Wordsmith.org: the magic of words


About | Media | Search | Contact  


Today's Word

Yesterday's Word



AWADmail Issue 768

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

Lack of Oxford Comma Could Cost Maine Company Millions in Overtime Dispute
The New York Times
[We like the Oxford comma, but we side with the delivery drivers, with or without a comma]

Three Habits of Successful Language Learners
[Tip: These habits work for learning almost anything, not just language]

From: Brian Holsclaw (brian.holsclaw gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--lodestar

Happy Trivicennial, Anu! I’ve been a daily reader since 1996 -- there was much less daily email back in those days. I remember reading the AWAD text-formatted mails back in the mid-90s when you used to write the shortest and longest email addresses and which new countries had signed up for subscription. Ahh, the good-ol days.

Brian Holsclaw, Seattle, Washington

From: Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)
Subject: Write an equation contest

In response to the write-an-equation-contest, readers sent equations for calculating love, peace, wisdom, happiness, health, success, domestic tranquility, and more. There were equations for more mundane things as well, such as the value of meetings and for guessing a woman’s age.

Some had converted the biblical assertion “Money is the root of all evil” into an equation. One of my favorite equations is one for calculating the volume of a pizza whose radius is z and thickness a, V = pi zz a.

Thanks to all for participating. Winners, in no particular order, are:

Age of the person who claims to have walked to school in all kinds of weather:
A = M + |G| + S
M = # miles to the school
G = latitude
S = inches of snow
*bonus: add 10 if it was uphill both ways
Example: 1 mile to school plus 44 latitude plus 17” snow = 62 plus bonus uphill both ways 10 = 72.
-Chree Perkins, Leicester, Vermont (chreeperkins verizon.net)

Equation for calculating bliss:

    C   S
B = - + -
    L   T
Where C = cat, L = lap, S = strong light, and T = tome.
-Isabel Auerbach, Rohnert Park, California (yunhyunh yahoo.com)

Equation for predicting electoral success:

     G x B x A
ES = ---------
       H x I
G = invocations of God
B = current Buzzwords
A = Appeals to worst instincts
H = Hard realities mentioned
I = evidence of Intellect
Note that if either H or I approaches zero, ES becomes infinite.
-Richard Kaplan, Farnborough, UK (r.kaplan ucl.ac.uk)

They’ll receive their choice of a signed copy of any of my books or a copy of the word game One Up!

Read on for honorable mentions:


This one I had made up during my engineering college days. When we recline and study during exams, the amount of time in which we fall asleep (involuntarily) is given by
I = Interest in the subject
θ = Angle of reclination (from horizontal)
F = Amount of food consumed for dinner
D = Level of difficulty of the subject
I is exponential because it is of the utmost importance.
F is squared while D is square root because more consumption of food has a greater influence on inducing sleep than a more difficulty level (in fact, in a few exceptional cases, D goes up in the numerator -- more difficulty causes us to be awake and think more and consequently be awake for more time).
-Aditya Pathak, Bengaluru, India (apathak tce.co.in)


Success of marriage
S = (K × 5) + (E × 4) + (UWKYMS)²
K = Kindness
E = Empathy
UWKYMS = Understanding when to keep your mouth shut
-Leslie Tkach-Kawasaki, Tsukuba, Japan (tkach japan.email.ne.jp)

If F is the overall family happiness, then F = 0.1H + K + 10W
H = Husband’s happiness
K = Kids’ happiness
W = Wife’s happiness
-Ted Palomaki, Salt Lake City, Utah (tdp eastontp.com)

My decluttering equation:
c = a/b
where a = likeliness of using a possession in the future, on a scale of 1-10
b = object size, on a scale of 1-10
c = score, items scoring below .7 should be gotten rid of
-Perry Saunders, Austin, Texas (xsoundx hotmail.com)

Noise in the house increases proportionally to the square of the number of children. Maybe N = C².
-Edna Litten, Altamont, New York (ejlitten hotmail.com)

Happy wife = Happy life
-Daniel Fisher, Managua, Nicaragua (mrdanfish gmail.com)

Number of bicycles one should own = n + 1
where n is the current number of bikes owned
Number of bikes needed for domestic tranquility = D - 1
where D is number of bikes which results in divorce
-Sam Joseph, Spokane, Washington (sgjoseph1 gmail.com)


Real estate price = Q + L³
Where Q = quality
L = location
-Mike Carlson, Grand Marais, Minnesota (mhcnvc boreal.org)

