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Jul 23, 2018
This week’s theme
Tosspot words

This week’s words
shunpike
jerkwater
catchpenny
cutpurse
scapegrace

shunpike
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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

What does a scarecrow have in common with a pickpocket? A breakfast with a flapjack? They are all tosspot words.

What’s a tosspot word?

Stick a noun to a verb and you have the basic recipe for coining a tosspot word. Two important points. First: the verb comes first. Second: The noun is the object of the verb, i.e. pickpocket is a tosspot word because a pickpocket picks pockets; repairman is not, because a repairman does not repair a man, unless you call your doctor a repairman (better to call him or her a sawbones).

Enjoy this week’s tosspottery. Also try your hand at the wheel and share your creations below or email us at words@wordsmith.org.

shunpike

PRONUNCIATION:
(SHUHN-pyk)

MEANING:
noun: A side road taken to avoid a toll road.
verb intr.: To travel on a side road.

ETYMOLOGY:
From shun, from Old English scunian (to avoid or fear) + turnpike (an expressway, especially one with a toll). The word turnpike itself is a tosspot word, from turn + pike. Before a turnpike was a highway, it was a barrier on a road, from turn + pike (a horizontal beam turning on a vertical pin). Earliest documented use: 1853.

USAGE:
“Having safely deposited our daughter in Williamstown, Massachusetts, for the summer, my alluring wife and I decided to shunpike our way back home to Washington.”
Philip Terzian; Little Van, Big House; The Weekly Standard (Washington, DC); Jul 5, 2010.

See more usage examples of shunpike in Vocabulary.com’s dictionary.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
Throughout history, it has been the inaction of those who could have acted, the indifference of those who should have known better, the silence of the voice of justice when it mattered most, that has made it possible for evil to triumph. -Haile Selassie, Emperor of Ethiopia (23 Jul 1892-1975)

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