Wordsmith.org: the magic of words


About | Media | Search | Contact  


Today's Word

Yesterday's Word



Sep 11, 2011
This week’s theme
Unusual synonyms

This week’s words

How popular are they?
Relative usage over time

AWADmail archives

Next week’s theme
Words made with combining forms

Like what you see here?
Send a gift subscription
Bookmark and Share Facebook Twitter Digg MySpace Bookmark and Share

AWADmail Issue 480

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

From: Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)
Subject: 10 years ago

The Sep 11 attacks ten years ago prompted a flood of responses from AWAD readers. We published a Special Peace Issue (AWADmail Issue 48) that may be worth reading again.

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

Singapore's language battle: American vs the Queen's English
Asian Correspondent

Shtick, Pavilion and Other Great Words
The Independent

From: Will Brew (wbrew verizon.net)
Subject: cowabunga
Def: An expression of surprise, joy, or enthusiasm.

Here's a great video clip about the origin of the word (and its subsequent use).

Will Brew, Falls Church, Virginia

From: Constance Adler (cmadler8 earthlink.net)
Subject: cowabunga!

Thank you for the etymology of "cowabunga!" I was surprised that you neglected to mention one of the most cherished (I think) examples of this word's use in popular culture. The Peanuts Beagle, Snoopy cried "cowabunga" just as he was about to pounce on his prey, real or imagined. You're going to hear from a lot of us Snoopy fans today.

Constance Adler, New Orleans, Louisiana

From: Fred Webber (phred55427 aol.com)
Subject: cowabunga

To not cite the frequent use of "cowabunga" by cultural icon Bart Simpson is inexcusable! The show is now in its 23rd season. Get your noses out of the books.


Fred Webber, Minneapolis, Minnesota

Email of the Week - (Sponsored by One Up! - Do you like playing mind games?)

From: Gordon Thomas (gordonthomas earthlink.net)
Subject: With sentimental thanks

I'm moved today to thank you for touching me with a sentimental memory today. The word cowabunga transported me 35 years into the past, recalling the first love of my life, a gifted and brilliant philosopher named Robert Andrew Ariel. I was a 21-year-old University of Minnesota student, he a 24-year-old grad student. We met shortly after his arrival from Balliol College and fell in love. He taught me a great deal, including his appreciation of quirky words and (over time) to accept and even delight in his vexing ability to unravel any argument I could muster in two seconds flat.

In any case, one of his favorite exclamatory words was cowabunga, usually in response to anything that appeared slightly excessive or especially tickled him.

Robert died in 2001, but the memory of the extraordinary impact he had (and has to this day) on my life stays strong. So this morning, I was greeted once again by his smiling face and heard his familiar voice, which in turn brought a smile to mine.

Gordon Thomas, Minneapolis, Minnesota

From: John Ellis (j.ellis9726 sbcglobal.net)
Subject: Gesundheit
Def: Used to wish good health to someone who has sneezed.

When traveling in Germany this spring we were looking for a drug store and were amused to find that they are labeled Gesundheit. Once inside, they looked about like what we see in the US.

John P. Ellis, Indianapolis, Indiana

From: Jerry Gordon (jerrygordon juno.com)
Subject: Gesundheit

Talk about successful memes! I'm hard-pressed to think of a more pervasive superstition than saying "Gesundheit" or "God bless you" when someone sneezes. Not commenting on the effluence almost borders on rudeness. How come burps, coughs, and farts don't require a response from the audience?

Jerry Gordon, Troy, New York

From: Jim Belisle (jtb399 yahoo.com)
Subject: bada-bing
Def: Used to suggest something happening effortlessly, emphatically, or predictably, implying "Just like that!" or "Voila!"

In the US this is sometimes used in the phrase "bada bing, bada boom" with the same meaning. I remember Jay Leno's comments when Joey Battafuoco's Long Island Lolita was in the news: "Bada bing, bada boom, Battafuoco!"

