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Apr 4, 2021
This week’s theme
Places that have given us multiple toponyms

This week’s words
Roman holiday
Kentish fire

How popular are they?
Relative usage over time

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AWADmail Issue 979

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

A Portrait of US Linguistic Diversity, in Sound and Sign
The New York Times

New French Dictionary Aims to Embrace Diversity of World’s Francophones

From: Gloria Bell (inexcelsis bigpond.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--coventrate

Thanks for your daily word selections -- they are very good! However, re coventrate, I actually come from Coventry in England and I have never heard the term before. I was brought up during wartime in Coventry and this is the first time I’ve heard this word!

Gloria Bell, Batemans Bay, Australia

From: Ivan Tomek (ivan.tomek acadiau.ca)
Subject: coventrate

When we visited Rostock (I think) in Germany, we walked through a church with a prominent memorial of Coventry. The Germans are not proud of that event, and the whole history around WWII. Unlike most other nations, they seem to have the courage to admit the shady parts of their past.

Ivan Tomek, Wolfville, Canada

From: Yurii DeLaney (yuriika gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--coventrate

At least one way of measuring the freedom of any society is the amount of comedy that is permitted, and clearly a healthy society permits more satirical comment than a repressive, so that if comedy is to function in some way as a safety release then it must obviously deal with these taboo areas. This is part of the responsibility we accord our licensed jesters, that nothing be excused the searching light of comedy. If anything can survive the probe of humour it is clearly of value, and conversely all groups who claim immunity from laughter are claiming special privileges which should not be granted. -Eric Idle, comedian, actor, and author (b. 29 Mar 1943)

Just moments ago, I saved this image off of Facebook about Triboulet and now I’m seeing your quotation of the day about jesters. Cool coincidence!

Yuri DeLaney, Doylestown, Pennsylvania

From: Ian Horsewell (ianhorsewell gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--coventrate

I was a student in Coventry and never heard that word used, but as I mainly associated with other students, that may not be surprising. I would like to share a common phrase that referred to the buildings and road layouts in the city: “What the German bombers started, the city planners finished.”

Despite visiting friends there ever since, I’ve not once managed to get on and off the ring road at the right place first time.

Ian Horsewell, Leicester, UK

From: Edgar Hume (magicclockshop gmail.com)
Subject: Coventry/Coventrate

In 1966, I was in Coventry, England, for a service and study programme in the cathedral. I recall the guide (while walking through the cleared and bombed-out cathedral ruins ajacent to the new cathedral) telling us about the word “coventry”. I no doubt have used it incorrectly as I probably misheard and “coventrate” became “to Coventry -- to destroy completely”.

Thank you for the emancipation from my ignorance. Even at age 74, one can make minor changes to one’s vocabulary.

Edgar Hume, Lexington, Kentucky

From: Pauline Barnes (tpbarnes shaw.ca)
Subject: Dresden

Well, I don’t know, the Germans suffered too! Let’s talk about Dresden as well as Coventry. I do have a lot of ex-German friends who have survived the effects and aftermath of WWII.

Pauline Barnes, Victoria, Canada

From: William Pease (peasewmj gmail.com)
Subject: Coventrate

The late medieval cathedral in Coventry now stands as a memorial shell following the Second World War. Rather than reconstruct as was done with much of Dresden, Germany, a decision was made to build a very modernist cathedral nearby, a striking contrast in architectural styles.

Bill Pease, San Diego, California

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

From: Alan W. Ritch (aritch berkeley.edu)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--coventrate

I was born seven miles from Coventry into a world which had been at war for a year; and the kitchen table onto which I slithered was a less hygienic surface than the hospital beds of the city, only a few miles away but unreachable because of the threat of blitz. The heart of Coventry was razed, before I was a month old, provoking a black paternal joke: “They were aiming at you and missed by seven miles!”

Relict monuments of the medieval town, three Gothic spires which had given the bombers an easy target, could be seen from our farm. Stray bombs occasionally fell on our fields. New ponds filled the craters. Reeds grew along the fringes, where moorhens and mallards nested. Cattle, sheep, and horses had fresh watering holes. By D-Day, my mother had fallen ill. She moved with me to her brother’s house on the other side of ruined Coventry and died there some months later. The war lasted longer than our lives together.

