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Nov 14, 2021
This week’s theme
Counterpart words

This week’s words
spear side

How popular are they?
Relative usage over time

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Words with opposite or contradictory meanings

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AWADmail Issue 1011

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

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From: Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)
Subject: Interesting stories from the Net

How Certain Gestures Help You Learn New Words
Scientific American

The Book That Taught Me What Translation Was
The New Yorker

From: Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)
Subject: Counterpart words

This week I asked our readers: What counterpart words are missing in the English language and what you’d like them to be. Here’s a small selection from the responses that came in.

I frequently pass by the Tonic Barber Shop. I always put that name in the context of music theory and imagine opening a competitive shop across the street -- Dominant Barber Shop. Goffstown is also home to Alpha’s Barber Shop, no doubt awaiting Omega’s.
William Politt, Goffstown, New Hampshire (william.03281 gmail.com)

Cisco the dog. Aka Boydy Boy
Several years ago, we got a dog for our dog Cisco. Her name is Rosita. As many of us do with our dogs, they had multiple nicknames. One of Rosita’s nicknames was Girlie Girl. Then my husband started calling Cisco the male counterpart: Boydy Boy!
We lost Cisco last year. A paving stone at the Delaware County (NY) Heart of the Catskills Humane Society memorializes him thus.
-Amy Metnick, Margaretville, New York (amy.metnick gmail.com)

The very popular word “wellness” needs a counterpart. Thought widely applied in inappropriate contexts, it generally is used to mean “a healthy lifestyle”. What about an unhealthy lifestyle, one that characterizes the vast majority of Americans? I have a counterpart for your consideration: Worseness. The word wellness is credited to Halbert L. Dunn, MD, who wrote High Level Wellness in 1961. It did not make any best-seller lists, but did fall into the hands of several health professionals with an interest in health as more than just medical care, myself included. As part of my doctoral work from 1975 to 1977, I investigated the wellness concept and wrote High Level Wellness: An Alternative to Doctors, Drugs and Disease, Rodale Press 77, Bantam Books 79, and Ten Speed Press 87).
-Don Ardell, Gulfport, Florida (awr.realwellness gmail.com)

Usurp, surp, resurp. Taking power away, acknowledging power, and restoring power you took. Any word suggesting or granting needs an opposite. Another suggested by my then-four-year-old (now in his fifties) comes from the root have. I asked, crossly, why he wasn’t behaved. He replied, “Mommy, I am being haved.) so haveing is acting properly, behaving, or in haveing. “Ain’t Misbehavin” is similar, but more wordy.
-Maureen Doyle, South Weymouth, Massachusetts (Momcdo gmail.com)

Coming up (or down) with a counterpart... It concerns me that the word elevator is accurate only half the time. I suggest we remedy this with the counterpart hellevator.
-Chris Taylor, Asheville, North Carolina (paxhope gmail.com)

From: Kay Gunter (kgunter cox.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--materteral

I have on occasion, in conversation with my nieces, especially when they were small, referred to an “auntly” action or behavior on my part: analogous to motherly, fatherly, brotherly, etc. The word always elicited giggles.

Kay Gunter, Phoenix, Arizona

From: Susan O’Neill (susankoneill gmail.com)
Subject: Materteral

Once and for all / the idea of glorious victories / won by the glorious army / must be wiped out / Neither side is glorious / On either side they’re just frightened men messing their pants / and they all want the same thing / Not to lie under the earth / but to walk upon it / without crutches. -Peter Weiss writer, artist, and filmmaker (8 Nov 1916-1982)

Just want to thank you for the mind-jog of the “Thought for Today” yesterday. I made little signs on nice stationery for myself when I was a nurse in Viet Nam during the war. Marat/Sade--so very true.

Susan O’Neill, author, Calling New Delhi for Free [and other ephemeral truths of the 21st Century] and Don’t Mean Nothing: Short Stories of Viet Nam, Brooklyn, New York

From: Dave Alden (davealden53 comcast.net)
Subject: attrite

Attrite is a sufficiently uncommon word that I’m tickled by this comment on baseball from Billy Beane of the Oakland Athletics, “Baseball is a war of attrition and what’s being attrited is pitcher’s arms.”

Dave Alden, Petaluma, California

From: Dave Horsfall (dave horsfall.org)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--attrite

For all our conceits about being the center of the universe, we live in a routine planet of a humdrum star stuck away in an obscure corner ... on an unexceptional galaxy which is one of about 100 billion galaxies. ... That is the fundamental fact of the universe we inhabit, and it is very good for us to understand that. -Carl Sagan, astronomer and writer (9 Nov 1934-1996)

I prefer the Douglas Adams version:

“Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the western spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun. Orbiting this at a distance of roughly ninety-two million miles is an utterly insignificant little blue green planet whose ape-descended life forms are so amazingly primitive that they still think digital watches are a pretty neat idea.”

