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Sep 23, 2018
This week’s theme
Words that have many unrelated meanings

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Relative usage over time

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Tosspot words

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AWADmail Issue 847

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

Sponsor’s Message: One Up! is wicked smarter than Scrabble. No board. No complicated rules. 20 or so sweaty fun cutthroat minutes. Rinse (off your brain), and repeat. Congrats to Email of the Week winner, Evan Hazard (see below), as well as all AWADers -- you can get 1,000,000 worlds and worlds in your pocket for less than the cost of a couple of coffees. Caffeine your cranium up now >

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

Maori Language, Once Shunned, Is Having a Renaissance in New Zealand
The New York Times

Learn Another European Language -- and Give Two Fingers to Brexit Britain
The Guardian

The Oxford English Dictionary Is Opening its Gates to Teenage Slang

From: Andrew Rooney (arooney3701 gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--columbine

It has also come to mean mass shootings at schools, e.g., Looks like there has been another Columbine today.

Andrew Rooney, Denver, Colorado

Email of the Week brought to you by One Up! -- A way better bargain than Bananagrams.

From: Evan Hazard (eehazard paulbunyan.net)
Subject: columbine

As you know, it was possible at nuns’ monasteries, if you had an infant born out of wedlock, to place the baby in a chamber in the monastery wall, rotate the chamber, and a nun inside would rescue the baby without ever seeing its mother. If the kid survived, it needed a surname. In Italy, it was often Esposito (exposed or abandoned) or Colombo (for the pigeons that inhabited the monastery towers). In France, it might be “Trouve’ (found). Named my last (formerly) male cat M. Trouve’. Had to give him away, but think the new owner kept the name.

Evan Hazard, Bemidji, Minnesota

From: Rory Miln (miln mmlaw.co.uk)
Subject: raddle

A farmer paints the underside of his ram with raddle (noun) so that he can see which of his ewes has been served by the ram. I didn’t know that raddle was traditionally red ochre but, as I understand it, the modern formulation is such that the raddle never dries. Even if the ram takes several days to work his way round the flock, every ewe he has served will have her back marked with raddle.

I have always assumed that the “verb 3” meaning came from the appearance of a ewe after she has been served and, by extension, the appearance of a person after they have been subjected to the sexual attention of another of the species.

Rory Miln, Devon, UK

From: Diana Waygood (ditreas iinet.net.au)
Subject: Raddle

Some friends were acting as caretakers at Woodstock Station in the Pilbara in the north of WA, a former research station that in 1988 was under the care of the Western Australian Museum. When visiting, I saw dozens of “Sire Sign Raddling Harnesses” hanging in the shearing sheds. These were harnesses that held blocks of coloured wax securely on the rams’ chests and while “tupping” the ewes they would leave a mark on the ewes’ rumps, therefore marking which ewes would most likely be pregnant and which could run faster than the rams!

Diana Waygood, Perth, Australia

From: John Callagher (callagher sbcglobal.net)
Subject: Red raddle

Back in the 1940s growing up in Coventry, UK, I have never forgotten walking through the old neighborhoods of row houses. They were very small. The front door of the home opened directly on to the pavement (sidewalk). It was common to walk by the rows of houses and see a mum or grandmum down on her hands and knees, scrubbing the stone front door step, then applying a coat of RED RADDLE from a round-shaped tin. Those rows of frequently rained-on small homes of one door and one many-paned window would merge together as a drab grey wallpaper. The only noticeable break in the cold wet walk would be the small entry door step, shining a bright red splash of colour. People back then did not have much of anything. Yet I have never forgotten the sense of pride the ladies had in who and what they were.

Just thought I would pass on this small smudge of red from the past.

John B Callagher, Columbus, Ohio

From: Gigi Gottwald (gottwalds axxess.co.za)
Subject: raddle

Lovers of Thomas Hardy’s novels will remember the unhappy Diggory Venn, the “reddleman” in the novel The Return of the Native, “a person whose vocation it was to supply farmers with redding for their sheep”. The man was “completely red ... He was not temporarily overlaid with the colour: it permeated him.”

