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Oct 25, 2020
This week’s theme
Words that appear to be coined after presidential candidates

This week’s words

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Relative usage over time

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Misc. words

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AWADmail Issue 956

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

Paleontologists See Stars as Software Bleeps Scientific Terms
The New York Times

At This Bookstore in Taiwan, Visitors Shop in the Dark

From: Jim Tang (mauijt aol.com)
Subject: Wishful thinking

You wrote: We get the power to change a president and undo errors of the past.

With all due respect, three Supreme Court appointments cannot be undone. No matter the outcome next month, it will take 30 years (a generation and a half) to overcome the damage already done. A journey of a thousand miles may begin with the first step, but it’s still a thousand miles.

Jim Tang, Kula, Maui

From: Coleen Porcher (coleenporcher ymail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--bident

We have an election every year in this country, and it is time for us to stop emphasizing the presidential election only. Local elections have a big impact on people’s lives, the DA/state’s attorney, the school board reps, the judges, etc. We need people to vote in every election, and especially in years when a presidential candidate is not running.

Coleen Porcher, Bloomfield, New Jersey

From: Tina Talbot (redjanuary live.co.uk)
Subject: trumpery

Here in the UK, especially in the north of England, trump is the polite word for fart.

Tina Talbot, Crediton, UK

From: Lynette Strangstad (strangstad aol.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--trumpery

I’ve long thought that people tend to live up to their names. Donald Trump surely has!

Lynette Strangstad, Mineral Point, Wisconsin

From: Bruce Hyatt (bruce.hyatt gmail.com)
Subject: Trumpery

I think you’ve uncovered evidence in support of the theory of nominative determinism!

Bruce Hyatt, Revere, Massachusetts

From: Rebecca Flannery (rebeccaflannery mac.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--trumpery

[From French tromper (to deceive). Earliest documented use: 1481.]

I have a question. Who got to know Trump in 1481???

Rebecca Flannery, Burlington, Connecticut

From: Christopher Burke (mrchrisburke gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--pensive

One of my favorite movie one-liners, from the 20th-century Shakespeare adaptation Ten Things I Hate About You:

“‘Pensive’? Dang, I was going for ‘thoughtful’.” (video, start at 0:36)

Chris Burke, Tucson, Arizona

From: Debbie Evans (kiwidebbieevans outlook.com)
Subject: pensive

And no doubt the basis for J.K. Rowling’s pensieve in the Harry Potter series -- a wide, shallow dish enchanted to recreate memories so that they become re-liveable.

Debbie Evans, Wellington, New Zealand

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

If bident can be spelled with an additional -t, trumpery with a suffix (-ery), why not spell pensive with a c, as in pence-ive? This wouldn’t change the pronunciation one bit. And in any case, English spelling is completely arbitrary as George Bernard Shaw never failed to point out.

Biographical history, as taught in our public schools, is still largely a history of boneheads: ridiculous kings and queens, paranoid political leaders, compulsive voyagers, ignorant generals, the flotsam and jetsam of historical currents. The men who radically altered history, the great creative scientists and mathematicians, are seldom mentioned if at all. -Martin Gardner, mathematician and writer (21 Oct 1914-2010)

As for the teaching of biographies (A Thought for Today), when I was teaching high school history, I used to spend a complete month each on the accomplishments of Leonardo da Vinci, Galileo Galilei, and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, while of the kings and queens I only lingered on the lives of the two Elizabeths of England: the first for repelling the Armada, the second for helping to dissolve the British Empire.

Andrew Pressburger, Toronto, Canada

From: Davide Migliaccio (dcmiglia gmail.com)
Subject: Biographical History

Regarding the thought for the day on biographical history: as Hunter S. Thompson observed in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, “[h]istory is hard to know because of all the hired bullsh*t ...” And who’s doing the hiring? Why, the “flotsam and jetsam of historical currents,” the egotists with the power, the money, and the craving for recognition, the last born of deep insecurity. This has real relevance for today, as the scientists, who work in relative obscurity towards an understanding of the virus, seeking a vaccine or a cure, find themselves buffeted by boneheads of every stripe, trumpeting nonsense at every turn. Plus ça change...

Davide C. Migliaccio, Colorado Springs, Colorado

From: Bhagirath Majmudar (bmajmud1962 gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--devi

Kamal means lotus; Kamala is another name of Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth. It is interesting that her husband is Harris which in Sanskrit can be translated as Hari or Vishnu, Kamala goddess’s husband!

