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Sep 20, 2020
This week’s theme
Words that aren’t what they appear to be

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AWADmail Issue 951

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

A warm welcome to students from Theodore Roosevelt High School, Kent, Ohio, and a big thank-you to their English teacher, Margana Fahey, for encouraging them to subscribe.

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

An American Teacher’s Online Malayalam Lessons Have Won Her a Following Even in Kerala

Why Goodreads Is Bad for Books
New Statesman

From: Grant Cribb (grantcribb gmail.com)
Subject: Re: Limerick Writers’ Centre

Another dodgily monickered Irish institution is Muff Diving Club.

Grant Cribb, Harlington, UK

From: Michael Poxon (mike starman.co.uk)
Subject: Of islands and ey-lands

Your note on the word island reminded me of why we spell it that way! The “s” is only there because 18th century (I think) antiquarians assumed that because Latin and Greek were the “perfect” languages then there should be an “s” in island due to its (incorrect) derivation from insula. Its actual derivation, as you say, was from another direction entirely and survives as -ey or -ea in many UK place names such as Chelsea, Haringey, and hundreds of others. The same antiquarians are also presumably responsible for the presence of the initial h in herb because they thought the unlettered were dropping their ‘h’s again and so restored it to a place where it had never been! You fellas across the pond have it right, since it was taken over by the Mayflower crowd before the amendment took place. You can see the “original” in writers like Chaucer with his “sedes and erbes”.

Michael Poxon, Norwich, UK

From: Don Fearn (pooder charter.net)
Subject: Matt Stutzman

At least as amazing as Orissa Kelly is Matt Stutzman (video, 8 min.), a professional archer with no arms

Don Fearn, Rochester, Minnesota

From: Lawrence Crumb (lcrumb uoregon.edu)
Subject: RE: A.Word.A.Day--toxophily

It seems ironic that Ascham would advocate writing in the vernacular in a book with a title in Latin.

Lawrence Crumb, Eugene, Oregon

From: Robert Carleton (enchanted128 outlook.com)
Subject: votive

This year, more than any other, our ballot will be a votive offering, a true wish and prayer.

Bob Carleton, Albuquerque, New Mexico

From: Leslie Sinnott (lsinnottlaw gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--verbigerate

Today’s word is perfect for Lord Dampnut.

Leslie Sinnott, Indianapolis, Indiana

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

From: Judy Sabatino (memectp neo.rr.com)
Subject: verbigerate

Boy, do I have some of those! My husband of 54 years, constantly says,”That’s it, Fort Pitt.” And my Father had so many. Like, “Think the rain will hurt the rhubarb?” And, “ Whatcha got under there?” Then there’s, “Each to their own taste, said the old maid as she kissed the cow.” I can’t forget, “Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how’d you enjoy the play?”

Judy Sabatino, Girard, Ohio

From: Bruce Floyd (brucefloyd bellsouth.net)
Subject: thought of the day

It is difficult to get the news from poems yet men die miserably every day for lack of what is found there. -William Carlos Williams, poet (17 Sep 1883-1963)

Does one go to a poem for “news”? I’m not sure what the word means. Does it mean “answers” to a vexatious and a confusing and a mortal life to the prevalent and seemingly omnipresent suffering in the world? Men die miserably, myriads of them, every day for manifold reasons: from horrible diseases, from poverty, from violence, from accidents, from drugs, from suicide. Can a poem compete against a sweatshop where children labor? Are we the fortunate readers of Wordsmith.org often acutely aware of just how much anguish exists in the world? Do we realize how lucky most of us are? Auden in his elegy to Yeats says “poetry makes nothing happen.” Yeats died because “The provinces of his body revolted.” He was an old man.

I think of Keats, who in his poetry speaks of “being half in love with easeful Death” (he has a young man’s romantic idea of death), and yet anyone familiar with Keats’s wretched death in Rome, the sheer horror of it, his torment drawn out month after anguished month, knows that poetry did not make his appalling ordeal any more palatable. His protracted death makes for hard reading. To my knowledge, as he lay dying in that little room above the Spanish Steps, he never asked his faithful friend and nurse Joseph Severn to read poetry to him. Get really sick, find oneself in intense and unrelenting pain, and one quickly knows what rules in this life. What does it tell us when we find out that Keats begged his friends to give him an overdose of laudanum. He wanted to die.

David Benatar in his book The Human Predicament says it’s harrowing to acknowledge how much suffering exists in the world, so much so, at least for Benatar, that he is an anti-natalist. I have no data but I’ve read that serious poetry, relatively speaking has fewer and fewer readers in our country, and I’d venture to say that some of them, perhaps some of them belonging to some Wordsmith members, assert they get on fine in their lives without poetry. I know men who are affluent, happy, healthy, and content -- and these men read very little; certainly they don’t read poetry, and nothing I could say would make them do so. Yes, I think they are missing a splendid gift in their rejection of poetry, and I am thankful to the avatar that for some inexplicable reason implanted a love for literature in me. But I don’t know that reading poetry is the answer to the inexplicable and insoluble questions that beset a self-conscious creature. Perhaps reading poetry can provide respite, but, then, so can falling in love or, for that matter, writing one’s own poetry.

