adj. resembling oak; sturdy, robust
adj. resembling oak; sturdy, robust
In 1996, Will Shortz invited the listeners of National Public Radio’s Weekend Edition Saturday to submit word-level palindromes — sentences that remain unchanged when their words are read in reverse order, such as “King, are you glad you are king?” Runners-up:
The grand prize winner, by Peter L. Stein of San Francisco, was “First Ladies rule the state, and state the rule — ‘Ladies first!'”
(Will Shortz, “New Word Palindromes,” Word Ways 30:1 [February 1997], 11-12.)
Marvelously, the Bolognese have a dedicated word to describe retired men who pass their time watching construction sites: umarells. (Wikipedia says they stand “stereotypically with hands clasped behind their back and offering unwanted advice.”)
The word was first offered with this meaning by writer Danilo Masotti in 2005, but increasingly it’s being used in other parts of Italy. Within Bologna, it was honored in 2017 with a public square dubbed Piazzetta degli Umarells — which, ironically, was under construction at the time.
Related: A gongoozler is someone who enjoys watching activity on the canals of the United Kingdom. Presumably these two groups intersect.
SEVEN PLUS TWO = EIGHTEEN MINUS NINE = EIGHTEEN OVER TWO
That’s true enough on its face. But Susan Thorpe discovered that if each letter is replaced with the number of its position in the alphabet (A=1, B=2, etc.), then the equivalence persists — the values in each of the three phrases total 191.
(Susan Thorpe, “Number Name Equations,” Word Ways 30:1 [February 1997], 34-36.)
10/25/2020 UPDATE: Reader Jacob Bandes-Storch has found many more of these:
SIX OVER TWO PLUS TEN (277)
= FOUR MINUS ONE PLUS TEN (277)
= EIGHT OVER TWO PLUS NINE (277)
= ONE PLUS FIVE PLUS SEVEN (277)
= TWENTY SIX OVER TWO (277)
ONE PLUS ONE PLUS TWELVE (291)
= ONE PLUS TWO PLUS ELEVEN (291)
= TWO PLUS TWO PLUS TEN (291)
= FIFTEEN OVER THREE PLUS NINE (291)
= EIGHT MINUS THREE PLUS NINE (291)
FIFTEEN OVER THREE PLUS ELEVEN (312)
= EIGHT MINUS THREE PLUS ELEVEN (312)
= TWELVE OVER TWO PLUS TEN (312)
= ELEVEN MINUS THREE PLUS EIGHT (312)
FIFTEEN PLUS FORTY THREE = TWENTY NINE TIMES TWO = SEVENTY MINUS TWELVE (273)
THIRTEEN PLUS FIFTY SIX = TWENTY THREE TIMES THREE = EIGHTY EIGHT MINUS NINETEEN (285)
NINETEEN PLUS FIFTY THREE = THIRTY SIX TIMES TWO = SEVENTY THREE MINUS ONE (276)
TWO PLUS SEVENTY THREE = ONE HUNDRED FIFTY OVER TWO = NINETY THREE MINUS EIGHTEEN (292)
SEVENTEEN PLUS FIFTY EIGHT = ONE HUNDRED FIFTY OVER TWO = NINETY THREE MINUS EIGHTEEN (292)
FORTY PLUS FORTY FIVE = TWENTY EIGHT TIMES THREE = NINETY SIX MINUS ELEVEN (278)
TWO PLUS NINETY SEVEN = THIRTY THREE TIMES THREE = ONE HUNDRED FIVE MINUS SIX (also 278)
He says he hasn’t found any quadruplets where each phrase uses a single function and all are different, but this may yet be possible. (Thanks, Jacob.)
A puzzle from MIT Technology Review, September-October 1999: A popular pastime at Bell Labs in the 1970s was to identify a word that contains a given string of letters — for example, OOKKEE is found in BOOKKEEPER. Michael Foster found English words that contain HIPE, HCR, and UFA. What are they?
In E.M. Forster’s 1907 novel The Longest Journey, the description of the country estate Cadover contains a surprising term:
The lawn ended in a Ha-ha (‘Ha! ha! who shall regard it?’), and thence the bare land sloped down into the village.
A ha-ha is indeed the term for a sort of buried wall adjoined by a sloping ditch — it will keep deer out of your garden without blocking the view. But how it came by that name seems uncertain. Possibly it’s a shortened form of “half and half” (half wall, half ditch), and possibly it’s named for the cries of its observers — the earliest usage in the Oxford English Dictionary is John James’ 1712 translation of Antoine-Joseph Dézallier d’Argenville’s Theory and Practice of Gardening — he refers to “a large and deep Ditch at the Foot.., which surprizes..and makes one cry, Ah! Ah! from whence it takes its Name.”
In Terry Pratchett’s novel Men at Arms, a ha-ha is accidentally specified to be 50 feet deep. The result is called a hoho, and it claims the lives of three gardeners. In Snuff, two characters go for a walk in the countryside and “navigate their way around the ha-ha, keep their distance from the ho-ho and completely ignore the he-he.”
In October 1996, Parade magazine published the results of a vanity license plate contest that received more than 7,000 entries. Here are the 10 winning plates:
What are their meanings?
v. to utter (a sound) twice or oftener
adv. at intervals; from time to time
n. the recalling of things past
v. to arrange or blend together skillfully
n. a wayfarer; traveler
adj. likely to cause harm or damage
adj. exploding or detonating
adj. in heaps
British director Cecil Hepworth made “How It Feels To Be Run Over” in 1900. The car is on the wrong side of the road. (The intertitle at the end, “Oh! Mother will be pleased,” may have been scratched directly into the celluloid.)
Hepworth followed it up with “Explosion of a Motor Car,” below, later the same year.
In a 2009 survey, readers of Stuttgarter Nachrichten, the largest newspaper in Stuttgart, chose Muggeseggele as the most beautiful word in Swabian German.
Muggeseggele means “the scrotum of a housefly.” It’s used ironically to describe a very small length.