10 Jun 2023

Let Vultures Gripe Thy Guts

Q. Shakespeare created much beautiful imagery with birds. Take this quote from Romeo and Juliet: ‘Haply I think on thee, and then my state, Like to the lark at break of day arising From sullen earth, sings hymns at Heaven’s gate’ But, we do know that the Bard was brilliant

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

12 Apr 2023

We’re Saying It Wrong

Q. What are some expressions or idioms that we commonly garble? . A. Let’s see how we do. Which of these is correct? Each phrase is listed in alphabetical order. . Bald-faced lie . Barefaced lie . Bold-faced lie ♕ . Baited breath . Bated breath ♕ . Chalk it

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 –

31 Jan 2023

Caught Red-Handed

Q. Afraid to ask, but where does the expression ‘caught red-handed’ come from? . A. Caught Red-Handed Blood on their hands. Today, if you’re ‘caught red-handed,’ you’ve been busted in the midst of a transgression; there’s no denying what you’ve done. The phrase dates back to 15th Century Scotland where the

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