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AWADmail Issue 488A Weekly Compendium of Feedback on the Words in A.Word.A.Day and Tidbits about Words and Language
This week's Email of the Week is from Ken Levin (see below), who receives a king's ransom in "Smart Pills - The Perfect Cure for Common Ignorance."
From: Helen Hileman (hhileman woh.rr.com)
I am 79 years old but I can vividly remember wearing the chintz feedsack skirts made from the feedsack material our animal feed came in. They may have been chintzy to some, but we loved our new clothes and we whirled around so our gathered skirts would whirl too.
Helen Hileman, Eaton, Ohio
From: Griselda Mussett (mussetts btinternet.com)
'Chintzy' is not necessarily a negative when it comes to interior design. It describes a very recognisable traditional style of furnishing in English households, with fabrics ornamented in floral designs derived from Indian patterns following our colonial associations with the sub-continent. Slightly old-fashioned now but a perennial favourite and, I would say, rather up-market rather than cheap.
Griselda Mussett, Faversham, UK
From: Janet Cole (rajillcole gmail.com)
Oh! Now I know how to translate the Harry Potter book I read in Spanish. It referred more than once to a chair of printed cotton fabric. Now I know they meant a chintz covered chair. (link)
Janet Cole, Paso Robles, California
From: Simon Jarvis (simon_jarvis talk21.com)
There is a lovely example of chintz fabric on some furniture in Queen Victoria's bedroom in Osborne House -- her beloved holiday home -- on the Isle of Wight, UK. Looking carefully, you can see that both her and Prince Albert's profiles are cleverly printed onto the fabric as plant tendrils. Definitely not cheap, gaudy or inferior!
Simon Jarvis, Isle of Wight, UK
From: Bernice Colman (beecolman earthlink.net)
It is curious that a word describing a fabric that was one of the most labor intensive to produce should come to mean the opposite.
Chintz was also one of the biggest players in the European industrial revolution. Its import caused a panic and prompted all sorts of sumptuary laws.
True it was less costly than woven silks or wools from India but it caused a great stir. Nothing chintzy about it.
Bernice Colman, Venice, California
From: Keith Albans (keith.albans mha.org.uk)
We have an alphabet on our wall at home using letters my daughter made when she was young. Arranged in rows A-F, G-L, M-R, S-X and then Y and Z under S and T. Chintzy is the longest word you can make tracking from a letter to those above or below or diagonal.
Keith Albans, Derby, UK
From: Marc Chelemer (Mchelemer att.com)
Of course, for the millions of people in the New York, New York area, "pinstriped" also has a highly local meaning: of or belonging to the New York Yankees baseball team, who have worn white uniforms with narrow blue pinstripes for decades. Example: "Contract negotiations with X ballplayer have succeeded, ensuring that X will remain pinstriped for the next five years."
Marc Chelemer, Tenafly, New Jersey
From: Robert Fuhrel (robert.fuhrel csn.edu)
Pinstriping refers also to a type of often curlicued narrow lines on customized cars.
Robert Fuhrel, Las Vegas, Nevada
From: Sue Weisman (sweisman stfranciscollege.edu)
I really appreciate your posting the word pinstriped on the day of 1s (Nov 1, 2011). Very amusing!
Sue Weisman, New York
From: Barbara Conrad (bdjcconrad comcast.net)
My dear departed good-Republican father-in-law would be asked to leave the movie theater at news time when Eleanor Roosevelt would come on and he exclaimed "old flannelmouth" quite a bit above a whisper. Thanks for that memory.
Barbara Conrad, Murphy, California
From: Umber (via Wordsmith Talk forum)
Flannel is used in the UK to describe plausible untruths:
Richard Brown, Bromley, UK
From: Stephen Lindsley (petrichor5 yahoo.com)
I find that the word of the day is often synchronistically appropriate for whatever is making headlines that day, and sometimes functions as a kind of personal horoscope, relating to something going on in my life. I often wonder if they are chosen for that purpose, since it is clear that the quotation for the day is often topical. I know, however, they are a part of a pre-determined theme for the week, which makes the whole thing more interesting.
With Herman Cain's sexual indiscretions now on the verge on scuttling his presidential campaign -- as similar revelations have dashed so many other candidates' hopes -- Dirty Linen seems a perfect phrase for today.
Stephen Lindsley, St. Louis, Missouri
From: Ken Levin (ken edmunds.com)
Def: A gloomy person; a pessimist.
When I was a young securities lawyer, we used the term "hanging crepe" to mean adding risk factors to a stock prospectus, or adding additional cautionary language about some aspect of the company's business. We all saw one of our principal roles as serving as crepehangers to reduce the chance investors would have a cause of action if their investment declined in value.
Ken Levin, Santa Monica, California
From: Phyllis McGuire (phyl.hil gmail.com)
There is a man in San Diego who names his restaurants after fabrics: Searsucker in downtown, Burlap in Carmel Valley, and soon Herringbone in La Jolla. He explains the meaning behind the name Burlap in a video.
Phyllis McGuire, San Diego, California
From: Judy Epstein (jepstein mail.com)
Just a word of warning -- I have only recently realized that this is a back-door way of committing a racial slur. When I used to use the phrase (picked up God knows where) "Keep your cotton-pickin' hands off X" -- it meant black hands, to put it less explosively. Because who picked cotton, after all?
Not sure about woolly-headed -- maybe better ask Gov. Rick Perry about that one!
Judy Epstein, Port Washington, New York
A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:Compared to the drama of words, Hamlet is a light farce. -Anatoly Liberman, professor (b. 1937)
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