In a Word

v. to attend a party to which one has not been invited

Don’t Call Us

American philologist Revilo P. Oliver had a palindromic name — it reads the same backward and forward. In his family, he said, the name “has been the burden of the eldest or only son for six generations.”

And it cost him — at least one journal rejected his articles as fraudulent.

In a Word

n. a hired mourner at a funeral

Two in One

GATEMAN, sides reversed, is NAMETAG.

And that sentence is a palindrome.

Letter Shift

letter shift cheer -> jolly

In a Word

n. the dislike of beautiful women

A Universal Solution

In 1965, Dmitri Borgmann noted that this expression:

11 + 2 – 1 = 12

… is valid also when interpreted as a set of characters:

11 “+ 2″ = 112; 112 “- 1″ = 12

… as a set of Roman numerals:


… and even as a set of letters:


A Pretty Symmetry

GOLDENROD-ADORNED LOG is a palindrome.

In a Word

n. one who constantly contradicts his companions

Square Deal

In 1994, Leonard Gordon showed that all 37 presidential surnames to date can fit into a 22 × 18 rectangle:


In this sentence there are sixteen words, eighty-one letters, one hyphen, four commas, and one period.

Letter Shift

letter shift irk -> vex

In a Word

n. the act of imagining a person naked

What’s In a Name?


In a Word

n. a side road taken to avoid turnpike tolls or traffic

(Thanks, David.)

In a Word

n. a blundering preacher

Bills of Lading

Devised by Lee Sallows, each of these lists inventories its own contents:

  • fifteen e’s, seven f’s, four g’s, six h’s, eight i’s, four n’s, five o’s, six r’s, eighteen s’s, eight t’s, four u’s, three v’s, two w’s, three x’s
  • sixteen e’s, five f’s, three g’s, six h’s, nine i’s, five n’s, four o’s, six r’s, eighteen s’s, eight t’s, three u’s, three v’s, two w’s, four x’s

Letter Shift

letter shift yes-oui

In a Word

adj. inclined to fight when drunk

“The Use of the Dictionary”

The following message was composed for Bizarre Notes and Queries, July-August 1890, to show “that it would be possible to write a technically grammatical sentence, which would be almost unintelligible.” “The words below can all be found in the dictionary, and all are grammatically used: and yet the thing is as hopelessly dark as if written in Cherokee.” It purports to be a note from an author to a critic:

Sir:– You have behaved like an impetiginous-Croyle! like those inquinate, Crass-sciolists who envious of my moral celsitude, carry their nugacity to the height of creating symposically the facund words which my polymathic genius uses with uberty to abligate the tongues of the weetless! Sir–you have crassly parodied my own pet words, as though they were tangrams. I will not coacervate reproaches–I would abduce a veil over the atramental ingratitude which has chamferred even my undicerptible heart. I am silent on the foscillation, which my coadjivancy must have given you when I offered to become your fautor and admincle. I will not speak of the lippitude, the ablepsy, you have shown in exacerbating me–one whose genius you should have approached with mental discalceation. So I tell you sir syncophically, and without supervaceneous words, nothing will render ignoscible your conduct to me. I warn you that I would vellicate your nose, if I thought that any moral diathrosis could be thereby performed–if I thought that I should not impignorate my reputation by such a digtadiation.

“For an entire solution of the above highly interesting missive, the reader is invited to amuse himself an hour or two with Walker’s or Webster’s Unabridged.”


RAISE and RAZE are both homonyms and antonyms.

The Ties That Bind

The Spanish word esposa means both “wife” and “handcuff.”

In a Word

n. difficulty getting out of bed in the morning

See Other Sign

Pity the sign makers in this Welsh village:

That’s the longest place name in the United Kingdom. It’s Welsh for “St. Mary’s church in the hollow of the white hazel near to the rapid whirlpool and the church of St. Tysilio of the red cave.”

That doesn’t take the prize, though. The longest place name in an English-speaking country belongs to a hill on New Zealand’s North Island:

It means “the summit where Tamatea, the man with the big knees, the climber of mountains, the land-swallower who traveled about, played his flute to his loved one.”