Gigi Gottwald, Polokwane, South Africa

From: Katie O. Flynn (koflynn pacbell.net)
Subject: Raddle

Raddles (photo) are used to prevent the warp from tangling when it is wound on the beam.

Katie O. Flynn, San Mateo, California

From: Robert Berend (tactile8888 yahoo.com)
Subject: Gage (and muggles) more definitions

My memory for obscure words was triggered when I saw the use of gage as your word for today.

As a fan of obscure words, I knew gage meant, back in the 1960s and earlier (before my time), marijuana.

Here’s an article about Louis Armstrong and pot. Note: Armstrong and Bob Marley, cited by Time magazine as the most influential musicians of the 20th century, both used pot a lot.

As for muggles -- I remember that this was a word for pot as well. No one, other than my memory, ever connected it to the Harry Potter books besides me! I didn’t research it, but I have always wondered if Rowling knew this usage too.

Robert Berend, Beverly Hills, California

From: Eric Kisch (kischmir917 wowway.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--mizzle

Taken the wrong way, this could suggest an urgent need to get to a bathroom!

Eric Kisch,Shaker Heights, Ohio

From: Curtis Reeves (creeves alumni.usc.edu)
Subject: Words that have many unrelated meanings

Truck has always had a soft spot in my heart. Besides the usage for transporting goods, it also can refer to items of trifling value (truck farm). But my personal favorite usage is in the phrase, “I’ll have no truck with #45.”

Curtis Reeves, Fresno, California

From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: mizzle and raddle

It’s fair to say that Scotland is not renowned for its clement weather, and moreover, rain is often the bane of many a round of golf over the country’s storied links. But avid Scots golfers, as tradition would have it, have proven to be a rather hardy, resilient lot, where nary drizzle, mizzle, a Scottish mist, or even a torrential downpour will deter them from finishing their round. In the past, sunny days in Caledonia could be as rare as finding a teetotaling native Scotsman. Ha! Although, of late, in light of ever-increasing global warming, “Mr. Sunshine” has been more kind to the dour Scots, where in these more recent, decidedly warmer climes, domestic sales of umbrellas have likely plummeted, as spirits (the non-alcoholic ones... Ha!) have risen.
mizzle raddle
May I indulge you folks in recounting a wee personal anecdote from my summer of 1996 travels o’er the picturesque valleys and glens of the Scottish Highlands, where encountering “jay-walking” herds of sheep is not an uncommon occurrence when navigating the very narrow rural backroads of my ancestral homeland. On one memorable occasion, towards dusk (the gloaming), I was quite unexpectedly interrupted in my travels by a lone herdsman with a pair of sheepdogs, guiding his flock of wooly charges across the road from one barbwire-enclosed pasture to another. As the shepherd and his flock trundled off, from my rental car I spotted a rather large clump of white wool caught up on one of the barbwire fence-lines. I left the car to retrieve this stray clump of fluff... my poor-man’s version of The Golden Fleece. Ha! But curiously, the pure whiteness of my serendipitous find was marred by a distinctive streak of deep red paint... a raddle, as it were. To this day I’ve kept this clump of red-stained Scottish wool that amazingly still retains a hint of its original natural lanolin fragrance... and the red marker-of-ownership.

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California

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


1. columbine
2. raddle
3. mizzle
4. rummy
5. gage
1. gym malice
2. red
3. mud omen
4. guzzler
5. bail
     Words that have many unrelated meanings
1. columbine
2. raddle
3. mizzle
4. rummy
5. gage
1. granny’s bonnet - hmm, love it!
2. animal dye
3. muddle
4. card game with a guzzler
5. measure
-Dharam Khalsa, Burlington, North Carolina (dharamkk2 gmail.com) -Robert Jordan, Lampang, Thailand (alfiesdad ymail.com)

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

When he fell for that pert Columbine,
it was certainly not by design.
They were acres apart,
but they heeded the heart
and so far they are doing just fine.
-Zelda Dvoretzky, Haifa, Israel (zeldahaifa gmail.com)