Alan Ritch, Santa Cruz, California

From: Andrew Pressburger (andpress sympatico.ca)
Subject: Roman holiday

Who could forget the 1953 movie Roman Holiday, featuring Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck, which was presumably based on the affair by Princess Margaret, sister of Queen Elizabeth, with Peter Townsend, a commoner; although this was denied by Buckingham Palace.

The screenplay was written by Dalton Trumbo, who had been accused of being a communist agent. It was filmed at Cinecitta, providing the cast with a Roman holiday of their own in the Italian capital.

Andrew Pressburger, Toronto, Canada

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

The city of Canterbury appears in at least two famous literary works. One is Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales in which pilgrims, wending their way to Canterbury, entertain each other with stories (some quite lurid). The other is T.S. Eliot’s verse play Murder in the Cathedral about the assassination of Archbishop Thomas Becket by henchmen of King Henry II for refusing to swear an oath of allegiance to the monarch. “Who will rid me of this turbulent (or meddlesome) priest?”, Henry famously urges.

Andrew Pressburger, Toronto, Canada

From: Christine Caroppo (cc-other bell.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--Trojan

One more definition: this is more like slang, I guess, but I have heard condoms, regardless of brand, called trojans. As in, “Have you got any trojans?” For a while, it was rather like asking for a kleenex instead of a tissue. As I am no longer in the market to purchase condoms, I can’t say if this is still current usage.

Christine Caroppo, Toronto, Canada

From: Jann Rudkin (jann rudkinfamily.org)
Subject: Trojan

There are also Trojan asteroids or planets.

Jann Rudkin, Los Gatos, California

From: Deborah Dinzes (deborah.dinzes becu.org)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--Trojan

They fought like Trojans.” An L.A. sportswriter (in 1912) writing about the university’s losing effort at football against a bigger, stronger crosstown opponent.

The respect shown our guys prompted USC to change their mascot from whatever it had been to the USC Trojans. #FightOn

Deborah Dinzes, Kirkland, Washington

From: Sara Hutchinson (sarahutch2003 yahoo.com)
Subject: Blues inspired by Trojan

I woke up this morning and my Windows 10 had changed.
I woke up this morning and my Windows 10 had changed.
My Yahoo site had left me,
By Trojan malware rearranged.

My screen has gone and filled up
With options I don’t use.
This Trojan malware did it only to confuse
And Trojan malware left me with these old computer blues.

Sara Hutchinson, New Castle, Delaware

From: David Rubenstein (bulkmail thoughtful-action.com)
Subject: Canticaci

While Wordsmith celebrates diversity, it has shown a distressing favoritism in this recent collection of multiple toponym-generating locales. Canter, Canterbury tales, Kentish fire, Kentish cousin are all derived from the name of the Canticaci people who lived near the Roman settlement of Durovernum Cantiacorum, established in the first century CE after the Roman invasion of 43 CE.

David Rubenstein, Washington, DC

From: Tyler Knapp (knapptr gmail.com)
Subject: Word data

I have been teaching myself software development. For an experimental project, I wrote a program to generate these stats from last year’s words:

Longest Word: (15) heterochromatic, Jedburgh justice
Shortest Word: (3) rad, zig, fig, joe
Average Word Length: (8.73)
Newest Word: Totes 2006
Oldest Word: Birch 700
Most Common year of earliest use: 1656 (whicker, verbigerate, luteous, gambit)
Most Common Part Of Speech: (156) Noun
Least Common Part Of Speech: (17) Adverb

Tyler Knapp, Georgetown, Massachusetts

From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: Roman holiday and canter

Blood Sport
“When in Rome...” Back in the days of Imperial Rome, from the ruling elites to the lowly plebs, Romans had a seemingly insatiable appetite for blood sport. The gladiatorial battles in the Coliseum being a major entertainment. The wanton slaying of captive, wild, exotic beasties was another spectacle savored by blood-thirsty ancient Romans. Here, I’ve pictured Julius Caesar and his entourage, witnessing a gladiatorial clash, the emperor giving his thumb-down signal to the sword-wielding battler, to dispatch his wounded rival. A Roman holiday fit for an emperor!

Hot to Trot!
Jockey Froggy, sporting his Croaker Farms pink polka-dotted silks, leaning on his reptilian horse-sense, wants his mount to run at a canter pace, but this strong-willed steed has other intentions, shifting into a higher gear, namely a full-on gallop. Hold on tight, Froggy!

