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Jan 10, 2021
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Usage examples that are food for thought

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AWADmail Issue 967

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

Sponsor’s Message: Quarantine got you down? Cooped up blues? Unpleasant relatives? 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, Robert Darling see below), and hunkered-down brainiacs everywhere. Wise Up! + FREE Smarts Pills = unHappy Holidays!

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

People Have Used They/Them as Singular Pronouns for Hundreds of Years

From ‘Irregardless’ to ‘Insurrection’: Parsing the Language of the Capitol Breach
The Philadelphia Inquirer

From: Rita Bhimani (ritabhimani gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--approbation

On the topic of approbation, I remember a poem “Do It Now” by Berton Braley, which talked of how you should praise a person while he is alive:

If with pleasure you are viewing
any work a man is doing,
If you like him or you love him, tell him now;
Don’t withhold your approbation
till the parson makes oration
And he lies with snowy lilies on his brow;

Rita Bhimani, Kolkata, India

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

Oooh, this one brings back an embarrassing memory from 1962, when I wanted to use it in a college essay but for some reason wrote “opprobrium” instead. As you may imagine, I learned about a letter near the beginning of the alphabet that I hadn’t previously had much acquaintance with.

Richard S. Russell, Madison, Wisconsin

From: Hugh Fido (hughfido1 gmail.com)
Subject: Promontory

“No man is an Island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friends or of thine own were; any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee.”
John Donne; Devotions upon Emergent Occasions; 1624.

Your example of usage of the word “promontory” would have been most apposite as Thought for the Day, at least in the UK. Having just (most unwisely in my view) separated us from Europe on January 1st, and thinking of the sentiment expressed by Donne’s powerful words, it describes exactly how many of us feel. Separating the UK from Europe on the basis of a spurious nonsense of “sovereignty” was a ridiculous thing to do, with which now over half the country would agree. Add to that that England has just today gone into complete lockdown again, the feeling is that every man is now an island, isolated in his own home, though not of his own volition.

Hugh Fido, Canterbury, UK

From: Bob Wilson (wilson math.wisc.edu)
Subject: promontory

I can never think of this word without adding “point”. My paternal grandparents had on their dining room wall a painting of the meeting of the trains, one from the east and one from the west, at Promontory Point, that completed the cross-continent railroad. The US Post Office recently issued a nice set of commemorative stamps illustrating that event, using very much the same image.

(I wish my country were as tied together today as that event made it on May 10, 1869. We seem to have lost the UNITED States of America, that so many have fought and died for, as so many think their own little corner is all that matters.)

Bob Wilson, Oregon, Wisconsin

Email of the Week -- Brought to you by Wise Up! + FREE Smarts Pills = unHappy Holidays!

From: Robert Darling (rpdarlingdds charter.net)
Subject: Thought of the Day

During the four years that our daughter was in high school I had kept a handwritten journal of the most profound or inspirational “Thought of the Day” quotations. As we drove across the state to the University of Wisconsin, La Crosse campus, for her to start her freshman year, I gave her the journal saying “In your college career, you will be required to buy many books. You will be asked to read even more books. In the end, this is the only book you need to keep.”

Thank you for all that you do to not only share the love of language, but the wisdom of humanity.

Robert Darling, Sheboygan, Wisconsin

From: David Warnick (dlwarnick1 gmail.com)
Subject: exigency

Years ago, whenever the Army did something less than desirable to me, from KP to sending me to Vietnam, a friend of mine used to ironically remark, “Exigencies of the service, man, exigencies of the service.”

David Warnick, DuPont, Washington

From: Andrew Pressburger (andpress sympatico.ca)
Subject: exigency usage example

Dickinson, the “Belle of Amherst”, had to be the most self-effacing poet in American literature or even literature in general. She was writing most of her poems to herself, put them away, filed them, then went into the kitchen and continued to cook her delectable dishes or bake her delicious cakes.

