Saturday, April 30, 2016


1301-Name a 2 word anagrammatic phrase that describes inaudible ostentation  
1302-Discern the convergent words:   fly-passion-cup   soup-fat-garden     milk-oil-shell-   
1303-Name a 2 word anagrammatic phrase that describes an exterior way 
1304-Discern the convergent words    court-kick-rat    ass-jacket-kick cock-blue-hood
1305-Name a 2 word anagrammatic phrase that describes a baroque expiator   
1306-Discern the convergent words    blue-meridian-less    crack-start-god   blade-pad-cold
1307-Name a 2 word anagrammatic phrase that describes a love affair in a northern Italian city  
1308-Discern the convergent words shell-digger-up   shell-mattress-man    shell-wing-chest 
1309-Name a 2 word anagrammatic phrase that describes a flow of refugees out of Syria   
1310-Discern the convergent words   hot-butter-beach    lab-dip-dark   seeds-juice-salad
1311-Name a 2 word anagrammatic phrase that describes a lousy movie
1312- Discern the convergent words lens-let-limit     ball-wedding-tea   sport-sack-sugar
1313-Name a 2 word anagrammatic question that challenges the notion that winter weather is getting warmer
1314-Discern the convergent words glass-mom-lily    late-oil-apple   colony-pelt
1315-What do these words have in common? swastika-aryan-musk
1316-Discern the convergent words    dry-cocktail-vodka  arm-store-man   dog-sauce-pepper
1317-Name a 2 word anagrammatic phrase that describes porcine muscle
1318-Discern the convergent words   river-dry-guard   reading-face-beach    canal-less-app
1319-What do these words have in common? continent-emirate-finale   
1320-Discern the convergent words     headed-ion-red  pit-flicker-bane  ding-sausage-wild 
1321-What do these words have in common?   feta-firedamp-microramanmeter-sobriety    
1322-Discern the convergent words   elbow-sticky-cap    root-soup-stick      smart-jar-cutter
1323-Name a 2 word anagrammatic phrase that could describe one of the functions of Facebook    
1324-Discern the convergent words islands-wharf-yellow      dog-head-ma  worm-out-sea
1325-What do these words have in common   useless-slavery-cashew  
1326-Discern the convergent words    acid-long-a      acid-tolerate-flat     acid-language-tied
1327-Name a 2 word anagrammatic phrase that describes the least annoying bug   
1328-Discern the convergent words     box-trade-boxing      poodle-over-I    patterns-peasant-bypass
1329-What do these words have in common?    jai alai-Izarra-Euskarian
1330-Discern the convergent words     mental-urine-flying      pot-hip-bald   golden-sugar-led
1331-Name a 2 word anagrammatic phrase that describes  an eternity
1332-Discern the convergent words    toy-skirt-cut        cat-pit-wooly   round-cock-yellow
1333-Name a 2 word anagrammatic phrase that describes a  type of boat   
1334-Discern the convergent words speed-carbon-see  apple-up-nut   moon-chart-hole
1335-What do these words have in common?     rainforest-diabetes-carpentry
1336-Discern the convergent words      man-monkey-mum     jet-Irish-pace   corn-oil-bit
1337-Name a 5 word palindromic phrase that means Star of Cosby Show didn’t try this herb.
1338-Discern the convergent words   hold-hole-holy    ups-an-kicks     chop-fat-pie
1339-What do these words have in common?    serendipity-denim-badminton 
1340-Discern the convergent words    pie-rose-pirates   pulling-pin-chest    a-off-breaking
1341-Name a 2 word anagrammatic phrase that describes a royal glower  
1342-Discern the convergent words     lice-license-running    lily-mom-shark     hawk-yellow-feed
1343-Name a 2 word anagrammatic phrase that describes a weaker regime
1344-Discern the convergent words     crew-flower-framework   identify-gold-cooking    or-fire-bar
1345-Name a 2 word palindromic phrase that describes a nervous twitch that manifests itself in an urban environment  
1346-Discern the convergent words    spot-sour-garlic   pot-moon-brown    cake-salmon-burger
1347-What do these words have in common?      ammonia-salary-salad           
1348-Discern the convergent words    bread-butter-breath     case-wing-hard       mar-dry-be
1349-What do these words have in common?    auspicious-augur-halcyon
1350-Discern the convergent words     long-chair-dis     long-hold-a     long-do-ball
1351-What do these words have in common?     astral-disaster-consider
1352-Discern the convergent words     rice-ban-sugar   brief-bay-state   hatch-prize- trap  
1353-What do these words have in common?     wheels-crown-bottle-suits  
1354-Discern the convergent words   entry-cavil-us    pack-lab-her    ford-phoenix-ugly
1355-Name a 2 word anagrammatic phrase that means see the opposite 
1356-Discern the convergent words    beat-stern-half     beat-take-by   beat-sing-eye
1357-Name a 2 word anagrammatic phrase that means change warning signal 
1358-Discern the convergent words     garter-oil-eyes    up-pit-pea         pin-wood-ring
1359-Name a 2 word anagrammatic phrase that means besmirches progeny of Gaia + Uranus   
1360-Discern the convergent words    drum-talking-lights     drum-app-wig   drum-tight-alive
1361-Name a 2 word anagrammatic phrase that means keep the obstinate  
1362-Discern the convergent words    hard-hair-high   ability-monkey-long   free-kick-strap
1363-What do these words have in common?   choked-isthmal-galore-enlarge
1364-Discern the convergent words     raw-chutzpah-gas   orange-sport-young  ascending-cancer-semi
1365-What do these words have in common?   penicillin-orchid-testify-avocado
1366-Discern the convergent words   pro-tail-in     around-comeback-ding   computer-trap-church
1367-What do these words have in common?      business-wit-writing 
1368-Discern the convergent words     church-mighty-trap    wild-ground-tied   antelope-for-pin
1369-What do these words have in common?       amok-orangutan-cassowary
1370-Discern the convergent words    singing-dry-cut    gay-dive-broken     pink-shut-contact
1371-What do these words have in common?   wad-polo-slam 
1372-Discern the convergent words    it-an-by    out-punch-sea     west-disc-past
1373-Name a 2 word anagrammatic phrase that describes couples in a particular world capital 
1374-Discern the convergent words    coo-tongue-rod   Christmas-blue-cap    up-pink-betting
1375-Name a 2 word anagrammatic phrase that describes Indonesian upheavals    
1376-Discern the convergent words     holy-Indian-bar    on-mobile-bar    house-out-word 
1377-Name a 2 word anagrammatic phrase that describes an African ballet dancer     
1378-Discern the convergent words    ate-Sunday-beach    guard-loud-dart    turn-pony-ox
1379-What do these words have in common?   mulligatawny-catamaran-anaconda-beriberi
1380-Discern the convergent words    ox-pays-fat    glad-sore-evil   biter-bracelet-deep  
1381-What do these words have in common?   debonair- pedigree-jeopardy 
1382-Discern the convergent words      road-rock-away   bowl-fuzz-state      brandy-pie-age
1383-What do these words have in common?      fizzle-partridge-petard  
1384-Discern the convergent words    board-micro-silicon     board-money-winner      board-whiz-say
1385-What do these words have in common?       apricot-tariff-carat
1386-Discern the convergent words    fox-cock-dove   off-fountain-office   ion-bow-rest
1387-What do these words have in common?         jungle-juggernaut-bandanna
1388-Discern the convergent words    cut-clearing-white     cut-pin-oil    cut-split-fat
1389-What do these words have in common?         ailed-inure-ford
1390-Discern the convergent words    code-western-tubing   revolution-duck-bowl    town-boiled-head
1391-What do these words have in common?       meter-corner-roster
1392-Discern the convergent words    manhandle-nee-print    paint-bowl-roll      less-wrenching-rot
1393-What do these words have in common?      pouting-align- gland
1394-Discern the convergent words    chef-French-shop     shrimp-bar-hour     blond-bee-pot
1395-Name a 2 word anagrammatic phrase that could describe someone born in Kolkatta but residing in Molenbeek
1396-Discern the convergent words    ping-up-pink    rein-hit-rust   rain-in-bra
1397-What do these placenames have in common?      Honduras- Nice-England-Fargo-Lahore-Chad
1398-Discern the convergent words    can-copy-go     angel-tiger-tank   berry-cap-skin
1399-What do these words have in common?      cereal-pander-tantalize
1400-Discern the convergent words    end-leg-damage       ice-board-cheap    old-on-her 

