Wordsmith.org: the magic of words


About | Media | Search | Contact  


Today's Word

Yesterday's Word



Jan 31, 2021
This week’s theme
It’s raining cats & dogs

This week’s words
fat cat

How popular are they?
Relative usage over time

AWADmail archives

Next week’s theme

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 970

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

Sponsor’s Message: Are you sick and tired of social distancing? Then try some intellectual distancing instead: THE OFFICIAL OLD’S COOL EDUCATION is “The Holy Trinity of wit, knowledge, fun and games”, three pocket-sized handbooks that are chock-a-block full of gee-whiz, Shakespeare, history, how-tos, sports, wit, and recalcitrance. There are also principles (Pareto, Peter), poetry, and trivia: What is Sleeping Beauty’s real name? How many towns are there in America? We’re offering an original call to intellectual adventure, a wild, edifying ride for less than a twenny. Buy Two, Get Three Special while supplies last.

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

My Voyage Through a World of Language in Just One Word: Snow
The Guardian

Tracking the Vocabulary of Sci-Fi, from Aerocar to Zero-Gravity
The New York Times

Giacomo Balla - Dynamism of a Dog on a Leash
Dynamism of a Dog on a Leash
by Giacomo Balla
Photo: Irina
From: Bill Farnsworth (farnq2003 yahoo.com.au)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--cynegetic

The word cynegetic and the accompanying picture of a dog in motion made me think of the famous painting Dynamism of a Dog on a Leash by Giacomo Balla.
Bill Farnsworth, Innisfail, Australia

From: David Healy (david.healy mncfin.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--cynegetic

The French equivalent of “It’s raining cats and dogs” is even more amusing:

Il pleut à boire debout (to rain so much that one could drink standing).

No animals -- simply a graphic description!

David H Healy, New York, New York

From: Alexander Drysdale (acd1 iprimus.com.au)
Subject: Cats and Dogs

A man went into his Datsun car dealership looking for a special cog for his car. The cost would be 2c but there were none available. So he chartered a plane to go to Japan to collect a load of cogs and bring them home to sell at a profit and make a bob or two for himself. On the way home, the plane ran into trouble and the cargo had to be jettisoned. As the material fell on a paddy field in east Asia, the workers said, “Look it’s raining Datsun cogs.”

Alexander Drysdale, Lyndhurst, Australia

From: Eric Mills (erics web.ca)
Subject: dogged sleuthing

> “how widespread the practice [phone hacking by Mirror] was.”

Mirror? Far from the main culprit. See here: CNN:
“Most cases involve News Corp’s News of the World, but the Sun as well as Mirror Group publications have also settled cases”

News of the World and Sun -- Rupert Murdoch propaganda outlets. The Mirror is not Murdoch’s.

Eric Mills, Toronto, Canada

Canicule Europe 2003.jpg
Europe 2003 temperature variations relative to 2001
From: Linda Cass (ljcassvillemorin gmail.com)
Subject: canicular

Canicule is the French word for heatwave. In 2003, a great scandal happened when the French left the cities in August as is their wont, leaving elderly relatives in their flats. A canicule hit and many elderly relatives expired. It was the first summer I knew of when many residents of the Mediterranean coast took their holidays in Brittany and Normandy.

Linda Cass, Villemorin, France

From: Abigail Francis (abigailreid mac.com)
Subject: Canicular

In French and Spanish, respectively, la canicule and la canicula are the words for a heatwave. In Latin, la canicula is a small dog or puppy.

Riding up in a service elevator from the bowels of the NYC subway in Brooklyn one dreadful, sweltering August day, the elevator operator sighs and shakes his head, says, “Awh the heat! It’s hardest on dawgs ... hardest on the dawgs ...”

Abigail Francis, Seattle, Washington

Amanda Gorman reciting her inaugural poem
From: Mary Boy (mary.miller.boy googlemail.com)
Subject: Quotation of José Martí

A grain of poetry suffices to season a century. -José Martí, poet, journalist, and freedom fighter (28 Jan 1853-1895)

Amanda Gorman has indeed given us flowery spikes of grain to season our century!

