Tag Archive for A Word A Day


This week’s theme with A.Word.A.Day is Americanisms. What a fun bunch of words: hornswoggle, flummadiddle, discombobulate, absquatulate, and skedaddle.

As Anu Garg wrote when he kicked off the week:

“Use these words to bring a certain earthy flavor to your discourse. But like spices in a preparation, a little goes a long way. Use them judiciously.”

Again, I plugged this site a while back. Only because I love it. If you like words, if you are a reader, then you must subscribe (resistance is futile). It’s that simple. The thing I love about the daily emails is that they are brief, fun, never a chore to read. (For more background on Mr. Garg, check here or here.) I also learned that he’s got actual books available, for adults and kids alike, so I’m thinking Xmas presents, too. Every bathroom should have one!

This holiday season, like every gift-giving occasion, it’s all about going into stores and buying books. Putting our money where our mouths are. And now all the more reason, after Black Wednesday. And go ahead, click on that link if you dare read about the publishing industry’s precipitous fall as delineated by Andrew Wheeler at The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent.

A name that somehow brings us full circle, in a meandering, bloggish sort of way. For though Hornswoggler sounds to me like an Americanism — I can hear Yosemite Sam saying it, sputteringly — it was, I believe, used most famously by Roald Dahl, English author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory . As everybody knows, Hornswogglers are nasty creatures from Loompaland that threaten the very existence of our beloved Oompa Loompas. Heaven forfend!


I recently subscribed to a cool little site that, having now experienced it, I can recommend with confidence.

You may have already noticed the site on the “Book Reviews & Resources” sidebar — Wordsmith.Org: the magic of words. On the home page, you’ll find a “subscribe” option on the right, under the banner, A.Word.A.Day. The New York Times called it, “The most welcomed, most enduring piece of daily mass e-mail in cyberspace.” And who am I to disagree with “The Gray Lady?

Each day you’ll receive a (mercifully) brief email, introducing that day’s word. The words tend to be obscure but, like most words and some people, interesting once you get to know them. I’m enjoying it. Here’s a recent sample of one email:

with Anu Garg


noun: A poem in which the author retracts something said in an earlier poem.

From Greek palinoidia, from palin (again) + oide (song). It’s the same palin that shows up in the word palindrome. Here’s a palindromic web address:

The illustrator and humorist Gelett Burgess (1866-1951) once wrote a poem called The Purple Cow:
I never saw a purple cow,
I never hope to see one;
But I can tell you, anyhow,
I’d rather see than be one.

“The more lighthearted palinodes were more successful, such as Geoff Horton’s recantation of his youthful view that a martini should be shaken rather than stirred.”
Jaspitos; I Take It Back; The Spectator (London, UK); Jan 24, 2004.

Let us enrich ourselves with our mutual differences. –Paul Valery, poet and philosopher (1871-1945)