Tuesday, April 19, 2016


            (The Following Article first appeared in the April 2016  Lexpert)
              Politics Hijacks Words
                       Howard Richler

As we North Americans have been barraged by political verbiage over the last two years, I am reminded of Prussian military theorist Carl von Clausewitz’s quip that “war is a mere continuation of politics by other means.”  Actually, von Clausewitz may have reversed the categories as several terms found in politics were found originally in the military arena. For example, both campaign and rally acquired military senses in the 17th century and political ones only in the 19th century.
We see an interplay with politics in other domains. Take religion, specifically Catholicism as two common political terms were born in the Vatican. Propaganda comes from the Latin phrase Congregation du propaganda fide, “Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith” founded in 1622 by a committee of Cardinals responsible for foreign missions during the papacy of Gregory XV. It is in the 19th century that the word acquired its political sense of the systematic dissemination of information, often in a biased sense. And if you find political nepotism as unsavoury as propaganda, again there is a papal connection. It seems that some of the early Popes liked to bestow special favours upon their nephews, (as well as their illegitimate sons) and in Latin the word for nephew is nepos. By the 19th century the word was broadened to refer to conferring unfair preferment to friends or those within ones sphere of influence. Also, in the 17th century, the word charisma, oft applied to political leaders, had a strictly theological application and referred to the free gift of God’s grace. The modern sense of the magnetic appeal of someone only arose in the 1940s.
The language of politics has borrowed from other disciplines. Cynics will not be shocked to discover that a political term has been hijacked from the domain of piracy. I refer to the word filibuster which derives from the Dutch vrijbuiter which combines the word vrij, “free” and bueter, “plunderer.” Originally, filibuster referred to pirates who pillaged the colonies in the Spanish West Indies during the 17th century. However, in the middle of the 19th century bands of adventurers organized expeditions from the United States, in violation of international law, for the purpose of revolutionizing certain states in Central America and the West Indies. By the end of the 19th century, the word came to refer to long-winded U.S. Senators whose obstructive practices were seen as akin to the havoc created by marauding pirates; they effectively hijacked the agenda of the Senate.
The term caucus in North America refers to the members of a legislative assembly that belong to a particular party. Most etymologists believe that the word was adapted from the Algonquin Caw-cawaassough, which means “counsellor.” The Algonquin word was recorded in a journal by Captain John Smith of Pocahontas fame in the early part of the 17th century with the sense of one who advises or encourages. Caucus first surfaced in New England in the early part of the 18th century and was virtually unknown in British English until the 1870s when it became a popular political buzzword.
Recently, the electoral district Sarnia-Lambton in Ontario became the champion bellwether riding in Canada having voted for the winning part in every election since 1963. Both of these italicized words have a political sense that is restricted mostly to Canada. Originally, a bellwether designated the head sheep of a flock whose prize for leadership was having a bell hung around its neck  - wether is a term for a male sheep or castrated ram.   By the 1930s the sense of “indicating a trend” emerged. The electoral sense of riding, however, is not a Canadian coinage but rather one has to look to Yorkshire, England for the provenance. Until 1974, Yorkshire was divided into three ridings and the word riding came into English in the 15th century from Old Norse thrithjungr, which originally was rendered riding in English as trithing.
While the word hustings is now used almost exclusively to refer to the rounds of political activity during an election, its origin was quite different. As early as the 11th century it was rendered singular as husting which literally means “house thing” with thing referring to a council meeting. Over time, it referred specifically to the court of law in the Guildhall of London. It was only in the 20th century that it acquired the modern sense of electioneering.
And finally, the current sense of poll as in “going to the polls” arose only in the 17th century. The source of the word is its literal meaning “head” and this was its sense starting in the 13th century. One way of counting votes in an election is by counting heads as seen in Shakespeare’s Coriolanus in 1607 when Coriolanus states “We are the greater poll, and in true fear they gave us our demands.”

Perhaps the proposed electoral reform in Canada or the election this year in the U.S. will afford some marauding politician the opportunity to hijack other words.

Richler’s book Wordplay:Arranged & Deranged Wit will be published in April 2016.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

