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Feb 28, 2021
This week’s theme

This week’s words
Queenborough mayor
Shrewsbury clock
Scarborough warning

How popular are they?
Relative usage over time

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Words coined after Gulliver’s Travels

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AWADmail Issue 974

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

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

Could the French Language Be Less Sexist?
France 24

The Words That Are In and Out With the Biden Administration
The New York Times

The Covid Zoom Boom Is Reshaping Sign Language
Scientific American

From: Bill Wesley (wcw1066 yahoo.com)
Subject: Queenborough mayor

Grand Pooh-Bah from Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Mikado is similar.

Bill Wesley, Canton, Georgia

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

From: Margaret Follis (mafollis shaw.ca)
Subject: Queenborough mayor

In the city of New Westminster, British Columbia, Canada, there is a district with the name Queensborough.

New Westminster, originally slated to be the capital of British Columbia, is often referred to as the Royal City because it was founded in the reign of Queen Victoria. Through political maneuvering, the capital city was changed to the city of Victoria, BC, but New Westminster retains many royal names: Queen’s Park and Avenue, Royal Avenue, Prince Albert Crescent.

Margaret Follis, Vancouver, Canada

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

Poplarism was certainly better than Margaret Thatcher’s poll-taxism (pardon the pun) half a century later.

Andrew Pressburger, Toronto, Canada

From: Jo Anne Leegant (jaleegant eggerandleegant.com)
Subject: Poplar

I’ve been watching Call the Midwife, a BBC production on Netflix. It’s set in Poplar in the 1950s and 1960s. I’m now watching season 9, the last season and it’s 1964. I never thought to look it up; I assumed (incorrectly) that it was not a real place although it is based upon an autobiographical book written by a woman who had worked as a midwife there.

Jo Anne Leegant, Rochester, New York

From: Bob Worsley (bob.worsley gmail.com)
Subject: Shrewsbury clock

My friends in Shrewsbury, Shropshire, UK, suggest that Shropshire British Rail station needs one of those Shrewsbury clocks. None of my friends knew this term, and clearly British Rail don’t either.

Bob Worsley, Brisbane, Australia

From: Paul Varotsis (paul varotsis.plus.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--Shrewsbury clock

The demonyn for Shrewsbury is Salopian, which to French speakers like me sounds rather unfortunate (salope = tart). Charles Darwin, whom I greatly admire, is possibly the most famous Salopian.

Paul Varotsis, London, UK

From: Katrina Johnston (kanderslang hotmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--Shrewsbury clock

Shrewsbury pronunciation is the subject of much debate! Shrewsbury (like the small furry animal) or Shrowsbury. Even the locals disagree.

Katrina Johnston, Andover, UK

From: John D. Laskowski (john.laskowski mothman.org)
Subject: Shrewsbury

Precisely, in Shrewsbury, Pennsylvania, there is no town clock on the square.

John D. Laskowski, Carsonville, Pennsylvania

From: John Norton (norton.john gmail.com)
Subject: Shrewsbury clock

I had a Shrewsbury clock, but when I moved to Manhattan I found it couldn’t keep up with a New York minute.

John Norton, Durham, North Carolina

From: Sarah Ingram (sarah.ingram wvt.nhs.uk)
Subject: This week’s toponyms

I have to say that I didn’t recognise any of this week’s toponyms, even though I am familiar with most of the places and live quite close to Shrewsbury! Not sure that the sayings are that common in the UK, oddly.

Reminds me of when I found that they call bed linen “manchester” in Australia and New Zealand, presumably because most of their bedding once came from there.

Sarah Ingram, Hereford, UK

Queensberry Rules
From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: Queenborough mayor and poplarism

Introduced to the term “Queenborough mayor”, curiously, the Scottish nobleman, the 9th Marquess of Queensberry (aka John Sholto Douglas) popped into my noggin. The Marquess, a lifelong sports aficionado and feisty sort, is known for boxing etiquette, namely the “Queensberry Rules”. Here, he squares off with our hapless “pretender”, the Queenborough mayor, hardly a pugilist, and likely a pacifist at heart.

Generous Joe
President Biden has embarked on an ambitious 100-day plan to get the US out of its Covid pandemic and economic doldrums. He clearly fits the profile of a poplarist, advocating for measures to help struggling Americans. Many a GOPer might argue that Biden’s seeming generosity is setting us on the slippery slope to outright socialism, or worst case scenario, populism. I think not.