Her chief exigency was fear of death that she viewed as a “decree absolute”. She grappled with this theme all her life, trying to imagine what it would be like when it came. In fact it did come at an early age (55), even by the standards of her time.

It was after she died that her younger sister discovered the poems and had them published.

Today, Dickinson is compared in greatness to her fellow transcendentalist Walt Whitman, another misunderstood genius.

Andrew Pressburger, Toronto, Canada

From: Dan Yerushalmi (via website comments)
Subject: Gibran / JFK

It’s quite interesting what you can find about this particular JFK quotation’s origins in Wikiquote. It may be a more recent translation from the Arabic translated so as to read more like the words JFK had already said!

Dan Yerushalmi

From: Alastair McKean (alastairmckean outlook.com)
Subject: Disinterested

Ooh, you’ll get comments on this one! It’s still a worthwhile distinction, I think. For example, an umpire should be disinterested but never uninterested.

Thanks for making Wilsons Promontory the example photo. Many happy memories of generations of summer holidays down there. It is a very special part of the world.

Alastair McKean, Albury, Australia

From: Matthew Brummitt (mistakshappen gmail.com)
Subject: Compelling advice re disinterested

As a receiver of your weekly missives I have enjoyed and learned much over the past few years with you. Never having found the strongest impetus to respond until today. You had closed today’s note with “As long as the meaning is clear from the context, take a long deep breath. The English language is just fine, thank you, and doesn’t need its honor defended.”, which rang within me in that special way advice sometimes resonates... seeping into spaces of my psyche.

Wanted to reach out, and say thank you.

Matthew Brummitt, Montréal, Canada

From: Allan Stewart-Oaten (stewart ucsb.edu)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--disinterested

Thanks for the NOTE. I’ve been a “disinterested Nazi” for too long.

Allan Stewart-Oaten, Santa Barbara, California

From: Robert H Sadowsky (rsadowskydmd gmail.com)
Subject: This week’s words

As the promontory upon which the Capitol sits was shrouded in tear gas, the exigency of the situation was clear to everyone except for the disinterested resident at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue , who no one could construe as sane, still heaping approbation upon the seditious mobs.

I take no joy in this AWAD sentence.

Robert H Sadowsky, DMD, New York, New York

From: Janice Power (powerjanice782 gmail.com)
Subject: An ode to Steve Benko

Ode to Steve Benko’s Limericks

An artist of words
he paints themes in
a multitude of colors
Plays with rhymes --
blends hues into meter
tinting poetry with
relevant hues
from his endless palette.
He draws from history
mythology, geography ,
mixes them with humor
that laughs at itself --
employs fictional and real characters
An entertaining logophile
A quest for perfection
Better than Lear I think
Soul-brilliant imagery

They are his letters to the world
And many in the world answer
Signing his global name

Janice Power, Cleveland, Ohio

Ernest on the Brink
From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: promontory & exigency

In this unsettling scenario, I’ve situated Hemingway on the precipice of a promontory. Is he contemplating ending it all with a leap? Or will he be distracted, and heartened, by the ringing bell of his six-toed pussycat and step away from the brink? Hemingway was a gifted, yet tortured soul, prone to bouts of depression. Sadly, he took his own life, not by a leap into the abyss, but by a self-inflicted shotgun blast. Generations of Hemingway’s brood of six-toed cats still live on at his home/museum in Key West, Florida.

Exigencies Be Damned!
Inspired by the Emily Dickinson usage example, her uplifting poem about a happy, carefree rambling stone, I arrived at this frolicsome scene. Hmm... who knew that stones/rocks could display so much personality? Ha!