The Word of the Year isn’t even a word
Howard Richler

What’s a word? Of course, what qualifies as a word lexicographically has always been somewhat problematic. For example, we can’t assume that just because a word is found in one dictionary that it will be listed in others. For example, Merriam Webster includes confuzzled, “Confused and puzzled at the same of producing neologisms,” chillax, “Chill out/relax, hang out with friends”; gription, “The purchase gained by friction”; and lingweenie, “A person incapable of producing neologisms,” but none of these entries are found in the OED.
On the other hand, the lists athame, “a double-edged knife used OED for ritual purposes in Wicca and other neo-pagan movements”; chav, “a young person characterized by brash and loutish behaviour”; Enviropig, “a genetically modified variety of pig that is able to digest phytic acid producing manure with a reduced content and hence environmental impact”  and studerite, “an arsenic-rich variety of tetrahedrite,” but these entries aren’t to be found in Merriam Websters’ Third New International Dictionary.
It would appear judging by recent decisions that a word can be anything that is said or expressed in any manner whatsoever.  For example, in its inaugural 1990 contest, the American Dialect Society (ADS) voted bushlips, “insincere political rhetoric,” as its word of the year, yet to my knowledge, no dictionary has ever included this term. In 2014, the ADS’s word of the year wasn’t even a word as we understand the term. The winner was the hashtag #blacklivesmatter. (Hashtag was the ADS word of the year in 2012.)  ADS spokesperson Ben Zimmer said that “although #blacklivesmatter may not fit the traditional definition of a word, it demonstrates how powerfully a hashtag can convey a succinct social message.”
Given the Oxford Dictionaries choice of word of the year for 2015, the definition of a word is becoming even more confuzzled, for the “word” that won is not  a word at all, but rather a pictograph:. 😂. Officially called the “Face with Tears of Joy” this pictograph is an emoji which is defined by the OED as “a small digital image or icon used to express an idea, emotion, etc., in electronic communications.” Emojis have been around since the late 1990s, but 2015 saw their use, and use of the word emoji, increase hugely.
This year Oxford University Press have partnered with leading mobile technology business SwiftKey to explore frequency and usage statistics for some of the most popular emojis across the world, and 😂 was chosen as “word” of the year because it was the most used emoji globally in 2015. SwiftKey identified that it comprised 20% of all the emojis used in the UK in 2015, and 17% of those in the US: a sharp rise from 4% and 9% respectively in 2014.  In an interview, Casper Grothwohl, President of Oxford Dictionaries said that an emoji was selected as “word” of the year because it highlights how we have become a visually-obsessed culture.
Emoji is a loanword from Japanese and marries e, “picture,” with moji, “letter, character.” It marries e, “picture,” with moji, “letter, character.” Its similarity to the English word emoticon has probably enhanced its popularity; however, the resemblance is totally accidental as emoticon blends emotion and icon. Like it or not, emojis are no longer the preserve of those who tweet or texters, and have been embraced by many as a nuanced form of expression that transcends language barriers. For example, in August 2015 Hillary Clinton tweeted, ‘How does your student loan debt make you feel? Tell us in 3 emojis or less.” (We’ll forgive her for not using “fewer.”)
By the way, probably to assuage old fogeys such as me who aren’t totally enamored by picture words, Oxford Dictionaries did have some more conventional words as candidates for 2015’s “word of the year.” They included:  ad blocker, “a piece of software designed to prevent ads from appearing on a web page”;  Brexit, “a term for the potential or hypothetical  exit of the United Kingdom from the European Union”(from British +exit); Dark Web, “World Wide Web that is only accessible by means of special software; allowing users and website operators to remain untraceable or anonymous”; on fleek,  “extremely good, attractive or stylish” ( apparently an arbitrary formation popularized in a 2014 video post on the social media service Vine by  adolescent Kayla Newman, a.k.a., Peaches Monroee); lumbersexual, “a young urban male who cultivates an appearance and style of dress typified by a beard and checked shirt suggestive of a rugged, outdoor lifestyle”; refugee, “a person forced to leave their country in order to escape war, persecution or natural disaster”; sharing economy, “an economic  system in which assets or services are shared between private individuals, either for free or for a fee, typically by means of the Internet”; they (singular), “used to refer to a person of unspecified sex.”
Personally, I won’t be shedding tears of joy over the selection of a pictograph as word of the year. I guess I’m just not on fleek. And just how do those at Oxford who chose this image as “word” of the year propose to list it their dictionaries?
Richler’s latest book Wordplay: Arranged & Deranged Wit will be published in March 2016.

