Wordsmith.org: the magic of words


About | Media | Search | Contact  


Today's Word

Yesterday's Word



AWADmail Issue 611

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: Interesting stories from the net

Elephants Can Tell Difference Between Human Languages
Yahoo! News

What is a Foreign Language Worth?
The Economist

Eight Pronunciation Errors That Made the English Language What It is Today
The Guardian

"Bestie" and "Bathroom Break" Among Newly Added Words to Oxford English Dictionary
E! Online

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

The contest invited readers to re-define the word featured this week using 20 letters. The best part of the contest was reading so many creative entries. The hard part was having to select winners from so many excellent entries.

The winners, in no particular order, are:

polyphiloprogenitive: Missing the organ stops
(Why did JS Bach have so many children? Because his organ didn't have any stops.)
Douglas Rathbun, Washington, DC (douglas rathbun.net)

secret of Polichinelle: Secret whispered aloud
Jenna Musimbi, Nairobi, Kenya (serene57lib yahoo.com)

Silk-stocking district: Home for the One Percent
George P. Felleman, New York, New York (gfelleman msn.com)

They will receive their choice of any of these prizes:
o A signed copy of any of my books
o A copy of the word game One Up!
o The T-shirt "AWAD to the wise is sufficient"

Thanks to all the readers who took part in the contest by sending 20-letter definitions of the words. Did you notice, the term "twenty characters long" itself is 20 letters long?

Some readers misinterpreted the instructions: a few sent their own 20-letter words, some interpreted the contest to mean 20 letters or fewer, some sent anagrams of the words, one reader sent 20-word definitions, and so on.

Read on for a selection of the entries that were, in fact, 20 letters long.


Five score and many more
Susan M. Watkins, Ithaca, New York (smwatkins11 gmail.com)

Procreating ad nauseam
Katherine Anderson, Seattle, Washington (getsushin gmail.com)

Rabbits making rabbits
Dr. Andrea H. Jaber, Missouri City, Texas (andrea.jaber hccs.edu)

"I do not know when to stop!"
James Heyd, Oshawa, Canada (schmoo33_123 hotmail.com)

Enough kids to fill a bus
Eric van Wiltenburg, Victoria, Canada (eric vee-dub.net)

Babies, babies, mo' babies
Bob Stein, Lyme, New Hampshire (me bobste.in)

Octomom is famous for it
Mark Vernon, Healdsburg, California (markv ridgewine.com)

Producing in abundance
Elspeth Kirton Barbados, West Indies (spikeandlyn gmail.com)

Too many kids to count, OK?
Julia Schmitz-Leuffen, Corsier, Switzerland (schmitz-leuffen bluewin.ch)

Hyperbolic creativity
Charlie Cockey, Brno, Czech Republic (czechpointcharlie gmail.com)

Having a lot of children
Loganathan S, Kangayam, India (pks.loganathan rane.co.in)

Little Lord Fauntleroy:

Really no Justin Bieber
Jonathan Bell, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (JonathanMBell aol.com)

Obverse of Honey Boo Boo
Lori Gregor, Upper Freehold, New Jersey (lgregor cpcbhc.org)

Master goodie two-shoes
Alexis Gonzales, San Francisco, California (alexisgonzales hotmail.com)

Too-good-to-be-true child
Lynda Young, Wellington, New Zealand (rby actrix.co.nz)

Precious kid (too much so)
Ronnie Raviv, Chicago, Illinois (raraviv99 gmail.com)

Young Ms Shirley Temple
Clara Premia, Surrey, Canada (clara.premia worksafebc.com)


Mole out of the mountain
Lynda Young, Wellington, New Zealand (rby actrix.co.nz)

Calling a spade a person
Richard Kirste, Novato, California (rok saber.net)

Calling an "it" by "he" or "she"
William Flis, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (bill.flis gmail.com)

Making human what is not
Kara Birkenmayer, Cambridge, Massachusetts (birkenmayer college.harvard.edu)

Humanizing inanimates
Sarah Witri, Chicago, Illinois (switri gmail.com)

Flopsy, Mopsy, Peter, et al
Charlotte Russell, Littleton, Massachusetts (ccr6273 verizon.net)

Make a man out of the mole
Jeff Springer, Erie, Colorado (jeffspringer3000 gmail.com)

Making dogs like people
(quite an insult to the dogs, no doubt)
Allison Wolfe, Georgetown, Texas (salwolfe1 att.net)

Fido takes Jim for a walk
Sally Sherman, Cincinnati, Ohio (shermanrsm mnministries.org)

Pretending it's a person
Stephen Satris, Clemson, South Carolina (stephen clemson.edu)

Silk-stocking district:

Where 100% are the top 1%
Roger Atlas, Mazatlan, Mexico (roger_atlas hotmail.com)

No-runs-hosiery Heights
Asher Hockett, Danby, New York (asherhockett hotmail.com)

Home to upper-class folk
David W. Frank, W. Roxbury, Massachusetts (dawilfra aol.com)

Enclave of the affluent
Ivy Kaminsky, Houston, Texas (ivykaminsky yahoo.com)

No home to the hoi polloi
Mark B. Waters, Norwich, UK (markbwaters hushmail.com)

Hoity toity area of town
Lori Anderson, Pewaukee, Wisconsin (imeneone gmail.com)

Silver spoons district
Timothy Ebert, Auburndale, Florida (tebert ufl.edu)

Where Richie Rich lives
Wendy Moran, Huntersville, North Carolina (wmoran peoplesbanknc.com)

