Wordsmith.org: the magic of words


About | Media | Search | Contact  


Today's Word

Yesterday's Word



Jun 6, 2021
This week’s theme

This week’s words
Fort Knox
golden parachute

How popular are they?
Relative usage over time

AWADmail archives

Next week’s theme
Nursery rhymes

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 988

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

Sponsor’s Message: YgUhDuh be sick and tired of social distancing, so we’d recommend trying some intellectual distancing instead: THE OFFICIAL OLD SCHOOL EDUCATION is “The Holy Trinity of wit, knowledge, fun and games” -- three ALL-NEW 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, tons of truth, and trivia: What is the Monty Hall Paradox? What was the first state admitted to the United States? We’re offering an original call to intellectual adventure, a wild, edifying ride for less than a twenny. Buy Two, Get Three Special -- hot off the press!

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

Google Will Nudge Users to Adopt Gender-Neutral Language
The Economist

Where Gender-Neutral Pronouns Come From
The Atlantic

From: Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)
Subject: Joke contest (Re: Fort Knox)

In this week’s contest we invited readers to write a joke involving a word featured this week. Writing a joke is no joke. A typical contest results in hundreds or thousands of entries -- this one brought just a few dozen.

The winners are, in no particular order.

A greedy man is granted a wish by the genie. “Genie, make me like Midas!”
A day later: “Oh Genie! Why does everything I touch turn into a muffler?”
-Mary Perez, Tulsa, Oklahoma (mperez cityoftulsa.org)

This orange man tweeted while golfing at Mar-a-Lago: “God, can you turn everything around me into gold?” God decided to play a joke on him and turned his surroundings into a yellowish color.
“You ain’t gonna fool me, pal! This is not gold, it’s pyrite,” the orange man said.
“And what’s wrong with pyrite?”
“There’s nothing wrong with American pyrite but this is pyrite of the Caribbean!”
-Pascal Pagnoux, Saint Gaudens, France (pascal.pagnoux gmail.com)

Winners will receive their choice of any of my books or the game Wise Up!. Read on for honorable mentions.


Knock, knock
Who’s there?
Gold who?
Goldy locks at Fort Knox.
-Will Bontrager, Lowell, Indiana (will willmaster.com)

That there is any gold deposit kept in Fort Knox is, in my opinion, a lot of bullion.
-Andrew Pressburger, Toronto, Canada (andpress sympatico.ca)

Said James Bond to Pussy Galore, “You’re not exactly guarding your virtue like Fort Knox.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Anyone who wants into the Fort Knox at the gate.
-Jon Davis, Urbana, Illinois (davisj666 att.net)

I Fort Knox and Knox won.
-Charles Schwager, Wayland, Massachusetts (chuckschwager mac.com)

Jeff Bezos once bought Fort Knox. Thought, “What to do with these, just worthless gold bars.” Then he had the idea: “I’ll send ‘em to Mars and sell them online as Space Rocks!”
-Catherine King, Brooklyn, Michigan (cathymunk gmail.com)

What do you get when you cross Uri Geller with a spoonerism? Fork Knots.
-David Shaffer, Jerusalem, Israel (dshaffer613 gmail.com)


Stoogacles was walking along the street in ancient Athens when he ran across his old friend Preposthenes walking a little bent over, moaning as he walked. “What happened to you?” he demanded.
“The woman I went out with last night turned out to be Aphrodite in disguise,” groaned Preposthenes.
“The goddess of Love?” demanded Stoogacles. “How did that go?”
“Amazing,” whined Preposthenes, “She rates the men she has sex with and at dawn, in the back of my chariot, she pronounced my male member a winner of the gold.”
“What an endorsement!” said Stoogakles. “You should be proud!”
“Kind of,” moaned Preposthenes. “But you haven’t seen where she stamped her hallmark.”
-Dan Crawford, Chicago, Illinois (crawfordd3741 sbcglobal.net)

Robin: Holy Pilfered Palate, Batman. Someone has slid a sled of gold out of Fort Knox and left a tiny trail!
Batman: Yes, Robin, I can see the haul marks.
-David Belcher, Tucker, Georgia (davidbelc gmail.com)

Josette studied in the International Guild of Goldsmiths’ School of Design. One day during class she went to the loo. The monitor caught her and gave her three hall marks.
-Lola Fields, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (thisoldwoman gmail.com)

There’s one particular greeting card company whose hallmark is bad poetry.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


A man is granted three wishes by a Genie, but is unsure what to ask for, so he consults his wife.
Man: Should I ask to never grow old?
Wife: Definitely, a fountain of youth.
Man: Should I ask for unending happiness?
Wife: Definitely, a Pleasure Island
Man: Should I ask for a hole in the ground from which gold flows?
Wife replies: Midas Well.
-Ken Kirste, Sunnyvale, California (kkkirste sbcglobal.net)