Dave Horsfall, North Gosford, Australia

From: Sam Long (gunputty comcast.net
Subject: autonym

I thought autonym would be the name given to a car. A well-known example is Mrs Merdle, the name D.L. Sayers’ detective hero Lord Peter Wimsey gave to his (1927) Daimler four-seater. Another is Ian Fleming’s Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. A third is Christine, a 1974 Plymouth Fury in a Stephen King novel of the same name.

Sam Long, Springfield, Illinois

From: Peirce Hammond (peirceah.03.01 gmail.com)
Subject: Autonym superseded?

Seems as if my real self (deeply understood) might have been given an inappropriate name at birth. On reflection, as an adult, perhaps, I might realize this and decide that what the world understands to be my autonym is a pseudonym. Consequently, I adopt what others understand to be a pseudonym that I know to be my autonym.

Peirce Hammond, Bethesda, Maryland

From: Bob Richmond (rsrichmond gmail.com)
Subject: exoteric

I think I first learned this word in a Masonic setting. Freemasons describe a symbol as having an exoteric and an esoteric meaning. For example, the exoteric meaning of the G in the middle of the familiar square and compasses logo stands for “God”. The esoteric meaning, well, I can’t tell you that.

Bob Richmond, Maryville, Tennessee

From: Michelle Myers (rma.myers gmail.com)
Subject: Thought for Today 11/11/21

Dear God, Thank you for the baby brother, but what I prayed for was a puppy. -Joyce (from “Children’s Letters to God”)

The Thought for Today brings up happy memories. As the oldest of 5, with my next sibling being 5 years younger, I was less than excited to hear I was getting a baby brother or sister, not once, but 4 more times, especially when I kept asking for a puppy. I finally got that puppy several years after my youngest brother joined the family. And my parents got a wonderful story they never tire of retelling, or reminding me of. Thanks for the trip down memory lane.

Michelle Myers, Beavercreek, Ohio

From: Marion Wolf (marionewolf yahoo.com)
Subject: spear side

My mother’s aunt married a Mr Spear, so in my family the spear side is maternal.

Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey

Email of the Week -- Brought to you buy One Up! -- Challenge yourself!

From: Kiko Denzer (handprint cmug.com)
Subject: spear and spindle

I have a Swiss friend from the canton of Appenzell, where traditional democratic voting assemblies required (male) voters to appear with their sword when making communal decisions. If memory serves, she said that Appenzell was the last canton to grant women the right to vote in public (without swords). She did suggest, however, that the vote was forced by the federation and was not fully supported by the populace.

In 1990, Ivan Illich pointed out that tools have always, traditionally, been “gendered”:

“Before industrial times, no culture lacked a gender dividing line in the use of tools, although no two cultures drew that line in exactly the same way. In many pockets of rural Europe today, tools still smell of gender. In Styria, for example, men’s sickle’s are clean- edged for cutting; women’s sickle’s are indented and curved, made for the gathering of stalks. Animals are also tied to gender. In one area of the upper Danube, women feed cows but never the draught animals. Farther east, women milk cows that belong to the homestead, while the herd in the pastures is milked by men.

“In short, each activity is embedded in a circumscribed whole. How that embeddedness is articulated defines the novel way of life of a community, what I call the ‘art of living’ or ‘art of suffering’ and what is commonly referred to as culture. No one is the same, or does the same thing. Men and women complement each other; nothing which is necessary for their life in society can be done by their hand alone. Discrimination has no meaning in this context.”

In the Iroquois confederacy, the executive functions were the responsibility of male chieftains, but chieftains were subject to the opinions of elder women, selected by the community, who had the authority to remove and replace chieftains.

Every society has a choice about which values to uphold, and which ones to degrade. In this society, we degrade those that give us birth and nurture, and elevate those that diminish and destroy. Otherwise, we’d prioritize free childcare and education over bombs, bullets, and capital punishment.

Kiko Denzer, Blodgett, Oregon

From: Glenn Glazer (glenn.glazer gmail.com)
Subject: spear and distaff

Spears and distaffs are similarly looking objects that are associated with stereotypical gender roles (war vs. spinning wool).

Glenn Glazer, Felton, California

From: Kent Rhodes (krho1 aol.com)
Subject: Spears

Are my farming and gardening ancestors the asparagus spear side of my family?