Upper East Side, New York
Loganathan S, Kangayam, India (pks.loganathan rane.co.in)

What a Vanderbilt built
Debbie Perez-Stable, Fairview Park, Ohio (onelightsource aol.com)

A gentrified community
R.K. Dillon, Brooklyn, New York (rkdillon verizon.net)

Area where fat cats live
Jennifer Henry, Little Falls, Minnesota (jkapsner hotmail.com)

Where privilege abides
Lori Kohler, Tallahassee, Florida (kohlert2 gmail.com)

It is Beverly Hills 90210, baby!
Andra Kiser, San Antonio, Texas (andra.kiser utsa.edu)

John J. Astor and friends
Therese Masters Jacobson, Alvarado, Minnesota (tmjacobson16 gmail.com)

One percent; no poor folk
Becky Townsend, Plainfield, New Hampshire (becky hcsmlaw.com)

Donald Trump lives here
Josh Henkin, Arlington, Virginia (jtothehen yahoo.com)

A borough of the richest
Jonathan Steffani, Ampfing, Germany (jonathansteffani web.de)

The county of the bounty
Aiswarya Kishor, Dubai (aiswarya_kishor hotmail.com)

The turf of the non-serfs
Christie Julien, Charlottesville, Virginia (christie.julien gmail.com)

Ain't yaw ilk, we're in silk.
(Sounds better in a typical rap tune!)
Ganesh Ramakrishnan, Mumbai, India (rgmumbai gmail.com)

Secret of Polichinelle:

Who does not know? Nobody.

Betty Feinberg, Tucson, Arizona (bgfeinberg cox.net)
The not-so-secret secret
Gordon Havens, Independence, Missouri (gordonhavens hotmail.com)

Edward Snowden private
Roger Atlas, Mazatlan, Mexico (roger_atlas hotmail.com)

Hiding in a glass closet
Steven Bernstein, West Hills, California (sbernstein me.com)

The elephant in the room
An emperor's new clothes
Carl Shneider, Leiden, The Netherlands (shneider strw.leidenuniv.nl)

You didn't hear it from me
Lynda Young, Wellington, New Zealand (rby actrix.co.nz)

I know you know, don't tell
Eric K. Sorensen, Marengo, Wisconsin (eric.k.sorensen lycos.com)

Known only to everybody
Bruce Poropat, Berkeley, California (baporopat gmail.com)

Really, there is no santa
Peter Stone, Melbourne, Australia (crookedpaw hotmail.com)

FDR's invalidism, for one
Jed Scott, Rockford, Michigan (scottjed gmail.com)

There never were any WMD
Dale Roberts, New Castle, Delaware (droberts express-scripts.com)

From: Gordon Havens (gordonhavens hotmail.com)
Subject: A verse in which each line is 20 letters

Free verse: A poetic game
With a pun for high score

Anu's AWAD competitions:
Twenty-letter contests
To test your creativity
And challenge your mind.
So here's the best of luck
For you'll surely need it.
(And don't call me Shirley!)
Rimshot, groans and exit.

Gordon Havens, Independence, Missouri

From: Ted Drachman (TLDrach gmail.com)
Subject: Polyphiloprogenitive

A double dactyl from John Hollander & Anthony Hecht's delightful collection of the light verse form, Jiggery-Pokery. From memory:

Higamous, Hogamous
Thomas Stearns Eliot
Wrote a whole poem to
Carry one word.

What was it now? Poly-
I do not like it. I
Think it absurd.

Absent my copy of the collection, I do not remember the double dactyl's author. The poem referred to in the verse is Eliot's "Mr. Eliot's Sunday Morning Service" in which he seemingly coined the word by adding "poly" to the already existent "philoprogenitive."

Ted Drachman, New York, New York

From: George Cowgill (cowgill asu.edu)
Subject: Little Lord Fauntleroy

I have always understood "Little Lord Fauntleroy" to mean a conceited self-important spoiled brat. Not a complimentary term.

George Cowgill, Tempe, Arizona

From: Deborah Pate (deborah.pate seattle.gov)
Subject: silk-stocking district

I lived in a company town in Washington State and we had a street referred to as Silk Stocking Row. The houses in this row were assigned to supervisors, managers, and out-of-town VIPs from city government back in the day. The house assignments are no longer adhered to, but the name Silk Stocking Row has continued on.

Deborah Pate, Rockport, Washington

From: Damiana Covre (damianacovre gmail.com)
Subject: secret of Polichinelle

Being Italian I was very pleased to see this term and I can confirm that in Italian the expression (which in Italian is "Il segreto di Pulcinella") is widely used.

Damiana Covre, Veneto, Italy

From: John Wolcott (j.wolcott olayangroup.com)
Subject: Congratulations!

Hard to believe it's been twenty years, but you should know that we readers are well aware all that BS&T have been gifts offered daily to all of us who open up the email hoping, among all the day's crises, for a modicum of education, entertainment, and the sheer joy of words (and this from a CPA, go figure). Thank you!

John O. Wolcott, Darien, Connecticut

From: Irving N. Webster-Berlin (awadreviewsongs gmail.com)
Subject: Song based on this week's words

Here are this week's AWAD Review Songs (words and recordings) for your listening and viewing pleasure.

Irving N. Webster-Berlin, Sacramento, California

Time changes all things: there is no reason why language should escape this universal law. -Ferdinand de Saussure, linguist (1857-1913)

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