Two Words: Crevice/Crevasse

These look like alternate spellings of the same word. But they aren’t. To be sure, they have similar meanings and similar pronunciations. I’ve always assumed they meant the same. I was mistaken. Here’s the scoop: The other night, at maybe … Continue reading

One Southern Word: Ratback

A few years ago, there was an upsurge of interest in “how to talk Southern”. You could buy books on the language, maybe listen to podcasts. They’d teach you things like the Southern definition of “ah”. In case you’ve forgotten, … Continue reading

Three Words: Another Think Coming (or is it “Thing”?)

Can common usage of a common word like “thing” be wrong — even when it’s grammatically correct? This question pesters people like me, worrying as we do about whether grammar “rules” should be prescriptive or descriptive. For some time lately, … Continue reading

Two Words: A & Apart

The word “a” has several notable features. It’s classified grammatically as an indefinite article. This means it refers to something of which there can be more than one. For example, we’d speak of “a” tall building because there are lots … Continue reading

One Word: Antigram

An antigram is an expression formed by rearranging the letters of another expression to mean its opposite. For example, “fluster” rearranges to spell “restful”. Other classic examples: “listen” = “silent”; “antagonist” = “not against”; “earliest” = “arise late”. The word … Continue reading

One Word: So

Reader Paul Ruff notes that “so” is replacing “like” as the all-purpose, meaningless word with which to start a sentence. We used to hear conversations such as: “Like, I’m going skydiving tomorrow.” “Like, wow, that’s awesome!” “Like, without a parachute!” … Continue reading

One Word: Rudyard Kipling’s “If —”

Could Rudyard Kipling’s “If—” perhaps be the longest English poem ever written about a single one-syllable word? Before discussing this, let me confess: Yes, I know how strange a question like this must make me seem, to my beloved readers! … Continue reading