Kent Rhodes, Charlotte, North Carolina

From: Armando Garcia (armandofgarcia aol.com)
Subject: Spear side

It instantly popped into my mind that spεrmatozoa are spear shaped.

Armando Garcia, Bumpass, Virginia

From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: Autonym-ed and Spear Side

Born Samuel Langhorne Clemens, the author and humorist opted to use the pseudonym Mark Twain throughout his entire literary oeuvre and on his lecture tours. Here, his publisher pulled a fast-one on Twain, inscribing his autonym on the cover of his arguably most popular tome. (Huck Finn fans might disagree.)

Spear Side
Sεxpot pop idol Britney Spears brings a whole new meaning to our phrase “spear side”, namely her alluring backside. (Oh behave!) Renowned for bringing a giant yellow/albino Burmese python into her iconic 2001 MTV Video Music Awards (VMA) performance, here Britney gets a grip on a serpentine Will Snakespeare.

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California

This week’s theme: Counterpart words
1. materteral
2. attrite
3. autonym
4. exoteric
5. spear side
= 1. mother’s sister
2. weaken part, decrepit
3. that is true name writ
4. outdoors
5. XY, male etcetera
     This week’s theme : Counterpart words
1. materteral
2. attrite
3. autonym
4. exoteric
5. spear side
= 1. papa’s sister’s ward
2. terminate tutee
3. a true title
4. that town-crier reeked
5. XY chromosome
     This week’s theme: Counterpart words
1. materteral
2. attrite
3. autonym
4. exoteric
5. spear side
= 1. the aunt type
2. remorse with risk; to erode, retract
3. writer’s exact name
4. outside
5. apt males
-Julian Lofts, Auckland, New Zealand (jalofts xtra.co.nz) -Shyamal Mukherji, Mumbai, India (mukherjis hotmail.com) -Dharam Khalsa, Burlington, North Carolina (dharamkk2 gmail.com)

Make your own anagrams and animations.


“Dearest Auntie, I pen this appeal
In the hope your materteral zeal
Sends you straight to your purse,
And you’ll freely disburse.
Otherwise, je regret, I must steal.”
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes btconnect.com)

“I have no real aunties,” says he,
“so I think I’ll invent two or three.
Although only virtual,
they’ll be materteral.
as they’re expected to be.”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

Mother’s sister would always be funky,
At the same time she still could be spunky.
She was always a pal,
A materteral gal,
Though her affect in public was clunky.
-Judith Marks-White, Westport, Connecticut (joodthmw gmail.com)

Materteral pride makes me kvell,
And speak of my nephew, who’s swell.
There’s no room in this rhyme,
But if you’ve got the time,
I’ve many great details to tell.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

Materterally she would hover;
Fortunately, I did love her
‘Cause she just drove me nuts
With her ifs, ands, and buts.
It’s a wonder I didn’t just shove her!
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

Said Dame Agatha, “Many a murder’ll
Be done in a manner materteral.
One case (‘twasn’t mine)
Involved spiking of wine
By two little old landladies virginal.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“As you stand now, condemned, in the dock,
With your mind on the noose, you’re in shock.
You are only attrite
With the gallows in sight.
So, your tears of remorse are a crock.”
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes btconnect.com)

Young Junior believed that he might,
by constant cajoling, attrite
Mom’s resistance. But she
was wiser than he,
and never succumbed, not a mite.
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

Said the hiker who walked the dark night,
“I’ve a feeling that something’s not right.
I think there’s a bear,
Which caused such a great scare,
I had best quit my trek, and attrite.”
-Judith Marks-White, Westport, Connecticut (joodthmw gmail.com)

Whenever his crimes come to light,
He brings in his lawyers to fight.
In court they may stall,
But someday he’ll fall --
With luck then he may feel attrite.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

“Oh, why did the apple I bite?”
Thought Adam, “I’m scared, and attrite.
For Yahweh knows all;
I’m sure after the fall,
He’ll make Eve put on clothes out of spite!”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“Anonymity never sat well.
It’s the lure of bright lights -- you can tell?
So, my first autonym
Puts me into the swim.
Well, it might -- if the damn thing would sell.”
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes btconnect.com)

Doris Day was aspiring to fame,
But Kappelhoff was her real name,
An autonym that
Was sure to go splat;
And her songs might have done just the same.
-Rudy Landesman, New York, New York (ydur36 hotmail.com)

Says the author, “I’ve reason to scorn
the surname with which I was born.
My true autonym
is Verity Prim,
and the stuff that I’m writing is pοrn!
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