1. Price for women’s shoes = 300 × distance in feet between shoes on display
For example, in Payless Shoes, the shoes are about 1/10th of a foot apart. So shoes in Payless cost 0.1 × 300 = $30/pair. In a Jimmy Choo display, the shoes are about 2 feet apart: 2 × 300 = $600/pair
2. Cost of retail staff per square foot of store space = $0.04/hour
In the US, you’ll find one clerk covering 500 square feet of floor space. That clerk earns about $20/hour. So the cost per square foot is 20/500 = 0.04/hour. In China, you will find 10 clerks covering the same territory. But they each get paid $2/hour. So (10×2)/500 = the same 0.04/hour.
-Bill Duncan, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (wrd pmpartners.com)


Vm = 1/t where Vm is the value of a meeting and t is the length of time it takes. This can also be expressed in English as the value of a meeting is inversely proportional to its length.
-Andrew Marr, Shoreham-by-Sea, UK (am andrewmarr.com)

If A equals accomplishments completed at a meeting, then A = 1/x where x = number of people at the meeting.
-Rima Phillips, East Windsor, New Jersey (rimaphillips gmail.com)

Over time I developed a theory on the intelligence of committees. Simple observation shows being in a committee reduces the intelligence of its members. The resultant intelligence of the committee organism once a quorum is gained can be calculated in the same way as parallel resistance can be:
R total = (1/R₁ + 1/R₂ + 1/R₃...)
-Glm Mengel, Denver, Colorado (via website comments)

P = L² × A ± T
Popularity of music = Looks squared × Advertising ± Talent
-David W. Moore, Des Moines, Iowa (dwmoore businessolver.com)


Statesmanship = truth × fairness / (conspiracy × corruption × bigotry)
Dictatorship = 1 / statesmanship
-Alan Winson, Oakland, California (alan.winson gmail.com)

 (Acts of responsibility - Acts of blaming)² + (Decisions based on science - Decisions ignoring science)²
Presidential image =--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 (Total words + Total tweets)
-Wren Hudgins, Seattle, Washington (ed258 icloud.com)

-Allan J Wager, Barcelona, Spain (wagbomb gmail.com)

Fake News + Alternate Facts = Stupid Solutions
-Thomas C. Perkins, Manville, Rhode Island (perkystp gmail.com)

The equation for Post Truth:
PT = (T-T) + BS
Where Post Truth equals Truth minus Truth (0) plus Bullshit. There may be a Gullibility factor, but I’m not sure where to put it.
-Claudia Gaber, Townsville, Australia (CGWordsmith hotmail.com)


If A is happiness in old age then A = X + Y + Z where
X is someone to talk to
Y is something to do
Z is something to look forward to
-Dr. Michael Smout, Summerstrand, South Africa (ma.smout mweb.co.za)

Happiness from a snow day H = 10/X² where X is the number of snow days in a season
-Richard Marriner, Augusta, Maine (richard.marriner maine.gov)

Given H = The size of a person’s “heart” (compassion, etc.)
M = That person’s total wealth
Therefore: H = 1/M (inverse proportion)
-Antonio Christopher Dittmann, Vashon, Washington (dittmann.antonio comcast.net)

H is happiness and
H = (m > s) + h + F + f
Where m = money, s = sufficient money, h = health, F = family and f = friends.
-Graham Heddle, UK (grahamheddle yahoo.com)

Good Time at a Party = Expectations + Conversation + Snacks + √(Alcohol) - Time Spent on your cellphone.
-Jordin Metz, Santiago, Chile (jordin.metz gmail.com)

If H is a successful three-way friendship, then H = (A + B + C) - G
where A, B, and C are the three parties involved and G is the gossip shared among any two parties about the third.
-Paul Many, Toledo, Ohio (paul.many utoledo.edu)

This equation ALWAYS works!
G = R/E
Where G is gratification, R is reality, and E is expectation.
-David Gluck, MD, New York, New York (dglucknyc yahoo.com)

My equation is the following:
Man = what-he-is / what-he-thinks-of-himself
based on this Tolstoy quotation: “A man is like a fraction whose numerator is what he is and whose denominator is what he thinks of himself. The larger the denominator, the smaller the fraction.”
-Amel Bennaceur, Milton Keynes, UK (benamel gmail.com)


I cannot swear that this is originally my formula, but I’ll claim it for this purpose!
OldAge = 10 × √(CurrentAge)
When you are 16, old people are 40;
When you are approaching 50, old people are 70; and
When you are 100, you know you’re old!
-Layne Marshal, Campbell River, Canada (laynemarshal gmail.com)

This one’s really pretty old-fashioned, and I apologise for that, but my mother once told me, quite tongue-in-cheek I’m glad to say, that the ideal ages for a man and woman to marry was given by the equation
X = Y/2 + 10,
where X is the woman’s age and Y the man’s. She didn’t couch it in such algebraic terms, but that’s what it boiled down to: the woman should be half the man’s age, plus ten years.
-Matt McNally, Grahamstown, South Africa (mattmcn telkomsa.net)


