Friday, August 22, 2014

Facebook Puzzles- 751-800


751-What do these words have in common? coat-etude-tenon

752-Discern the convergent words: sweet-money-short animal-jack-nut milk-bar-chip

753-Name a 2 word anagrammatic phrase that means imagines skin of tarty dessert

754- Discern the convergent words: boy-ornament-robin buckle-way-utility sports-vest-shy

755-What do these words have in common? ombudsman-rutabaga-orienteering (the sport)

756- Discern the convergent words: gold-story-silver heaven-tied-wash avoid-orange-soup

757-What do these words have in common? audio-vetoed-oaken

758-Discern the convergent words: ability-atlantic-cape melt-salad-sandwich hip-cottage-pizza

759-What do these words have in common? donnybrook-jeans-millinery

760- Discern the convergent words: running-walking-slum red-away-grey frog-red-dog

761-What do these words have in common? mammoth-Aleutian-samoyed

762- Discern the convergent words: unused-green-breath grey-guitar-sea milk-oil-shell

763-What do these words have in common? pagan-raving-align

764- Discern the convergent words: root-soup-stick knife-pepper-cheese bread-grass-whiskey

765-Name a 4 word palindromic phrase that could describe humor at the White House Correspondents' Dinner

766- Discern the convergent words: up-maker-down blue-car-rain rack-sack-pea

:767-What do these words have in common? roust-raising-garage

768- Discern the convergent words: fat-garden-soup brandy-state-tree boy-nut-money

769- Name a 2 word palindromic phrase that describes an arid exploring admiral

770- Discern the convergent words: bill-saber-water hill-station-sting black-dive-sea

771-Name a 2 word anagrammatic phrase that means shortstop atheist

772- Discern the convergent words: condition-disease-hyper picking-gay-blue bet-bone-to

773-What do these words have in common? cootie-cassowary-amok

774-Di-Discern the convergent wordsscern the convergent words:beat-eye-sing flash-out-saddle golden-watering-candy

775-What do these words have in common? cheroot-pariah-catamaran-mulligatawny

776-Discern the convergent words:aired-wife-fin hop-tape-thwart bread-grass-whiskey

777-What do these words have in common? stage-location-car-comment-ours

778-Discern the convergent words:cargo-sweat-bossy hit-buckle-way shop-trade-fox

779-Name a Mideast country that is found in the non border are of a European capital

780-Discern the convergent words:up-drums-led complain-by-stone cigarette-back-dung

781-Name 2 words of at least 9 letters where every letters appears in the 2nd half of alphabet

782-Discern the convergent words:money-monkey-line land-bar-girl old-pole-salad-

783-What do these words have in common? basement-intuit- hideouts

784-Discern the convergent words: away-per-wood sour-store-sauce holy-hole-fire

785-Name a 2 word anagrammatic phrase that means tolerant touchy feely writing

786-Discern the convergent words:green-nut-sweet ration-house-imp top-cake-juice

787-What do these 9 lettered words have in common? divergent-broadside-shuddered-rehearsal

788-Discern the convergent words:pond-old-table Irish-mug-break cutter-smart-jar

789-Name a 2 word anagrammatic phrase that means large but slender ice mass

790-Discern the convergent words:bump-iron-pump grease-guard-nudge tease-cage-eye

791What do these words have in common? thus-ruby-continent

792-Discern the convergent words:bucking-radio-need pie-belly-salt back-Canadian-sandwich

793-What do these words have in common? rigid-spoonfed-shift

794 Discern the convergent words: radish-gift-collar book-hole-ear kin-skin-stones

795-Name a 2 word palindromic phrase that refers to a museum of slime

796 -Discern the convergent words:ice-ring-bag shed-color-bridge wood-corn-away

797-Name a 2 word anagrammatic phrase that means slandering of women by men

798-Discern the convergent words: horse-over-print bicycle-crash-safety fancy-under-long

799-Name a 2 word anagrammatic phrase that means students make mistakes

800 -Discern the convergent words:uncle-bot-a skin-bell-dog paper-shark-Tamil

Thursday, July 3, 2014



Instructions for Convergent Word Pzzles

Each convergent word puzzle feature three words and your task is to think of a single word that is a synonym to the answer or that can form a compound word or phrase or can be the first or last part of a single word. So if the clues were sea-medal-hearted, the answer would be lion as it makes sea lion medallion and lion-hearted. s Each puzzle will feature three sets of words with three words. In each case, there will be a theme each day and you will have to decide which of these three themes is applicable: animals, food & beverage, body parts

