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Jul 4, 2021
This week’s theme
Words with many meanings

This week’s words

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Relative usage over time

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Words used metaphorically

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AWADmail Issue 992

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

Jewish Activists Work as Translators to Fight “Language Violence”
Jerusalem Post

My English Will Never Be “Perfect” -- and That’s What Keeps a Language Alive
The Guardian

Africa Writes Back

Email of the Week -- Brought to you by Just Do Wit. -- “An Old’s Cool Guide to a Wicked/Smart Life.”

From: Dan Brook (brook brook.com)
Subject: Long words

You wrote: “The shorter the word, the more meanings it has. ... As they say, it’s not how long it is, but what you can do with it.”

I have lexic envy!

Dan Brook, San Francisco, California

From: Matthew Sinclair (matthew.sinclair airporttechnics.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--dobber

You said: The 45-letter long pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis on the other hand, has one meaning and will forever have that one meaning. Don’t expect it to evolve into having multiple senses in unrelated fields. Little potential for metaphors. Don’t even think about turning it into a verb.

Surely the molecule that causes pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis, pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosises.

Matthew Sinclair, Botany, Australia

From: Fritz Grothkopp (quazimoto52 gmail.com)
Subject: dobber

I have heard this term used a lot when I would accompany my mother-in-law to bingo night at the local church. They used this term to describe the marker they used to mark their paper bingo sheets.

Fritz Grothkopp, Seattle, Washington

From: Julia Drake-Brockman (jules superfuture.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--dobber

Australian school children often call those who tell on other kids for doing something naughty “dibber-dobbers”.

Julia Drake-Brockman, Sydney, Australia

From: Charlie Inman (charlie.inman gmail.com)
Subject: Dobber

In and around Glasgow, dobber is another word for penis and is probably the most common insult you’ll hear from pubs to the primary school playgrounds, as in “Shut it ya dobber!”

Charlie Inman, London, UK

From: William R. Yungclas (wryungclas aol.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--dobber

I don’t know if anyone else will mention this, but in my neck of the woods, dobber was also a slang term for penis, as in “Don’t let your dobber down” i.e. not being able to have an erection. Maybe that was only among us Iowa farm folk.

William R. Yungclas, Ames, Iowa

From: Mike Wagner (mike wildcardvideo.com)
Subject: dobber

My wife’s family routinely calls left-handers dobbers.

Mike Wagner, Miami, Florida

From: G.B. Ketcherside (jeketchaz gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--dobber

We called fishing floats “bobbers” -- for obvious reasons. Another dobber is mud-dobbers, wasps which make their lodges from mud.

Jerry Ketcherside, Phoenix, Arizona

From: Samuel Silver (msilver med.umich.edu)
Subject: Bruit

The pronunciation of bruit in the medical sense is BROO-ee. We use this term often.

Samuel M. Silver, MD, PhD, MACP, FASCO, FRCP, Assistant Dean for Research, Professor, Internal Medicine/Hematology-Oncology, University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, Michigan

From: Dave Campbell (museumofdave gmail.com)
Subject: Cameos

Imagine a major single Hollywood film in which there are appearances by 44 major stars -- in cameos, of course, including Frank Sinatra, Marlene Dietrich, John Gielgud, Ronald Colman, Peter Lorre, Buster Keaton, Charles Boyer, George Raft -- all surprising the audience in parts crafted to fit in Phileas Fogg’s itinerary in Around The World In 80 Days (1956). It’s a Best Picture Oscar winner which doesn’t wear well because it was designed for a special screen with lavish stereo sound, but at the time it was such a special treat to see the likes of Red Skeleton or Noel Coward etch a one- or two-minute portrait.

Dave Campbell, Red Bluff, California

From: Gary Heald (gheald btinternet.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--cameo

You wrote: Why hasn’t anyone performed a cameo role while wearing cameo jewelry? That would be the most logical thing to do.

I like your suggestion of a cameo actor wearing a cameo. The other option would be one of the main characters wearing a cameo that is clearly of a recognisable actor! A stealthy cameo appearance!

Prof. Gary J. Heald, Weymouth, UK

From: Bryan Todd (bryansink yahoo.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--cameo

Cameos everywhere! Oliver Stone’s JFK tells the story of New Orleans DA Jim Garrison and his investigation into the infamous assassination. Garrison is played by Kevin Costner in the film, but he himself makes a brief onscreen appearance as Chief Justice Earl Warren.

