Saturday, March 31, 2018


2001-Split Definitive Puzzlethought complilation (8)  (l)These “split definitives” are now featured in my most recent book Wordplay:Arranged and Deranged Wit.
2002-Commonality    What do these words have in common?       auspices-halcyon-pedigree 
2003-Discern     egg-thrash-Boston     pit-old-ern      cocktail-apple-chili
2004-Split Definitive Puzzle swindle master   (11)   (t)
2005-Omnibus is  shortened in the beginning  to become bus and pianoforte shortened at the end to become piano. Name a word  that has been shortened at both ends.
2006-Discern      bottle-around-dive     fish-artificial-function   cock-lights-fox
2007-Split Definitive Puzzle –     listen to change in a general direction (12)    (t)
2008-Anagram Name an anagrammatic locale for flowers in Newfoundland 
2009-Discern        ford-grape-sally      dance-egg-farm       all-hunting-sea     
2010-Split Definitive Puzzle    morning gaudy jewelry   (7)     (b)
2011-Anagram Name an anagrammatic phrase that means  adduces catalyst
2012-Discern       cutter-filo-French    cake-peppermint-salmon   bacon-brained-chick
2013-Split Definitive Puzzle  so be it can (8)  (a)
2014-Anagram Name an anagrammatic phrase that means     arbiter who takes bribes
2015-Discern        a)fire-show-red                 b)fire-arctic-vigil  c) fire-flu-boo
2016-Split Definitive Puzzlemore popular option on a 45     (5)  (s)
2017-Anagram Name an anagrammatic phrase that means  large bird singer   
2018-Discern      sauce-less-bearing     sandwich-sausage-technique     ball-Irish-recipe
2019-Split Definitive Puzzle where they keep the shotglasses   (8)   (r)
2020-Anagram Name an anagrammatic phrase that means senseless gentleness
2021-Discern       great-gray-poodle     bath-dis-ward        blue-cap-silk
2022-Split Definitive Puzzle outlaw death (8)  (d)These “split definitives” are now featured in my most recent book Wordplay:Arranged and Deranged Wit.
2023-Anagram-Name an anagrammatic phrase that means  milky journal
2024-Discern     roast-kin-stones    date-brown-head    French-cake-yogurt
2025-Split Definitive Puzzleacquire talent   (12)  (i)
2026-Anagram Name an anagrammatic phrase that means  remained reliable
2027-Discern cell-donation-libel   leather-burner-green   high-French-cad
2028-Split Definitive Puzzle fish  go in   (9)   (e)
2029-Anagram     Name an anagrammatic phrase that refers to the back of a particular Nissan model 
2030-Discern     meat-humbug-sandwich      an-butter-ups                 avocado-salute-French
2031-Split Definitive Puzzle   mail cornmeal bread    (8)   (p)
2032-Commonality- What do these words have in common? pampered- flanged-eroding cashew-chilly-sleet-Dalit   
2033-Discern    cap-jam-loop    tow-pencil-line  powder-claw-a
2034-Split Definitive Puzzle  (9)  (t) prisoner stall
2035-Commonality- What do these words have in common? supplied-land-cock       
2036-Discern    bear-a-Chicago    white-Tamil-mom    morning-spree-sky
2037-Split Definitive Puzzle police debts  (i)   (7)
2038-Anagram Name an anagrammatic phrase that refers to a   Wyoming predicament 
2039-Discern      roasted-horse-oak     avocado-salute-French    ad-ball-custody
2040-Split Definitive Puzzle remains run into    (6)   (a)
2041-Palindrome  Name a palindromic phrase that utters a physical threat to an opponent of a Florida city.
2042-Discern      camera-mix-points     bill-plains-saber       cinnamon-fight-honey
2043-Split Definitive Puzzlewithout an agenda  (8)  (l)
2044-Commonality What do these words have in common?  candles-elder-entitles 
2045-Discern      bull-gold-star      angel-attack-hammer    bell-black-counting
2046-Split Definitive Puzzle listen row  (8)   (t)
2047-Anagram  Name an anagrammatic phrase that refers to  what a masochist does during a workout 
2048-Discern     ice-fly-ping      boar-blood- roll       popcorn-dance-supreme  
2049-Split Definitive Puzzle rocky peak instrument  (8)    (v)
2050-Anagram   Name an anagrammatic phrase that means   a large group of classical musicians comprised of heavy work equines      