Thursday, February 18, 2016


         Both the universe and the English language are expanding


                            Howard Richler

Please refrain from sexting while twerking. While it might be hyphy, fo' shizzle it is both jank and meh.

All the italicized words are recent additions to the OED which in June added almost 1000 new terms to our language. While in the past, the OED's policy was to include neologisms only after they were firmly entenched in our language, many of the additions such as twerk and sext demonstrate that the times they are a changin'.

Perhaps a little translation is in order. Sexting refers to the sending of sexually explicit pictures electronically and twerking is dancing in a provocative manner by thrusting motions of the glutus maximus and the hip. Hyphy means energetic, fo' shizzle comes from the lexicon of hip-hop music and is a variant of “for sure,” whereas jank is a variant of junk that means inferior and meh means uninspiring or mediocre.

I was surprised to discover that twerk had been added because, as a rule, the OED will usually only add a word if it has enjoyed popular use for at least ten years and I associate the word with Miley Cyrus' gyrating motions at the 2013 MTV awards show and it seemed to me that  use of the term abated dramatically by 2014.  In fact, the OED discovered that folks have been twerking for the better part of two centuries, but not necessarily in the lascivious Cyrus mode. In 1820 the word was first used as a noun to refer to a twisting motion as the word is a blend of twist or twitch with jerk and by 1850  the verb form of the word emerged.

Twenty years ago it was unfathomable that we would soon be changing the definition of marriage to include same-sex couples and the OED reflects this revolution in our thinking about personal identity and social classification. For example, the OED made me aware that I am a cisgender person, a word I did not know existed. Cisgender is defined as “designating someone whose sense of personal identity corresponds to the sex and gender assigned to him at birth.” The prefix cis- means “on the side of” and the term cisgender contrasts with transgender.  Racial conceptions have similarly evolved. The term intersectionality originated in mathematical formulations in the 1960s but by 1989 it has been used to the “interconnected nature of social categorizations such as race, class…regarded as creating overlapping and independent systems of discrimination and disadvantage.”
In my July/August Lexpert column I pointed out that many familiar Canadian are finally getting OED recognition. This process has continued in the recent additions as these aspects of Canadiana enhance the ever-growing Canadian content of the OED.  Depanneur (convenience store), inukshuk, (a structure of rough stone used by Inuit hunters as a landmark), mangia-cake, (among Italian Canadians, a term for non-Italians),  double double (a cup  of coffee with a double serving of both cream and sugar). Resto-bar, (combined restaurant and bar) was also added and although the term is not exclusive to Canada, the OED's first citation comes from the Montreal Gazette in 1992.

It would also appear that acronyms and initialisms are flourishing judging by some of the new OED additions. I was familiar with POTUS, President of the United States, and SCOTUS, Surpreme Court of the United States but FLOTUS was a new one for me, as was FOMO, fear of missing out and SCBU Special Care Baby Unit, a designation used primarily in Great Britain.