I’ve created an equation based on my use of Groupons and the cost and wildly divergent value of things in London :)
IEx = Gr + le - LofAEBTD
Groupon + low-expectations - The-lack-of-anything-else-better-to-do = Improved Experience
-Denise Jones, London, UK (dj.jonestown gmail.com)

For crossword mavens:
orctar & parspin ≈ √r2
(carrot and parsnip soup is more or less a square root or two)
-Andrew Lloyd, Knockroe, Borris, Co Carlow, Ireland (knockroe gmail.com)

I’ve been with you since around 1998, and it never gets old. AWAD + a thought a day >> a day without.
-Matt Nash, Oak Harbor, Washington (mattanash live.com)

According to our dog Lucca, happiness is
H = S+K+3T-Rt-NPR+2C+(UBR×UBR)
S = Shelter
K = Kibble
T = Treats
Rt = Relief Trips
NPR = National Public Radio, self-explanatory; he has to listen to it all the time we are at home, and he is increasing his knowledge base daily, but he would rather listen to country music
C = Cats to chase
UBR = Unlimited Belly Rubs
-Casimir Groblewski, Boston, Massachusetts (cgroblewski fantinigorga.com)

From: Bill Simpson (w50gsn gmail.com)
Subject: lodestar

I put this note into the category of odd coincidences. In this case, involving the contest for equations which you announced today, and your word of the day, lodestar.

Believe it or not, this web page provides an equation for the calculation of a lodestar.

To quote the legal document: “The lodestar is simply the hours reasonably necessary to the prosecution of the successful claim times a reasonable hourly rate.”

Bill Simpson, Toronto, Canada

From: Joel Mabus (joel.mabus pobox.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--superbity

Ah, I recall Jane Austen’s first title for Pride and Prejudice:
Soup and Superbity.

Joel Mabus, Kalamazoo, Michigan

From: David Santangelo (dcsantangelo2005 comcast.net)
Subject: Superbity

When I heard today’s word, Shakespeare’s narrative poem The Rape of Lucrece came to mind. The poem depicts the expulsion of the Etruscan kings from Rome and the establishment of the Republic due to Tarquin’s rape of Collatine’s wife, Lucrece. Tarquin was the son of King Lucius Tarquinius, who the historian Livy said murdered members of his own family to gain the throne and establish a tyranny. The king’s nickname: Superbus.

David Santangelo, Indianapolis, Indiana

From: Andrew Pressburger (andpress sympatico.ca)
Subject: Superbity

In Ancient Rome, the word superbus, meaning proud, was also used as a synonym for arrogant. This cognomen of Tarquinius, last king of Rome, became the reason for his deposition and in fact the end of the monarchy in Rome, with the subsequent establishment of the Republic (SPQR, The Senate and the Populus of the Romans) in 509 BCE.

The Roman Republic lasted for nearly four centuries, and was ultimately destroyed by the internecine warfare that characterized the period of the civil wars in the first century BCE and the rise of Julius Caesar’s military dictatorship, which in turn led to the emergence of the Roman Empire under Augustus Caesar.

Beware of the Ides of March!

Andrew Pressburger, Toronto, Canada

From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: Uliginous and Einstein

uliginous einstein
Illustrations: Alex McCrae
One of the many hollow pledges Trump made was a vow that his new administration would “drain the swamp” in Washington, i.e., take measures to end the culture of politics-as-usual, ridding the federal government of partisan cronyism, entitlements, and graft. So, we’re now just beyond fifty days into Trump’s rocky presidency, and the uliginous Washington swamp still reeks of politics-as-usual. Case in point... Trump has nominated cabinet heads who have been cherry-picked from the ranks of the wealthiest 1%. And these cabinet picks have brought along their own conservative, retrograde agendas, which in many instances seem completely antithetical to the very well-being of most Americans. Clearly, a croc o’ Trump.

I took the liberty to proffer a closing comic twist on Einstein’s formula for “success in life”, namely A= x+y+z, cited by blogmeister Garg in his words-of-the-week theme intro.

My theory is that restful, deep, REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep, and its attendant potentially fertile generation of dreams is as vital to a successful life as fulfilling, engaging work(x) and play (y); particularly for those rare cerebral beings who have risen to the rarefied Einsteinian heights of pure genius. Hmm... I wonder if Albert snored... with his mouth open... the opposite of the “z” factor in his “success” equation? Ha!

