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May 30, 2021
This week’s theme
High-scoring words in Scrabble

This week’s words
chutzpah
quixotry
blowzy
quincunx
whizbang

How popular are they?
Relative usage over time

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AWADmail Issue 987

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

How “Friends” Helps People Around the World Learn English
The New York Times
Permalink

Linguists Predict Unknown Words Using Language Comparison
ScienceDaily
Permalink



From: Melissa Lujan (melissalujan28 gmail.com)
Subject: chutzpah

There’s the story of an old lady selling pretzels for 25 cents on a corner in New York. Every day a young man passes her at lunchtime and drops a quarter in the cup but doesn’t take a pretzel. She never says a word. He does this for three years, until one day he drops the quarter in her cup and she finally speaks. “They’re 35 cents now.” That’s chutzpah.

Melissa Lujan, Oak Park, California



From: Davide Migliaccio (dcmiglia gmail.com)
Subject: Chutzpah

Today’s word brought back a memory from law school. My contracts professor, the late Burton Brody, had a number of humorous and spot-on aphorisms. One example: “Insurance companies are in the business of selling coverage and denying liability.”

His definition of chutzpah: Beyond unmitigated gall. It’s the one I use. His class was a bright spot in the slog that was first year.

Davide C. Migliaccio, Colorado Springs, Colorado



From: Craig James (craig.james.author gmail.com)
Subject: Chutzpah

In 1972, I had the amazing experience of being on the four-man team that built the racing sailboat “Chutzpah”, which went on to win the 1973 Transpac race from Newport Beach to Hawaii. Chutzpah was so named because of its ULDB (ultra-light displacement boat) design by the now-famous designer Bill Lee. Its design was widely ridiculed until it crossed the finish line off Honolulu. We built her using radical balsa-and-fiberglass technology, and Chutzpah went in the water at 7,000 pounds at a time when its production competitor, the Cal 40, was weighing in at 20,000 pounds. Chutzpah indeed!

Craig A. James, Santa Cruz, California



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

People were amused by the peculiar behaviour of the imaginary knight, wearing a barber’s basin for a helmet and riding a nag called Rocinante whom he considered the noblest horse of them all. But in fact his wisdom was not so ridiculous, despite his tilting into windmills, thinking they were giant enemies.

Perhaps this quotation will attest to his wisdom:

Too much sanity may be madness, and the maddest of all, to see life as it is and not as it should be.

And the book is replete with others.

Andrew Pressburger, Toronto, Canada



From: Bob Scott (bobscott07 btinternet.com)
Subject: Quixotry

I remember as a child being introduced to a character called Don Quixote pronounced KWIK-sot. Later in life, I was told this was wrong and that educated people pronounced it as if it were an equine breakfast cereal, Donkey Oaty.

For me this immediately raised a further matter. If it was considered good practice to name the book using some subspecies of cod-Spanish, why were the pronunciations of English derivative words anglicised? Incorporation of foreign words into English has often been problematic in that some do not accept them as normal English words conforming to standard English pronunciation and grammar and insist they retain a degree of conformity with their usage in the source language. For example, there are some who prefer octopodes to octopuses as the plural of octopus. or atlantes to atlases as the plural of atlas. And who decided that quinoa would retain its Andean pronunciation when it became an English breakfast cereal?

But wait. I have also seen it suggested that Spanish pronunciation has moved on since 1605 when the book was published. Our hero was originally pronounced KISH-oh-tee and apparently still is in Portugal.

Bob Scott, Huntingdon, UK



From: Bob Richmond (rsrichmond gmail.com)
Subject: blowzy

I love blowzy wenches. I have the good fortune to be happily married to one.

Bob Richmond, Maryville, Tennessee



From: Janine Harris-Wheatley (janinehw20 gmail.com)
Subject: blowsy

For me the word blowsy belongs more in my garden, the multi-petalled flowers of my peonies, a rose at its fullest bloom. Calling a woman today a blowsy wench is like calling a man a Beau Brummell, words more often found in a Regency romance.

Janine Harris-Wheatley, Tottenham, Canada



From: Bob Stein (stein visibone.com)
Subject: Lady Montagu

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
But the fruit that can fall without shaking, / Indeed is too mellow for me. -Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, author (26 May 1689-1762)

Love to know what the good Lady Montagu was putting up with when she wrote THAT. Wife of the British ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, she’s sure to have seen some shtuff. Wikipedia gives a hint of a full life of disappointments:

As a child, she had a “desire of catching the setting sun” and she would run across the meadow to “catch hold of the great golden ball of fire sinking on the horizon”. However, she then realized that this activity “was impossible”. Overall, the pursuit of achieving the impossible became a recurring pattern throughout her life.

