Wordsmith.Org: The Magic of Words


A.Word.A.Day

About Us | What's New | Search | Site Map | Contact Us  


Home

Today's Word

Yesterday's Word

Archives

FAQ


AWADmail Issue 372

August 16, 2009

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


From: Monique Reed (monique mail.bio.tamu.edu)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--ort
Def: A scrap of food left after a meal.

Needleworkers often use "ort" to describe the little bit of thread left in the needlle after the work is done, a piece too small to be used for anything else. These can be corralled in an ort port, a jar, or other vessel, so that they do not stray onto clothing and so the cat does not eat them. Some stitchers I know use the clear, hollow Christmas tree ornaments as ort ports -- the finished ornament, with all of its colorful and/or shiny bits, becomes a reminder and record of what was stitched during the year.


From: Edmond Spaeth (edspaeth aol.com)
Subject: Ort

As the spouse of a passionate needleworker, I learned the word "ort" via my wife who calls the scrap threads left over from her stitchery just that, "orts". I have also learned to look before sitting down as there just might be a sharp needle inadvertently placed on the couch.


From: Scott W. Langill (slangill dcaccess.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--ort

To me this is the meaning of ort.


From: Wayne Dam (wayne.c.dam gmail.com)
Subject: The word "Ort"

Interesting. I've never heard of "ort" for small scraps of food before. But when I saw it in your post what immediately jumped to mind was the Oort Cloud.


From: Jo Sack (Josack hotmail.com)
Subject: ort

ORT also stands for oral rehydration therapy! This is a simple solution (sugar, salt, and water) that treats dehydration from diarrhea and saves millions of children's lives around the world every year. Until this was discovered, diarrhea was the leading cause of death, now it's only second. In the US where not so many die, it saves families dollars from having to hospitalize their children. CeraLyte and Pedialyte are two of the brand names of this product, but it can be made at home: visit childhealthfoundation.org for the recipe.


From: Douglas Zullo (zullod hartwick.edu)
Subject: fug's homonym
Def: Stale, humid, and stuffy atmosphere, as in a crowded, poorly ventilated room.

Before they would publish Norman Mailer's The Naked and the Dead, Rinehart Press convinced the author to replace the expletive "fuck" with "fug". Legend has it that when Dorothy Parker first met Mailer she quipped, "So, you're the man who can't spell 'fuck'."


From: J. Jarvis (jay.jarvis gmail.com)
Subject: fug

I am sure that most of your subscribers had the same reaction I did upon seeing this word. They thought of either Norman Mailer or that venerable rock group, The Fugs.
As stated by Ed Gardner in his history of The Fugs:
"The term 'folk-rock' had not been invented in late-1964 when I approached Tuli, after a poetry reading, about forming a rock group. Tuli eagerly assented, and was the one who came up with the name, the Fugs, borrowed from the euphemism in Normal Mailer's novel, The Naked and the Dead."


From: Jenny Wolahan (wolahan gmail.com)
Subject: fug

For many young people these days, the word "fug" has little to with stale air and a lot to do with stale clothing. As far as I can tell, it's a derivative of the adjective fugly, which means sartorially ugly (as opposed to physically ugly, which most aspiring fashion plates are not). There's a voluntary aspect to it, as in, "Why would someone so beautiful want to make herself look so fugly?" The word "fug" itself is usually a noun ("There was so much fug going on at the teen choice awards last night"; "She needs to banish the fug and start dressing well again"), but thanks to gofugyourself.com, it can also be a verb, meaning to criticize someone's fug on the website ("We fugged Beyonce's crazy costumes three times last week, but we fear she's not taking the hint.").


From: Chips Mackinolty (manbet174 yahoo.com.au)
Subject: Birl
Def: To spin or rotate.

There is a peculiarly Australian meaning for the word birl, also spelt burl, first recorded among Australian troops in World War I but still common. "Give it a birl" means giving something a go, or a trial. The spelling is said to be the same as the Scots dialect, birl, to spin or twirl, which is what you have supplied. I'm not sure if it is related, or rhyming slang, but there seems an obvious relationship with "giving (something) a whirl", with a similar meaning to giving it a birl.