Oh, please use my autonym, sir.
Full credit is what I prefer.
The name that’s my own
I’d like to be known --
In print let it often recur!
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

George Eliot wasn’t her name,
But how else could a woman get fame?
She thought, “As a ‘him’
I’ll use no autonym,
So respect from male peers I can claim.”
-Janice Power, Cleveland, Ohio (powerjanice782 gmail.com)

If you want to become taut and trim,
Try the place with its chief’s autonym.
As girls only hit
On a fellow who’s fit,
I’m so glad Mr Gold bought a gym.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Of two volumes, both deemed exoteric,
The first, Myths and Legends Homeric,
Made a hit with the press,
But the greater success
Was The Life, Loves and Pics of Bo Derek.
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes btconnect.com)

His wife was a terrible shrew.
He kept her indoors, out of view,
so her outbursts hysteric
were not exoteric.
Poor fellow, what else could he do?
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

Love Story was rated PG,
Intended for all folks to see.
“My film’s exoteric,”
Said screenwriter Erich --
A college professor was he!
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

There once was a young man named Eric,
Whose appearance had flaws exoteric.
He had horns on his head,
Like the devil ‘twas said;
A problem, since he was a cleric.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“What’s the holdup? Indict the man, Merrick!”
Say media pundits hysteric.
Steve Bannon’s a clown,
But c’mon, folks, calm down;
To this process we’re all exoteric.
(N.B. Bannon was finally indicted the day after this was written.)
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“In a home where my mum wears the pants
And the same holds for all of my aunts
Quite how one decides
On distaff and spear sides
Is the study for which I seek grants.”
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes btconnect.com)

Let’s face it, the spear side of me
Was as cowardly as it could be.
My forebears were men,
Who’d again and again,
Refusing to fight, climb a tree.
-Rudy Landesman, New York, New York (ydur36 hotmail.com)

“My ancestry’s puzzling,” says she.
“Though the spindle side’s easy to see,
I’m not very clear-eyed
regarding the spear side.
It’s locked, and I can’t find the key!”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

On the spear side she’s learned she has kin,
And how very surprised she has been!
Her Dad played around
And now she has found
There’s a classmate who looks like her twin!
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

My spear side was legally inclined,
Grandpa a judge, Dad a fine mind,
in property law.
But then came a flaw:
As black sheep, cool websites I designed.
-Shyamal Mukherji, Mumbai, India (mukherjis hotmail.com)

When the distaff arrives, the brave spear side
Runs around his man cave to the beer hide.
There are chores left undone
For his dear honey-bun,
And about his love life, he is clear-eyed.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


“After laying her eggs on the beach, materteral head straight back to sea,” said David Attenborough.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

He offered attrite explanation as to why he was late every morning.
-Lois Mowat, Orinda, California (lmowat1810 gmail.com)

“Obeying the law is such attrite way to behave,” scoffed Rudy Giuliani.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Said Johnny McEntee to Donald Trump, “We autonym-rodize this whole place until everybody’s loyal.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

When we split up, I relieved my exoteric-cloth robes I’d gotten him for Christmas but liked to wear myself.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“He’s a great architect, but will Albert spear side with me?” wondered Adolf.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Republican Hail Mary
From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: Republican Hail Mary

Aficionados of pro football will remember Herschel Walker as a star player for several NFL teams, most notably the Dallas Cowboys. Long-retired, he’s now running on the Republican ticket for Georgia senate against fellow African-American and former preacher, Democratic incumbent Raphael Warnock. Mitch McConnell and Trump have endorsed Hershel Walker in spite of his history of domestic violence. Also, he’s lived in Texas for most of his post-football life, moving to Georgia seemingly just to run for high office. Hence, Froggy’s carpetbagger comment.

November: Native American Month
Pre-contact with Europeans, for millennia, Native Americans were stewards of their sacred, bountiful lands, attuned to nature and guided by the Great Spirit. After the arrival of waves of Old Word interlopers, the populations of indigenous peoples plummeted, plagued by new diseases, exploitation, and outright slaughter. Treaties made, treaties broken. Promises made, promises broken. Sacred Indian territories annexed and exploited for fossil fuels, minerals, timber, and other “consumables”. Here, I’ve assembled three iconic Native American leaders who were victims of the white man’s promises... broken. We should be heartened that our current Secretary of the Interior, Deb Haaland, is a proud Native American, who may right some of the many wrongs perpetrated against her people. Let us celebrate our original Americans, year round, not just in November.

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California

Everyone discusses my art and pretends to understand, as if it were necessary to understand, when it is simply necessary to love. -Claude Monet, painter (14 Nov 1840-1926)

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