Monday, March 16, 2009

Happy 15

Last week was the quindecennial (15th anniversary) of when Anu Garg sent out the first word of the day to a handful of grad students. 4000 words and 700,000 subscribers later he presented 5 15 letter words and the challenge to craft definitions of 15 letters for each. (I should have posted the contest!)

But, anyway, here's the results with catchy succinct definitions that are more likely to stick with you than standard definitions :-) (Though, admittedly, the opportunity to use the words won't crop up too often ;-)

From Anu Garg:

Last week's contest to define the words in 15 letters generated tremendous enthusiasm. Many teachers discussed the contest in their classes and shared definitions from their students. More than 2000 readers sent one or more entries filled with creativity, humor, and lateral thinking.

It wasn't easy to select the winners from so many outstanding suggestions. Listed below are the winning entries which have each gained an autographed copy of one of my books.



An idea alluded to. -Karyl Davis (karyl.davis

Honorable mentions:
  • Don't say it. I get it. -Virginia Davidson (vdavidson50
  • Kenned sotto voce. -Chiron (chiron
  • You should know it. -Susan Frost (richandsuzi
  • Virtually stated. -Albert D. (filiquark
  • Obvio sin decirlo. -Steven Fuller (sfuller
  • Ca va sans dire - duh! -Margaret Cox (mocox1
  • No words required. (Anu Garg's worst nightmare!) -Monica Porterfield (mporterfield
  • Obvious ergo mute. -Paul B. Calico (pbcalico
  • Don't spell it out. -Brianna Sims (brianna.sims
  • Read my lips, dummy. -Jonathan Danilowitz (jon-dan
  • Under the liminal. -Daniel Pesta (towardus
  • Doesn't need sayin'. -David Honigmann (david_honigmann
  • Said but not aloud. -Jonathan Weiss (jweiss1999
  • Feel it in my bones. -Edie Bonferraro (edieb
  • A tacit knowledge -Rachel Blau DuPlessis (rdupless
  • Shhh. I understand. -Justin Peniston (moose0225
  • I get your message. -Judith Henderson (judyframehend
  • I comprehend. *Wink* -Dan Marlowe (sisyphus42
  • No need to mention. -Julie Southern (southernbookworm
  • You know, I know, shh! -Liza Levy (sparkydoc
  • Inferred w/o a word. -Jeff Miller (jdmiller
  • Don't need to say it. -Gabby Kissane (gkissane
  • The ways of a woman. -Gordon Havens (gordonhavens
  • Many readers sent these suggestions:
  • Between the lines
  • Not said, but known.
  • Don't tell me - I know!
  • Not said, yet known.
  • Implicitly known.
  • Heard but not said.
  • Ya know what I mean.
  • Known sans speech.



To see life flit by. -Julie Paschkis (jpaschkis

Honorable mentions:
  • Life after cocoon. -Edie Bonferraro (edieb
  • Study of flitters. -Rebecca Haaland (rebecca
  • About winged bugs. -Vaishali Kamath (vaishalikamath
  • Flitterers study. -John A. Olmsted (jolmsted
  • Study live jewels. -Kate Daniel (writerkate
  • What cute insects! -David M. Lieberfarb (dmlieb
  • Nabokov's leisure. -Stephen Schwartz (hillendari
  • Study of farfalle. -Riccardo Fragnoli (riccardo.fragnoli
  • i.e. Geek moth-ology. -James Miller (millnjam
  • Focus: Flutterers. -Don Recker (dlrecker
  • On gossamer wings. -Uwe Stichert (info
  • Splendor impaled. -Zack Fisher (zackipooh [He adds: While this is not the actual definition of lepidopterology, I remember thinking just that the first time I saw a butterfly collection, as a child.]
  • Buttermothology. -Judi Jones (judith.jones
  • Science a-flutter. -Nyree Sharp (nyree_sharp
  • Wee wing scrutiny. -Daniel Watson (dwatson
  • Etude de papillon. -Gabby Kissane (gkissane
  • Re Papilionoidea. -Joe Dickey (joetdickey
  • Study of cute bugs. -Terence Singh (terencesi
  • Winged bugs study. -Jonathan Osborne (jono
  • Ciencia Mariposa. -John Connors (john.connors
  • Of the mothly crew. -Vicki Boyd (vickeeb
  • Volar bug studies. -Stephanie Hollenback (stephanietraylor
  • Look! On the flower! / Look! Near the lamp! -Jeanne Landkamer (jeanne.landkamer
  • Moth examination. -Laura Richens (lrichens
  • Many readers sent these:
  • Fluttery studies.
  • Butterflies et al.
  • Moth scholarship.
  • Moth and kin study.



