Category Archives: Word Usage

Linguistic Asymmetries


Have you ever noticed that, while some words which take a prefix seem to form nice pairings with opposite meaning polarity (tie/untie, compliance/noncompliance, tasteful/distasteful), other pairs don’t work this way? For example, there is nonplussed, but not plussed, insipid, but … Continue reading

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Happy Summer Solstice, NoHem!


Today is the summer solstice for the northern hemisphere — a consequence of the geometry of the sphere-with-a-tilted-axis that we call home in our solar system.  Today the sun will reach its highest point in the sky at (solar) noon, … Continue reading

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Nutty Nomenclature


Have you ever wondered why walnuts have surfaces with ridges and grooves whereas almost all other nuts are smooth? Pecans have rows of ridges, but hazel nuts, cashews, brazil nuts, almonds, macademia nuts and pistachios are all smooth, even though … Continue reading

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Word Jumbles #10


POLLOLIP SLITNEC THIPRUM CORTAPI ULECTIC Solutions posted tomorrow on Answers

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Gates


The word gate is a good old English word, the form being geat in Old English (plural geatu) and whose meaning was ‘an opening or entrance’.  A watergate (from the 15th century) is a channel for water; the first element … Continue reading

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Word Lust


Today’s Wall Street Journal reports on a database of language usage that is now available to researchers. It is derived from the digital library of the world’s books that Google has been assembling in recent years. Thus far, two billion … Continue reading

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Vamp: 15 Identities


The small pub is full of loud happy noise. Rina waves to a couple of friends sitting at the bar as the foursome from BubbleTrendz heads for a booth. Sam wishes she could be alone with Gil here to puzzle … Continue reading

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Word Jumbles #9


BLARSMEB SHOOTLEST YESVUR LUCERALL AFECIDE Correction: Fifth jumble should be:  IFECIDE Solutions posted tomorrow on Answers page.

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Freewheeling Expression


Do printed dictionaries still matter? I doubt most people use them much nowadays to check spellings — spellcheckers are nearly ubiquitous in word-processing software of all types. There are also myriad sources for usage examples, including many online resources that … Continue reading

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Brief Hiatus


This past week I’ve been correcting the proof for the print version of my novel Blind Tasting. I hope to resume posts soon – apologies for the radio silence. Answers for Word Jumbles #6 now available in Answers.

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