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California

From: Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)
Subject: Anagrams of this week’s words

1. lodestar
2. uliginous
3. superbity
4. analphabetic
5. appetence
= 1. apt guide
2. slippery (ripe banana)
3. conceit
4. obtuse
5. hale lust
= 1. I act in tutelage
2. slippery
3. be proud
4. unteachable
5. passion
    -Dharam Khalsa, Burlington, North Carolina (dharamkk2 gmail.com)   -Josiah Winslow, West Allis, Wisconsin (josiah12301 yahoo.com)

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

Tweets R2 birds
as words R2 peeps,
therefore Trump’s fake tweets
R4 the birds.
No lodestar is he.
Q.E.D. sez me.
-Mariana Warner, Asheville, North Carolina (marianaw37 gmail.com)

When you’re down and in need of a lodestar,
Go where women who dance around poles are.
Feast your eyes, but don’t grab
Or instead of a cab
You’ll be leaving inside a patrol car.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Inspector Gadget she’s not
(So excessively desperate to be hot!)
Her trade is uliginous,
Her output maligna-plus,
The Way of the Con pure rot.
-Charles Harp, Victoria, Canada (chazharp yahoo.com)

Pronouncements distinctly uliginous
Spur hate crimes depraved and caliginous.
With cemeteries trashed
And good people bashed,
The loathing whipped up’s unambiguous.
-Kathy Deutsch, Melbourne, Australia (kathy deutsch.net.au)

Bluebeard, a collector of wives,
Worked hard as he’d shorten their lives,
Villain polygynous,
Had ways uliginous,
According to ancient archives.
-Chris Papa, Colts Neck, New Jersey (doxite verizon.net)

To those who insist they’re religion-ous,
citing chapter and verse after quizzing us,
god would most likely find
your behavior unkind
and self-serving, moreover, uliginous.
-Brenda J. Gannam, Brooklyn, New York (gannamconsulting earthlink.net)

In the Everglades, creatures indigenous
Are slimy and wet and uliginous.
Take a tour on a boat
And you’ll see ones who vote
For the Donald, all green and carnivorous.
-Janice Power, Cleveland, Ohio (jpower wowway.com)

That president Trump is uliginous.
His executive orders prodigious.
They hurt and they harm
And cause such alarm
That I have become quite religious.
-Amy Marcus, Victoria, Canada (amarcusx gmail.com)

Our village square is pigeon-ous.
(Those birdies there are indigenous.)
So please beware,
be sure to take care,
cause the area’s very uliginous.
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

There’s many a creature uliginous
Wrapped up in a cloak of religiousness.
“You men, come to Jesus”
Are words sure to please us
When spoken by preachers polygamous.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

In business you need some superbity
So when sued you can claim, “It’s absurdity!”
Your lenders, suppliers,
And students are liars,
You say of your fake university.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

It appears in all probability
Based on Trump’s wild superbity
He won the election
From a wide cross-section
Of folks with irregularity.
-Judith Marks-White, Westport, Connecticut (joodthmw gmail.com)

Challenged, he becomes splenetic,
His protestations turn frenetic;
The more he bleats,
With all his tweets,
The Donald proves he’s analphabetic.
-Sam McCool, Sandy Valley, Nevada (sam samccool.com)

“Academic pursuits are cosmetic;
You can graduate analphabetic.”
These unwritten rules
At Division One schools
Are for those who are large and athletic.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

I’m expressing myself with acerbity
as I watch the decline of our liberty.
All the news that I hear
just increases my fear.
There’s no limit to this man’s superbity.
-Zelda Dvoretzky, Haifa, Israel (zeldahaifa gmail.com)

Their minds are like byzantine labyrinths.
Their bodies exploding with appetence.
In high school the kids
Are like bipedal ids.
Best of luck to you teaching them abstinence.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Though a lodestar, POTUS has appetence
To tweet his first thoughts in a sentence.
But there’s sometimes superbity
To the point of absurdity...
That may lead to future repentance.
-Alan Shoemaker (alan.m.shoemaker gmail.com)

Trump’s budget shows changes in spending.
Big cuts mean good programs ending.
His appetence for war
We cannot ignore.
But alas! What is left worth defending?
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

If I am unhappy or tense,
I have an immense appetence,
To indulge in, you see,
Some “retail therapy”.
For me that just makes common sense.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

As a lodestar he’s more a black hole,
this uliginous huckster, this troll,
whose appetence fetish
and analphabetic
makes his superbity droll.
-Laurence McGilvery, La Jolla, California (laurence mcgilvery.com)

From: Phil Graham (pgraham1946 cox.net)
Subject: Puns to ponder

Jim lodestar in the bucket and I spread it on the roof.

Uliginous the opiate of morasses.

Her looks were superbity didn’t like her personality.

I use my High School Analphabetic which former classmate will die next.

There’s a frenetic new phone appetence person should avoid using.

Phil Graham, Tulsa, Oklahoma

It’s best to give while your hand is still warm. -Philip Roth, novelist (b. 19 Mar 1933)

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