2nd rate math geek. -Greg Foster (lokesman

Honorable mentions:
  • Ramanujan manque. -Eric Towne (etowne
  • A minor math major. -Howard Distelzweig (howard_distelzweig
  • He divides by zero. -Peirce Hammond (Peirce.Hammond
  • Rounds pi to three. -Joselyne Gonzalez (joselyne
  • Uneven math maven. -Catherine Masters (cmasters
  • He's no Pythagoras. -Jacquie L Lowell (jlowell.improv, Dave Zobel (dzobel
  • Two plus two's five. -R. Ganesh (r.ganesh
  • No Euclid or Gauss. -Devika Nair (devikanair1979
  • Digits: all thumbs. -Jason Morgan (aeelectra
  • In-add-equatician. -Brendon L. Etter (better
  • Can do two plus two. -Matt Schmidt (mschmidt
  • Math challenged. (I could have made it "maths challenged" but I prefer the irony of the above.) -Alan Broom (alan.broom
  • Numbers Are Not Us. -Colleen (argonauta4
  • IQ's greater than pi. -Bill Ward (bill
  • Bank executive, e.g. (not a timeless definition, but it works currently). -Aaron Long (aarondavidlong
  • Just a calculator. -Tal Cohen (tal
  • One does not add up. -Mike Freedman (mike
  • A nonplussed soul. -K. F. Turtletaub (doctorkf
  • Calculably unfit. -John Hudspeth (johnhudspeth
  • Big sum, small mind. -Caroline Murphy (ckmurphy54
  • An amateur at math. -John P. Marhin (john.p.marhin
  • 0 < x < a math savant. -Greg Foster (lokesman
  • 99 percent of folk. -Kassy Daggett (kdaggett
  • rkathleendillon. -R Kathleen Dillon (rkdillon
  • Math isn't my forte. -Kevin Ogburn (kevin.ogburn
  • Calculating Risk. -David Lehner-Smith (david.lehner-smith
  • Small-time mathmo. -Owen Biesel (owenbiesel
Many readers sent:
  • Number numbskull.
  • Math geek wannabe.
  • No good at numbers.
  • A numbers bumbler.
  • A numbers fumbler.



Digital printout. -Judith Bill (jgb22

Honorable mention:
  • How callous are we? -Will Whetzel (wwhetzel
  • Palm/foot reading. -Jeff Miller (jdmiller
  • Epidermis scrawl -Kathleen (stidmama
  • Digital imagings. -Jason Nabi (jhn8d and Wendi Dumbroff (penelopey
  • Unique digital ID. -Ian Hoffman (Ian.Hoffman
  • Skin cartography. -K. Sahasranaman (k.sahasranaman
  • No hands are alike. -Sophia S. 6th grader, Community Middle School [sent by James Eng (james.eng who encouraged his class to try this week's contest and shared their many entries]
  • Skin crop-circles. -Matthew Planchak (panqike, Alexis Abraham (cawaaahome
  • No two are the same. -Mike Hansen (mfh
  • The skin's pattern. -Carly, 4th grader [in Erin Allen's class (eallen]
  • Study of skin ruts. -Peter Kidwell (peter.kidwell
  • Skin's hills, dales. -Noël Lee (noellee
  • Palmar, plantar ID. -Lisa Hyatt Cooper (lhcooper
  • Skin deep studies. -Kenneth Kirste (kkkirste
  • Think whorl piece. -Matt Schuette (schuette79
  • What OJ fears most. -Analiese van den Dikkenberg (sandad
Many readers sent:
  • Hand- or footprint.
  • Extremity prints.
  • Finger, toe prints.
  • Skin ridges study.


I had not asked for 15-letter definitions for Monday's word, but some readers sent them nonetheless. Here are a few selections:
  • Tapered like a 3-D V. -Louis P. Nappen (nappen
  • Just like a conoid. -Julie Davis (julie.davis
  • Tornado-ish shape. -Mike Riley (mr.mikeriley
  • Swirls into point. -Susan Frost (richandsuzi
  • Hourglass halved. -Don Recker (dlrecker
  • It's funnelicious! -Keith Parsons (khp38120
  • Smaller at one end. -Joe Trivers (joe_trivers
Many subscribers sent their congratulations (a 15-letter word) in exactly 15 letters:
  • A Happy Fifteenth. -Mike Weinert (weinert.mike
  • I wish you the best. -Michel Cornelissen (mjm.cornelissen
  • Best wishes to all. -BranShea (via Wordsmith Talk bulletin board)
Thank you for participating and for your kind words.

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