o: Words of Just One Beat

This week's screed is writ in words of just one beat. I used to call such words "words of just one part," but a friend whose name I can't say in one beat set me straight. "Just one part," as he said, sounds like it means "just one piece of a word." (Oh, dear—now I […]

n: What’s in a Name? (Reader Comments)

Sarah Liberman mentions another state-named fictional character: Nevada Smith, from the movies The Carpetbaggers and Nevada Smith. (I wonder if that's what the name Indiana Jones played on?) She adds that she's sometimes been called "Es" for short, which reminds me to add the nicknames "Effie" and "Essie," not quite letter-names but close. I'm also […]

n: What’s in a Name?

"I'm now firmly in the grip of Flu Abelard. (This year I've decided to name them, like hurricanes; the next one will be Flu Boadicea.)" —Elliott Moreton I've long been fascinated by names—names of things, names of places, names of people. I like words for and pertaining to names—appellation, monicker, nomenclature, ycleption. (Games magazine once […]

m: A Roiling Mind Gathers Mnemosyne

Mnemosyne was the ancient Greek goddess of memory, the mother of the Muses. From a word related to her name we get the word "mnemonic" (a device for remembering something), one of the few English words starting with a silent 'm.' Mnemonics can be used to aid fallible human memory in recalling numbers, pronunciations, the […]

l: Mostly Anapestic

I've heard it said that there's no such thing as a good clean limerick. I would have to disagree; I like clean limericks. But then, most of the best clean limericks aren't really limericks at all. To be more precise, my favorite limericks are mostly the ones that play with or comment on the limerick […]

k: /’INglIS &z Si Iz spEld/

I should start by saying that this week's column has more to do with linguistics than with wordplay. I'm assuming readers have no formal background in linguistics; linguists in the audience can skim ahead. First off, a definition: the field of linguistics has to do with study of the structure of language in general, not […]

j: The Big Red Hen (Reader Comments)

Thida Cornes contributed a sad (but amusing) little poem she wrote in which all the words are three or fewer letters long. In retrospect, I think this restriction makes for better content than requiring all words to be exactly three letters long. Thida adds: "It contains 12 lines, because 12 is divisible by three." An […]

j: The Big Red Hen

One of those puzzles that keeps cropping up on the Net asks for the names of ten three-letter body parts. The trick is that there are nine fairly easy ones, but no obvious tenth. Of course, much depends on what you're willing to count as a body part. The Trigrammatic Anatomical Council (T.A.C.), headed by […]