Bhagirath Majmudar, MD, Atlanta, Georgia

From: Judith Judson (jjudson frontier.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--devi

You sure were devi-ous with this one! Who wudda thunk her middle name was Devi? But why shouldn’t it be? Heaps of women’s names in India are goddesses -- Annapurna, Sita, Durga, and there are many others. One of Nehru’s sisters was named Krishna -- who is a god. And the other sister’s middle name was Lakshmi -- a goddess (of prosperity)... after all, Hispanics use Jesus as a male name. Get over it.

Judith Judson, Pittsford, New York

Email of the Week brought to you by Old’s Cool -- Nope, you can’t BUY BRAINS.

From: Bob Stein (stein visibone.com)
Subject: Gods

In the 1970s, I had a wonderful boss named Ramesh Shankar. He once explained to me, giggling, that his name means literally GodGod GodGod. He did this with a glee that pride could not fully explain, though he had no shortage of that. I think it was the blasphemy that delighted him most.

Bob Stein, Brushton, New York

From: Peirce Hammond (peirceah.03.01 gmail.com)
Subject: Devi

Today’s word reminds me of a man I met years ago named Willi Unsoeld. He was on the first American expedition that climbed Mt. Everest (Chomolungma) in 1963. His wife, Jolene, was sure he would die climbing a mountain. And so he did, caught in an avalanche in 1979 in the Cascades, I believe, with some students from Evergreen State. Earlier, their daughter, named Nanda Devi for a mountain in the Himalayas, died while climbing that very mountain with her father. And yet, Willi did not regret that because the risk was an essential ingredient in the adventure, he said. Not a logic that most of us would accept for ourselves, but a logic, nonetheless. See also the quotation in today’s AWAD: “Think for yourself and question authority.” -Timothy Leary, psychologist and writer (22 Oct 1920-1996).

Peirce Hammond, Bethesda, Maryland

From: Jennifer Chilcoat (jenniferc library.arkansas.gov)
Subject: Joe

I grew up in east Tennessee. Can’t remember where I first heard it, but in my childhood I heard it said, “That was pretty Joe of you,” or “That was right Joe of you.” The meaning was that you had done something solid and respectable. Not spectacular, just upstanding.

Jennifer Chilcoat, Little Rock, Arkansas

From: Dan Schubart (danneau danneau.com)
Subject: Joe

Long ago, I read Robert A. Heinlein’s The Glory Road and ran across this observation: “Coffee comes in five descending stages: Coffee, Java, Jamoke, Joe, and Carbon Remover.” I can’t think how many times I’ve applied this scale following a first sip.

Dan Schubart, Port Alberni, Canada

From: Richard Coleman (richard.lewis.coleman gmail.com)
Subject: Joe

In the Navy, joe is believed to refer to Josephus Daniels who, as Secretary of the Navy during WWI, forbade the use of alcohol on Navy ships, replacing it with coffee.

Richard Coleman, Captain, USN, Ret., Alexandria, Virginia

It’s a popular story, but it lacks evidence. Josephus Daniels issued the prohibition order in 1914. The OED shows the first use of the word joe to refer to coffee from 1941. That’s a long gap. Also, sailors had been sober since 1862. Josephus Daniels’s order only stopped officers’ wine. For more, see here.
-Anu Garg

From: Norman Holler (via website comments)
Subject: Go hand in hand

Remember, we all stumble, every one of us. That’s why it’s a comfort to go hand in hand. -Emily Kimbrough, author and broadcaster (23 Oct 1899-1989)

The message in Today’s thought brought me to the poetry of Hoyt Axton. Especially this song. Such a touching love song. What a voice! What a soul! Wow!

Excerpts from “Less Than the Song” (video, 3 min.):

So come stand by my side where I’m goin’
Take my hand if I stumble to fall
It’s the strength that you share when your growin’
That gives me what I need most of all
That gives me what I need most of all

And I want you to be happy
And I hope you always will
For I cannot rest easy
Till all your dreams are real
Till all your dreams are real

Thank you, Anu, for the good memory trigger,

Norman Holler, Whitehorse, Canada

Walk of Shame
From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: trumpery and joe

Since Trump’s self-ascribed “miraculous cure” from Covid-19, at his campaign rallies he’s been presenting himself as a Superman. Mr. Invincible. He claims to have stared down the coronavirus, and with a little help from his friends at Walter Reed (and a drug cocktail), managed to defeat the beast. Here, behind-the-curtain master manipulator/showman Trump operates a remote controlled “Super Trump” robot. His MAGA maniacal rabble has fallen for yet another foray into Trump trumpery.

Beats the Trump Kool-Aid!
In this scenario, Democratic Party presidential hopeful Joe Biden tries to perk up the electorate, pitching his election season signature brew, “Joe’s Joe”... genuine, straight-shootin’ java juice, as opposed to Trump’s go-to, malarkey-laced* Kool-Aid.
*Often harkening back to his Irish-American roots, Biden uses old-country-inflected words. “Malarkey”, meaning balderdash or hokum, is one of his faves.