Bob Stein, Brushton, New York



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

From: Johanna Franklin (johanna.franklin gmail.com)
Subject: Quincunx

Quincunx is also the name of a machine used to illustrate the Central Limit Theorem in probability. This machine is also called a Galton Board, but I prefer not to use that name because the Galton in question was a eugenicist (in fact, he coined the word).

Johanna Franklin, Westbury, New York



From: Curtis Reeves (creeves alumni.usc.edu)
Subject: quincunx

Quincunx is also used in farming. Many orchards are planted using this style. It takes a number of years before the trees in these orchards are fully mature and produce maximum yields. During this interim period the fifth tree in an otherwise square planting provides additional product to the grower. This fifth tree is removed once the orchard has reached maturity.

What is more beautiful than a quincunx, that, from whatever direction you regard it, presents straight lines? Shall not beauty be regarded in the planting of fruit trees? Undoubtedly. -Quintilian, CA 95 CE

Curtis Reeves, Fresno, California



From: Jennifer Perrine (jperrine gmail.com)
Subject: Quincunx

For years, I’ve been leading crews of volunteers with Friends of Trees. We teach people how to plant trees and shrubs, many of which grow best in clusters. We often advise people to plant the trees in groups of five and describe it as “like the five points on the side of a die” or “in an X shape”. Now I can ask planters to arrange them in a quincunx -- many will learn a new word alongside their new tree-planting skills!

Jennifer Perrine, Portland, Oregon



From: Neil Mermelstein (neilsheri comcast.net)
Subject: Quincunx

I was surprised that you hadn’t mentioned Charles Palliser’s excellent 1989 book, The Quincunx. Here’s one of many reviews.

Neil Mermelstein, Skokie, Illinois



From: Donald Scott (donscott943 gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--whizbang

Which brings to mind Captain Billy’s Whiz Bang, a bawdy, rowdy magazine originally published just after WW I with the returning soldiers as the market model. Captain Billy Fawcett went on to found a massive publishing empire, creating such icons as Captain Marvel. According to Wikipedia, Captain Billy’s Whiz Bang was iconic enough to merit a mention in one song from The Music Man.

The magazine is the sort of publication you’d expect to find in Lake Wobegon, hidden in attics. Appropriately, MNOPEDIA, a site for Minnesota history, has an extensive article on Captain Billy’s Whiz Bang. Issues are also on Gutenberg.

Don Scott, Carson City, Nevada



From: John Schoonover (schoonoj gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--whizbang

I remember finding a copy of Captain Billy’s Whiz Bang in my father’s nightstand when I was probably 10 years old (about 20 years after the magazine folded). I was astonished to find such an example of forbidden literature and read it from cover to cover to make sure that I knew what to be careful to avoid in the future for the good of my soul.

John Schoonover, Sayre, Pennsylvania



From: J. Michael Starling (jmstarl mac.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--whizbang

I served in the US Navy in the early 1990s. The pumps we used to empty bilges were called whizbangs, from the noise they made I suppose. They are diaphragm pumps.

J. Michael Starling, Seattle, Washington



From: Robert Leeds (bobleeds gmail.com)
Subject: Whizbang

This word reminded me of the song Hush, Here Comes a Whizbang (video, 2 min.) from the little-remembered anti-war film of 1969, Oh What a Lovely War. It was Richard Attenborough’s directorial debut and featured an all-star cast.

Robert Leeds, Brooklyn, New York



From: John Burbidge (johneburbidge gmail.com)
Subject: Whizbang

Some years ago, my husband and I had our first experience driving a campervan in Tasmania. One evening as we were checking into a caravan (RV) park, the receptionist asked us what kind of vehicle we had. We hadn’t bothered mastering the finer details of the vehicle when we picked it up, so weren’t quite sure how to answer. We described it as best we could, alluding to the sliding door it had on one side. “Oh, you mean a whizbang,” she said. “It goes whiz when you pull it open and bang when you slide it back”. Spot on, I thought! Thereafter, we always referred to it as our “whizbang”.