The OED additions also highlight how quickly words can acquire new meanings and then proliferate. A good example is the word “guerilla” which traditionally only designated a paramilitary combatant. The OED explains that since the end of the 20th century it often is used to include “activities conducted in an irregular, unorthodox, and spontaneous way, without regard to established conventions, rules and formalities.” Hence we find guerilla advertising, guerilla art, guerilla gardening, guerilla knitting, guerilla marketing and guerilla theatre, to name but a few of the guerilla flavours. Amazingly, there is a citation for “guerilla advertising” in 1888. Some futuristic soul thought of this structure eighty years before anybody else thought to extend the guerilla metaphor.  Also, new meanings have been added to these words; “Kill”- do something impressively; “lipstick” -  the treble twenty on a dartboard; “chatter” - electronic communication that is monitored by intelligence agencies to combat terrorism and “double-dip,” a term that references two periods of economic decline.

An economic diet is included in the new entries. I refer to freegan which is defined as the “practice of eating discarded food typically collected from the refuse of shops or restaurants for ethical or ecological reasons.” My favourite new diet word was added to the OED in June 2014. I refer to flexitarian that is defined as “a person who follows a primary but not strictly vegetarian. I prefer to define it as a vegetarian who once a year cheats and enjoys a smoked meat sandwich at Schwartz's.

Richler’s book Wordplay: Arranged & Deranged Wit will be published in April 2016.

Sunday, February 14, 2016


                     Why lovers are bird-brained


                               Howard Richler

“On wings of love and fly to me my turtle dove.” 

“As clear and pure as a turtle dove
And that is what fills me with love.”

 I espied these saccharine messages recently while perusing Valentine’s Day cards and had the humdrum epiphany that the turtle dove is the quintessential symbol for Valentine’ Day. (Do not confuse the turtle dove with the reptilian turtle. The bird’s name in Old English was turtur,  an onomatopoeic rendering of the bird’s coo.)  Not only does  “turtle dove” conveniently rhyme with  “love,” but the turtle dove is also said to be a very solicitous partner that constantly dotes on its mate.  This sense is reflected in the following passage from James Joyce’s Ulysses: “Take her for me... Jove, a cool ruttime send them. Yea, turtledove her.”

The turtle dove is but one example of the  “animalistic” nature of romance.  Lovers are referred to in other beastly ways such as  “bunny,” “kitten,” “puppy,” “sparrow,” “sparling,” “lambkin,” “tiger,” and “stallion,” and are even likened to potentially disease-infested rodents, such as a “mouse” and a “squirrel.”

The metaphorical use of animals to refer to lovers is a time-honoured practice. In his book The Lover’s Tongue, Mark Morton relates that the period from the 15th to the 18th century represented the apogee for the metaphorical comparison of one’s beloved with livestock: “People interacted with animals not just in their McNugget or Quarter-Pounder incarnations, but as fellow creatures, sharing the same plot of farmland, if not the same house.”

For example, in Shakespeare’s Henry V, the character Pistol exclaims, “Good bawcock, bate thy rage, use lenitie, sweet chuck!”   “Bawcock” is a corruption of the French beau coq which means “beautiful cock” or more euphemistically  “fine rooster”; “chuck” here is a variation of “chick.”   In the Scottish poet William Dunbar’s 16th century verse In Secreit Place This Hyndir Nycht,  a woman in the poem addresses her lover thus: “My belly huddrun , my swete hurle bawsy” which translates  as “My big lummox, my sweet unweaned calf.”  I may never ever again be able to eat a steak without blushing.

Perhaps it would also be wise to avoid employing the term of endearment piggsneye, used by Chaucer in The Miller’s Tale in 1388. The OED defines it as  “one specially cherished; a darling, pet; commonly used as an endearing form of address.”  It is a combined form of  “pig’s-eye” and the OED relates that it “originated in children's talk and the fond prattle of nurses.” Its last recorded usage dates back to 1941 in C. S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters: “My dear, my very dear Wormwood, my poppet, my pigsnie.”

Of course, terms of endearment can transcend comparing your beloved to an animal. You can also employ nonsense rhymes such as “honey bunny,”  “lovey dovey” and “tootsie wootsie”. If you find these terms annoying, take solace that many others of this ilk are now archaic. In All's Well that Ends Well, Shakespeare refers to a husband’s “kicky-wicky” which transfers from its literal sense as a gray mare to a wife. Other rhyming terms that have similarly vanished are “gol-pol” (a woman with blonde hair), “crowdie-mowdie” (oatmeal and water eaten uncooked,) and the nonsensical duo of “slawsie gawsie” and “tyrlie myrlie.”

Equally grating are the variety of “–ums” words used as forms of endearment. These seem to have originated as terms for children (or cats) but were soon adopted by babbling, inarticulate lovers. Here we have the quartet of “diddums,” “pussums,” “ pookums” and “snookums.”

If you are looking for an original verb to describe your love play, try “canoodle” which is defined as “to indulge in caresses and fondling endearments.” Its origin is unknown and its first citation occurs in 1859: A sly kiss, and a squeeze, and a pressure of the foot or so, and a variety of harmless endearing blandishments, known to our American cousins under the generic name of ‘conoodling.’”  If you’re seeking even greater originality for the one you cherish, try an archaic word.  I thus recommend to the gentleman reader that he refer to his love interest as “muskin” (girl with a pretty face), “amoret” (sweetheart), “fairhead” (beauty) or as a “mistresspiece” (female masterpiece), and to employ “court holy water” (flattery) in order that she may “smick” (kiss) and  “halch” (embrace)  him.  A lady may call her beau a “franion” (gallant lover) or refer to him as “snout-fair” (handsome), and tell him that he is “frim” (vigorous and in good shape).