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California

Anagrams of This Week’s Words
Words that appear to be coined after presidential candidates:
1. bident
2. trumpery
3. pensive
4. devi
5. joe
1. two-pointed scepter
2. trash, tripe
3. deep but depressed brooder
4. divine title (India)
5. cafe java, any man
-Dharam Khalsa, Burlington, North Carolina (dharamkk2 gmail.com)


From Neptune come groans long and strident.
“I’ve broken a prong of my trident!
No way can I rule
with this second-rate tool!
It’s useless, reduced to a bident!”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

With three prongs your weapon’s a trident.
With two what you’ve got is a bident.
When wielded with skill,
Then either one will
Assist you in arguments strident.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

Said Gandhi, “We must be non-violent,
With ahimsa and satya our bident.
While our foes throw a fit,
Soon our nation they’ll quit,
For the British don’t care for excitement.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

The elections are now almost onto us,
With crowds being very idolatrous.
We all do agree,
The word trumpery
Shows language is very eponymous.
-Peter V. Weston, Houston, Texas (pviw att.net)

If your tired of Donald Trump’s trumpery,
join the Dems singing “Viva la company!”
We must take him to task.
We must vote. Wear your mask.
May our future proceed much less bumpily!
-Mariana Warner, Asheville, North Carolina (marianaw6002 gmail.com)

“What’s in a name?” asked the poet.
Sometimes there’s a lot, we all know it.
In “trumpery” we see
Meanings fit to a T.
There’s an election soon, please, folks don’t blow it.
-Sara Hutchinson, New Castle, Delaware (sarahutch2003 yahoo.com)

Said Melania, “I’m done with the mummery,
This political sham is such trumpery.
I crave solitude
Which will jumpstart my mood;
See ya’, Don, ‘cause I’m off to a nunnery.”
-Judith Marks-White, Westport, Connecticut (joodthmw gmail.com)

We’ve endured seems like ages of trumpery.
Choosing him, the quintessence of chumpery.
These four years were enough.
He ain’t got the right stuff.
Time for some constitutional dumpery.
-Zelda Dvoretzky, Haifa, Israel (zeldahaifa gmail.com)

For Trumpery there’s no defense,
Though often attempted by Pence;
No matter how pious
That old Hoosier guy is,
His words never come out as sense.
-Lawrence Crumb, Eugene, Oregon (lcrumb@uoregon.edu)

Said Marius, “What an effrontery,
To gate-crash our wedding with trumpery!”
Thénardier answered,
“My wife, sir, ees plastered,
Zat’s why een her bra ees your cutlery.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Says he, “You appear to be pensive.”
Says she, “That remark is offensive!”
Says he, “Everything
that I say seems to bring
on behavior extremely defensive.”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

So far, this week’s words all have been
Bearing a well-known name within.
Pensive sounds much like
A VP named Mike,
The innuendo unhidden.
-Lois Mowat, Orinda, California (lmowat1810 gmail.com)

Said Trump, “I’m just so apprehensive,
All this politics talk makes me pensive.”
Putin answered with verve,
“You’ve a helluva nerve,
I’ve your back, so stop being offensive.”
-Judith Marks-White, Westport, Connecticut (joodthmw gmail.com)

Mike said in a way that was pensive,
“The pressures I feel are intensive!
As veep I must try
To prop up a guy
Whose actions are deeply offensive.”
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

His new girlfriend made him apprehensive;
Her buying sprees were so extensive!
When she finished shopping,
bills he paid were whopping;
He recalled his ex with thoughts pensive.
-Shyamal Mukherji, Mumbai, India (mukherjis hotmail.com)

After losing, his mood rather pensive,
Thought Bernie, “We’re not yet progressive.
While the socialist dream
In my eye’s still a gleam,
I sure made billionaires hypertensive.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

A goddess whom Hindus revere
Is Devi, by many held dear.
That’s Devi (not diva!),
The consort of Shiva --
A glorious figure, I hear.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

He had called her his Kitchen Devi,
And he was a cook in the Navy.
Her meatloaf and pies
Brought tears to his eyes,
But what he loved most was her gravy.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

If you hope to make love to a devi,
There’s Venus in marble, hair wavy.
I hope you don’t mind
That her arms you can’t find;
She’d conceive, but could not hold your baby.
-Janice Power, Cleveland, Ohio (powerjanice782 gmail.com)

Sir Humphrey, well known to hate gravy,
Hadn’t met one particular lady.
There was too much cayenne
In the sauces back then;
Martha Stewart was not yet a devi.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