I suppose we poetry readers could, if we were forced, had no options, could live our lives without poetry. We wouldn’t want to, and I’d go so far as to say that anyone who does not read serious poetry is missing out on one of the glories that culture provides. A painting by Vermeer hanging on a museum wall, a Mozart piece in a concert hall, a poem by Wallace Stevens printed on a page -- what news do they bring? If they bring any, it is only that they are beautiful. It’s probably just semantic confusion, but art brings beauty into our lives, not the news on how to live our lives.

Bruce Floyd, Florence, South Carolina

From: David Santangelo (dcsantangelo2005 comcast.net)
Subject: Recreant

Today’s word makes me think of Shakespeare’s King John where Philip, Richard the Lionheart’s illegitimate son, taunts Richard’s murderer, the Duke of Austria, by saying he should remove the lion’s skin he wears and in its place he should “hang a calf’s-skin on those recreant limbs.” Philip constantly jabs at Austria with this refrain all through Act III, Scene I!

David Santangelo, Stevens Point, Wisconsin

From: Joachim van Dijk (joachim.van.dijk gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--recreant

In Dutch recreant means holidaymaker. Unfaithful to the duty of labouring?

Joachim van Dijk, Wiesbaden, Germany

From: Daniel Miller (milldaniel gmail.com)
Subject: Patriotism

Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel. -Samuel Johnson, lexicographer (18 Sep 1709-1784)

From Ambrose Bierce’s Devil’s Dictionary:
Patriotism, n. Combustible rubbish ready to the torch of any one ambitious to illuminate his name. In Dr. Johnson’s famous dictionary, patriotism is defined as the last resort of a scoundrel. With all due respect to an enlightened but inferior lexicographer, I beg to submit it is the first.

Wealth has never yet sacrificed itself on the altar of patriotism. -Bob LaFollette, congressman, senator, governor (1855-1925)

Daniel Miller, Laredo, Texas

Toxophilly Royale
From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: toxophily and votive

Inspired by the usage example for “toxophily” referencing the teenage Elizabeth, future British monarch, and her instruction in the art of archery, I arrived at this scenario of the spirited teen, drawing back her longbow. My Froggy character has assumed the guise of court jester, trying his best to curry Lizzie’s favor.

Trump...Totally in the Dark!
Here, clueless Trump thinks votive candles will illuminate his path to victory at the ballot box, come election day, 2020. He has failed to comprehend that “votive” has little to do with “voting”, but is related to prayer, sacred vows, veneration, and remembrances of loved ones. But these are things about which self-consumed Trump has nary a clue, or even any inclination.

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California

Anagrams of This Week’s Words
1. toxophily
2. supercargo
3. votive
4. verbigerate
5. recreant
= 1. archery vigor
2. boat expert
3. love is given
4. to repeat
5. cur
-Dharam Khalsa, Burlington, North Carolina (dharamkk2 gmail.com)


“Regarding my famous toxophily,”
says Cupid, “I have this philosophy:
Choose arrows and bows
that are light. Wear no clothes.
Stay cool, and eschew ponderosity!”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

As we delve through the King’s vast biography,
We soon learn of his love for toxophily.
Every morning in tow,
With his arrow and bow,
He would aim for a bull’s eye so foxily.
-Judith Marks-White, Westport, Connecticut (joodthmw gmail.com)

“Toxophily’s awfully swell!
I’m good at it,” said William Tell.
“That’s true,” said his son,
“Your hobby is fun --
I’m glad you shoot arrows so well.”
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

In this key, must-win archery fray,
The stars seemed to have a bad day.
Then to teammates’ delight,
the new toxophilite
hit the bull’s eye with just one essay.
-Shyamal Mukherji, Mumbai, India (mukherjis hotmail.com)

Three archers one day held a colloquy
To decide who was best at toxophily.
Sagittarius? Cupid?
Or Tell? “It’s me, stupid,”
Said he, “You shoot fruit off your progeny?”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“You don’t need a college degree,”
says her mom. “For example, take me.
Your dad’s supercargo
right here at Wells Fargo.
Smart partnering, dear, is the key!”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

The ship carries gold from Wells Fargo;
She’s bound for the port of Key Largo.
One man is in charge --
His ego’s grown large,
Because he’s been called supercargo.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

When his ship sailed into the port,
An order had come from the court.
There was an embargo.
Cried the supercargo,
“The King is such a spoilsport.”
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“For a while I won’t to my bar go,
But I’ll hire a good supercargo,”
Said Rick, “We’ll fight, Louie,
Till Hitler’s kerflooey;
Bacall then awaits in Key Largo.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