What would happen if Midas and Medusa went on a blind date?
They would both go home stone gold sober.
-Pam Hardy Carnesi, Torrance, California (Dmonguz aol.com)


A real-life joke: My friend’s company was just bought out by a much larger competitor. He was a VP of operations, so he had some stature with the company. I asked him if he received his golden parachute. He said, “No, but it had some color!”
-John Noll, San Ramon, California (john coastal-mktg.com)

The Pope, a hippy, and Trump are on a plane when the pilot says, “Sorry y’all, both engines are down. We’ll have to jump”.
They look for the parachutes and find there’s only three. The Pope says, “I’ll have to use one because 1.3 billion Catholics rely on me.” He picks up a parachute and jumps.
Trump says: “I gotta use one cuz I’m the brightest guy in the world and it will crumble big time without me.” He picks up a parachute that looked closest to being in a gold color and jumps.
The pilot then says to the hippy: “Go on boy! You’ve got a whole life in front of you. Besides, the captain is always the last one to leave the ship.”
The hippy hands him a chute saying: “The brightest guy in the world just jumped with my rucksack on.”
-Pascal Pagnoux, Saint Gaudens, France (pascal.pagnoux gmail.com)


Don’t insult him with a pyrite joke, what he enjoys even more is a golden shower.
-Daren Krause, Cocoa Beach, Florida (dnaxke yahoo.com)

From: Richard C. Low (rlow herrlow.com)
Subject: God’s Prayers

You wrote: God does not play favorites. He makes the team that has the most prayers win (fair, don’t you think?). How did you think the Steelers won that time?”

Really? Now you’ve done it. You want to make jokes about God, OK. The Steelers? Uh uh!

Richard C. Low, Lancaster, Pennsylvania

From: Glenn Glazer (glenn.glazer gmail.com)
Subject: Fort Knox

Not exactly a joke, but in computer security there is a frequent maxim: do not use Fort Knox to protect a broken bicycle. That is, use as much security as the application warrants.

Glenn Glazer, Felton, California

From: Susan Mowen (susan.hanks.mowen gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--Fort Knox

I don’t appreciate your speaking disrespectfully of the LORD of the universe. Would you be pleased if I spoke disrespectfully of your god(s)?

Susan Mowen, Minneapolis, Minnesota

There are tens of thousands of religions and millions of gods (and goddesses). Why assume that the joke was about your god? And why assume that he is so thin-skinned to be offended by an innocuous joke, yet overlooks everything that goes on in this world in his name? If you really need something to be offended by, consider writing to people who lie, kill, murder, hurt, cheat, violate, and more, all in your god, the LORD of the universe’s name.
-Anu Garg

From: Steve Benko (stevebenko1 gmail.com)
Subject: Today’s quotation

The animal shall not be measured by man. In a world older and more complete than ours, they move finished and complete, gifted with extension of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren; they are not underlings; they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendor and travail of the earth. -Henry Beston, naturalist and author (1 Jun 1888-1968)

We view ourselves as the pinnacle of creation only due to the conceit of valuing our cognitive abilities above other qualities. Other creatures can fly, or have longer life spans, or superior vision or sense of smell, or thousands of offspring, or, not even being fish, can swim farther and faster; or they don’t kill each other, or harm the environment. Surely they would think themselves the ones made in God’s image if they were capable of our grand ability with superstition?

Steve Benko, New York, New York

From: Rosemary Abrami (abrami cox.net)
Subject: midas

There’s also the sadim touch. It’s midas spelled backwards and, when you have it, anything you touch turns to d*g sh*t.

Rosemary Abrami, Sun City West, Arizona

[Also see this. -Ed.]

From: Patrick Neville (pjneville37 gmail.com)
Subject: jokes

As a comedian, you make a heck of an etymologist!

Patrick Neville, London, Canada

From: Janet Ellen Levy (janet levyross.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--pyrite

As you’ve witnessed since Jan 20, we’re living with pyrite NOW while we HAD pure gold. Also, I believe you’ve misplaced G-d’s presidential allegiance.

Yes, we really miss President Trump right now! And, he was G-d’s true answer to our prayers. Those who voted for the present corrupt, G-dless regime will rue the day they mislabeled pure gold as pyrite.

Janet Levy, Los Angeles, California

"When you care enough to send the very Best!"
From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: hallmark and pyrite

Circa 1928, the Hallmark brand of greeting cards was born; their crown motif mimicking the hallmark symbol of quality used by London goldsmiths, going back to the 14th century. In this scenario, Froggy’s dream to be featured on a Hallmark card has come true... he, in the guise of King Midas. My caption happens to be the long-standing motto of Hallmark. On a personal note, several of my former fellow animation studio workmates who hailed from the Midwest kicked off their cartooning careers at Hallmark Studios in Kansas City, Missouri.