John Burbidge, Anacortes, Washington



Scrabble at the Jewish Senior Center
From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: chutzpah & blowzy

As an inveterate Scrabble player, I relished this week’s theme. Here, I’ve dropped in on two oldsters immersed in a game of Scrabble. In both of their comments there’s an embedded inference. Saul has played his seven tiles to spell the word “chutzpah”, while bragging that it took some modicum of chutzpah to make that huge point-gaining move. Moshe’s “I’ve got zilch!”, on its face, sounds like he has bupkis, points-wise, yet still giving a sly tell that he’s about to put down the word zilch.

Blowzy Buffoon
Not only was Trump a lousy president, he was unquestionably a blowzy one, as well. His perpetually florid complexion was one of the most prominent features that many political cartoonists accentuated, including yours truly. Here, Trump is performing part of his morning preening ritual, the application of tanning spray to give him that boiled lobster-like visage. Mirror, mirror, on the wall. Who’s the blowzies of them all?

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California



Pangraph

For sheer chutzpah, it would be impossible to beat the way the blowzy-haired fool with an IQ with fewer points than a quincunx and a flair for quixotry (in the impractical sense) claimed he was a whizbang entrepreneur when he was really a serial bankrupt.
-Ray Wiss, Vancouver, Canada (portray vianet.ca)



Anagrams

 
This week’s theme: High-scoring words in Scrabble
1. chutzpah
2. quixotry
3. blowzy
4. quincunx
5. whizbang
= 1. so brazen, shrewd, he thwarts
2. quixotic babbling schmuck
3. unsightly poxy whore
4. cinque
5. whizzing
     This week’s theme: High-scoring words in Scrabble
1. chutzpah
2. quixotry
3. blowzy
4. quincunx
5. whizbang
= 1. brusqueness, pluck
2. whim, thoughts brewing
3. chintzy
4. Yahtzee blow (“cinq”, no high “boxcar” six)
5. wizard
-Julian Lofts, Auckland, New Zealand (jalofts xtra.co.nz) -Dharam Khalsa, Burlington, North Carolina (dharamkk2 gmail.com)

Make your own anagrams and animations.



Limericks

“Though I’d like to castrate him, I find
I admire his chutzpah -- but mind!
Where my daughter’s concerned,
I won’t have my rules spurned.
See the ground ‘round her quarters is mined.”
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes btconnect.com)

Her parents appraise the new beau.
Ma sighs, “The guy’s rolling in dough!”
“I don’t like his looks,” Pa
declares, “but his chutzpah
is majorly great. Way to go!”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

What chutzpah Trump had to suggest
The people he’d pick were the best!
The ones whom he hired
Were hardly admired,
And many to crimes then confessed.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

Said the athlete one day to the dean,
“Y’all’s talk of mah grades is so mean.
To suggest Ah read books, suh,
Sho’ takes lotsa chutzpah;
With D’s, Ah still schtup the prom queen.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


“An example of quixotry? Well,
The pursuit of a pert mademoiselle
When you’re eighty, half blind,
Prone to lapses of mind,
And you wheeze like a lung-shot gazelle.”
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes btconnect.com)

“Allow me to open that door,”
The chivalrous guy would implore.
But women now say,
“Get out of my way!
Your quixotry’s needed no more!”
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

I commuted each day on the 6:03;
An act, it turns out, of pure quixotry.
With email and Zoom,
I now work in my room;
“No pants ever again,” I think wistfully.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


“So, your barmaid, she’s hot?” “No. She’s blowzy.”
“But the waitress?” “No better. She’s frowzy.
That’s not even the worst --
It’s as if we’ve been cursed --
Cuz the food, beer, and service are lousy.”
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes btconnect.com)

His last day to be free ere his nups,
With his friends he was down in his cups.
With creased clothes and hair blowzy,
he woke feeling lousy;
To sober up, craved pick-me-ups.
-Shyamal Mukherji, Mumbai, India (mukherjis hotmail.com)

I go to a bar (I’m not proud),
That’s sleazy and grimy and loud.
I dress to look blowsy
Which always allows me
To mingle with all in that crowd.
-Rudy Landesman, New York, New York (ydur36 hotmail.com)

I step off the plane looking blowzy,
Completely disheveled and drowsy.
Though glad I’ve arrived,
I’m quite sleep-deprived --
These overnight flights are just lousy!
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