2051-Discern      golden-liver-muscle     bet-bone-dig      swollen-hunter-figure
2052- Split Definitive Puzzle attention shelter  (7)  (n)
These “split definitives” are now featured in my most recent book Wordplay:Arranged and Deranged Wit.
 2053-Anagram        Remaining gloomy and hellish 
2054-Discern -moon-give-alcohol      beer-less-cat     church-inner-university 
2055- Split Definitive Puzzle   20-20 EYESIGHT     (11)  (s)
2056-Anagram        hover above
2057-Discern    set-flash-seat       bloody-bone-sassiness      backbone-compressed-less  
2058- Split Definitive Puzzle     perfect excursion     (8)   (r)
2059-Understudy and overstuff feature a 4 letter alphabetic stream RSTU. Name a word that features a different 4 letter alphabetic stream. (Must be one word).
2060-Discern       cod-ern-away       a-laws-ball       beer-lout-phone
2061-Split Definitive Puzzle      rabbit fade      (7)  (d)
2062-Palindrome     palindromic phrase that describes drivel from an Anglo-Saxon slave 
2063-Discern     curl-or-under         strain-rib-catching       bump-fight--pump      
2064-Split Definitive Puzzle    bay fury    (8)   (c)
2065- Anagram    Name an anagrammatic expression that is a feature often found in consumer electronics.
2066-Discern     last-piano-ally       bruised-cage-eye     blade-cold-harness
2067-Split Definitive Puzzle      intellectually   nimble  (14)   (m)
2068-Palindrome     Name a palindromic phrase exemplified by this moronic assertion: Only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.
2069-Discern       bottoms-game-party        bossy-cargo-clown   grass-hoop-length
2070-Split Definitive Puzzle     equally positive  (9)  (a)
2071-Palindrome    Possible palindromic sign at a grocery store during a fruit shortage,
2072-Discern       browns-meat-up      fry-day-Christmas      play-hot-to
2074-Commonality    What do these names have in common?     Berton- Gaston-Mariel-Nat[H1] -Thor
2075-Discern        trumpet-mark-bud     set-yard-milk       pea-cramp-wash
2076-Split Definitive Puzzle        abolition due   (7)  (o)
2077-Name a  two word phrase of a commonly found sign inside airports where are the letters are found in the first half of the alphabet; Hint: 12 letters total.
2078-Discern      hold-double-safety     hold-turf-drag       hold-wrong-pad
2079-Split Definitive Puzzle      unit for transmitting inherited characteristics  (12)  (g)    
2080-Anagram   aversion to a place that shows art
2081-Discern able-harp-harvest      alley-arms-bonnet          oil-ranch-stole 
2082-Split Definitive Puzzle      eye item (8)    (t)
2083-Anagram     Abhors urgency of movement
2084-Discern        chair-work-bow                     trigger-weave-cat      bone-cap-fracture
2085- Split Definitive Puzzle        Charlie Chaplin, Zero Mostel or Paul Robeson ( at one time according to the FBI & HUAC)  (8) (r)
2086- Anagram    declare preference
2087- Discern      baby-Easter-blue      snow-gum-less        ace-head-scoff
2088 –Split Definitive        lost power  (7) (l)
2089-Anagram       exams of the sun
2090-Discern       colossal-flying-vampire       discord-fennel-thistle    dip-black-bell
2091-Split Definitive    garland definitely (9)  (s)
2092-Anagram       Surrey verse 
2093-Discern     ice-wings-skin     seed-whiskey-bread       league-pink-juice
2094-Split Definitive    in favor of long lock of hair  (8)  (f)
2095-Anagram       Crime-solving evergreens
2096-Discern     agent-gas-raw        worn-work-dragging       ­­­­­­ warmer-stiff-great
2097-Split Definitive     flaccid instinctive impulse   (6)  (l)
a)Name 2 winners of tennis Grand Slams
b)Name an actor who received an Academy Award Nomination as Best Actor or Best Supporting Actor
c)Name 2 Presidents or Prime Ministers, past or present
d)Name a CIA head
e)Name a football player in  the Hall of Fame
f)Name a White House Press Secretary
g)Name one of 25 richest people in the world
2099-Discern      hop-knee-puppet      soft-tongue-bag        bunny-ability-fit
2100-Split Definitive        crazy reason   (10)  (l)