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California

Anagrams of This Week’s Words
1. approbation
2. promontory
3. exigency
4. construe
5. disinterested
= 1. support
2. crag, or is it bone?
3. need remedy
4. inexact story
5. no point
= 1. nods to
2. bony rise (not erotic)
3. urgency
4. approximate
5. president?
     1. approbation
2. promontory
3. exigency
4. construe
5. disinterested
= 1. POA* - Yes!
2. proboscis
3. urgent need
4. interpret
5. coy dominatrix, not?
= 1. proxy
2. proboscis
3. may indicate urgent need
4. to interpret
5. so... no?
-Dharam Khalsa, Burlington, North Carolina (dharamkk2 gmail.com) -Julian Lofts, Auckland, New Zealand (jalofts xtra.co.nz)
*POA: Price On Application

Make your own anagrams and animations.


The president spoke to the nation,
He spoke in great perturbation:
“I give you this tip-off,
The vote was a rip-off.”
He wanted to get approbation.
-Marcia Sinclair, Newmarket, Canada (marciasinclair rogers.com)

She’s a lovely young girl, a sweet Asian,
Got involved in seductive flirtation.
She had such a strong yen
To be thought well by men,
As she thrived on their deep approbation.
-Judith Marks-White, Westport, Connecticut (joodthmw gmail.com)

For Donald the greatest sensation
Was hearing the crowd’s approbation.
He suffered a blow
When voters said “No,
We’d rather have Joe lead the nation.”
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

Grinned the rioters in wild elation,
we had fun and won his approbation.
The way we trashed that place
put a smile on his face.
Him and us will soon run the whole nation.
-Zelda Dvoretzky, Haifa, Israel (zeldahaifa gmail.com)

It’s a new year; I’m not going to mention
The source of our last four years’ tension.
Let’s just hope that cessation
Brings wide approbation
And Harris’s future ascension!
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

He longed for a great commendation
From a most appreciative nation.
“Name the vaccine for me.
I deserve it!” said he.
But, he fumed with no approbation.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

From my readers I love approbation;
It’s the reason I chose this vocation.
As the limerick itch
Surely won’t make me rich,
Would you give me a standing ovation?
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

To obtain Mr. Garg’s approbation,
You had best not employ syncopation.
The limerick’s best
Which observes anapest;
Otherwise, it deserves immolation.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Says she, “Since we’ve plenty of dough,
I suggest that we build our chateau
on a high promontory.
‘Twill be hunky-dory!”
Says he, “Heights induce vertigo!”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

Mosquitoes they simply call “mozzies”;
When swimming they’ll put on their “cozzies”.
It’s this common story
That turns “promontory”
To “prom” when you’re speaking with Aussies.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

On your leg you’ll discover your knee,
For it’s part of your basic anatomy.
Run a hand from your lip
Down your arm to your hip
And you’ll find an elbow promontory.
-Janice Power, Cleveland, Ohio (powerjanice782 gmail.com)

A dark and remote promontory;
An old manse, a madman’s laboratory.
Now bring on the thunder!
Your nerves I will sunder;
Come, children, I’ll tell you a story.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Last year ladies faced contingencies
in lines longer than their exigencies
at intermissions galore,
‘til shows cancelled by the score,
and zooming ended such emergencies.
-Mariana Warner, Asheville, North Carolina (marianaw6002 gmail.com)

“Uh-oh! cries the kid. “Gotta go!
Stop the car!” But his mother says,”No!
Your mum’s getting sick of these
sudden exigencies.
Seven’s too many, you know!”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

There is an exigency today
In our country, which won’t go away.
We are more divided,
Some are undecided.
Soon we’re united is what I pray.
-Lois Mowat, Orinda, California (lmowat1810 gmail.com)

With Covid 19 he was bored;
Exigencies Trump then ignored.
He made it quite plain
He’d rather campaign --
And thus at the polls Biden scored.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

Her waywardness made us sack Bess,
But the substitute didn’t impress.
His lack of proficiency,
caused an exigency
that we hired Bess back to redress.
-Shyamal Mukherji, Mumbai, India (mukherjis hotmail.com)