The Yolk's on Trump
Trump refused to release his federal income tax records, unlike most presidents before him. Like a broken record, he repeatedly claimed that he was under IRS audit, and as soon as it was wrapped he’d reveal his tax status. Believe it or not? Citizen Trump continues to use this extended audit ruse. UPDATE: Trump was recently forced by the Fed District Court of Manhattan to turn over his latest income tax statements. He’s still claiming he’s being audited.

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California


The man who claimed to have the Midas touch promised his followers Fort Knox, but he had the hallmark of a man just interested in a golden parachute, which he used right after he finished turning everything he touched to pyrite.
-Ray Wiss, Vancouver, Canada (portray vianet.ca)


This week’s theme: Words related to gold
1. Fort Knox
2. hallmark
3. midas
4. golden parachute
5. pyrite
= 1. extreme wealth
2. gilt stamp
3. rich one-strike dad (deep moral)
4. husky reward to thank
5. fool’s gold
     This week’s theme:
1. Fort Knox
2. hallmark
3. midas
4. golden parachute
5. pyrite
= 1. depository
2. trait
3. luck, expert ken of wealth
4. handshake
5. sham glimmer
-Dharam Khalsa, Burlington, North Carolina (dharamkk2 gmail.com) -Julian Lofts, Auckland, New Zealand (jalofts xtra.co.nz)

Make your own anagrams and animations.


Since premarital sex was a sin,
And she vowed to let no man come in,
With her chastity belt,
Like Fort Knox she had felt.
Till a sweet locksmith did her heart win.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“I am head over heels! She’s a fox,
But where virtue’s concerned, she’s Fort Knox.
I’ve tried ev’ry approach --
Even hired a coach --
But no matter the tactic, she blocks.”
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes btconnect.com)

Says the hermit, “It’s unorthodox,
my house, but secure as Fort Knox.
Its location’s remote.
All around, there’s a moat
filled with gluttonous gators and crocs.”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

My passwords I guard like Fort Knox;
They’re stashed in a multi-locked box.
But I do have to say
I’m filled with dismay
Since losing the keys to the locks.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

My kids goofed! In their pjs and socks
That house that they built with their blocks
Wound up with no door!
So it sat on the floor
With no entry! Gosh, shades of Fort Knox!
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

My father collected old clocks;
He had more than the gold in Fort Knox.
He loved being on time
Which Mom thought was a crime,
And it drove him to Scotch on the rocks.
-Janice Power, Cleveland, Ohio (powerjanice782 gmail.com)

“We moved and now have lots of boxes;
It’s like owning a hundred Fort Knoxes,” Purred my jubilant kitty.
“Hey! Have you no pity?
You’re throwing them out? That’s obnoxious!”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

He’s a typical mob oligarch
And most closely resembles the shark.
He’s cold-blooded, glass-eyed,
And will not be denied.
Utter ruthlessness. That’s his hallmark.
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes btconnect.com)

We know Cain cause he killed brother Abel,
Or so goes the old Biblical fable.
Then the L-rd said, “All hark!
I’ll give Cain a hallmark.”
Which did serve as a clear warning label.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

As he wakes and steps out of his bier,
says the vampire, “Come closer, my dear!
It’s obvious tall, dark,
and handsome’s my hallmark.
So what could you possibly fear?”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

A hallmark of Donald Trump’s style
Was issuing tweets full of bile.
The words he’d misspell,
As lies he would tell,
The fact these are gone makes me smile.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

Christianity now was his hallmark,
But where in Damascus would Paul park?
All the stables were jammed,
And he groaned, “I’ll be damned
If these people don’t soon to my call hark.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Each time we attend a soirée,
we hope that some evening there may
be a handsome young midas
who’ll sit down beside us.
(Rich geezers are also okay.)
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

An old codger, who had bad arthritis,
Made long trips to Chase Bank, which surprised us.
Though he hardly could walk,
He did not groan or squawk,
‘Cause the man was far richer than Midas.
-Judith Marks-White, Westport, Connecticut (joodthmw gmail.com)

Whatever he touched turned to gold!
At lunchtime this trick soon turned old.
The myth of King Midas
A lesson supplied us:
Watch out what you wish for, we’re told.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

Said the ant to his pal, “Don’t deride us.”
But, the grasshopper only replied thus,
“I’ll fiddle all day,
I won’t work, but play.”
Now he’s broke, and the ant’s rich as Midas.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“As Manhattan DA,” declared Cyrus,
“I’ll find how he came to be Midas.
Weisselberg we will flip;
That great hole in his ship
Will soon make Donald cry, ‘Woe betide us.’”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

A golden parachute he would need
If ever accused of excess greed.
To evade the claim
And retain his fame,
He would just have to lie, beg, and plead.
-Lois Mowat, Orinda, California (lmowat1810 [3]gmail.com)