Whatever language you choose to woo the one of your choice  this Valentine’s Day, may your “loveship” (courtship) be full of “fougue” (ardour).

Friday, January 22, 2016


1201-Aside from being 6 letter words, what do these words have in common?    assist-bluest-chairs-errant-pained-voided
1202-Discern the convergent words:    cavil-entry     brown-laughing-road      lip-march-times   
1203-What do these words have in common?    modest-setttle-sale
1204-Discern the convergent words: sly-grey-egg    red-wood-oil    juice-root-top     
1205- What do these words have in common?    peculiar-vaccine-bachelor
1206 -Discern the convergent words:   gazing-orange-ring    roll-soft-strap    razor-rub-room
1207- Name a 2 word anagrammatic phrase to describe holy trees 
1208 -Discern the convergent words:  silicon-away-corn   watch-love-juice   scorch-woman-broil 
1209-Name a 2 word anagrammatic phrase to describe Nazi mail
1210-Discern the convergent words: ship-tea- dog   American-burger-tine    back-Canadian-sandwich    
1211-Name a 2 word anagrammatic phrase to describe a weird heater
1212-Discern the convergent words:   hole-earth-pin     hole-bad-backwards   hole-hunt-tv
1213--Name a 2 word palindromic phrase that describes a one night stand of a male escort  
1214-Discern the convergent words:     slat-as-in    food-wild-run       wooly-fore-cave
1215-Name a 2 word palindromic phrase that describes a whimsical nobleman   
1216-Discern the convergent words:  blue-little-emperor     blue-complain-stone    blue-song-fire
1217- Find the 2 letter combinations that expands each set of the following groupings of words: The added letters must appear inside rather than outside the shorter word.  After having done this combine each set of 2 letter words to expands form a 8 letter word.  For extra points figure out an anagram to the 8 letter word. being-going-marine    bated-scalp-swing  broom-pant-stamped   dating-tribe-hated 
1218-Discern the convergent words:    loose-a-well-   bruised- cage-steak    cows-upper-id
1219 - Find the 2 letter combinations that expands each set of the following groupings of words: The added letters must appear inside rather than outside the shorter word.  After having done this combine each set of 2 letter words to form a 8 letter word. For extra points figure out an anagram to the 8 letter word.a)being-poured-aria    b)prone-cable-rested   c)manure-medal-spate   d) Sikh-beaded-rearing  
1220-Discern the convergent words: circus-bite-bane    pacific-steak-fry       ding-sausage-wild 
1221-What do these words have in common?     tor-Tory-slogan
1222-Discern the convergent words   black-less-under    over-I-under   over-box-horse
1223 -Name a 2 word anagrammatic phrase to describe trusty steel
1224-Discern the convergent words: ball-be-by   grass-grey-less       sing-eye-middle
1225-What do these words have in common?    coughing, first, menopause  
1226-Discern the convergent words: alley-scan-amount     hatch-prize- trap    bull-head-jaw   
1227-Name a food word where the first 3 letters are the same as the last 3 letters  (Must be more than 6 letters) *The answer may be an alternate spelling in  some dictionaries but is the one listed in the OED.
1228-Discern the convergent words:   wood-clogs-bar      bath-dis-ward      cap-Christmas-long
1229-There are several words that begin and end with the same 3 letters such as entertainment- restores & underfund but not many that begin and end with the same 4  or 5 letters. Name one that does.  (Excluding words where the parts repeat themselves such as beriberi.)
1230-Discern the convergent words: big-potty-off    big-wrong-rest    big-drag-rag
1231-Name a 2 word palindromic phrase that describes a flower in a South American city 
1232-Discern the convergent words:    love-bug-moo    allergy-butter-farmer    mock-soup-spring
1233 –Name 2 words where the addition of 2 consonants creates homophone.
1234-Discern the convergent words:-sac-salad-scotch     favor-house-powder            tea-snaps-ale
1235- Name a 2 word anagrammatic phrase to describe a less luminescent jewel
1236 -Discern the convergent words  :family-out-word    state-harass-honey       farm-fat-mill
1237- Name a 2 word anagrammatic phrase to describe a far away planetary object
1238-Discern the convergent words:   reap-cider-alligator     mustang-nuts-picking      computer-memory-blue
1239-Find the 2 letter combinations, and the 1 letter combination that expands each set of the following groupings of words: The added letters must appear inside rather than outside the shorter word.  After having done this combine each set of 2 letter words expands to form a 9 letter word. For the letter in the middle (the fifth letter you must add only ONE LETTER to expand the word. For extra points figure out an anagram to the 9 letter word
a)colder-demotion-region  b)stale-rouse-garage     c)pious-head-swear  d)dented-lotion-maroon    e)camel—stingy-able
1240 -Discern the convergent words:   protector-thumping-war      a-amen-double      fight-iron-pump   
1241-Name a 2 word anagrammatic phrase to describe cozy coats worn by Vika & Olga  when they return  home.
1242-Discern the convergent words:     pink-ping-up   bishop-romantic-dress     blue-rain-sun