701-Name a 2 word palindromic phrase that refers to an Irish eagle nest

702-Discern the convergent words:app-worm-nest orange-less-cold fiber-audacity-optic

703-Name a 2 word anagrammatic phrase that refers to maritime hard drug

704-Discern the convergent words:snake-halt-ire away-flying-grey love-tail-plunged

705-What do thse words have in common? align-figuring-garner

706-Discern the convergent words:fault-fall-wrong candy-let-one alive-tight-game

707-Name a 2 word palindromic phrase that refers to a primate parent

708 Discern the convergent words:brain-chick-coat red-root-sugar green-ring-soup

709-Name a 2 word anagrammatic phrase that refers to more sickly sea robbers

710 Discern the convergent words:brake-cart-stage end-store-forty sore-smash-bad

711-Name a 2 word palindromic phrase that means PESTER A HEATHEN

712-Discern the convergent words:deer-up-brooms sky-spree-wood busy-ping-wax

713-Name a 3 word palindromic phrase that means IMHO 3.1416 IS BETTER

714-Discern the convergent words:fox-grey-harass catcher-dirty-lab ball-pea-poppy

715-Name a 3 word palindromic phrase that means PAST POEMS LOSE POWER

716-Discern the convergent words:like-woman-call bite-eyes-water fever-mimic-fish

717-Name a 4 word palindromic phrase that explains why the owl made no sound

718-Discern the convergent words:head-soup-fool ear-arm-store sailor-rock-away

719-Name a 3 word palindromic phrase that means CIRCUS PERFORMERS ATTACK KILLER WHALE

720-Discern the convergent words:horse-house-weight trench-fire-farm super-annoy-bear

721-What do thse words have in common?runway-version-pizza

722-Discern the convergent words:ball-be-tree legs-grouse-king fish-petroleum-bean

723- Name a 2 word palindromic phrase that means look at a lunatic

724-Discern the convergent words:feathers-feed-gift boy-on-hit skin-slayer-tick

725-Name a 3 word palindromic phrase that means DIRECTED NEBRASKA POSER

726-Discern the convergent words: over- i- sport over-elevator-box up-code-over

727-Name a 2 word anagrammatic phrase that means trial in Texan city

728-Discern the convergent words:my-wall-London war-on-god full-head-nine

729-What do thse words have in common? candid-carer-gnome

730-Discern the convergent words:bowl-blow-net bowl-shack-brown sweet-bread-a

731-What do thse words have in common?alabaster-divergent-mistiness

732-Discern the convergent words:are-pro-ate American-eye-legal bell-black-skin

733-Name a 3 word palindromic phrase that means RULE FROM MOROCCAN CITY

734-Discern the convergent words:wet-yourself-birthday priest-less-sister air-fire-rubber

735-Name a 2 word palindromic phrase that means boring American investment

736-Discern the convergent words:audacity-bone-insolence awn-less-grey id-service-up

737-Name a 3 word palindromic phrase that means LIBERATED MINORITY

738-Discern the convergent words:trench-hill-defend foot-infected-willow bag-circus-market

739-Discern the convergent words: ERECTED UNUSUAL WATER BARRIER

740- Discern the convergent words:wood-don-pie machine-maker-mug cold-eye-ice

741-Name a 2 word anagrammatic phrase that means holy trees

742-Discern the convergent words:man-rape-up nuts-root-small grey-guitar-sea

743-Name a 2 word palindromic phrase that means changed machine part alt

744-Discern the convergent words: or-ping-up dish-raisin-died plant-raw-roll

745-Name a 3 word palindromic phrase that means ALWAYS ODD

746- Discern the convergent words: eye-hounds-some bend-wounded-cap read-id-fat

747--What do thse words have in common? crocodilian-insolent-steeliness-unfortunately

748-Discern the convergent words:cold-colored-thrash tea-black-garden box-brand-breakfast

749-What do these words have in common? adjudicant-microbeer-briefly

750-Discern the convergent words: hush-love-mill run-wild -jack pea-up-hay

Wednesday, July 2, 2014


(The following article first appeared in the July/Aug edition  of Lexpert)

A Remembrance of WW1 Words


Howard Richler

As this year marks the centenary of the commencement of WW1, it occurs to me that one of the reasons for the immense popularity of the television drama Downton Abbey derives from the dynamic era its earlier series displays. During the helter-skelter years of WW1 great social change was taking place and its pace was staggering. For the first time, millions of people who became soldiers were able to visit foreign lands for the first time. Also, the class system in the United Kingdom started to break down, universal suffrage came into effect and the post-war period marked the ascendancy of the United States over the United Kingdom as a global power. As Fritz Stern, German-American historian, put it, WW1 marked “the first calamity of the 20th century, the calamity from which all other calamities sprang.”