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California

Pangraph (contains all words from this week)

It should have taken no more than a Scarborough warning, given in a second by a Shrewsbury clock, to realize that a borstal graduate (New York Military Academy) who should never have been more than a Queenborough mayor (and who would never dream of engaging in poplarism) should never be voted dog-catcher, much less president.
-Ray Wiss, Greater Sudbury, Canada (portray vianet.ca)


1. Queenborough mayor
2. borstal
3. poplarism
4. Shrewsbury clock
5. Scarborough warning
= 1. all show (crabby air)
2. problem boys’ program
3. generous act
4. no hour’s wrong
5. quick, rush
This week’s theme: Toponyms
1. Queenborough mayor
2. borstal
3. poplarism
4. Shrewsbury clock
5. Scarborough warning
= 1. weak, no power
2. thugs’ boot camp
3. bestow alms
4. horology’s quirky error
5. ugh, barbaric punishment on sly schemers
-Dharam Khalsa, Burlington, North Carolina (dharamkk2 gmail.com) -Julian Lofts, Auckland, New Zealand (jalofts xtra.co.nz)


The pompous old Queenborough mayor,
A sputtering, foolish soothsayer,
Would prattle quite lewd,
At times in the nude;
A sight that would turn your hair grayer!
-Sondra Landin, New York, New York (sunnytravel att.net)

Though only a Queenborough mayor,
she proved an extremely bold player.
The lady was tough,
and bluffed well enough
that nobody dared disobey ‘er.
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

“Queenborough Mayor”: as good as it sounds?
A title and pomp without bounds?
If it’s me you will hire
Each year I’ll require
Ten thousand. Of course, that’s in pounds.
-Sara Hutchinson, New Castle, Delaware (sarahutch2003 yahoo.com)

A Queenborough mayor I knew
Had little of substance to do.
His job was for show,
And since this was so,
His movie star looks got him through.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

Call someone a Queenborough mayor
and you’re saying he’s not a real player.
But if you say instead
he’s just a figurehead,
of the thought you’re a clearer conveyer.
-Zelda Dvoretzky, Haifa, Israel (zeldahaifa gmail.com)

If they made me a Queenborough mayor,
To survive, I’d need bottles of Bayer.
Do you need something done?
That’s for me! I’m the one!
But such hoopla just screws the taxpayer.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

When children cost their parents joy
With wheedling ways, and ploy after ploy,
And parents wonder what they’ve done,
They shouldn’t worry, jump the gun;
Just read B. Behan’s Borstal Boy.
-Marcia Sinclair, Newmarket, Canada (marciasinclair rogers.com)

Gramp’s words to the kid are precise.
“When young, I had nary a vice,
yet was sent to the borstal
for taking a morsel
of bread. Life’s a roll of the dice!”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

Though he thought himself very resourceful,
The young kid ended up in a borstal.
He stole money, you see,
From the church rectory,
After which he was oh-so-remorseful.
-Judith Marks-White, Westport, Connecticut (joodthmw gmail.com)

Many still think for “bad kids” a borstal
would make them reformed and remorseful,
but it’s caused the reverse;
often made them act worse,
with skills more criminally resourceful.
-Zelda Dvoretzky, Haifa, Israel (zeldahaifa gmail.com)

He was only a little morsel,
But his manner was very forceful.
And, they said of him,
“Ya don’t mess with Slim,
‘Cause they kicked him out of the borstal.”
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

Said Fred Trump, “Donald, don’t be remorseful;
That’s for losers who end up in borstal.
As boys will be boys,
Grab ahold of the joys
That you find on some tender young morsel.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Our country still writhes to the rhythm
of an us-or-them sordid schism.
Instead of revolt
show up and vote
for proponents of Poplarism!
-Mariana Warner, Asheville, North Carolina (marianaw6002 gmail.com)

The needy feel great optimism
toward possible new poplarism.
One oldster explains,
“It’s like sun after rains,
a rainbow as seen through hope’s prism.”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

The Poplarists aided the poor,
Made tenuous lives more secure.
For this they were jailed;
Their -ism thus failed --
A noble ideal, to be sure.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

The noise of your kids’ toddler schism
Can be quelled if you try Poplarism.
But if ice cream and cake
Won’t their quarrel unmake,
To their rooms you can try ostracism.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Modern times make demands of precision
For limerick writers, also concision.
Like a Shrewsbury clock,
No running amok.
File timely, or expect some derision.
-Gary Muldoon, Rochester, New York (gmuldoon kamanesq.com)