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California

Pangraph (contains all words from this week)

Just as the sun rose Churchill jumped out from his car, the emerging British Trojan, cantering between the coventrate landscape of London’s bomb craters, ending the Nazis’ Roman Holiday with the Kentish fires of the sleep-deprived populace emerging from their shelters in the Tube.
-Robert H Sadowsky, DMD, New York, New York (rsadowskydmd gmail.com)


This week’s theme: Places that have given us multiple toponyms
1. Coventrate
2. Roman holiday
3. canter
4. Trojan
5. Kentish fire
= 1. concentrate missiles
2. view violent death, torment in arena
3. try: hoof rhythm, take jog
4. has pluck
5. it’s vehement applause
     This week’s theme: Places that have given us multiple toponyms
1. Coventrate
2. Roman holiday
3. Canter
4. Trojan
5. Kentish fire
= 1. fully devastate (think havoc)
2. gory entertainment
3. topmost horse move
4. malware, hitchhiker
5. injects intense applause
-Julian Lofts, Auckland, New Zealand (jalofts xtra.co.nz) -Dharam Khalsa, Burlington, North Carolina (dharamkk2 gmail.com)

Make your own anagrams and animations.


Concentrate, throw down your arms --
those overrated “manly charms”.
Coventrating doesn’t work;
Better to be a soda jerk.
To woo a woman, first do no harms.
-Mariana Warner, Asheville, North Carolina (marianaw6002 gmail.com)

Wolf approaches the little pigs three.
“If I time my huffs painstakingly,
and just concentrate,
I shall soon coventrate
your ticky-tack shacks!” declares he.
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

With blocks she has built a great city.
Her brother, though, shows it no pity.
The buildings so tall,
He coventrates all --
The scene that ensues isn’t pretty.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

Sleepless under the stars in a wood,
We fought off gnats as best we could.
They’d in swarms coventrate
our bodily substrate;
This nature-trip did more harm than good.
-Shyamal Mukherji, Mumbai, India (mukherjis hotmail.com)

“The Gospels I needed to Coventrate,”
Said Mike Pence, “to be Donald Trump’s running mate.
Non-violence? Compassion?
That stuff’s out of fashion;
The riot, though, gave me a stomachache.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Roman holiday isn’t a spree
Filled with innocent mischief and glee.
I thought it was groovy
Because of the movie.
It’s a bloodbath! How wrong could I be?
-Sara Hutchinson, New Castle, Delaware (sarahutch2003 yahoo.com)

He has in stock many screenplays
to make movies that’d truly amaze.
But since blood and gore
are what people adore,
All his films are Roman holidays.
-Shyamal Mukherji, Mumbai, India (mukherjis hotmail.com)

She complained that they never left home.
“Can’t we go to Capri, and beachcomb?”
He said, “Well, what do you say,
To a Roman holiday?”
But, he meant to the fights, and not Rome.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“This riot’s a real Roman holiday;
To watch it, I’d many a dollar pay,”
Said Donald. “No fun
Have I had like this -- none!
Not since Stormy and I last in squalor lay.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Real equestrians, surely we’re not.
Though we do horse around quite a lot.
We chat and we banter
At a leisurely canter.
When we argue, we shout at a trot.
-Rudy Landesman, New York, New York (ydur36 hotmail.com)

She’s never had time for real banter,
But Covid did seemingly grant her
Relief from the crush
Of work and of rush;
Her life has slowed down to a canter.
-Sondra Landin, New York, New York (sunnytravel att.net)

That man was well-known for his banter,
Though most wished his jokes were much scanter;
He was chided and scorned,
He bore all, but he mourned,
Then he escaped on his horse for a canter.
-Marcia Sinclair, Newmarket, Canada (marciasinclair rogers.com)

Mare catches the old bronco’s eye
each time she goes galloping by.
In hopes they might banter,
“Please slow to a canter!”
he pleads. But she doesn’t comply.
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

After long and seductive smooth banter,
The shrewd lover, and quite the enchanter,
Told the girl, “I’m no cad,
I’m a serious lad.”
Yet, next day he rode off at a canter.
-Judith Marks-White, Westport, Connecticut (joodthmw gmail.com)

She’d muck out the stalls in exchange
For chances to ride on the range.
She’d learn how to canter,
And that would enchant her,
But trot she would not, which was strange.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