Also from this period sprang a number of new English words. As one would expect many of them came from the military. In this category, we have “anti-aircraft,” “cockpit,” “enlistee” “foxhole” “machine gun,” “mustard gas,” “shell shock,” “tailspin,” (aeronautical sense) “tank” (military sense) and “U-boat.” There were also many descriptive slang terms that referred to bullets and shells. For example,“pudding” and “toffee-apple” denoted shape and “Black Maria” and “coal-box” referenced the colour of the smoke emitted. Others referred to the sound of exploding shells such as “crump,” “fizz-bang,” “pipsqueak,” “plonker” and “whiz-bang.”

Another word that comes into our lexicon during the war years “strafe” must be credited to the enemy. The German phrase Gott strafe England (“God punish England”) was a common salutation in Germany at the beginning of the war. Surprisingly, the first time the word was recorded in English in 1915 it had an absurdist sense: “Chocolate does not promote sociability. 'Gott strafe chocolate,' exclaims a lance-corporal.” Before long, however, it came to mean to punish and to attack fiercely. By the end of the war, the sense of strafe had narrowed to its modern one to attack with low-lying aircraft with machine-gun fire or bombs.

As many English-speaking soldiers found themselves stationed in French-speaking locales such as Belgium and France several French terms filtered into the language. For example, “napoo” derived from il n'y en a plus or il n'y a plus, “there is no more” and was used to mean “finished” or “no more.” It was employed as a verb to mean “killed,” as in, “Poor Nigel was na-poohed last week by a grenade.” The term “toot-sweet” to mean promptly had been used occasionally in the late 19th century but its usage became more prevalent during WW1.

Three French words with military associations that become part of our vocabulary during the Great War are “sabotage,” “camouflage and “skive.” Actually, “sabotage” is first recorded just before the war and referenced the disabling damage caused by French railway workers, but by 1918 it was used to refer to disrupting the military or economic resources of the enemy. Camouflage came into English in 1917 to refer to the disguising of items used in war, and “skive” was a slang term that referred to the shirking of military duty. It derives from the French esquiver, “to dodge” and is first recorded in 1919.

The OED states that the etymology of “loo,” (toilet sense) is “obscure” but there is a high probability that it also came into use in language during the war years from the French word lieu, “place” which could be a shortened form of lieu d'aisance literally “place of easement” or latrine, a term that was picked up by British servicemen in WWI.

Alternatively, “loo” could be a bastardization of the French word for water, l'eau. The euphemism “place of easement” was used to some extent in England and the euphemistic use of “place” for toilet is common in other languages such as Swedish stalle and German oertchen. One can easily imagine how an English soldier would shorten lieu d'aisance to “loo,” or that upon reading a French lavatory sign stating something like On est prié de laisser ce lieu aussi propre qu'on le trouve, (“Please leave this place as clean as you found it”), the word lieu would resonate and then morph into “loo.” I suppose once the term “loo” caught on, puns would proliferate such as pronouncing “ablutions*” as “ab-loo-tions” and referring to the toilet as the “waterloo.” The waterloo pun would even have been appreciated by the French because le water (short for W.C. “water closet”) has long been a French expression for “lavatory” and the term le waterloo may have represented an Anglo-Gallic pun.

Slightly undermining this theory is the fact that the first OED citation is found after the end of WWI , in 1922. Increasingly, however, etymologists are finding earlier citations for some words as many small newspapers are being digitized so perhaps we will discover a pre-1922 “loo” citation from WW1 endorsing the above analysis.

*The term “ablution” was used by the British military in WWI to refer to a building on a base (sometimes called an “ablution hut”) that contained wash-places and lavatories.