Says she, “By the Shrewsbury clock,
we’ll meet at first crow of the cock.
But don’t say a word.
If my mom and dad heard,
they’d have both of our heads on the block!”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

Shrewsbury clock meant nothing to her.
Being late, she just seemed to prefer.
Disappointed sighs,
Many rolling eyes,
Did zero to make her be prompter.
-Lois Mowat, Orinda, California (lmowat1810 gmail.com)

The old sailor hung out at the dock,
He liked watching the ships from Bangkok.
Every day right at two,
He would welcome the crew.
As precise as a Shrewsbury clock.
-Judith Marks-White, Westport, Connecticut (joodthmw gmail.com)

At three by a Shrewsbury clock,
To tea many tourists will flock.
This afternoon treat
They find really sweet,
For scones served with cream really rock.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

My dog walker, a Frenchman named Jacques
Is precise as a Shrewsbury clock!
If I say “Come at 8”
He’s not one minute late --
And it’s 7:59 now -- knock knock!
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

Her boyfriend she did like to mock,
Her obsession with time, though, a crock.
So he scoffed to his date,
“Yes, I’m ten minutes late.
What are you, a Shrewsbury clock?”
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

Said Chopin, “My waltz should be played
In one minute. That challenge I’ve made.
Like a Shrewsbury clock,
Sixty seconds. Tick tock!
Do it right and you’ll get a good grade.”
-Janice Power, Cleveland, Ohio (powerjanice782 gmail.com)

“The mind is no Shrewsbury clock,
But a tabula rasa,” said Locke.
“If they’re fed enough tracts
Of alternative facts,
People vote for a leader who’s schlock.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“The cat almost caught me this morning!”
says mouse. “There was Scarborough warning,
but I’ve a keen ear,
and as he drew near,
I ran. So his plan died aborning!”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

She’d sought vaccination in vain,
Till one day the message was plain:
Come get it this morning --
A Scarborough warning!
Immunity now she’ll obtain.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

“I’ll give you a Scarborough warning,”
Said Gaia, “The planet is warming.
If you fail to act now,
I’ll get angry and how;
For your coastlines you’ll soon be in mourning.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


The king’s wife sent a terse telegram to the chief executive of a large city, requesting his temporary services: “May the Queenborough mayor?”
-Jim Ertner, Greensboro, North Carolina (jde31459 gmail.com)

Said the worker ants, “An underground colony we will for our new Queenborough. Mayor Majesty live long and not get stepped on!”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

After seeing the uninteresting person who visited the reformatory, the warden exclaimed, “Is that borstal hanging around here?!”
-Jim Ertner, Greensboro, North Carolina (jde31459 gmail.com)

Said Mitch McConnell, “While Trump was an idiot, bully, and borstal he allowed us to pack the courts with right-wing judges.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Stricken with hiccups, said Ivanka to her dad about her mocking sister-in-law, “Poplarism...(hick)...mean, tell her she’s fired!”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Several ill-tempered women stole a priceless timepiece from a museum, but were seen digging a hole to conceal it. The newspaper headline was, “Shrewsbury Clock”.
-Jim Ertner, Greensboro, North Carolina (jde31459 gmail.com)

Said Petruchio, “Kate has no sense of time. Shrewsbury clock-makers’ very purpose in life.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

As a heads-up for their next concert, Simon and Garfunkel were given a “fair” Scarborough warning.
-Jim Ertner, Greensboro, North Carolina (jde31459 gmail.com)

Said the elderly tick to protégé Luke Skinwalker: “Do not try to into a Scarborough. Warning: more difficult it is than unmarred flesh.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Graham Crackers
From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: Graham Crackers

Following the Trump-incited insurrection on the Capitol, South Carolina senator Lindsey Graham proclaimed that he was “done with Donald Trump”; that he’d had enough of his litany of lies, hate-mongering, and misbehavings. Less than a week later, he was golfing with citizen Trump. Voting NOT to convict Trump in the Senate impeachment trial, flipflopper Graham has become even more emboldened, appointing himself Trump’s chief MAGA... AGAIN cheerleader. True to form, as the epitome of the opportunistic, fairweather politician.

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California

Europe is often held up as a cautionary tale, a demonstration that if you try to make the economy less brutal, to take better care of your fellow citizens when they’re down on their luck, you end up killing economic progress. But what European experience actually demonstrates is the opposite: social justice and progress can go hand in hand. -Paul Krugman, economist, professor, author, and Nobel laureate (b. 28 Feb 1953)

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