Her horse was ahead in the race.
She yelled, “Keep the pace, Fancy Face!”
But, despite her loud banter,
The mare began to canter.
And so, it had come in last place.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“I can woo any belle with my banter,”
Thought Rhett, “so to Tara I’ll canter.”
But alas, the poor schnook
Scarlett’s chutzpah mistook,
For his gelt was the way to enchant her.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“Terry works like a Trojan on speed,
Says he’s not motivated by greed.
Fifteen days done in ten,
A brief respite and then,
Up and at it again. It’s his creed.”
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, Cornwall. UK (tony_holmes btconnect.com)

Aeneas, no hero of Troy.
No victory did he enjoy.
That Trojan, it’s said,
Prophylactically fled;
As the Greeks his home town did destroy.
-Rudy Landesman, New York, New York (ydur36 hotmail.com)

Says he, on receiving promotion
for bravery, strength, and devotion
to duty, “I feel
like a true man of steel --
a Samson, Goliath, or Trojan!”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

He worked like a Trojan all day
And earned every cent of his pay.
My handyman’s grand
And much in demand --
My neighbors have snatched him away!
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

Her mate was a great geologian,
His involvement in work was Trojan.
He had rocks in his head.
Now they’re no longer wed.
She ran off with a theologian.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

At rhyming I work like a Trojan,
Eschewing linguistic corrosion.
When a lim’rick I write,
On real words I alight,
For I vow to be no neologian.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

The game’s outcome at first seemed quite dire,
But the home team did win at the wire;
There’d been catcalls galore
From the stands, from the floor;
Now the crowd launched a loud Kentish fire!
-Sondra Landin, New York, New York (sunnytravel att.net)

The visitors break into cheers.
Her home team has lost. She’s in tears.
“I’ve little desire
for this wild Kentish fire!”
she declares, as she covers her ears.
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

I once heard a terrible choir,
So horrible as to inspire
Some hisses and boos,
Derisive reviews,
Delivered with loud Kentish fire.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

Don Quixote and Sancho, his squire,
On their quest one day came to the Shire.
“Like Dorothy, Toto,
And you,” they told Frodo,
“We all deserve more Kentish fire.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

We were once asked a question by Wordsmith:
“Do Lim’rickers limerick a good bit?”
The answer, we say,
Is generally “Nay,”
Unless there’s a reason that’s worth it.
-Brian & Daniela Leahy, Limerick, Ireland (leahy.brian gmail.com)


The witches charged an initiation fee called a Coventrate.
-Jim Ertner, Greensboro, North Carolina (jde31459 gmail.com)

Said Glinda to Dorothy, “Being evil isn’t a Coventrate of ours.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

To honor the first person to cross the Atlantic in a boat with oars, a Roman holiday was declared.
-Jim Ertner, Greensboro, North Carolina (jde31459 gmail.com)

Said Wyatt Earp to his dentist, “I’m feelin’ restless. Let’s go Roman holiday.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

As they rode along at an easy pace, the cowboy gave his horse a canter-lope.
-Jim Ertner, Greensboro, North Carolina (jde31459 gmail.com)

Canter-rible things happen if we don’t get our Covid shots?
-Lois Mowat, Orinda, California (lmowat1810 gmail.com)

“We’ll now sing some Jewish prayers at a canter,” said the track coach as they passed a synagogue.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

A building cleaner made a garnish from coriander leaves. He was known as the cilan-Trojan-itor.
-Jim Ertner, Greensboro, North Carolina (jde31459 gmail.com)

“Dis martini ain’t da good stuff. I Trojan like dis out,” said Paulie Walnuts.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Superman exited the phone booth disguised as a Kentish fire-man.
-Jim Ertner, Greensboro, North Carolina (jde31459 gmail.com)

Said Perry White after too many drinks, “Clark Kentish fire-d.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Asian Lives Matter
From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: Asian Lives Matter

Attacks against Asian Americans... verbal and physical, have markedly risen since Trump labeled Covid the “Kung Flu” and the “China virus”. Elderly Asian Americans have been attacked, injured, and killed. The recent slaughter of six Asian women in Atlanta put a punctuation mark on how hate is alive and well in America. Here, a bona fide White bigot accosts a young Asian woman with her daughter, cajoling her into revealing her country of origin.

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California

I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands. You need to be able to throw something back. -Maya Angelou, poet (4 Apr 1928-2014)

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