Howard's latest book is How Happy Became Homosexual and other mysterious semantic shifts.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Pedants are Literallty Climbing the Walls

Pedants are Literally Climbing the Walls


Howard Richler

The language scolds are literally apoplectic. By 2013, several prominent dictionaries, such as Oxford and Webster's had expanded their definition of literally to mean “figuratively.” In response, the British magazine The Week averred, “The dictionaries have.. bowed to the will of the grammar-averse public. As anyone who paid attention in grade school knows, 'literally' means 'in a literal or strict sense, as opposed to a non-literal or exaggerated sense, and is the opposite of 'figuratively,' which means 'in a metaphorical sense.' ” An article in The Guardian entitled “Language is Literally Losing its Meaning” displayed similar vexation: “The OED has accepted a new definition for the word literally – and it's not the only word changing beyond recognition. It is enough to, like, make one despair.” This conservative cause even extended to the English colonies. An employee at Words Worth Books, a Waterloo, Ontario bookstore, wrote on Twitter, “One of our staff was so upset about this, he had to lie down #literally.”

These defenders of the English language are objecting to the morass of a word meaning its opposite. It is as if the word fair can mean foul and yes can mean no. As Spock might say “This is eminently illogical.”

But languages, unlike mathematics, are not logical constructs, and many words can mean contradictory things. For example, ravel can mean “knit together” and “untangle”; sanction, “permit” and “forbid”; cleave, “separate” and “join together” and flammable and inflammable both mean to catch fire easily.

At it states, “Informally used for emphasis or to express strong feeling while not being literally true.. In recent years, an extended use of literally has become very common, where literally is used deliberately in nonliteral contexts. This can lead to unintentional humorous effects, (e.g., 'we were literally killing ourselves laughing') and is not acceptable in formal English.”

The OED revealed that it included the figurative sense of literally because of its ubiquitous use by the hoi polloi. Surprisingly, the new definition was added in September 2011 but went unnoticed until August 2013. Senior OED editor Fiona McPherson quipped. “It seems to have literally slipped under the radar.”
In casual conversation, literally is often used as an intensifier much in the way that we use the word “certainly” and “really” to transcend meaning “with certainty” and “in reality.” And contrary to the claims of some critics that this in a modern aberration, we have ample documentation that this usage has been around for centuries. The process began in the 17th century, but only for true statements. For example, John Dryden wrote in his poem The Hind and the Panther, “my daily bread is literally implored,” meaning that one must seek sustenance daily as there are no storage facilities. But within a century literally was used as an intensifier for things that weren't true. Frances Brooke writes in her novel The History of Emily Montague, “ He is a fortunate man to be introduced to such a party of fine women at his arrival, it is literally to feed among the lilies.”

And as words are essentially metaphors, it is not surprising that the figurative sense of literally often occurs in literature. Hence in 1839, Charles Dickens presented us with this line in Nicholas Nickleby, “'Lift him out,' said Squeers, after he had literally feasted his eyes in silence upon the culprit.” Similarly in 1876 we find this usage in Mark Twain's The Adventures of Tom Sawyer: “And when the middle of the afternoon came, from being a poor poverty-stricken boy in the morning, Tom was literally rolling in wealth.” In the 20th century, Saul Bellow provided us with this sublime usage in Humboldt's Gift, “The earth is literally a mirror of thoughts. Objects themselves are embodied thoughts. Death is the dark backing that a mirror needs if we are to see anything.” All these writers' use of literally serves the purpose of reminding us that reality is multi-layered and things are often not what they appear to be.

This is not to say that all figurative senses of literally should be tolerated. Like any form of hyperbole, the figurative sense of literally can be overused and descend into cliché. A rule of thumb for creative conversationalists should be only to use the word figuratively if it creates an interesting picture. If not, one might be advised to choose another adverb or adjective. But alas, most banter is banal, so I'm afraid we're stuck with an overuse of boring, figurative “literallys.” Also, one should take care that its use doesn't cause confusion. For example, if someone says (at least in North America) “my school is literally 1000 years old,” we know that the use is figurative. If the time frame, however, is 100 years old, we can't discern whether the use was figurative or literal. I also would not recommend its use in academic papers or legal prose, lest you receive demerits from professors or judges.

Howard's latest book is How Happy Became Homosexual and other mysterious semantic shifts.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

FB PUZZLES 651-700


651-Name 2 words that are anagrams to each other that can form a phrase that could refer to a bogus Canadian hockey team.

