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AWADmail Issue 32

May 23, 2001

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


From: J. Ingalls (krym-ingallsATworldnet.att.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--verboten

Terse verse:

Verbose is verboten.


From: Geoffrey R. Goldberg (geoffrey.goldbergATdpw.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--supernumerary

When I was in the Marines back in the 1980s, everybody in the platoon had sentry duty several times per week. There were thirteen sentries assigned each day--one for each two-hour slot, plus an extra, just in case something went wrong with whomever was on duty. This extra sentry was officially called the supernumerary, but he was far from superfluous. He covered for the sentry on duty if he got sick, had to run to the bathroom or, occasionally, chase down an intruder. As is always the case with big words used by government employees, we shortened it. In the U.S. military, the extra guard on duty is called the "supernut."


From: Jennifer Younger (jyoungerATseapkg.com)
Subject: supernumerary

The first time I heard this word I was lying on my back in a women's clinic. The doctor who was examining me was training an assistant, and as my breasts were revealed, she explained "This is a supernumerary." The odd looking "birthmark" below my right breast was actually an extra breast!


From: Anthony Whitehouse (anthony_whitehouseATagilent.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--oology

I just turned on "Who Wants to be a Millionaire" (celebrity version). Regis asked, for $250000, "Oology is the science of studying what?" Having been paying attention to AWAD, it was obviously bird eggs.

    It pays to increase your word-power. -Anu


From: R. Birch (rbirchATcyberhost.com)
Subject: *oologist

Chickadeeegggooologist or chickadee-egg-goo-ologist has three consecutive sets of triple letters.


From: R. Kent Look (rklookATuclink.berkeley.edu)
Subject: oology

Really. Using Oeufelia in an article about oology. You must have fairly fertile French females on your mind.


From: Jack B Gorden (jack.gordenATpss.boeing.com)
Subject: Oology

I loved the name 'Oeufelia'. What an egg-head you are!


From: Marjie Smith (marjiesATvianet.on.ca)
Subject: chevrons

Chevron: This is a word known to most Ontario, Canada, residents. In some areas of the province, chevrons have been painted on the highway and roadside signs erected to remind motorists to remain "two chevrons apart." Of course, when you remain two chevrons apart, some motorist always nips in front of you and makes it "one chevron apart."


From: GA & DF Robins (garobinATtpgi.com.au)
Subject: Chevron

I thought chevron was also the meat of a goat? Same spelling?

    That'd be chevon. Cheese made from goat milk is chevre, also chevret. -Anu


From: LaRue Miller (larue.millerATbull.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--maverick

This reminds me so much of our daughter, who, with three brothers, a father, and a mother all engineers, earned her Ph. D. in East Asian Art and Architecture History, learning to read and speak both classical and modern Chinese. She, like Annelet, wanted to do something her brothers couldn't already do.


From: Jeb Raitt (raitt_jebATprc.com)
Subject: The Fifth Column

During the re-invasion of Paris by the Allies in WWII, a Free French tank commander was cautioned to "Watch out for the fifth column." The speaker was referring to collaborators, but the tank commander, not knowing the expression, took the warning literally and shot out the fifth column of the colonnade on a public building. I do not remember what the building was. I read this in "Is Paris Burning?"


From: Srinivas Shastri (shastrisATinfy.com)
Subject: RE: A.Word.A.Day--second fiddle

This reminds me of an old and beautiful riddle:
Which is the musical instrument that is most difficult to play?


From: Christopher Maier (movestoryATaol.com)
Subject: Re: Second fiddle

I recall an old satiric song by Tom Lehrer about the way Hubert Humphrey faded from public view once he became vice-president. Lehrer's little couplet went: "Second fiddle's a hard part I know / When they won't even give you a bow!"

    Throttlebottom, (AWAD, July 24, 2000) is another word coined specifically to name a vice-president and serves well for similar designations. -Anu


From: Kurt Nassau (nassaukurtATaol.com)
Subject: Fwd: A.Word.A.Day--first water

You may wish to know the following quotation from Cellini's Treatise on Goldsmithing... (1568; Dover, 1967) :

Yellow diamonds which " ... they make green, hence the yellow diamond with the blue tint [by applying the dye indigo] made an admirable water..." It is not generally known that in those days green was the desirable color in a diamond!

Discussed in my book Gemstone Enhancement: History, Science and State of the Art, 2nd Edition, Butterworth-Heinemann, Div. of Reed Elsevier, 1994.


From: Noelle Arrangoiz (nfaATdimensional.com)
Subject: Thank you

I just want to let you know that your Word A Day has helped me get through a very difficult time in my life. I am recovering from severe injury after being hit by a drunk driver. AWAD has cheered me up each morning, and added to my arsenal of words for Scrabble games.

My deepest thanks.


Men ever had, and ever will have leave, / To coin new words well suited to the age, / Words are like leaves, some wither every year, / And every year a younger race succeeds. -Horace, poet and satirist (65-8 BCE) [Ars Poetica] translated by Wentworth Dillon, Earl of Roscommon (1633-1685)

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