Mary Boy, Falkensee, Germany

From: Dorit Peleg (dorit.peleg.1010 gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--fat cat

It may have been (and one does get the sense of it, reading literature of the era) that once men “of large means and slight political experience who, having reached middle age, achieved success in business, and finding no further thrill, sense, or satisfaction in the mere piling up of more millions, develop a yearning for some sort of public honor, and are willing to pay for it.”

For quite some time, however, the men backing the politicians are expecting a far more concrete and immediate return, i.e., influence on the way the country is run, and not only in accord with their ideology but specifically in order to increase their profits and decrease/abolish financial or other penalties that might be caused by the damage their proceedings cause. To wit, the Koch brothers.

Dorit Peleg, Tel Aviv, Israel

From: Paul Brassil (pvbrassil gmail.com)
Subject: Fat cat

I was a little surprised at the meaning of today’s word: fat cat. In Australia, it has a slightly different meaning. It is generally used to describe senior public servants in our federal and state governments who are mostly in very secure roles at relatively high remuneration. Sir Humphrey in the 1980s’ shows Yes Minister and Yes, Prime Minister is the perfect example. Well-paid, but definitely not rich. Not political as such, but very close to the political action, mainly to ingratiate themselves for honours and knighthoods, and secure their position should the government change.

Paul Brassil, Sydney, Australia

From: Reiner Decher (reiner54 gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--fat cat

War is a human failing but must be exercised when necessary. The 1914 pictures of Germans, French, and English soldiers cheerfully boarding trains to end up as bone piles in muddy trenches speaks volumes regarding the lunacy of war. Just imagine the talent that never blossomed.

Reiner Decher, Seattle, Washington

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

From: Ray Wiss (portray vianet.ca)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--fat cat

I had told my wife that I no longer wanted just to be entertained by your missives, but also to try to actually remember the words. This perforce would involve using them. When I sent her this week’s effort, she suggested you might like to see it.

The ultimate fat cat is headed to Florida, there to loll in the canicular heat, while caterwauling doggedly in his cynegetic pursuit of an election he lost.

Ray Wiss, Greater Sudbury, Canada

Canicular Days
From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: Canicular and fat cat

Here, I’ve pictured the quintessential dog day afternoon, sun ablaze, with Snoopy lounging at the beach, taking in the rays, Ray-Bans in place, while far less sun-tolerant avian pal, Woodstock, opts for his protective umbrella. Apologies to the late, great Mr. Charles Schulz.

"Daddy" Warbucks Cajoles FDR
As fictive “fat cats” go, Sir Oliver “Daddy” Warbucks ranks right up there near the top. A self-made millionaire in the original Little Orphan Annie comic strip, later spun-off movies and a hit Broadway musical, the chrome-domed money-bags came on hard times during the Great Depression. He looked to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt to save his bacon. Here, Warbucks is attempting to persuade FDR that getting the flagging US economy back on track would be in the nation’s and their best interest. My Froggy-in-drag, as the ginger-haired Annie, tells it like is.

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California

Anagrams of This Week’s Words
It’s raining cats and dogs:
1. cynegetic
2. caterwaul
3. dogged
4. canicular
5. fat cat
1. cunning, strategic
2. wail, an actual cat concert
3. rigid faced
4. dog days
5. Gates
= This week’s theme: It’s raining cats & dogs
1. cynegetic
2. caterwaul
3. dogged
4. canicular
5. fat cat
1. you catch with a licence
2. grief stricken
3. dead set, gets win
4. galactic Dog Star
5. US magnate
-Julian Lofts, Auckland, New Zealand (jalofts xtra.co.nz) -Dharam Khalsa, Burlington, North Carolina (dharamkk2 gmail.com)

Make your own anagrams and animations.