Dear Georgia, we thank your proficiency
In addressing our nation’s exigency!
No longer can Mitch
Satisfy his great itch
To bestow us with gifts like a pigeon -- see?
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Said sly Mitch, “I’ve had time to construe:
My old tactics will simply not do.
Let’s forget that Don schmo,
Time to welcome in Joe,
I’ve adopted an alternate view.”
-Judith Marks-White, Westport, Connecticut (joodthmw gmail.com)

Events in DC I construe
As Donald attempting a coup.
The President lauded
The mob that marauded --
They did what he told them to do.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

When the prof called on me to construe
my fear I was hard-put to subdue.
I had come well-prepared
but that guy had us scared.
To this day, don’t know how I got through.
-Zelda Dvoretzky, Haifa, Israel (zeldahaifa gmail.com)

AWAD’s meanings, in truth, always do
A great job in helping construe.
So we try to work through it
(And not just say “screw it”!)
And our rhymes can elucidate, too!
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

She said, “I don’t know what to do.”
Said he, “I’ll explain it to you.”
So, on their wedding night,
He took sheer delight,
To see she did not misconstrue.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“If your landslide they fail to construe,”
Said Rudy, “I’ll next use kung fu!
The Senate I’ll kick
Till your boots they all lick,
And the House with my farts, I’ll subdue!”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

He argues, “I’m biased, you say?
So I can’t be a jurist today?
Well, if I’m not disinterested,
maybe my mistress’d
do it. How much does it pay?”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

Re: un- versus dis-interested
consider your premise contested.
Despite linguistic swings
They are two different things.
Wordsmith, please stay precision invested.
-Zelda Dvoretzky, Haifa, Israel (zeldahaifa gmail.com)

When more votes were by Donald solicited,
Said Brad, “I’m steadfastly disinterested.
By your office I’m awed,
But it’s you who’s the fraud;
It’s your fault that to blue we have pivoted.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


The tech-savvy judge wrote a computer program for suspending the sentence of a convicted offender and he dubbed it an approbation.
-Jim Ertner, Greensboro, North Carolina (jde31459 gmail.com)

With Trump leaving office, I hope he gets a real prison sentence and not just approbation-ary one.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

On the evening dedicated to the British Conservative Party, the high school senior was looking forward to going to the promontory night.
-Jim Ertner, Greensboro, North Carolina (jde31459 gmail.com)

Back when Ms. Spelling was a senior in high school, the football captain spent all night after the promontory.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Said the Jamaican lady, “Ms. Aniston, she wreck my marriage. Once my exigency on TV, he not be wantin’ me.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)
[Once my ex he Jen see on TV]

The wife gets irritated at how her husband construe his clothes all over and never care.
-Janice Power, Cleveland, Ohio (powerjanice782 gmail.com)

Before leaving, the soon-to-be-imprisoned construe garbage all over the Oval Office.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Said the congressman, “Doc, I’ve been tossing and turning all night since the riot. I need some med-disinterest.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

White "House-ter"
From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: White “House-ter”

As a last-ditch effort to physically extricate Trump from the White House, extreme measures had to be taken. Here, an enraged, straight-jacketed Trump is being hoisted from the White House by crane, under the delusion that he’s still president. Hmm... who posited that the margin between genius and insanity was very narrow? Just sayin’.

An Offer Raffensperger Refused
In the waning days of his presidency, Trump has morphed from Commander-in-Chief to Mobster-and-Thief, as shown by his shakedown of Georgia Secretary of State, Raffensperger. Trump, the self-ascribed master of “the art of the deal”, in a 62-minute phone call, was asking the state official to flip the results of the election, almost begging for a “recalculation”. Raffensberger stood his ground, not bending to Trump’s gangster tactic.

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California

There are two things which cannot be attacked in front: ignorance and narrow-mindedness. They can only be shaken by the simple development of the contrary qualities. They will not bear discussion. -Lord Acton (John Emerich Edward Dalberg-Acton), historian (10 Jan 1834-1902)

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