1243- Name a 2 word anagrammatic phrase to describe a more lachrymose African country  
1244-Discern the convergent words:     pink-seal-white   cliff-devour-water  neck-egg-snapping
1245-Name a 2 word anagrammatic phrase to describe a fancy boutique 
1246-Discern the convergent words:   bow-rack-up     ate- gym-shirt   ace-head-scoff
1247-Find the 2 letter combinations, and the 1 letter combination that expands each set of the following groupings of words: The added letters must appear inside rather than outside the shorter word.  After having done this combine each set of 2 letter words to  form a 9 letter word. For the letter in the middle (the fifth letter you must add only ONE LETTER to expand the word. For extra points figure out a name that is an anagram to the 9 letter word.
a)overt-mist-wane    b)bough-badly-adit    c)broom-sated-pant    d)abled-ring-spice   e)pier-sloe-insect
1248-Discern the convergent words:   able-end-car         chop-head-stew      egg-head-wet    
1249-Name a possible palindromic name of a Jewish newspaper
1250-Discern the convergent words: pad-pay-path     supply-band-side     tease-eye-bruised
1251-Name a 2 word anagrammatic phrase that means rouse clans 
1252-Discern the convergent words:  mustard-brown-child   penguin-soup-elbow     an-kicks-pop
1253 -What do these words have in common?     diesel-mesmerize fuchsia 
1254-Discern the convergent words: eastern-mountain-tape      nights-deer-led     blue-duck-lac 
1255-Name a 2 word anagrammatic phrase that means  scare young actress  
1256-Discern the convergent words:   sea-out-punch    juice-Japanese-tiger   bane-flicker-marker
1257-What do these words have in common?    grapevine-slogan-blockbuster
1258-Discern the convergent words:   east-radio-easter    iron-waver-maker    soda-fruit-box
1259-What do these words have in common?      sideburn-gat-bloomer
 1260-Discern the convergent words: biter-bracelet-deep    guard-macaroni-nudge    structure-dry-funny
1261- Name a 2 word anagrammatic phrase to describe advisors of villains 
1262-Discern the convergent words:-line-post-book   away-water-sailor   tea-tree-black
1263-Name a 2 word anagrammatic phrase to describe an idler at a wake 
1264-Discern the convergent words: Canada-liver-bay   Spanish-wheel-trap   American-spread-claw
1265-What do these words have in common?    sabotage-shingles-snob 
1266-Discern the convergent words:     American-mud-hole    Irish-fish-recipe     Swiss-head-board
1267-Name a 2 word anagrammatic phrase that refers to a dock for a pilot
1268-Discern the convergent words    dog-powder-sauce    bird-juice-sub     town-head-soup
1269-Name a 2 word anagrammatic phrase that letter-pencil could describe the Snake in Eden   
1270-Discern the convergent words    pan-cocktail-meat  pan-house-wave  pan-hut-delivery
1271-Name a 2 word anagrammatic phrase that describes Brick Tamland, Alan Garner,  Harry Dunn & Lloyd Christmas
1272-Discern the convergent words   backbone-compressed-less   brush-gun-salon     pencil-count-letter
1273- Name a 2 word anagrammatic phrase that means bloodthirsty bacchanlia
1274-Discern the convergent words break-mark-proof     break-tree-ring      break-roll-sweet
1275 -Name a 2 word anagrammatic phrase that means chaste gentleman’s gentlemen  
1276-Discern the convergent words   flat-golf-wrong    wag-strap-double       head-alive-care
1277-What do these words have in common? weighty-boner-stent  
1278-Discern the convergent words   iron-eon-out   bake-digger-up    no-ball-off
1279-Name a 2 word palindromic phrase that means brushed church seats
1280-Discern the convergent words   pad-French-cad     gas-pathway-gall   in-end-out
1281-What do these words have in common?   deadline-magazine-wardrobe
1282-Discern the convergent words    gut-amount-pole       effect-iron-madame    wood-dynasty-soup
1283-Name 2 movies and 1 novel with oymoronic titles   
1284-Discern the convergent words -on-gas-one     hair-less-night     snow-black-drive
1285- Name a 2 word anagrammatic phrase that means more expensive monastery 
1286-Discern the convergent words    poop-pile-pound    magazine-superb-barn    wild-ears-net
1287-Name a 2 word anagrammatic phrase that could represent a possible gift to a herpetologist
1288-Discern the convergent words   lock-pea-block   stiff-weapon-pit     rub-room-river
1289-Name a 2 word anagrammatic phrase that means keep opposite 
1290-Discern the convergent words: vanilla-bag-head   lemon-racket-winter  he-master-ski     
1291- Name a 2 word anagrammatic phrase that refers to a guard to whom you provide asks your identification badge  
1292-Discern the convergent words  ball-transplant-pin    ball-fall-set      ball-notice-sore
1293-Name 3 pairs of words that are anagrams and homonyms  
1294-Discern the convergent words paste-can-green    pink-mine-water     ding-oat-died
1295-Name 2 words that are antonyms +homophones to each other   
1296-Discern the convergent words bump-fight-pump      big-let-see       left-dump-child
1297-What do these words have in common? crocodilian-insolent-steeliness-unfortunately                                  
1298-Discern the convergent words: hair-cold-treasure      chest-spray-chestnut      last-ate-ion

