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.

Because I feel that, in the Heavens above,
The angels, whispering to one another,
Can find, among their burning terms of love,
None so devotional as that of “Mother.”

– Edgar Allan Poe

The earliest tributes to mothers date back to the annual spring festival the Greeks dedicated to Rhea, the mother of many deities, and to the offerings ancient Romans made to their Great Mother of Gods, Cybele. Christians celebrated this festival on the fourth Sunday in Lent in honor of Mary, mother of Christ. In England this holiday was expanded to include all mothers and was called Mothering Sunday.

In the United States, Mother’s Day started in 1908, when Anna Jarvis, a Grafton, W.Va., homemaker, organized a day to raise awareness of poor health conditions in her community, a cause she believed would be best advocated by mothers. She called it Mother’s Work Day and held a memorial to honor her own mother. In 1912, she trademarked the phrases “second Sunday in May” and “Mother’s Day” and created the Mother’s Day International Association.

Have you ever wondered why Mother’s Day is written as a singular possessive? It’s because Anna Jarvis specifically noted that Mother’s should “be a singular possessive, for each family to honor its mother, not a plural possessive commemorating all mothers of the world.” Jarvis also invented Father’s Day.

On May 9, 1914, President Woodrow Wilson made Mother’s Day a national holiday to be celebrated each year on the second Sunday of May. In honor of Mother’s Day, let’s celebrate some words that have one thing in common. They all end with the letters MA, an affectionate shortening of mother. From each definition, identify each MA-concluding word.

Example: American president: Obama.

Hint: The words that follow occur in alphabetical order.

I’ll avoid all those generally unpleasant medical terms, such as asthma, blastoma, carcinoma, coma, eczema, edema, emphysema, edema, enema, glaucoma, hematoma, lymphoma, melanoma, plasma, sarcoma and trauma.

Answers repose at the end of this column.

1. southern state

2. _____ mater

3. a person or thing despised or cursed

4. a pleasant odor

5. according to Hinduism, the essence from which all life originates

6. an unusual ability to influence people and arouse devotion

7. motion pictures

8. a punctuation mark

9. a problem that requires a choice between equally undesirable solutions

10. what you get at graduation

11. a system of principles or doctrines

12. formerly the chief monetary unit of Greece

13. a play

14. something that is ambiguous or puzzling

15. solid earth: terra _____

16. 3rd letter of the Greek alphabet

17. in Hinduism and Buddhism, the principle that one’s actions determine one’s future

18. a priest who adheres to the form of Buddhism practiced in Tibet and Mongolia

19. a woolly-haired mammal of South America

20. capital city of Peru

21. what Gandhi was

22. western state

23. _____ bin Laden

24. Latin American country

25. a full, wide view of an extensive area

26. _____ ballerina

27. a large wild American cat; mountain lion; cougar

28. 18th letter of the Greek alphabet

29. a long-lasting mark or stain on one’s character or reputation

30. _____ cum laude

 

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Answers 1. Alabama 2. alma 3. anathema 4. aroma 5. Brahma 6. charisma 7. cinema 8. comma 9. dilemma 10. diploma 11. dogma 12. drachma 13. drama 14. enigma 15. firma 16. gamma 17. karma (Watch out, or my karma will run over your dogma!) 18. lama 19. llama 20. Lima 21.mahatma 22. Oklahoma 23. Osama 24. Panama 25. panorama 26. prima 27. puma 28. sigma 29. stigma 30. summa