Welcome to the website woven for wordaholics, logolepts, and verbivores. Carnivores eat meat; herbivores eat plants and vegetables; verbivores devour words. If you are heels over head (as well as head over heels) in love with words, tarry here a while to graze or, perhaps, feast on the English language. Ours is the only language in which you drive in a parkway and park in a driveway and your nose can run and your feet can smell.

U-T Columns

 

Nobody gets fired anymore. Nowadays, when people lose their jobs, they are “reclassified,” “rightsized,” “deselected,” “outplaced,” “nonpositively terminated” or any other of dozens of euphemistic verbs that really mean axed, canned, sacked or given the heave-ho.

In the continuing search for newer, softer and more ambiguous verbs with which to administer the final blow to helpless jobholders, Laurence Urdang, the late editor of Verbatim, the Language Quarterly, came up with a new pun game:

If clergymen are defrocked and lawyers are disbarred, then alcoholics are delivered, hairdressers are distressed, manicurists are defiled, models are disposed and pornographers are deluded.

Employing the de- and dis- prefixes, I offer my own multiple verbs for getting rid of members of other professions:

  • Bankers are distrusted and disinterested.
  • Cowboys are debunked, deranged and decaffeinated.
  • Elks Clubbers are dislodged and dismembered.
  • Judges are disrobed, dishonored, disappointed and defined.
  • Magicians are dispelled and disillusioned.
  • Mathematicians are deciphered, disfigured, discounted and dissolved.
  • Preachers are demoralized, decreed, distracted and dissected.
  • Songwriters are denoted and decomposed.
  • Tailors are depressed, depleted and dispatched.
  • Teachers are declassified, detested and degraded.
  • Tennis players are deduced, disadvantaged, deserved and defaulted.

***

On average, the lives of presidents of the United States have been full of years. Twenty-three of the 34 presidents who died of natural causes have exceeded the life expectancy of men the same age as when they were elected.

John Adams, born in 1735, lived to 90 years and 8 months, longer than any other chief executive until Ronald Reagan, who died at 93 years and 4 months. Two years later, Gerald Ford died at 93 years and 5 months, a record that was recently surpassed by our 41st president, George Herbert Walker Bush, on November 25. Jimmy Carter is just a few months younger.

This means that our second president, John Adams, who held the record for presidential longevity for more than a century and three quarters, is now fifth, behind HW Bush, Ford, Carter and Reagan.

Although the average life span of Americans born in the 18th century was less than 40 years, our first 10 presidents lived an average of 77.6 years: George Washington 67 2, John Adams:, 90 3 Thomas Jefferson: 83 4, James Madison: 85 5, James Monroe: 73, John Quincy Adams: 80 7, Andrew Jackson: 78 8, Martin Van Buren: 79 9, William Henry Harrison: 68 10 and John Tyler: 71.

More recently, the trend has been toward even longer life. From Herbert Hoover through Ronald Reagan, excluding John F. Kennedy, who was assassinated at age 46, the average age at death is 81-and-a-half.

Until now, the average age of the men entering the Oval Office has been 54. But as a reflection of the fact that we Americans are living longer and healthier lives, the two major candidates in the recent presidential election totaled 139 years, Hillary Clinton 69 and Donald Trump 70, far and away the highest in American history. .

In 1981, Reagan became the oldest man to ascend to the presidency — at 69, 11 months and 2 weeks, just short of 70. More remarkably, he left office on the cusp of 78. Dwight Eisenhower is the only other president to have reached the age of 70 while in office, and that was during the last 10 months of Ike’s second term. But now Donald Trump has exceeded Reagan’s entry age by 8 months.

In a debate against Walter Mondale, his opponent during the 1984 contest for president, Ronald Reagan quipped, “I want you to know that I will not make age an issue of this campaign. I am not going to exploit, for political purposes, my opponent’s youth and inexperience.”

Long live our long-lived presidents!