Friday, March 23, 2018


                    A Word Nerd’s Quest to Find Words that Define Us


                                Howard Richler

Over fifteen years ago when I was a mere stripling of 54, I met a woman I hadn’t seen in over two years at a dog run. I mentioned obliquely that I was in a relationship, and in some context referred to “my partner.”  She loudly responded, “You’re gay!,” as several onlookers and two Dobermans eyed me malevolently.  I hastily explained to her that I had not “switched teams” (not that there’s anything wrong with that) and that the aforementioned “partner” was indeed a lady. She instructed me, “Howard. only gays have partners. She’s your girlfriend.”

While I was aware that the term “partner” has been somewhat expropriated by the gay community, as a member of the half century club I had a difficult time referring to someone more or less of my vintage as my “girlfriend.”  It was too sophomoric-sounding.  So, although  the English language has innumerable ways of expressing many words,  it lacked even one suitable word to  describe those partaking in a  “mature” relationship. Other languages have paid more attention to this  nomenclature dilemma. For example, in German, lebenspartner refers to “life partner” ; if you have adequate breath,    you can  jocularly refer to your beloved as lebensabschnittspartner (“lap,” for short) which  adds  abschnitt “section” to the equation, an oxymoronic temporary life partner. Interestingly, the French language which at  times been averse to anglicisms, has in Quebec solved this nomenclature  conundrum somewhat by the importation of an  English word. The term chum  has been in circulation in Quebecois French for many decades to refer to ones’ love interest. However, there is no indication that  a proper English term  for this designation is  likely to emerge and I have given up hope of one surfacing.

Having succumbed to using the term “partner”  fast forward fifteen  years : now that I am 69, I have shifted my word obsession and am looking for a definitive term to describe those, like myself and my “partner” who are over 65 but aren’t elderly. Personally, I don’t want  to be  designated as elderly or as a senior citizen. The former term to me connotes someone whose physical disabilities necessitate extensive care; the latter term  suggests a retired person who lives on  a pension in a senior home, goes to senior centres  and is sedentary by nature .While previously  these terms may have been apt for someone over 65, times  have changed. After all, our increased life expectancy is staggering, and it has been calculated that by the year 2030 in many countries life expectancy will exceed 85. Probably largely due to better health care, research shows that reaching an age of 65 for most people doesn’t mark a decline in performance. Also, statistics show that people over 65 contribute approximately 20% of consumer spending and within two decades this amount is expected to increase 25%.  Whereas in 2000 only 12.8%  of people over 65 were in the workforce by 2016 this figure had climbed to 18.8%

Research suggests that the public largely associates the aging process with decline and deterioration  and doesn’t comprehend that many older folks  don’t feel particularly different from their  younger self. A case in point is a  recent study conducted by AARP Inc (American Association of Retired Persons).  They asked   a group of millennials to reveal the age they considered to be old; this averaged out to be 59. Then they introduced the same group to some people 60 years and older. A video shows how the millennials changed their perception after interacting with vibrant members of the older generation and in the process relinquished their outdated beliefs that aging always involves perceptible decline.

Given the proven case for those in their sixties being far more active in many ways than previous generations,  we must find a more dynamic term for folks over 65 other than elderly or senior.

Here are some candidates:

c)honoured elders
g)the wise

Another alternative is to create an acronym to describe the group and here are some options:

1)nyppies   (not yet past it)
2)owls    (older, working less)   or older, wiser, learning
3)hopskis  (healthy old people spending kids’ inheritance.

What we call an age group might seem unimportant but often the words we use to classify a segment of society affects people’s attitudes toward the group. Some examples here are flight attendant instead of stewardess, personal assistant  rather than secretary, extermination engineer instead of pest controller, and fitness trainers are rather more  upscale from than health-club staff.