A law student’s storied paper chase
helped her win a most studious race.
So cynegetic was she
for her JD degree,
she cleared the bar vaulting apace!
-Mariana Warner, Asheville, North Carolina (marianaw6002 gmail.com)

Fox pricks up his ears and cries, “Zounds!
Too well I remember those sounds!
Such loud cynegetic
baying’s prophetic
of hunters approaching with hounds!”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

When it comes to most things cynegetic,
Competition gets quite energetic.
With elections, you see,
Where they both disagree,
What ensues is then highly frenetic.
-Judith Marks-White, Westport, Connecticut (joodthmw gmail.com)

With trophies all over the place
And dogs he’d named Hunter and Chase,
Her boyfriend’s aesthetic
Was most cynegetic --
A vegan, she fled his embrace.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

“Tallyho!” On the fox hunt, he cried.
Then he promptly fell off his ride.
“In sports cynegetic,
I am so pathetic.
I have bruised my pride, and my backside.”
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

In protest of sport cynegetic,
To the royals the fox waxed poetic.
“You’ll soon feel contrition;
My online petition,”
Said he, “will make monarchs a relic!”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

At the Met and at Carnegie Hall
Ms. Brunhilde, she does caterwaul.
Some bad news I must bring:
The fat lady does sing,
But the opera ain’t over at all.
-Rudy Landesman, New York, New York (ydur36 hotmail.com)

There was screaming which echoed from wall to wall,
It created such loud intense caterwaul.
Pry Trump loose? A real mess,
But despite much duress,
He’s ejected! What a relief to us all.
-Judith Marks-White, Westport, Connecticut (joodthmw gmail.com)

Her precious antiques -- he would shatter all.
He’d cry and he’d scream and he’d caterwaul.
Till one day, his shrink
Said, “What do you think?
Perhaps it is time for some Adderall.”
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

A hard-hearted Brit whom I knew
Would say, “Blimey! What babies all do;
They poop and they bawl
And their shrill caterwaul
Sends me hands over ears to the loo!”
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

When the umpire called it a ball
local fans didn’t like that at all:
From thousands of throats
came threatening notes,
“Kill the ump,” was the shrill caterwaul.
-Zelda Dvoretzky, Haifa, Israel (zeldahaifa gmail.com)

While camping you might hear the call
Of a creature’s clear caterwaul.
As you shake in your tent,
It sure is evident,
That you will catch no sleep at all.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

The tomcats start coming around
When they hear that old “Come hither” sound.
It’s a big free-for-all
When females caterwaul
At the kitties’ debauched breeding ground.
-Janice Power, Cleveland, Ohio (powerjanice782 gmail.com)

“What they told you before doesn’t matter, Paul,”
Said Jesus, “Against me don’t caterwaul.
Down in Texas, my peeps
Say to blind you for keeps,
So git goin’ b’fore I git madder, y’all.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

New students again, a mixed crew.
No worries had he, since he knew
that if patient and dogged,
this old pedagogue’d
guide ev’ry last one of them through.
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

Describing my personality,
One could say dogged really fits me.
When I want it done
I’m known as the one
Who won’t give up until victory.
-Lois Mowat, Orinda, California (lmowat1810 gmail.com)

Her dogged excuse had this feature:
“Dog ate homework” she said to her teacher.
The girl was aggrieved
When she wasn’t believed
And was told, “We will x-ray that creature.”
-Sara Hutchinson, New Castle, Delaware (sarahutch2003 yahoo.com)

How dogged his efforts to woo!
Persistently did he pursue!
It all came to nought
Because then she sought
A writ of protection or two.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

His employer had only to ask
and he’d doggedly tackle the task.
he’d labor untired
and in boss’s good graces he’d bask.
-Zelda Dvoretzky, Haifa, Israel (zeldahaifa gmail.com)

If you fall on your sword like King Saul did,
You won’t in the end be applauded.
His son-in-law’s wrath
Beat Goliath of Gath,
Which just shows that it pays to be dogged.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

On days that were sultry, canicular,
His problem with sex was testicular.
On days that were cold,
He felt much too old
And coitus was dull in particular.
-Sondra Landin & Rudy Landesman, New York, New York (ydur36 hotmail.com)

