In William H. Dougherty’s “Bromides” in the Winter, 1999 issue, lumpectomy appears to be presented as equivalent to mastectomy. Not corect. Lumpectomy means just what one might guess, excision of a lump. Mastectomy is the surgical removal of the entire breast, the ultimate lumpectomy, I guess. (Removal of a cancerous lump is much more common now that removal of the entire breast.)

Physicians I know, mostly in eastern Massachusetts, hardly ever talk to patients as Dougherty describes.

While I am writing, I’ll register my continuing distress at gratuitous and inelegant additions of up, as in “He heads up the corporation . . .,” and “. . .meet up with. . .,” and “Up until. . ” I would very much like to see comments. Put the practice down!

Very truly yours,

Harvey E. Finkel

Brookline, Massachusetts

Your use of “feel” (“A short list of things I feel deserve a pass. . .”, Vol XXIV, No. 1, p. 47, col. 2, para. 3) put me in mind of the following comment by a curmudgeon far more venerable than I:

“feel.” ‘The Committee f. that Mr. X must share the responsibility for this unfortunate occurrrence.’ “To feel”, says the COD, defining the sense in which the word is here used, ‘is to have a vague or emotional conviction that.’ That is no way for a committee to record a grave conclusion, with its suggestion that they are guided by intuition rather than by the evidence. Officials, perhaps from a misplaced modesty that shrinks from positive assertion, are too fond of announcing conclusions in this namby-pamby fashion.”

—”A Dictionary of Modern English Usage”, H.W. Fowler, Second Edition, 1965, pp. 192-193.

Just because officials still obfuscate with feeling doesn’t mean the rest of us can’t, at least once in a while, think.

Best wishes for your revived enterprise,

Donald Oliveau

Lincoln, Vermont

The writer would like to apologize for the inadvertent omission of the mailing fee ($2.00) for PUBS, PLACE-NAMES, AND PATRONYMICS (PPP), and both fees ($25.00 for the book, and $3.00 for mailing) for NAMES NEW AND OLD (NNO) which should have been included in the concluding remarks fo the review on page 24 of VERBATIM Vol. XXIII, No. 4.

(To order, send a check (total $8.00 for PPP and $28.00 for NNO)—made out to “E. Wallace McMullen”—to Prof. Wayne H. Finke, American Name Society, Dept. of Mod. Langs., Box 340, Baruch College, 17 Lexington Ave., New York, NY 10010, or by fax (212)387-1591.

Sincerely yours,

E. Wallace McMullen

Professor of English Emeritus

Madison, New Jersey

I am hoping to collect as many examples of the following, usually humorous and punning, false word divisions. For example, in a theology course, a classmate heard the professor’s remark concerning the issue of whether or not “God in three persons is not bound by his own pronouncements.” A fellow student had picked up her pen in the middle of his words while taking notes; when we were reading over those notes later, we saw the statement that “God in three persons is not bound by his own pronoun cements.” This caused some restrained hilarity.

As I was reading recently, I was startled to see that some mythical king had flung men, women, and children into battle as “combat ants.” This improved the book a good deal. The word had been broken at the end of a page with a hyphen that I had overlooked. Another example comes from writing or reading “furbelow” as “fur below,” which it might be in some instances. The etymology of course has nothing to do with “fur” nor “below.” I’d appreciate contributions from readers of Verbatim—or “verb at ‘im”—none of these work when read aloud as you can see, or none that I know of.

If those come up, so much the better. Also – does anyone know a term for this phenomenon other than “mistake” or the awkward “false word division”

James Girsch

Glenview, Illinois

Concerning Odet’s use of the word “fluxionary.” My comment has to do with the opening sentence, in which “Odets (1906-1963) confided to his friend Philip Lottman . . . .”I was waiting to find out what he confided to Philip, but it never came. Not in that sentence anyway. I feel that actually Odets confided in Lottman.

Press on, regardless!

Israel Wilenitz

East Setauket, New York

Regarding the Winter 1999 VERBATIM, which I HAVE GOT here in my hand, and

the article (p. 45) “Why Have We Got Have Got?”, I HAVE GOT another painfully humorous example of such usage.

As most states change their license plates (color, style) occasionally, so does Pennsylvania. In the late 1970’s or early 1980’s, they issued a blue plate with yellow/gold lettering, with a state slogan across the top and bottom of the plate. OR: should I say, the license plates had got(ten) a slogan across the top and bottom of the plate:



That style lasted several years, until a vocal, apparently literate, minority protested to the Capitol in Harrisburg, concerning the bad English usage. The state changed the plate, and since that time, new plates simply say “Keystone State” across the top and “Pennsylvania” across the bottom, though the older ones are still in use.

I have, like, a continuing crusade with my students (not in English classes), like, y’know, about other, like, horrible usages. Student asks: “Is Excel, like, a spreadsheet?” I answer: “No, it isn’t LIKE a spreadsheet—it actually IS a spreadsheet!”

It may be, like, a losing battle which I HAVE GOT on my hands (y’know).

Bill Simon III

State College, Pa.

As a long-time subscriber to the original VERBATIM I welcome the “new” publication under your direction, which bids fair to be an improved version.

The foregoing having been said, may I call attention to your footnote on p. 41 of Vo. XXIV No. 1. Unless I have missed something fundamental, you appear to accept “for free”, which I consider almost a barbarism. “Free” was sufficient for a very long time, implying “free (of charge)”. The “for” is popular (truly, vulgar) usage and is plainly excess baggage. I do believe in ultimately adopting irresistible trends as is done in dictionaries which become less and less prescriptive, but you cannot argue that this gross vulgarism is yet in that category.

I hope you can correct this situation. Otherwise keep up the good work.

Yours sincerely,

David N. Spodnick MD, DSc

Professor of Medicine

University of Massachusetts Medical School

Worcester, Massachusetts

In a recently published novel by Anita Brookner (Falling Slowly), the illustration on the book jacket is identified as a painting called “The Leaving Room.” It shows a woman seated in an armchair and holding a book.

In my examination of several reference books, including the Oxford English Dictionary, I found “leaving book” (a commemorative) and “leaving shop” (British slang for pawn shop), but no “leaving room.” I’ll appreciate your comments or those of your readers.


Milton Horowitz

Jackson Heights, New York

With apology to Mr. Rawson, of “Bowderlism in the Barnyard,” what a grand cock-up your grid-maker created of the Crossword Puzzle this issue. A true bugger.

Henry Volker

Boca Raton, Florida