So given the rising importance of the over 65s and the lack of an accepted modern term to describe this stage of life, if you have a preferred word from the list above or a different suggestion entirely, please send it to me at the address below. I look forward  to receiving ideas on how to solve my current word dilemma.

Richler’s latest book is Wordplay: Arranged and Deranged Wit

Monday, February 5, 2018


Football— the language of US politics while baseball reflects the American Dream
                             Howard Richler

This Feb 4th  marks  Superbowl LII, arguably the biggest sporting event of the year  in North America.  For those who aren’t aficionados of the sport of football, bear in mind that you should at least understand  its lingo in order to comprehend American politics. This epiphany came to me last March when I was watching a CNN panel discussion on the attempt by Republicans to reach an agreement on repealing and replacing Obamacare. Before a vote on this issue was scheduled to occur, one analyst stated that “going into the locker room at half-time the Republicans realized that they had placed no points on the board.” After the vote to repeal was cancelled due to the lack of support for the motion another commentator said, “they{the Republicans} punted.” And if you don’t agree with the political opinions being offered by someone, it’s best to call them an “armchair quarterback.” This can be defined as someone whose opinions can be discounted because of their lack of expertise or experience to defend their position. I espied one online headline that stated that “In Political Discourse, Social Media Has No Shortage of Armchair Quarterbacks.”
This is but Exhibit A proving that politics is merely a slightly less concussed version of football. For example, a “Hail Mary” pass in football is one with low probability of success and is therefore only attempted in dire circumstances, such as the last play of the game. So when Al Gore selected Joe Lieberman as his running mate in 2000, language columnist William Safire quipped “Only in America can you turn to a Jew for your Hail Mary pass” because Lieberman had been one of the few Democrats to castigate Bill Clinton for his sexual peccadilloes. Another football term oft used in politics is “ground game” and years ago I heard several commentators attribute Obama’s two electoral victories to a strong “ground game,” which refers to  strong local organizations and systematic grass roots activity with direct contact with voters. Still another football term that has reached the political arena is “blindsided.”  Since the 17th century “blind side” has referred to the obscured part of one’s field of vision but by the 1970s in football it came to mean to tackle or block an opponent from the blind side. If the block has come from behind it will result in a major penalty against the blocker’s team. Here again the use of the term has expanded. You will find many references on how investors were “blindsided” by the recession that began in December 2007 and ended in June 2009.  Also, I entered “blindside + Trump” into Google and received 374,000 hits! For example, one headline declared “Trump’s Tweets Often Blindside Advisers in High Level Policy Discussions.”
Some years ago I attended a lecture in Montreal by Israeli novelist A.B. Yehoshua in which he explained that national literatures exhibit particular motifs and that the crux of American literature is the pursuit of the American Dream — success. So  while football terms may be the preferred  sports vehicle to describe events in the political arena, baseball metaphors reign supreme in describing the American obsession with perceived success.  Many baseball phrases are metaphors for success, and when we “step up to plate” hopefully   we’ll be successful we’re and “have a lot on the ball,” “a lot of clout,” “perform in the clutch,” “cover all the bases” and “make a hit.” Those with the greatest influence in society are called “heavy hitters,” and ultimate success is dubbed “batting one thousand.” In some ways this association of successful baseball hitting with success is ironic because as former baseball great Ted Williams said: “Baseball is the only field of endeavour where a man can succeed three times out of ten and be considered a good performer.”
There is even a subset of baseball terms to measure success in the sexual arena.  A man who is trying to seduce  a woman runs the risk of “striking out” and that it’s worse if you strike out “swinging”  rather than “looking” (not swinging) because the former implies you gave it your best effort and still failed. And as is well-known, the base a man reaches highlights his level of success. First base= kissing,  second base= moderate fondling, third base=extreme fondling with the ultimate goal being of hitting a home run, i.e. scoring.  Still other baseball terms relate to sexual preference rather than success.  In baseball, a switch hitter is one who can bat from either side of the plat;, in sexual terms this person is bisexual. Someone who “plays for the other team” is gay.
Historian Jacques Barzun said that “whoever wants to know the heart and mind of America had better know baseball.  Agreed, however, some knowledge of football is probably necessary to understand the bizarre world of American politics.

Richler’s latest book is Wordplay: Arranged and Deranged Wit.