmail.com)

“If we all sit on the same side of the taxi, the caballine in that direction.”
-Jim Ertner, Greensboro, North Carolina (jde31459 gmail.com)

“Zis female ees not sea lion,” said the marine biologist. “Ze vhiskers and tusks mean chivalrous.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

After receiving a knife from an unethical guard, the prisoner said, “Don’t let it get wet or the chivalrous(t).”
-Jim Ertner, Greensboro, North Carolina (jde31459 gmail.com)

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

In a recent interview with Fox News talking-air-head, Laura Ingraham, Trump makes this asinine comparison that the attempted murder-by-cop of Jacob Blake was equivalent to a golfer missing a critical 3-foot putt. Huh? He followed up with... “and one bad apple, or a choker... you know a choker... they choke -- shooting the guy in the back many times.” Besides being an outrageous statement, Trump wouldn’t even name the victim, i.e., “the guy”, nor state the number of bullets that pierced his back. Trump knew full well that it was seven slugs. Here, AG Bill Barr caddies for the Crazymaker-in-Chief.

What a Putz!

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California

The physical distance between people has nothing to do with loneliness. It’s the psychic distance. -Robert Pirsig, author and philosopher (6 Sep 1928-2017)

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