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AWADmail Issue 114

February 21, 2004

A Weekly Compendium of Feedback on the Words in A.Word.A.Day and Other Interesting Tidbits about Words and Languages


From: Anu Garg (garg AT wordsmith.org)
Subject: Last week's theme

Last week's challenge was to find a common pattern among the featured words: orotund, draggle, trunnel, pinnate, lability.

Nearly a thousand readers responded with what they thought was the possible theme. The first, and especially the last, words of the week were a dead giveaway. The answer is that all of these words result in other words when beheaded: rotund, raggle (a groove cut in masonry), runnel (a small stream), innate, ability.

Congratulations to Heidi Vande Voort Nam (solagratia1AThotmail.com) for being the first one to send the correct solution, and to all of you who solved it or came up with other creative solutions.

Honorable mentions:

All contain three letter city code identifiers for airports:
oroTUNd - Tunis, Tunisia
dragGLE - Gainsville, TX, USA
TRUnnel - Trujillo, Peru
pinNATe - Natal, Rio Grande Do Norte (Brazil)
labiLITy - Little Rock, AR, USA
-Paul Nord (paul.nordATvalpo.edu)

One word is actually "nested" within another word, which is in turn "nested" within another:
Orotund = Rotund = Rot
Draggle = Drag = Rag
Trunnel = Runnel = Run
Pinnate = Innate = Ate (or
In) Lability = Ability = Lit
-Chris Abbott (cabbottATConnecture.net)

Several subscribers sent answers such as "The common thread in this week's AWAD is that these words acquire a totally new meaning by adding just a letter." We put those replies in an almost-got-it-right file.

Read on for a selection of other interesting responses:

WAD heme: ropping irst etters eaves ew ords.
-David Parry (daiparryATearthlink.net)

By the way, there is a small phrase which becomes a new (and valid) phrase when the first letter of each word is removed:
Show this bold Prussian that brings slaughter, slaughter brings rout!
(How his old Russian hat rings laughter, laughter rings out!)
-Michael Zener Riggs Gottlieb (mzrgATverizon.net)

I am pleased to see that my innate ability to see the runnel of commonality is rotund and not raggled. Each of this week's words is still a valid word when the first letter is removed.
-Elana Schachter (elanaATactcom.co.il)

Being a scrabble player, I'll venture to say the common theme for this week is 'front hooks'. Rotund takes an 'o' hook and raggle takes a 'd' hook. Maybe tomorrow the word will be 's' laughter.
-Sonia Lyda (sonylee9ATyahoo.com)

This may be a stretch, but I think that perhaps this week's words describe the rise and fall of a dictator.
-Chat Hull (clh6hATcms.mail.virginia.edu)

A few puzzled readers sent these as their suggestions for the theme:

I'm sure there's another one, but the common pattern I noticed is that none was familiar to me.

Words that start with letters.

That's the theme...just that, namely that I've ne'er seen any of these words, so they are indeed "mine to discover."

Words coined by distant relatives of red-headed Dunkirk survivors.


From: Reiko Umeda (umedaATdaido-it.ac.jp)
Subject: this week's theme

Isn't it nice that many people around the globe are puzzled their brains over the same quiz? It's possible that all around the clock, someone is thinking! Nice cooperation, AWAD friends!


From: Chris Smith (btarskiAThawaii.rr.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--orotund

My favorite use of "orotund" was in a Robert Parker novel, when Spenser, when asked "and who, sir, are you?," replies with great dignity "My name is Orotund Vowel. I'm the Captain's elocution coach."


From: Paul (pohearn2ATwashcoll.edu)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--trunnel

The Baltimore Sun article you quote to illustrate the use of the word trunnel concerns the building of the Schooner Sultana. The project was and is quite amazing, being funded nearly in total by the generosity of a small town of wonderful folks, and by virtue that the boat was constructed using historical methods as well as design. I was living in Chestertown, MD for the entire 2-3 year process of its building, and enjoyed the spectacle of its being driven through town and hoisted (by a ten story tall Army floating crane) into the Chester River, where it still resides.

I walked past the boatyard almost daily and always enjoyed monitoring the progress of the boat's construction. I became so accustomed to the schooner's presence on Cannon street that when I sensed it was nearing completion and would soon by absent from my rambles (the dock being not between my house and the bar as the shipyard was!) I snatched the first memento I could from the boatyard's litter: a trunnel. I keep it today as a reminder of those pleasant times.


A word is not the same with one writer as with another. One tears it from his guts. The other pulls it out of his overcoat pocket. -Charles Peguy, poet and essayist (1873-1914)

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