24 Apr 2023

Why Those Letters? IDK

Q. Day to day, we throw out abbreviations: acronyms – the first letter combinations we read as words, like NASA, and initialisms – the letters we read out singly, like FYI or DIY. Then there is the ‘depends who’s talking’ category. How do you say ASAP? For some it’s sounding

30 Mar 2023

Pitiless Plurals

Q. When it comes to pairing singular and plural forms, the English language – with its muddle of word origins – is less than cooperative. To make things more confusing: some once ‘improper’ plurals have persisted their way into grudging acceptance. That said, dictionaries don’t agree. Dare one say ‘rhinoceri’?

20 Feb 2023

Cater Cousins + Matrikin

Q. Happy Family Day from B.C. What are some historic or lesser-used words to describe the world of relatives? . A. Agnation A family line through the paternal side Beldame A grandmother. Also, we must note, a nasty old name for an ‘unattractive, unfriendly aged’ woman. Cater-Cousin A fourth –

22 Jan 2023

Nobody Says ‘Hack’ Anymore

Q. ‘It’s not the 80s. Nobody says ‘hack’ anymore’. “Genius Billionaire Playboy Philanthropist” Tony Stark – aka Iron Man – knew that in 2013. (Though he reserves the right, of course, to break his own rules later). What are some other workish words that come across as clichéd or dated?

16 Jan 2023

Tootle Time

Q. It’s January, it’s raining, and the wanderlust is coming on strong. What are some lesser-used or forgotten words related to travel? . A. Bourne Your destination Coddiwomple To set off with great determination to you’re not quite sure where Feriation On holidays which – this archaic word reminds us

03 Jan 2023

Goat No More

Q. For more than 40 years, Lake Superior State University has gathered nominations from around the world – a list that now includes the US, Canada, India, England, Malaysia, Namibia, Norway, Australia, Trinidad and Tobago… Their focus? English words so annoying or overused that they should be banished. What words

23 Dec 2022

Wintry Words

Q. Here in B.C. – as in much of the world –  we are breaking ❄️ temperature records all over the place, and looking at unusually high mounds of snow. What are some forgotten or little used words related to winter, snow, and cold? . A. Algid Feeling cold or

06 Nov 2022

Ew. This Food Tastes …

Q. Just how many words can fussy/displeased diners use to describe what’s on their plates? . A. A great many, as it turns out. A sampling … Acrid An overwhelmingly unpleasant, strong taste. Amaroidal Bitter. Blinky Going sour. Used to describe milk that’s on its way off. Brackish A bit

26 Sep 2022

Liverpudlian Bites

Q. In 2018, author Tony Crowley created a ‘Liverpool English Dictionary’. The Beatles want to know: what delights lie within? . A. In this 2018 ‘Liverpool English Dictionary’, author Tony Crowley describes the language of Liverpool as a ‘city vernacular’ rather than a dialect. It is the language of the

14 Sep 2022

Old Words For New Scandals

Q. Scandals are piling up so quickly these days, it’s hard to keep them straight. Wait, who did that again? We’re going to need some more descriptors; one story sounds just like the last. Are there any ancient or abandoned words ready to spring back into action? . A. The