One-Sided Story

In the runup to Thailand’s 2001 elections, Thai Rak Thai party founder Thaksin Shinawatra faced allegations of corruption. The Bangkok Post‘s “week in review” email examined the charges against him, his attempts avoid the media, his reputation, and the Internet’s reaction. It used these paragraph headings:

Thaksin cited
Thaksin sighted
Thaksin slighted
Thaksin sited

In Indexers and Indexes in Fact and Fiction, Hazel K. Bell writes, “Clearly the editor is an indexer manqué.”

In a Word

adj. long-winded

[Edmund] Falconer’s Oonagh, or, The Lovers of Lismona opened one evening in 1866 at half-past seven. By midnight most of the audience had left; by two o’clock in the morning only a few sleeping critics were still there. At three o’clock the stage crew brought the curtain down with the action still in progress and the play was taken off.

The Methuen Drama Dictionary of the Theatre, 2013


The word cliché was originally the French name for a printing plate that was prepared for convenience to print a commonly used phrase. The plates clicked as they were being used, and cliché is the past participle of clicher, a variant of cliquer, “to click.”

Interestingly, another name for this plate is stereotype.

In a Word

n. absence of marriage; the state or condition of being unmarried

adj. (of a woman) physically fit for marriage

n. sworn confirmation of one’s intent to marry

n. marriage a second time

Bad Music

In the November 2009 issue of Word Ways, Richard Lederer lists his favorite “eye rhymes” — if English made any sense, these would sound alike:

  • hoistsoloist
  • unitwhodunit
  • caredinfrared
  • statelyphilately
  • radiosadios
  • onlywantonly
  • overagecoverage

Even worse: beatgreatsweatcaveatwhereat and boughdoughenoughhiccoughloughthroughtroughthorough.

And shouldn’t encourage rhyme with entourage?

12/15/2015 A related image, from reader Jon Jerome:

radio shack adios

Image: Wikimedia Commons

Eight ways to pronounce the letter X, from wordplay maven Dmitri Borgmann:

eks: x-ray
gz: exist
gzh: luxurious
kris: Xmas
ks: sex
ksh: anxious
z: xylophone
__: faux pas

He adds three more: According to Webster’s Second Edition, xeres is an alternate name for sherry wine in which the X can be pronounced either as H or as SH. And arguably the X in except is pronounced like the letter K, as “the sibilant portion of the usual X sound has fused with the sound of the C immediately following.” If we accept these, then the total rises to 11.

(Dmitri A. Borgmann, “The Ultimate Homonym Group,” Word Ways 17:4 [November 1984], 224-228.)

A New Pangram

British recreational mathematician Lee Sallows has produced many varieties of the self-enumerating pangram — sentences that inventory their own contents:

This pangram contains four As, one B, two Cs, one D, thirty Es, six Fs, five Gs, seven Hs, eleven Is, one J, one K, two Ls, two Ms, eighteen Ns, fifteen Os, two Ps, one Q, five Rs, twenty-seven Ss, eighteen Ts, two Us, seven Vs, eight Ws, two Xs, three Ys, & one Z.

A few years ago he began to wonder whether it’s possible to produce a sentence that reckons its totals as percentages. This is more difficult, because the percentages won’t always work out to be integers. As he worked on the problem he mentioned it to a few others, among them British computer scientist Chris Patuzzo. And a few days ago, Patuzzo sent him this:

This sentence is dedicated to Lee Sallows and to within one decimal place four point five percent of the letters in this sentence are a’s, zero point one percent are b’s, four point three percent are c’s, zero point nine percent are d’s, twenty point one percent are e’s, one point five percent are f’s, zero point four percent are g’s, one point five percent are h’s, six point eight percent are i’s, zero point one percent are j’s, zero point one percent are k’s, one point one percent are l’s, zero point three percent are m’s, twelve point one percent are n’s, eight point one percent are o’s, seven point three percent are p’s, zero point one percent are q’s, nine point nine percent are r’s, five point six percent are s’s, nine point nine percent are t’s, zero point seven percent are u’s, one point four percent are v’s, zero point seven percent are w’s, zero point five percent are x’s, zero point three percent are y’s and one point six percent are z’s.

Details are here. The next challenge is a version where the percentages are accurate to two decimal places — Patuzzo is working on that now.

(Thanks, Lee.)