From: D. Edwards (dickon dickonedwards.co.uk)
Subject: birl

A birl is also recent gender identity slang for an androgynous girl who looks like a boy - deliberately, willingly so.


From: Patsy Le Vann (levann peak.org)
Subject: birl

This is a word I have heard only in Scotland where I grew up - we birled our tops, hoops etc. In the west of Scotland at least, it is always pronounced with two syllables; birull - the i as in bit. Girl got a similar sound; girull!


From: Peter Cound (peter.cound bsmht.nhs.uk)
Subject: Birl

This is also the name of a note played on the Great Highland Bagpipe. It is played by moving the little finger of the left hand down and up over the "Low G" note hole of the Chanter. See any bagpipe tutor, such as the Glasgow College of piping green cover tutor.


From: Michael Lawson (michael.a.lawson conocophillips.com)
Subject: A log driver's waltz pleases girls completely!

When AWAD sent 'birl' as the word of the day, I was immediately transported to the lazy Saturday mornings of my childhood. You see, the National Film Board of Canada created an animated short to the song The Log Driver's Waltz by Wade Hemsworth. It tells of the lightfooted log driver and how birling down white-water gave him the skills to win over the ladies. I've included the link to the film, and I highly recommend you watch a classic piece of Canadiana. It remains the number one requested film of the National Film Board. Enjoy!


From: Ann Andrusyszyn (aandrusyszyn barrie.ca)
Subject: bap
Def: A soft, round bread roll.

I grew up in Yorkshire I Northern England where Yorkshire Teacakes were the soft bread "bun" of choice. But yes, baps were the smaller round "dinner bun" type bread rolls - and that bap was the Scottish name for them.


From: Joyce Haley (djhaley gci.net)
Subject: Bap

I remember that when I was growing up my parents would lightheartedly use the phrase "I'll bap you upside the head". I always thought it meant a slap on the back of the head but now I have the image of being swatted with a nice soft breadroll. I'm not sure that my parents were aware of "baps" to eat though.


From: Richard Mackay-Scollay (business pica.org.au)
Subject: bap

Bap is also Northern British slang for breast, particularly female, presumably by association with shape.


From: Sylvia Curtis (curtis library.ucsb.edu)
Subject: bap

Another bap definition: Black American Princess usually capitalized BAP a quick definition from Wikipedia:
Black American Princess (BAP) is a term that refers to black women of strong social lineage and proper breeding.
Better is this page.


From: Chuck Altvater (greenman rocketmail.com)
Subject: Bap

Bap is also the Korean word for rice.


From: Mike Ciaraldi (ciaraldi ciaraldi.com)
Subject: A Use For Cwm
Def: A steep bowl-shaped mountain basin, carved by glaciers.

When I was quite young I memorized what is supposed to be the shortest sentence in English which uses all 26 letters:
"Cwm fjord bank glyphs vext quiz."

In exactly 26 letters it means: "Statues in the bowl-shaped valley at the edge of the fjord annoyed the old man."


From: Kathy Harper (kharper4 gmail.com)
Subject: cwm

Aha! This word explains a reference in the fantasy novels of Terry Pratchett. His fictional trolls and dwarves both originated in a certain mountainous region of the Discworld. Their mutual animosity stems from the pivotal Battle of Koom Valley centuries before (and their unwillingness to admit that their own side may have started the fight).


From: David Hatcher (hatch landabooks.com)
Subject: Untruth about Crwth

It may be technically accurate to say that a crwth is a crowd, but it's seriously misleading -- especially to non-British people.
A crwth is a stringed instrument, similar to a fiddle. A British term for the instrument is "crowd". As far as I know, crwth has nothing to do with a large group of people -- unless they're at a fiddlers' convention.


A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
Words are chameleons, which reflect the color of their environment. -Learned Hand, jurist (1872-1961)

This week's theme
Short words

This week's words
ort
fug
birl
bap
cwm

Next week's theme
Words that exercise all your fingers

AWADmail archives
Index

Subscriber Services
Awards | Stats | Links | Privacy Policy
Contribute | Advertise

© 2014 Wordsmith