Columbine, Oh Columbine, will you be my love divine?
Columbine, Oh Columbine, will you be my garden vine?
Yours is the word!
The sweetest I’ve heard!
Where soft vowel and consonant, so consonant, combine!
-Monica Broom, Morogoro, Tanzania (monicabroom2015 gmail.com)

Miss Stormy was never a columbine.
Re: prurient interests? Cries “OK. fine.”
When Don dipped his nib
Friend Cohen he bid
For stifling. But now it’s a headline.
-Anna C. Johnston, Coarsegold, California (ajohnston13 gmail.com)

In my days as a sassy young columbine,
There were times when I needed some calamine.
What I did gave me rashes,
While turning to ashes
The marriage of each special pal o’ mine.
-Janice Power, Cleveland, Ohio (janicepower25 gmail.com)

“I told you to hire a columbine,”
Said Melania, peeved as a porcupine.
“I couldn’t distinguish
Your accented English,”
Shrugged Donald, “I thought you said ‘concubine.’”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

I’m frazzled, raddled, and verklempt;
No clever rhymes will I attempt.
When the well runs dry,
I can’t versify --
My doctor’s note says I’m exempt.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

When younger I raddled my face.
My cheeks were the obvious place.
My lips, once in awhile,
Donned a red ochre smile,
But my green hair was a disgrace.
-Lois Mowat, Orinda, California (lmowat1810 gmail.com)

A cowboy rode tall in the saddle
As he marked the great herd using raddle.
“But at night when it’s lonely,”
He sighed, “I wish only
Just one was a sheep, and not cattle.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

He never can follow a thread
Of thoughts mizzling ‘round in his head.
With words convoluted
And ideas polluted,
We don’t have a clue what he said.
-Gayle Tremblay, Saint John, Canada (gayletremblay hotmail.com)

Her striking political views
will likely surprise and confuse
a few people, but his’ll
be certain to mizzle
most persons observing the news.
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

“It seems my appointment judicial
May melt like a witch in a mizzle,”
Said Donald, “It’s weird,
For my grabbing was cheered;
When I do it, my poll numbers sizzle.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Odd and unconventional for sure,
Donald’s neither demure or mature.
So, he well defines rummy,
Plus he’s got a large tummy.
Drunkard? Doubt it. But surely a boor.
-Joe Budd Stevens, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico (joebuddstevens gmail.com)

My old coon hound Skitter is rummy.
She puts all kinds of trash in her tummy.
Her brain’s somewhat addled,
Her coat’s pretty raddled,
But I love her, for I am her mummy.
-Sara Hutchinson, New Castle, Delaware (sarahutch2003 yahoo.com)

Brett Kavanaugh is no dummy,
But hormones, and being rummy,
At high school party,
Was not a smarty.
Now accused of acting so scummy.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“Someday when I’m found as a mummy,”
Said King Tut, “is when things will get rummy.
A guy named Steve Martin
My soul will dishearten
By dancing around like a dummy.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Oh, the King in a disgruntled rage,
Why, he threw down his large silver gage.
“Pu-leez,” the Queen said,
“I’m now going to bed,
You will sleep in the bathtub, my sage.”
-Judith Marks-White, Westport, Connecticut (joodthmw gmail.com)

By any gage, the president’s thick.
To deride a victim is truly sick!
There’s no restraint
As he spreads a taint
By misusing power with a sleazy trick!
-Marcia Sinclair, Newmarket, Canada (marciasinclair rogers.com)

“My darling, your fears I’ll assuage:
Donald Trump we will stop, that’s my gage.”
And we all now bemoan
That his FBI phone
Peter Strzok used to text Lisa Page.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

From: Phil Graham (pgraham1946 cox.net)
Subject: Some “sounds like” silliness

The king would line up his serving wenches and columbine name.

Pulmonary edema can leave one flushed and with a death raddle.

“No more for me. If I don’t leave now the mizzle lock me out.”

The alcoholic liked his eggs a bit on the rummy side.

Are un-graded eggs gage-free?

Phil Graham, Tulsa, Oklahoma

Very few established institutions, governments and constitutions ... are ever destroyed by their enemies until they have been corrupted and weakened by their friends. -Walter Lippmann, journalist (23 Sep 1889-1974)

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