Jim Belisle, Norwalk, Connecticut

From: Stephen S. Power (spower wiley.com)
Subject: Bada-bing

Come on: how could you not use as an example the most famous quotation with bada-bing, Jimmy Cahn's Sonny Corleone improvising it in The Godfather:

Hey, whaddya gonna do, nice college boy, eh? Didn't want to get mixed up in the Family business, huh? Now you wanna gun down a police captain. Why? Because he slapped ya in the face a little bit? Hah? What do you think this is the Army, where you shoot 'em a mile away? You've gotta get up close like this and - bada-BING! - you blow their brains all over your nice Ivy League suit.

Stephen S. Power, Maplewood, New Jersey

From: Sherill Anderson (clintonsherill hotmail.com)
Subject: bada-bing

On the HBO series "The Sopranos" the topl ess bar that Tony Soprano frequented was called "The Bada Bing".

Sherill Anderson, Seattle, Washington

From: Michael McGown (mmcgown gmx.com)
Subject: age of bada-bing

I'm sure I remember the phrase bada-bing, bada-boom from longer ago than 1965. In my head, I associate it with Jackie Gleason. After a bit of a search, I turned up this page:

Pat Cooper (born Pasquale Caputo) is a Brooklyn-born comedian who based many of his routines on his Italian-American upbringing. He was known for his rapid-fire, rat-a-tat delivery, along with his penchant for peppering his routine with many Italian-influenced Brooklynisms, such as fuhgeddaboudit (forget about it), whattamigonnado and "Bam, bam, bam", all accompanied by eloquent gestures. In 1958, he premiered a routine entitled The Italian Wedding during which he used the phrase "bada-boom, bada-bing" in between descriptions of relatives who were scarfing down piles of capicolla sandwiches. An agent caught his act and booked him on The Jackie Gleason Show.

Beyond this, Cooper was on Jackie Gleason many times as far back as 1953, and while I have no proof, I think Cooper and Gleason were both using the phrase even before 1958.

Michael McGown, Austin, Texas

From: Mike Williams (mikew12345 cox.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--attaboy
Def: Used to express approval or encouragement.

I've seen this many times printed on an official-looking certificate:

For your very outstanding performance you are hereby awarded *ONE ATTABOY* One thousand 'attaboys' qualifies you to be a leader of men, work overtime with a smile, explain problems to management, and be looked on as a Local Hero, without a raise in pay.
NOTE: One 'Aws hit' wipes the board clean and you have to start all over again

Mike Williams, Las Vegas, Nevada

From: Guru Nadarajan (dr.g.nadarajan gmail.com)
Subject: Interjection

Talking of how to administer an injection properly in the buttock, Bailey and Love's textbook of surgery says "If you don't insert the needle correctly and happen to poke the sciatic nerve, an injection will be followed by an interjection from the patient."

Dr. Guru Nadarajan, Dubai

From: Susie Getzschman (getzschman sbcglobal.net)
Subject: Interjections

My favorite and oft expressed interjection comes from a football player who married a religious woman and thus limited his interjections to: "Oh my garage!"

Susie Getzschman, St Louis, Missouri

From: Kelly Gombert (kelly.d.gombert philips.com)
Subject: Interjections

Thanks for the earworm. As soon as I read this week's theme, I immediately thought about the Saturday morning Schoolhouse Rock jingle:

Interjection, shows excitement or emotion.
It's generally set apart from a sentence by an exclamation point,
Or by a comma when the feeling's not as strong."

Kelly Gombert, Highland Heights, Ohio

From: Eric Shackle (ericshackle bigpond.com)
Subject: Interjections

The world's oldest dogs would interject Yapyap! or Grrr!. To make sense of this, click on Nimble Nonagenarians.

Eric Shackle, Sydney, Australia

Our expression and our words never coincide, which is why the animals don't understand us. -Malcolm De Chazal, writer and painter (1902-1981)

We need your help

Help us continue to spread the magic of words to readers everywhere


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

© 1994-2024 Wordsmith