652-Discern the convergent words: back-whip-backs a-red-man do-long-net

653-Name 2 words that are anagrams to each other that can form a phrase that could refer to a wine choice at OPEC.

654-Discern the convergent words her-rink-ion whip-sea-play arctic-medic-acid

655-Name 2 words that are anagrams to each other that form a phrase that could refer to an aggressive

Brazilian city.

656-Discern the convergent words sister-ornament-car bossy-snow-under or-body-able

657-Name a part of the body that is an anagram to an animal.

658-Discern the convergent words pound-sit-mad farm-out-eon import-peas-protest

659-What do these words have in common? tangled-last-villa

660-Discern the convergent words pat-sex-in sea-high-opera black-dog-bell

661- Aside from having 5 letters, what do these 5 words have in common?


662-Discern the convergent words sweet-eaters-hot loops-passion-cake bag-set-party

663-Name a 2 word palindromic phrase that can refer to the wrath of the emerald isle

664-Discern the convergent words rock-skin-tears medal-fish-gang kin-skin-stones

665-Name a 2 word palindromic phrase that could be a description of a Sooner's watch

666-Discern the convergent words watering-witness-glass nest-app-wax compressed-less-prickle

667-Name a 2 word palindromic phrase that refers to a streetcar named booze?

668-Discern the convergent words art-biting-down head-thin-tight big-tip-hold

669-Name a 2 word anagrammatic phrase that refers to an inexpensive food

670-Discern the convergent words ability-on-white up-down-code dreams-fear-seas

671-Name a 2 word palindromic phrase that refers to a once breezy mideast country ai

672-Discern the convergent words fish-police-tag stuff-comeback dies proof-ball-eaten

673-Name a 2 word palindromic phrase that refers to a designer robot

674-Discern the convergent words trot-vulture-wild- fat-garden-soup wife-fin-house

675- Name 2 animals that are anagrams ; 2 foods that are anagrams & 2 body parts that are anagrams.

676-Discern the convergent words catcher-her-desert wheel-fruit-bar coast-net-screen

677-Name a n item of clothing that is an anagram to a food then change that item into an animal by adding a letter,

678-Discern the convergent words alcohol-letting-young pie-check-battles idle-milk-leg

679 -Name a 2 word palindromic phrase that refers to a south pacific headgear

680-Discern the convergent words less-blue-awn line-bad-shirt ox-red-back

681-What do these words have in common? pandemonium-infinitude-sensuous-impassive

682-Discern the convergent words bag-bite-circus pot-cat-hawk up-tail-express

683-What do these words have in common? addition-mend-rode

684-Discern the convergent words hot-out-ball stone-artificial-bean singing-sore-cut

685-Name a 2 word anagrammatic phrase that refers ton very quiet queens of the jungle

686 Discern the convergent words per-blue-bargaining cake-juice-top roll-soup-green

687-Name a 2 word palindromic phrase that refers to the Chiefs offense

688-Discern the convergent words big-wife-bowl nip-pole-food elk-hell-blood

689- What do these words have in common? daisy-window-atrocious-inoculate

690-Discern the convergent words polish-hang-art steel-shot-game dog-nest-thy

691-Name a 2 word palindromic phrase for a hockey trophy

692-Discern the convergent words wild-let-iron house-food-wild a-master-an

693-Name a 2 word anagrmmatic phrase that refers to a well-dressed groupie

694-Discern the convergent words ginger-cold-nut soda-barrel-nut he-master-ski

695- Name a 2 wors palindromic phrase for a friendless analgesic

696-Discern the convergent words glass-exam-wooden hoe-broke-way off-about-save

697-Name a 2 word palindromic phrase that refers to the father of Francis

698-Discern the convergent words business-shine-bars pin-wood-earth dog-whip-run

699-Name a 2 word anagrammatic phrase that refers to a fancy boutique

700-Discern the convergent words under-sandwich-down tolerate-upset-acid beat-bacon-in

Monday, March 31, 2014

Enough With The Yiddishisms

(This article first appeared in the April 2014 Lexpert)

Enough with the Yiddishisms Already!