Bryan Todd, Lincoln, Nebraska

K6 Telephone Box and Edward VII Pillar Box Amberley
In harmony with the phone box?
Photo: Unisouth / Wikimedia
From: Joseph Genovese (joe_geno hotmail.com)
Subject: pillbox

In England, a pillbox (short for pillar box) also means a letter-box, one of those iconic red ones all over the country, and in some of its former colonies.

Joe Genovese, Birkirkara, Malta

From: Pascal Pagnoux (pascal.pagnoux gmail.com)
Subject: Pillbox

I’m not sure which one of these two verses I prefer in Dylan’s song :o)

Well, you look so pretty in it
Honey, can I jump on it sometime?
Yes, I just wanna see
If it’s really the expensive kind
You know it balances on your head
Just like a mattress balances
On a bottle of wine
Your brand new leopard-skin pillbox hat
Well, I see you got a new boyfriend
You know, I never seen him before
Well, I saw you makin’ love with him
You forgot to close the garage door
You might think he loves you for your money
But I know what he really loves you for
It’s your brand new leopard-skin pillbox hat

Pascal Pagnoux, Saint Gaudens, France

From: Jessica Dawson (jepad1019 gmail.com)
Subject: The many definitions of pitch

I really enjoyed this week’s collection of words with multiple meanings. It reminds me of a time when I was on a job rotation in Germany and my colleagues came back from an English lesson shocked by the myriad meanings of pitch. As they ran through the list, I agreed that those were all correct and staggered to realize how wildly different meanings were attached to pitch, something that I never thought about as a native speaker. They were sure that this must lead to misunderstandings and I admitted that, like so much, context was critical.

Jessica Dawson, Abington, Massachusetts

From: David Gregory (gregory886 gmail.com)
Subject: Re: AWADmail Issue 991

Here is a poem I wrote many years ago. My brother-in-law served two tours of duty in Vietnam. He told me that the words of the title of the poem were actually written on the casing of the landmines that were being “installed”. One of his later tasks was body recovery. Many of his buddies who served with him have committed suicide.

“Front to the Enemy”
Instructions on the landmine

Our house faces the sun.

We have a neighbour
to the south.
My daughter goes barefoot
across the eastern fields.
Sometimes you never know
which way to turn.

David Gregory, New Zealand

The Cameo King
From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: cameo and pillbox

Recently deceased creator of the Marvel comix universe, Stan Lee, was an unapologetic ham who did dozens of film cameos. He had bit parts as a postman, a Hugh Hefner lookalike, and a Larry King doppelganger, to name a few. Here, sporting an Incredible Hulk bodysuit, the marvelous Stan has ignited the ire of actor Lou Ferrigno, aka The Hulk, whose green visage telegraphs his rising pique.

Mad Hatters
A Turkic Sufi/whirling dervish, an observant Israeli Hassidic Jew, and a Ghanaian statesman kibitz about their headwear in this scenario. The West-African’s pillbox (kufi) is arguably the least “eccentric” of the lot. In fact, most devout male Muslims residing in West, North, East Africa, and South Asia wear the kufi... a bona fide pillbox. Also, the faithful throughout the global African Muslim diaspora wear this simple sartorial identifier.

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California


This week’s theme: Words with many meanings
1. dobber
2. bruit
3. cameo
4. pillbox
5. plight
= 1. blab
2. whooshes
3. bit part, extra
4. gun post
5. weighty dilemmic bind, some hem wrinkle
     This week’s theme: Words with many meanings
1. dobber
2. bruit
3. cameo
4. pillbox
5. plight
= 1. blab with bowler; cork; taw
2. dish; humming noise
3. embossed gem
4. tin; hat
5. perplexity
     Theme: Words with many meanings:
1. dobber
2. bruit
3. cameo
4. pillbox
5. plight
= 1. bobber
2. noise
3. small role; gem with imprint
4. boxy hat
5. match-up wedding?
-Julian Lofts, Auckland, New Zealand (jalofts xtra.co.nz) -Robert Jordan, Lampang, Thailand (alfiesdad ymail.com) -Dharam Khalsa, Burlington, North Carolina (dharamkk2 gmail.com)

Make your own anagrams and animations.