His votive offering to you
Was promising he’d never do
You harm, or inflict pain
For his personal gain.
The problem is, it wasn’t true.
-Lois Mowat, Orinda, California (lmowat1810 gmail.com)

She hoped that the Lord would take note of
The candle she lit that was votive.
“My prayer is odd,
But listen, dear God,
Please grant me repair automotive.”
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

To all you devout -- you have motive
To fervently light something votive
In hopes that Joe Biden
Will manage to slide in
And I don’t mean a race automotive!
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

“My thoughts about Jesus are votive,”
Mused Paul, and so that’s what he wrote of.
“Love is patient and kind,”
He said, “Frankly, it’s blind,
But it’s got no ulterior motive.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Verbigerate? Needs no definition,
Regurgitates, and lacks all cognition.
He’s not meek, full of cheek.
Of whom do I speak?
Re-elect? I’d rather go fishin’.
-Joe Budd Stevens, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico (joebuddstevens gmail.com)

Whenever the President’s quoted,
Great nonsense is frequently noted.
He verbigerates so
That most people must know
To gibberish Donald’s devoted.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

He will daily misjudge and verbigerate
as his falsehoods repeat and proliferate.
He’ll mock and vituperate
as our hopes evaporate
and Potus continues to bloviate.
-Zelda Dvoretzky, Haifa, Israel (zeldahaifa gmail.com)

In November are you going to cry
If Trump defeats Biden, our guy?
I doubt I’ll commiserate
Most likely verbigerate
Saying “Say it ain’t so!” til I die!
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

From inauguration till late
Our president says that he’s great.
“Covfefe,” he tweets.
Nonsense he repeats.
He does nothing but verbigerate.
-Maxwell Schoenstein, age 13, New York, New York (maxwellclyde gmail.com)

Now Trump’s whole pandemic plan
Is one the scientists pan.
All the facts he’ll deflate.
He’ll just verbigerate.
He is clearly a clueless man.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

When her husband said, “Must you verbigerate?”
She decided right then to abridge her mate.
What Ms. Bobbitt dispatched,
Though, the docs reattached,
For ‘twas found soon enough to refrigerate.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

What could be worse than a miscreant recreant,
a cowardly lion, dastardly deviant?
A mis’rable miser?
A tone-deaf church choir?
No! It’s our D.J.T. ranting POTUS procreant.
-Mariana Warner, Asheville, North Carolina (marianaw6002 gmail.com)

“You haven’t betrayed me, you say?”
she demands. “Never ventured astray?
Oh, well. It’s irrelevant
whether you’re recreant.
Pack up your bags, anyway!”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

A recreant husband is he,
Who’s cheated on wives one through three.
On tape he once gabbed
Of women he’d grabbed,
Though now he says, “That wasn’t me.”
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

At times we knew not what the heck he meant,
But Dubya at least was no recreant.
His mistakes he regrets,
Whereas Trump never frets;
Hey, would Dracula bites on the neck repent?
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


Watchmaker’s report: The tick is OK, but the toxophily slow.
-Peter Jennings, Stony Lake, Canada (peterj benlo.com)

Toxophily... and carry a big stick, I say.
-David Brad St.Cyr, Orangevale, California (brad2468 sbcglobal.net)

The starving and stranded motorist had only enough money for either a cup of bouillon or a gallon of gas, a choice between supercargo.
-Jim Ertner, Greensboro, North Carolina (jde31459 gmail.com)

Said Batman to Robin, “I’m calling it the Batmobile. Get in and let’s make this supercargo!”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

An election is coming. Votive you care about the future of your country.
-Peter Jennings, Stony Lake, Canada (peterj benlo.com)

There is no way to verbigerate teen-year-old from doing what they want to do.
-Peter Jennings, Stony Lake, Canada (peterj benlo.com)

If you’re done talking for the day, you’ve filled your verbigeration.
-Tom Nelson, Minneapolis, Minnesota (tn tnphoto.com)

Said her agent to the producers of Cheers, “Ms. Perlman may have some rough edges, but a recreant.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

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

Bedside Diplomacy
Bob Woodward’s recently published book, Rage, has exposed the bizarre bromance that developed between Trump and Kim Jong Un. Like two love-smitten teens, they exchanged dozens of flowery epistles expressing deep affection for one another and stroking their outsized egos. Predictably, like many affairs of the heart, this one has lost its once “magical” luster.

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California

When I’m sometimes asked ‘When will there be enough [women on the Supreme Court]?’ and I say ‘When there are nine,’ people are shocked. But there’d been nine men, and nobody’s ever raised a question about that. -Ruth Bader Ginsburg, US Supreme Court justice (1933-2020)

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