It certainly set me aglow
To see that the Word-A-Day’s Joe.
Will I be the next president?
No more Trump hair fluorescent?
I think not, for my home’s Mexico.
-Joe Budd Stevens, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico (joebuddstevens gmail.com)

A regular guy’s like a cuppa Joe --
Joe Biden, I mean -- not Harpo or Moe
or a grouchy sourpuss
like our current POTUS,
who leads us into pollution and woe!
-Mariana Warner, Asheville, North Carolina (marianaw6002 gmail.com)

“Alas,” fretted poor Mr. Poe,
“I can’t get that raven to go.
Perhaps, just to spite him,
I ought to invite him
to sample my rancid old Joe!”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

Oh, come on! We all certainly know
Just who you mean using the word joe.
Yes, the Biden name
Very quickly came
To mind, with a short time left to go.
-Lois Mowat, Orinda, California (lmowat1810 gmail.com)

The cool cat with the banjo said, “Yo,
I strum strings in old St. Louis, MO.
It’s just me and the wife,
We jam jazz -- that’s the life!
But by day we smoke pot and drink Joe.”
-Judith Marks-White, Westport, Connecticut (joodthmw gmail.com)

A run of the mill cup of Joe
Is all that I wanted, you know?
At Starbucks that’s not
The coffee they’ve got --
They sold me a latte to go.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

Been one long rollercoaster of woe
with a leader who’s not in the know.
Enough of this clown!
It’s time to sit down
with some calm and a nice cup of Joe.
-Zelda Dvoretzky, Haifa, Israel (zeldahaifa gmail.com)

My friend Tom was an average Joe,
Not a dimwit but a bit slow.
When someone cracked a joke,
He would need a poke
to laugh, seeing the rest were doing so.
-Shyamal Mukherji, Mumbai, India (mukherjis hotmail.com)

The TV debates, don’cha know,
Showed us viewers a regular Joe!
Well-named Mr. Biden
Revealed that he’s sidin’
With all those of us who lack dough!
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

When casting your ballot, you know.
You can vote for a regular Joe,
Or gird all your fears,
To face four more years,
And stick with the one who’s a schmo.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

Late one night, wide awake drinking Joe,
Thought the poet, “I’ll write of a crow.”
Then, gaunt and unshaven,
He cried, “No, wait! ‘Raven!’ “
And evermore famous was Poe.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


As he sat on the sidelines, the unfamiliar candidate was just bident his time.
-Jim Ertner, Greensboro, North Carolina (jde31459 gmail.com)

I look forward to 2021 because bident we should have a new president.
-André Desnoyers, Seattle, Washington (desnoyers msn.com)

Said the mother to her toddler, “There are teeth marks in the cake, did you bident to it?”
-Janice Power, Cleveland, Ohio (powerjanice782 gmail.com)

After the fender bender, I took my car to the body shop and said, “Bident.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

We’ll either reelect trumpery’ll go to prison.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Whether I order the seafood platter de-pensive I’m in the mood for fish.
-Jim Ertner, Greensboro, North Carolina (jde31459 gmail.com)

The Bic factory recovered thousands of lost ballpoints by running its trash through a pensive.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Devi Crockett was my boyhood hero!
-Jim Ertner, Greensboro, North Carolina (jde31459 gmail.com)

“I guess the ship is headed for Devy Jones’s locker,” said the captain of the Titanic.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

I was in a good mood after having my morning coffee; I felt really Joe-vial.
-Jim Ertner, Greensboro, North Carolina (jde31459 gmail.com)

In the last debate, I thought Biden really showed his mo-Joe.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Brain Fart or Senior Moment?
From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: Trump’s Foibles & Follies

Brain Fart or Senior Moment? Trump, the self-described “stable genius”, suffers from an “intelligence superiority” complex. Case in point, some months ago, in an interview with Fox News reporter Chris Wallace, Trump waxed pathetic about how he had aced the Montreal Cognitive Assessment Test (MoCA). He was particularly proud of being able to repeat a series of words at first sight, and then toward the end of his test repeat the words, in the same order, no less. Trump appeared to think that this was a feat bordering on genius, but interviewer Wallace quickly brought him back to terra firma.

Raging Bull-Crap
Echoing the title of Bob Woodward’s Trump-centric tome, Rage, in the waning days of his election campaign, it appears Trump has been quick to anger. Out of sheer desperation, he’s pleading with his 2016 voters to vote for him this time around. Yet polls have indicated that suburban women and old farts (senior males of a certain age) have become disenchanted with him. Here, I’ve depicted an enraged Trump, making a last-ditch plea to his “usual suspect” voters, many of whom no longer see him as their champion.

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California

The measure of a man’s real character is what he would do if he knew he would never be found out. -Thomas Babington Macaulay, author and statesman (25 Oct 1800-1859)

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