1299-What do these words have in common?  acknowledged-antemundane-consternation-handover
1300-Discern the convergent words: cry-hall-were     ground-line-warts     trap-by-brie

Friday, January 15, 2016


                    Greek myths return with a vengeance
                                        Howard Richler

We find in the works of great writers such as Shakespeare, Milton and Dante many allusions to Greek mythology. This pattern continues into the early part of the 20th century in the writings of Joyce as well as in the terms Freud borrowed such as Eros, and the Oedipus complex.
These ancient legends probably don’t resonate with most people as they once did, but judging from some references in the media, we are starting to view the importance of these myths in our daily lives. It would appear that The Economist agrees judging by an article in their August 22, 2015 edition: “Perhaps the gripping plots and rich metaphors of the ancient world seem more relevant than ever. Are labours to repay foreign debts Sisyphean?  ls the prime minister’s victory in a recent referendum Pyrrhic?
The Economist was referring to events in Greece but the descriptions of other debacles, make it apparent that the application of Greek myth metaphors is becoming ubiquitous. The week following The Economist article,  the New Yorker  offered this description of the anti-immigration attitudes prevalent in many countries by political science professor Samuel Poplin: “When people get frustrated and irritated, they want to cut the Gordian knot.”  Also, in an article in the National Post this June entitled “The Senate is the Annoying House Guest We Can’t Get Rid OF,” Tasha Kheiriddin opined that “reopening the constitution is the Pandora’s Box of politics.”
I suspect that all the four terms italicized, and the stories behind them are not as well-known as they may have been in an earlier era when Greek and Latin were taught in high schools.  To this end, I offer a brief description of their “gripping plots and rich metaphors” from the age of antiquity.   
“Sisyphean” derives from Sisyphus whose punishment in Hades for his misdeeds in his previous life was having to roll a huge stone up to the top of a hill only to have it constantly roll down.  Hence a “labour of Sisyphus” or “Sisyphean toil” is an endless, futile endeavour, such the Maple Leafs attempt to win the Stanley Cup.
Unlike Sisyphean at least “Pyrrhic” connotes some success. The hero here is Pyrrhus, a Carthaginian general who served under the command of Hannibal. His daring tactics won him many battles. However, at Asculum in 279 B.C. his victory against the Romans was achieved only with the loss of his best officers and many men. He is supposed to have quipped, “One more such victory and we are lost.”  Misfortune continued to dog him.  Seven years after the aforementioned battle he was killed when a tile that had fallen from a roof in a street in Argos struck him. He is memorialized by the earlier incident with the term Pyrrhic that denotes a victory attained at too great a cost to be considered worthwhile.
He/she who has “cut the Gordian knot” has solved an intricate problem by a drastic, impetuous action. Its progenitor Gordius, luckily chose to drive his chariot one day into a public square when the citizens happened to be searching for a king that an oracle had prophesied would arrive via a wagon. Due to this fortuitous chariot ride into town, he became King of Phrygia. Gordius tied the chariot to the temple of the god of the oracle in an ingenious way so that nobody could untie it. It was said that whoever untied the knot would become Lord of the Gordian Knot. Many tried and all failed. Reportedly, Alexander the Great was told that whoever undid the knot would reign over all of Asia. As Alexander attempts to untie the knot, he failed and proceeded to cut the knot with his sword.  Hence, “cutting the Gordian knot” is usually seen as eliminating a difficulty by force or by ignoring the conditions of solution. Sometimes, however, the phrase is interpreted positively to refer to solving a baffling problem by a bold act.
As one can surmise from Kheiriddin’s use of the term, “opening a Pandora’s Box” should be avoided due to the unforeseen problems that will result. The story begins with the deity Prometheus who has the chutzpah to steal fire from Zeus and giving it to humans. To punish Prometheus, Zeus chained him to a rock and sent a vulture to dine on his liver every day. But because Prometheus was immortal his liver regenerated and eventually he was rescued by Hercules. Zeus’s revenge wasn’t quenched. He ordered the creation of the first mortal woman, Pandora, whose beauty seduced humanity. Pandora meant “all-gifted” because each of the gods gave her different powers to ruin mankind. Zeus presented Pandora as a gift to Epimetheus, Prometheus’s brother, and Prometheus advised his brother to refuse the gift but his advice went unheeded and Epimetheus married Pandora. Pandora brought with her a box that the gods had given her and naturally curious of its contents, she opened it.  This released countless evils, such as war and pestilence which have ever since continued to bedevil the world.
Or as Linda Ronstadt put it in song, just one look that’s all it took.
Richler’s book Word Play:Arranged & Deranged Wit will be published in March 2016.