As both teams fielded dobbers, the game
Took three weeks and four days and lays claim
To the longest match played.
Lunches, teas -- all delayed,
And not one drop of rain shared the blame.
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes btconnect.com)

A baseball? No, no. That ain’t cricket.
A googly! That’s more like the ticket.
And what is a dobber?
A bowling ball jobber?
It’s all just a Brit sticky wicket.
-Rudy Landesman, New York, New York (ydur36 hotmail.com)

“You promised if I were to snitch
on the miscreant, I would be rich!
Thanks to me,” says the dobber,
“you’ve captured that robber.
So where’s my reward? What’s the hitch?”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

There once was a Central Park jogger,
Anyone in his way he would clobber.
He once knocked out a guy,
Made a girl runner cry,
Was turned in to police by a dobber.
-Judith Marks-White, Westport, Connecticut (joodthmw gmail.com)

My brother would tattle, that brat!
He’d run to our mother to rat.
I wanted to clobber
That mis’rable dobber,
Though Mother would frown upon that.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

Musing how he became a dobber ...
It began with event macabre.
A burglary gone wrong ...
Let off, but with life-long
bondage as a snitch for the copper.
-Shyamal Mukherji, Mumbai, India (mukherjis hotmail.com)

At 4 I could fish like a pro!
Right away it was “Look out below!”
What Wordsmith calls dobber
We always called bobber.
Whatever! I’ll go with the flow!
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

Now Cricket’s a game I don’t know.
Is it like English baseball? Not so.
There’s a dobber, and batter,
But it all doesn’t matter,
Because it just moves oh, so slow.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“Somewhere in our midst there’s a dobber,
And Plymouth’s not safe,” said the gobbler.
“The Natives and Whites
Have our flock in their sights,
And ‘Thanksgiving’ they call it? Macabre!”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

If you overindulge on the fruits,
Fermentation gives rise to strange bruits.
Is this cause for alarm?
Not at all. Remain calm,
And let nature discharge as it suits.
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes btconnect.com)

“The apple, according to bruit,
has many a fine attribute,”
says the snake. “Take a bite.
Rumor has it that quite
a revealer of truth is this fruit!”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

There’s a bruit which is going around.
It’s a scary and ominous sound.
But it’s only cicadas:
“We want love that’s delayed us.
17 years we’ve all been underground.”
-Sara Hutchinson, New Castle, Delaware (sarahutch2003 yahoo.com)

The President angrily seeks
The source of embarrassing leaks.
News somehow gets out;
It’s bruited about,
Whenever this insider speaks.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

There’s a woman of ill repute
Whose affairs the neighbors would bruit.
Said she, “I don’t care,
The gossip they share.
It just makes me scads of more loot.”
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

To see him would be quite a hoot,
But Bigfoot is still just a bruit.
Nor can fact-checkers bless
That strange thing in Loch Ness;
Let them hide, for gun owners would shoot.
-Janice Power, Cleveland, Ohio (powerjanice782 gmail.com)

Said Stormy, “It’s not just a bruit;
His hands and much else are minute.
When he showed me his willy,
I laughed myself silly;
It won’t even stand and salute!”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“No diamonds,” says she, “in my ring.
I really can’t stand all that bling.
A nice cameo
might be more apropos.
In fact, ‘twould be just the right thing!”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

Just where does his hand oh-so clammy go?
Although we all scream, “Please no, Sammy, no!”
It heads to his maw
And clutched in that paw
Is Mother’s most precious old cameo.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

I was visiting down in N.O.
And saw a guy bending down low.
“Didja drop something, Bro?
A cameo? Whoa!”
He blushed scarlet, “A gift for my ho!”
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

“In AWAD I might make a cameo,”
I thought; “My idea’s kind of sappy, though.”
In my mind the day’s word
Had a limerick stirred;
Thousands later, I still have a happy glow.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

When you get to my age, life is cruel,
And things start to decline, as a rule.
But my little blue friends
Mean I buck all the trends.
Seems my pillbox contains rocket fuel.
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes btconnect.com)

“In a fashion show, I’d be dead meat,”
says she, “for my wardrobe’s replete
with frilly old frocks,
a silly pillbox,
and saddle shoes, all obsolete!”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

A cute little pillbox I own.
It’s useless; I leave it alone.
Few pills will it hold,
But as I grow old,
My list of prescriptions has grown.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

