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There is a common myth about how the kangaroo got its name. When European explorers first saw a kangaroo they asked a native Australian what it was called. The local didn’t understand the question and replied ‘kangaroo’ meaning “I don’t know” in his own language. The explorers took this to be the animal’s name. Alas, it is but a myth and [more…]
I’ve often marvelled at the journey a word takes from its birth to its present usage, and one fine example is termagant, an answer I’ve clued before in a recent MegaMix crossword.
The word termagant means a violent, overbearing person, usually a woman. Synonyms we might use as clues are shrew, virago, harridan, formidable woman, battleaxe or indomitable nag.
When I [more…]
About 10 years ago, when staying with my cousin in Ireland, we had homemade granola for breakfast every day. It was so scrumptious I begged him for the recipe. Now I make a batch every fortnight, and we have it for breakfast every 2 or 3 days. It’s so easy to make and you can change it around to suit your [more…]
A puzzler recently sent me an interesting extract from Mrs Byrne’s Dictionary of Unusual, Obscure and Preposterous Words, listing the longest word in the English language. I can’t print it here because it has 1913 letters in it. It is a chemical term, although it’s a word unlikely to have ever actually been used by a chemist. [more…]
Spelling, put simply, is the art of correctly assembling words from their letters. And just like the passion for correct pronounciation, sorry, pronunciation, there are ardent supporters of a Zero Tolerance approach when it comes to inaccuracies.
To some, correct spelling is as sacred as religion. Sticklers we might call them. To others—a powerful world leader comes to mind—it doesn’t seem important [more…]
When it comes to writing crossword clues, we have to be very careful when describing a word, especially when there’s another word with a similar meaning. Fortunately the other word is usually of a different length and wouldn’t fit the clue space.
However, we try to be as accurate as possible, and there are some pitfalls out there when it comes to [more…]