Blind daters discuss when to meet.
Says she, her tone sexy and sweet,
“Though I’m not particular,
not in canicular
weather; I can’t stand the heat!”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

It’s hot, and it’s humid and hazy --
Canicular days drive me crazy!
Though some have great fun
In summertime sun,
I’m simply lethargic and lazy.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

During cold winter months in particular
some folks suffer from problems articular.
As our joints ache and creak
warmth and comfort we seek
while we dream of July days canicular.
-Zelda Dvoretzky, Haifa, Israel (zeldahaifa gmail.com)

Disregarding the heat (most canicular!)
My boss was extremely particular.
I chauffeured him where
He could get some cooled air,
As A/C then was not yet vehicular!
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

When traveling, be quite particular
On days that are very canicular.
A hike won’t be nice.
Just take my advice.
Ride up that hill in a funicular.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

Mar-a-Lago I find too canicular,”
Said Melania, “boring and insular.
Ziss great body deserves
Some nice pool boy hors d’oeuvres;
Though First Lady no more, I’m still titular.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

The two had sat down for a chat.
To campaigner declared the fat cat,
“In exchange for my dough,
I require quid pro quo.
You’ll give me a new MAGA hat!”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

The arrogant, artful fat cat
Behaves like an infantile brat.
Between you and me
It’s easy to see
His belfry is missing its bat.
-Gayle Tremblay, Saint John, Canada (gayletremblay hotmail.com)

That fat cat is quite influential,
Supporting campaigns presidential.
He makes a big splash
With all of his cash,
Infusions of which are essential.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

Illustration: Mark Seltman
Illustration: Mark Seltman
Thought Donald, “I once was a fat cat,
Keeping porn stars and wives like a pack rat.
Like mad I would tweet,
And my rallies were sweet,
Till November rolled in like a Mack. Splat!”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


Said Stormy Daniels in the confessional, “Father, I’ve pretty much been the Cynegetic Bunny this week.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Said the irate neighbor to the owner of an outdoor feline, “Control your caterwaul her up in a cage!”
-Jim Ertner, Greensboro, North Carolina (jde31459 gmail.com)

As the men of Sodom demanded that Lot give them his house guests, their dogs growled, “And hand over your caterwaul keep on barking.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

My dogged do all the tricks I taught him to entertain company.
-Janice Power, Cleveland, Ohio (powerjanice782 gmail.com

Said Fido to his psychiatrist, “Doc, my dog ego is in terrible conflict with my dogged.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Accidentally swallowing a razor blade canicular-ynx.
-Jim Ertner, Greensboro, North Carolina (jde31459 gmail.com)

“I’ve got it!” said the inventor. “I’ll put a scoop of ice cream into a canicular waffle, and people can eat it without a dish or spoon!”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

A hefty pamphlet with many listings is a fat cat-alog.
-Jim Ertner, Greensboro, North Carolina (jde31459 gmail.com)

A diet high in carbs and fat cat-alyzes weight gain.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Mostly Adults in the "Zoom"!
From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: Mostly Adults in the “Zoom”

In watching the Biden Inauguration on Jan 20, I was struck by how three still-living US presidents -- Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama -- appeared to be engaging one another like good old buddies who hadn’t seen one another in ages, and seemed genuinely delighted to reconnect. Jimmy Carter had been ailing for a spell and couldn’t attend. Here, I set up a Zoom meeting of all the living ex-presidents, who, I’m guessing, have little respect for Trump, a whining man-child. Hmm, The Donald will likely never be invited into that exclusive fraternity of still-kicking ex-US presidents. Boo-hoo!
Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California

No business which depends for existence on paying less than living wages to its workers has any right to continue in this country ... and by living wages I mean more than a bare subsistence level -- I mean the wages of decent living. -Franklin D. Roosevelt, 32nd US President (30 Jan 1882-1945)

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

© 1994-2024 Wordsmith