“In the Outback I hide in no pillbox;
With my knife and bare hands, mate, I kill crocs,”
Said Dundee. “When the mood
Strikes to eat Chinese food,
It’s like chicken; I chop it and fill woks.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“We were tipsy, and passion took flight.
I’m undone! She accepted my plight.”
“Don’t despair. She’ll forget,
Or release you, no sweat.”
“Or demand that we wed just for spite.”
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes btconnect.com)

I met her one dark moonless night.
It must have been love at first sight.
But then the next day
In daylight, oy vey,
I regret that my troth I did plight.
-Rudy Landesman, New York, New York (ydur36 hotmail.com)

Miss Muffet considered her plight.
She feared that the spider might bite.
To avoid an attack,
she abandoned her snack
without further ado, and took flight.
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

When fraudulent schemes come to light,
Then Trump’s CFO they indict.
They want him to flip,
Abandon Trump’s ship --
And this is poor Weisselberg’s plight.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

Said Weisselberg, “Donald, my plight
Was that taxes took such a big bite.”
“You got caught,” answered Trump,
“Like that John McCain chump;
That’s a bigly mistake for a White.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

From: Steve Benko (stevebenko1 gmail.com)
Subject: Limericks

This week marks a huge milestone in my AWAD limerick writing career. My “cameo” piece above represents my 2,130th in a row without missing a day, all of them rhyming the day’s word.

Baseball fans will immediately recognize that number as the consecutive number of games played by the iconic Lou Gehrig of the New York Yankees over 14 years in the 1920s and 30s before being struck down by ALS, the neurological disease which now informally bears his name. The record stood for 56 years and has only been broken once since, by Cal Ripken Junior. No one will ever come remotely close again, not even by a fraction of a fraction, as today’s multi-millionaire players are rested frequently in a maddeningly futile attempt to keep them fresh and injury-free.

I shall continue as long as I am able, with the possibility of overtaking Cal Ripken in two years or so. But the pressure is off. I have achieved a goal years in the making, and been immeasurably enriched in the process with an activity that gives my life in retirement purpose and structure, provides mental stimulation, and has introduced me through the AWAD community to many new friends all over the English-speaking world who share book recommendations, life stories, and much more.

Thank you for bringing the word-loving people of the world closer together!

Steve Benko, New York, New York


When asked how many favorite marbles he had, the player replied, “Just a dobber two.”
-Jim Ertner, Greensboro, North Carolina (jde31459 gmail.com)

Said Prince Charles, “Is Diana crying again? I s’pose I must dobber eyes with a hanky.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

The diminutive schoolboy said, “Stop bullying me, you bruit!”
-Jim Ertner, Greensboro, North Carolina (jde31459 gmail.com)

Republicans these days believe only in bruit strength.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

After my friend finally admitted he lost our wager, he gave me the video cameo’d me.
-Jim Ertner, Greensboro, North Carolina (jde31459 gmail.com)

“My part is so small I might as well be in cameo-flage,” the actor complained.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

The tanker captain was fined after the oils-pillbox-ed him into the harbor.
-Jim Ertner, Greensboro, North Carolina (jde31459 gmail.com)

Said Vlad, “Don’t vorry, Donald, I vill never pillbox ze veil of secrecy zat protects us.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

The Aussie said to the waiter, “Aye, mate, please serve me a plight of potatoes.”
-Jim Ertner, Greensboro, North Carolina (jde31459 gmail.com)

“You vill plight Trump vith girls, loans, real-estate deals -- vhatever he vants,” Vlad told his operatives.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Slam Dunk
From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: Slam Dunk

The Games MUST go on! In less than a month the Tokyo Summer Olympic Games begin. Until most recently, with the Covid rate in Japan rising, and only a small percentage of the populace vaccinated for the virus, it appeared that the Games could be postponed yet another year.... again. Here, a shot putter tosses the Covid microbe through an Olympic logo ring, symbolic of ridding the event of the deadly scourge. Fingers crossed, with strict Covid protocols in place, the Olympic Games will play out in all their glory.

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California

Do not be too quick to assume your enemy is a savage just because he is your enemy. Perhaps he is your enemy because he thinks you are a savage. Or perhaps he is afraid of you because he feels that you are afraid of him. And perhaps if he believed you are capable of loving him he would no longer be your enemy. -Thomas Merton, monk, writer (4 Jul 1915-1968)

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