“If this company gives me the boot,”
he declares, “I do not give a hoot!
Why should I care?
I’ll have money to spare
when I’m holding my gold parachute!”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

How lucky is that CEO!
A fortune he’ll get just to go.
A parachute golden
His future is holdin’ --
To some much is given we know.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

Company business he did subvert,
Was exposed (management was alert),
he was given the boot.
But a golden parachute
ensured falling he didn’t get hurt.
-Shyamal Mukherji, Mumbai, India (mukherjis hotmail.com)

“After centuries under the Pharaoh’s boot,
We’ve now got a cool golden parachute,”
Said Moses. “Quick, pack!
And on manna we’ll snack;
We’ll head east, it’s not on the Sahara route.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“What’s the difference, my boy? Receive insight.
This is gold -- feel the weight. Yours is pyrite.
In this world there is much
That is false, and as such,
We must be on our guard, so we buy right.”
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes btconnect.com)

My friend, it turns out, is a prig.
His judgement is not worth a fig.
I choose to wear pyrite.
That surely is MY right.
It goes with my synthetic wig.
-Rudy Landesman, New York, New York (ydur36 hotmail.com)

When her suitor proposed, it was twilight.
That’s why, in her limited eyesight,
the ring looked as though
it was worth lots of dough.
She should have said no, for ‘twas pyrite.
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

The glittery rock you behold
Is pyrite, my friend, and not gold.
I’d call you a fool,
But that would be cruel --
This error is common, I’m told.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

Said the prospector, “Hmm, it seems my right
When my partner’s asleep I’ll be sly, right?
And dig up that gold
Tho if pure truth be told ...
Whatcha bet it turns out to be pyrite!”
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

When we look at their movies in hindsight,
I suppose they were comedy pyrite.
Curly, Larry, and Moe
Weren’t highbrow -- I know.
But I still get a laugh from a pie fight.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


Said Jacky Marleyoni to Ebenizzi Soprano, “Ya gonna be visited by four ghosts. When de fort’ knox, ya gonna be fitted fer a cement ovuhcoat.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“I’ve taken care of the kitchen, den, and bedrooms, but still must the hallmark,” said the new puppy.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Said the TV game show producer to the new host, “Monty hallmark my words, you are going to be great!”
-Jim Ertner, Greensboro, North Carolina (jde31459 gmail.com)

“The money’s rolling in, so I midas well keep telling the Big Lie,” said Trump.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

After failing to accumulate wealth, the novice investor exclaimed, “I midas well give up!”
-Jim Ertner, Greensboro, North Carolina (jde31459 gmail.com)

Said Yoda on the golf course, “My play today is golden, parachute on almost every hole.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

The house builder designed a special dual passage for laundry to pass through and called it a golden parachutes.
-Jim Ertner, Greensboro, North Carolina (jde31459 gmail.com)

Your chocolate cake is genuinely delicious, but you didn’t make the pyrite.
-Ray Pasinski, Downers Grove, Illinois (rayomic yahoo.com)

“In the next scene, what we do is throw pyrite?” asked Elmer and Bugs.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

A pyrite is when people go to a temple and offer a pie to a deity. Sometimes they offer a low-calorie pie to a diety.
-Dr Richard Stallman, Boston, Massachusetts (rms gnu.org)

Teacher: What is the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter?
Student: 3.14156.
Teacher: You got pyrite.
-Thomas Brennan, Garrison, New York (stactom17 gmail.com)

Just because he had to wear a patch on his injured eye didn’t give his friends the right to call him a pyrite.
-Chuck Schwager, Sudbury, Massachusetts (chuckschwager mac.com)

Profiles in Cowardice
From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: Profiles in Cowardice and Texas Open Carry

GOP House minority leader Kevin McCarthy and Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell almost single handedly put the kibosh on a proposed bipartisan commission to investigate the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection. They are both complicit in undermining our democracy, trivializing the mayhem provoked and encouraged by Trump. Here, I’m playing off the title of John F. Kennedy’s inspiring book, Profiles in Courage.

Open Scary!
Rather than pass sensible firearms reform, Republican Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas is about to sign a new “open carry” bill, allowing Texans, 21 and over, to purchase a handgun with no background check or permit. Here, a “tough” Texas cowpoke orders a “froufrou” brew, pointing out his selection with the barrel of his open carry Colt-45. The barista’s “dirty cup” quip is reminiscent of the neighborhood bar scene where a hard-liquor swigging dude, out on the town with his buddies, uncharacteristically orders a glass of milk, but to maintain his macho image adds the caveat... “in a dirty glass”.

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California

The illusion which exalts us is dearer to us than ten thousand truths. -Aleksandr Pushkin, poet, novelist, and playwright (6 Jun 1799-1837)

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

© 1994-2023 Wordsmith