The inventor was breathless and blowzy;
To the meeting he’d rushed to espouse ‘e’.
“Put a dozen in Scrabble,
Or minds it will addle,”
he said, “and the game’ll be lousy.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


She rolled the two die, needing seven
to win with four, to make eleven.
But she lost to two punks
who rolled two quincunx.
With two tens, they both were in heaven!
-Mariana Warner, Asheville, North Carolina (marianaw6002 gmail.com)

“Come on, we’ve got no time to lose!
Bring snacks (and some booze, if you choose)!”
advised the five quidnuncs.
“We’ll sit in a quincunx,
the better to share all our news!”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

Arranged in a quincunx were trees,
And very appealing were these.
So in that nice copse,
We often made stops
To rest and enjoy a slight breeze.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

The Old Lady Who Lived in a Shoe,
Had ten little tykes to tend to.
She put them in twin bunks,
Arranged in a quincunx,
And thought that was clever, don’t you?
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“I’m rusty again, and my tin clunks;
Please squirt here, here, and there, like a quincunx,”
Said Dorothy’s friend.
“And the lion’s rear end
Is disgusting; let’s get him some swim trunks.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


Liz, Nancy, and Lillian vie
to see who can bake the best pie.
Since Liz’s meringue
is truly whizbang,
she wins the blue ribbon thereby.
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

There were quite a few men in the street gang,
Led by one whom they called Frankie “Big Fang”.
Such a tough guy was he,
Who was mean as could be,
But considered by all a real whizbang.
-Judith Marks-White, Westport, Connecticut (joodthmw gmail.com)

Inventor and artist was he --
A whizbang, I think you’ll agree.
The things that we find
DaVinci designed
Are simply amazing to me.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

When political races begin --
Don’t let yourself be taken in:
The one who’s a whizbang
May totally boomerang
And end up with schmutz on their chin!
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

She dated a man name of Jim.
He was handsome and rich, and quite trim.
And all of his gang
Thought “He’s a whizbang.”
Too bad, her mom’s not fond of him.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“Twice divorced, yet I still ache to nail her,”
Said Burton one day about Taylor.
“In bed what a whizbang!
Each time that I Liz bang,
I’m breathless and need an inhaler.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)



Puns

Said Ma Owl to her husband, “I just love how our baby chutzpah.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

The lumberjack hurriedly exclaimed, “Quixotry must be cut down!”
-Jim Ertner, Greensboro, North Carolina (jde31459 gmail.com)

Said Dumbledore, “With Nestle’s Quixotry, you’ll learn to produce hot chocolate from thin air.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

As the meteorologist complained, “We’ve certainly had a lot of blowzy weather.”
-Jim Ertner, Greensboro, North Carolina (jde31459 gmail.com)

Said the pawnshop owner to the thief, “You manage to na-blowsy jewels every time.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“I love the scene where Anthony Quincunx one of the murderous villagers on the head,” said the fan of Zorba the Greek.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Exclaimed Robin to the Caped Crusader, “Golly, gee, whizbang, Batman!”
-Jim Ertner, Greensboro, North Carolina (jde31459 gmail.com)

The lion confided to the scarecrow, “As he gave me the courage to come out of the closet, I’d sure like to that whizbang.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)



A House Divided
From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: A House Divided & Fairweather Sycophant

Far-right GOP loose-cannon Marjorie Taylor Greene appears on a mission to constantly harass fellow House member Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, one of the strongest progressive, young voices in Congress. Here, I’ve revisited Greene’s recent rant directed at her favorite target, AOC, her invective spewed through Ocasio-Cortez’s office mail slot, no less. Can we say total whack-job boys and girls?

Fairweather Sycophant
As the dust settled on the Jan 6 Capitol insurrection, GOP Senator Lindsey Graham openly condemned the violence and mayhem, whilst denouncing Trump for inciting the attack. He even stated words to the effect that he was “finished with Trump”. Less than a week later we find Graham on the links of Mar-a-Lago with Trump. Graham is now one of Trump’s most devout loyalists, arguing that “there’s no Republican Party without Trump.” And moreover, he’s still giving Trump those testy 5-foot putts.

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California



A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
Night fell again. There was war to the south, but our sector was quiet. The battle was over. Our casualties were some thirteen thousand killed -- thirteen thousand minds, memories, loves, sensations, worlds, universes -- because the human mind is more a universe than the universe itself -- and all for a few hundred yards of useless mud. -John Fowles, novelist (1926-2005)

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