Howard Richler

Fewer than one-third of English words stem from the original Anglo-Saxon word stock and to some extent the language's ascendancy lies in the internationality of its words. Even with its grammatical irregularities and illogical pronunciation and spelling, English is best suited to be the world’s bridge tongue due to its welcoming, absorbent nature. From aardvark which comes from Afrikaans to zebra which we received from Bantu, English has taken words from virtually every language in the world. While other languages treasure chastity, the English language tends to sleep with whomever it finds most attractive. In the 20th century, one of is most common bedmates has been Yiddish. Countless Yiddishisms, such as “bagel” and “kibbitz” now pepper the mainstream vernacular.

Still, even as a Jewish person, I am sometimes surprised by the extensiveness of these Yiddish inroads. Last month in this column I touched on the ubiquitous use of “chutzpah” ; actually this is but one of many Yiddishisms that have wormed their way into English. The following are but a few examples.

A February 2005 edition of Time magazine featuring a story written by JFO Mcallister on the upcoming marriage of Charles and Camilla said, “Last week there were a few signs of apathy in the sea of schmaltz (sentimentality) about enduring love.” Montreal Gazette staffer Don MacPherson wrote on August 21,1999, “Perhaps {Lucien} Bouchard was just trying to avoid unnecessary tsuris (worries) at the next meeting of the PQ national council.” Last year, in an interview in the New York Times, Robert Deniro characterized Silver Lining Playbook director David O. Russell's “lovable craziness” as messhugas. Some years ago, I phoned a non-Jewish Gazette editor to see if he had received the controversial book I wanted to review. He told me he had and that in his opinion “it looked like a bunch of dreck.” This surprised me, but not because I held a contrary view of the book. What surprised me was the editor’s knowledge of the word “dreck” - a word of Yiddish derivation that means “crap” or ”worthless thing.”

Ultimately, “dreck” is a word of German derivation where it referred to excrement. According to Leo Rosten's The Joys of Yiddish, In English, the word “dreck” has a particular application to the arts. So the editor's use of the word to describe a book was bang-on. I was amazed to learn that “dreck” found its way into English dictionaries as far back as 1922. The first OED citation is from James Joyce’s Ulysses: “Farewell. Fare thee well. Dreck!”

Occasionally, we even see a word with Yiddish pedigree achieve lexicographic recognition that conveys a concept not having an English synonym. Such is the case with naches which was added to the OED in 2003, where it is defined as “Among Jews, a sense of pleasure or pride at the achievements of one’s children.” (I would add “or grandchildren.”)

I suspect, however, that many Yiddish words get absorbed into English not because they introduce a new concept in English but because they’re fun to say. After all, English has many derogatory words for people but, “schlemiel,” “schmo,” “schmuck,” “schmegegge,” “nudnik” and “meshugenne” roll off the tongue with glee.

Yiddish terms have found surprising English homes. We see the word nosh being used in England in the 1870s but with the idea of it being a meal not a snack; this usage only became prevalent in North America in the 1940s. The term shicker, “drunk.” is also listed in the OED as an Australian and New Zealand coloquialism. A 1970 citation from the New Zealand Listener says, “After midnight, Jerry got so shicker that he was quarreling with everyone.” Up to twenty years ago, the term shicker was a very common term for a drunk Down Under.

Israel Zangwill’s 1892 work Children in the Ghetto is the most prolific source of cited Yiddish words in the OED. Along with nosh and shicker, all the following words are first mentioned in Zangwill’s work: schnorrer, “beggar”; shlemiel, “blunderer”; nebbich, “non-entity” ; shiksa, “gentile girl”; schmuck “contemptible person” ; rebbitzin, “rabbi’s wife”; narrischkeit, “foolishness”; chutzpah, “gall” and the interjections nu and oy.

A century later the program Saturday Night Live made popular the usage of two unlikely Yiddish candidates. In a segment entitled Coffee Talk, Canadian Mike Myers played the character Linda Richman who was prone to using the words shpilkes, “nervous energy” and farklempt, “all choked up.”

It is difficult to escape one’s roots. I had used the phrase “go know” several times to a non-Jewish business associate before he informed me that he had never heard the expression . I checked in a phrase book which showed ”go know” as Yinglish, from the Yiddish expression gey vays (meaning, “go know.”) It explained that the expression could mean “How could I know?”, or “How could you expect me to know?” So go know, I had been using the perfect Yiddishism unknowingly!

Go figure?

Howard Richler's book How Happy Became Homosexual and other mysterious semantic shifts was published in May 2013.