- The sum of the numbers on a roulette wheel is 666.
- ANTITRINITARIANIST contains all 24 arrangements of the letters I, N, R, and T.
- The Empire State Building has its own zip code.
- 63945 = 63 × (-9 + 45)
- “Isn’t it strange that we talk least about the things we think about most!” — Charles Lindbergh
Comes Christmas merry? Hungry birds; no bright berries;
Rents high, not paid; long bills; empty barns, no peace and prosperity.
Read this backward and it becomes:
Prosperity and peace; no barns empty; bills long paid;
Not high rents; berries bright; no birds hungry; merry Christmas comes.
J.A. Lindon composed the following verse, in which the first line, the first word of each line, and the nth word of each nth line spell the same message:
A merry Christmas and a happy new year!
Merry, merry carols you’ll have sung us;
Christmas remains Christmas even when you are not here,
And though afar and lonely, you’re among us.
A bond is there, a bond at times near broken.
Happy be Christmas then, when happy, clear,
New heart-warm links are forged, new ties betoken
Year ripe with loving giving birth to year.
n. a bastard
n. a third-generation bastard
- Can God sin?
- The Thinker’s right elbow is on his left knee.
- 48625 = 45 + 82 + 66 + 28 + 54
- MARASCHINO is an anagram of HARMONICAS.
- “Genius is nothing but continued attention.” — Helvetius
adv. toward you
NINETY-SEVEN is the longest number name with strictly alternating vowels and consonants …
… unless you count NEGATIVE NINETY-SEVEN.
An Austrian army, awfully arrayed,
Boldly by battery beseiged Belgrade;
Cossack commanders cannonading come,
Dealing destruction’s devastating doom;
Every endeavour engineers essay
For fame, for fortune, forming furious fray;
Gaunt gunners grapple, giving gashes good;
Heaves high his head heroic hardihood;
Ibraham, Islam, Ismail, imps in ill,
Jostle John, Jarovlitz, Joe, Jack, Jill,
Kick kindling Kutosoff, kings’ kinsmen kill;
Labor low levels loftiest, longest lines;
Men marched ‘mid moles, ‘mid mounds, ‘mid murd’rous mines.
Now nightfall’s near, now needful nature nods,
Opposed, opposing, overcoming odds.
Poor peasants, partly purchased, partly pressed,
Quite quaking, Quarter! quarter! quickly quest.
Reason returns, recalls redundant rage,
Saves sinking soldiers, softens seigniors sage.
Truce, Turkey, truce! Truce, treach’rous Tartar train!
Unwise, unjust, unmerciful Ukraine!
Vanish, vile vengeance! Vanish, victory vain!
Wisdom wails war — wails warring words. What were
Xerxes, Xantippe, Ximenes, Xavier?
Yet Yassey’s youth, ye yield your youthful yest,
Zealously, zanies, zealously, zeal’s zest.
– William T. Dobson, Literary Frivolities, Fancies, Follies and Frolics, 1880
A phonetic puzzle by Woody Rowe:
1. What mosquitoes do.
2. What snakes do.
3. What dogs do.
4. What teeth do.
2. Optical organs
Get it? Remarkably, the same idea works in French:
1. Que font les moustiques
2. Que font les chiens
3. Que font les serpents
4. Que font les dents
- 34425 = 34 × 425
- A running joke is a standing joke.
- RESTAURATEURS balances two identical sets of letters on either side of the central R.
- Does an artwork have value if no one sees it?
- “Marriage is a covered dish.” — Swiss proverb
v. to worry
adj. produced by worry
Some of your hurts you have cured
And the sharpest you still have survived,
But what torments of grief you endured
From evils which never arrived!
v. to cry like a cowboy
(That’s from Henry Cockeram’s English Dictionary of 1623, so it doesn’t refer to a cowboy of the American West. What it does refer to is unclear. Cockeram said he included “even the mocke-words which are ridiculously used in our language,” but this word appears never to have been published outside of his dictionary, so we don’t know what a “cowboy” is or why he might cry. Make up your own meaning.)
AMERICAN is an anagram of CINERAMA.
MEXICAN is an anagram of CINEMAX.
n. a condition in which a person falls unconscious due to violent laughter
USHERS contains five pronouns: HE, HER, HERS, SHE, US.
If rearranging letters is permitted, then SMITHERY contains 17: HE, HER, HERS, HIM, HIS, I, IT, ITS, ME, MY, SHE, THEIR, THEIRS, THEM, THEY, THY, YE.
n. the art of bullfighting
Actress Alice Jeanne Leppert could have chosen any stage name she liked, but she decided on Alice Faye.
She didn’t notice that this is Pig Latin for phallus.
Brad Pitt’s daughter is named Shiloh … which yields an unfortunate spoonerism.
See Double Feature.
In his Night Thoughts (1953), Edmund Wilson lists these “anagrams on eminent authors”:
A! TIS SOME STALE THORN.
I ACHE RICH BALLADS, M!
I’M STAGY WHEN NEER.
LIVE MERMAN: HELL.
AWFUL KILLIN’, ERMA!
MAKZ ‘N NICE COMPOTE.
He gives no solutions. How many can you identify?
n. the state of being nowhere
A contronym is a word with two contrary meanings, such as cleave or sanction (more here).
The word contronym itself has no double meaning. Is it a contronym?
“Not until I came along!” writes Charles Melton in Word Ways. “I declare that it is a contronym for the simple reason that it isn’t! It is both a self-opposite and not a self-opposite. QED.”
A merchant who traded in cocoa
Much admired that strange style called rococo.
You’ll be happy to learn
That the name of his firm
Is to be The Rococo Cocoa Co.
– Leigh Mercer
In 1979, the California Court of Appeal reversed the conviction of a California man for possessing obscene films. Justice L. Thaxton Hanson wrote a long dissent implying that his colleagues favored pornography. In return, Justice Robert Thompson added a footnote to the majority opinion:
We feel compelled by the nature of the attack in the dissenting opinion to spell out a response:
1. Some answer is required to the dissent’s charge.
2. Certainly we do not endorse ‘victimless crime.’
3. How that question is involved escapes us.
4. Moreover, the constitutional issue is significant.
5. Ultimately it must be addressed in light of precedent.
6. Certainly the course of precedent is clear.
7. Knowing that, our result is compelled.
Read the first letter of each line.
John Peale Bishop (1892-1944) composed this acrostical poem, entitled “A Recollection”:
Famously she descended, her red hair
Unbound and bronzed by sea-reflections, caught
Crinkled with sea-pearls. The fine slender taut
Knees that let down her feet upon the air,
Young breasts, slim flanks and golden quarries were
Odder than when the young distraught
Unknown Venetian, painting her portrait, thought
He’d not imagined what he painted there.
And I too commerced with that golden cloud:
Lipped her delicious hands and had my ease
Faring fantastically, perversely proud.
All loveliness demands our courtesies.
Since she was dead I praised her as I could
Silently, among the Barberini bees.
I haven’t been able to learn anything more about it.
n. love of women
adj. fond of women
n. love of female nurses
- What time is it on the sun?
- PATERNAL, PARENTAL, and PRENATAL are anagrams.
- If forecastle is pronounced “fo’c'sle,” should forecast be pronounced “folks”?
- A clock’s second hand is its third hand.
- “The religion of one seems madness unto another.” — Thomas Browne
Bonus poser: In what sport does only the winning team travel backward?
adj. meant to be licked