Monthly Archives: January 2014

Horologe — not as bad as it sounds


Horologe was a clue in a recent crossword puzzle I completed.

This word, horologe, was new to me so I thought I should blog about it on

The definition of horologe is any instrument for indicating time—especially a sundial or an early form of clock.

Next time you do a crossword puzzle, you can answer this clue with ease.

What are you up to?

Up to?    up_to_phrase

This is an interesting set of words that are used in different ways.

First, it is not uncommon to hear some one say, “What are you up to?”   Ignoring the preposition at the end of the word, it is interesting that the “up” has nothing to do with height.

This term “up to” cropped up again the other day.  I saw a poster in a business advertising a job opening.  This one happened to be for an installer of satellite dishes for television reception.

The part that caught my eye was that the pitch said you can earn, “up to $60,000 in your second year.”

That seems odd to me, and very open-ended.  If I earn $15,000, have they failed me? I think not, since I did not exceed their $60K limit.

The same holds true for the numerous weight loss products.  Some say you can loss up to $50 pounds in the next six months, or some other number of pounds and months.

Again, if I only lose 2.5 pounds, I have met their statement of losing up to 50 pounds.

So, if you read this post, you can earn up to $100,000 AND lost up to half your body weight.

You are very welcome

Homographs — words are sure odd


Homographs are words of like spelling but with more than one meaning.
A homograph that is also pronounced differently is a heteronym.

You think English is easy??
I think a retired English teacher was bored…THIS IS  GREAT!

Read all the way to the end……………..

This took a lot of work to put together!

1)  The bandage was wound around the wound.

2) The farm was used to produce produce.

3)  The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.

4)  We must polish the Polish furniture..

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Antiproverbs — Say what?


A proverb is a short, pithy statement of a general truth. It condenses common experience into a memorable form. Miguel de Cervantes defined a proverb as “a short sentence based on long experience.”

Well, now there are sayings called anti-proverbs. Another name for anti-proverbs is perverbs since they are a perversion of the original.

Wolfgang Mieder, a professor of German and folklore at the University of Vermont, says anti-proverbs are “parodied, twisted, or fractured proverbs that reveal humorous or satirical speech play with traditional proverbial wisdom”.

I discovered these phrases while surfing the web recently. All of them combine parts of one real proverb with a part of another one.

Here are some examples of these funny sayings. I bet you can figure out the original proverbs.

  • No news is the mother of invention
  • What doesn’t kill you makes you stranger.
  • Don’t count your chickens in midstream
  • The road to Hell wasn’t paved in a day or the road to Hell is the spice of life.
  • When in Rome, do it yourself.
  • Beauty is the best policy.
  • Once bitten, three’s a crowd.
  • Absence speaks louder than words or absence makes the heart go wonder.
  • One good turn is another man’s poison
  • A miss is as good as a molehill.
  • Virtue is its own punishment.

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Obfuscate at your own risk



Obfuscate is not a word you think you will hear very often at a coffee shop.  Not true in my case.

One of my regular haunts  is a local Loveland restaurant and coffee shop.  A group of men meet there every Wednesday.   They have been in town a long time, and include a pastor, a former high school coach and athletic director and a doctor.

Occasionally, I sit in on their in-depth conversations but mostly, my laptop and I sit at a nearby table—the one by the electrical outlet.

The other day, as I typed way, I couldn’t help but bits of their conversation.   The word obfuscate came up a few times.

I decided I needed to know for sure what this word means.

Obfuscate means to hide the intended meaning of communications.  To becloud it, if you will.

It can also mean to confuse, bewilder or stupefy.   Additionally, synonyms are muddle, cloud and perplex.

A lesser meaning is to darken.  That is because the word obfuscate comes from Latin obfuscates, the past participle of obfuscare.  This means to darken.

There used to be a bumper sticker that said “Eschew obfuscation.”

Words tell where you are from

regional_wordsThis article appeared in the January 1, 2014 issue of the Berthoud (Colo) Weekly Surveyor

My first exposure to people from different areas of the United States happened in 1963 when I joined the Air Force.

What a revelation for an eighteen-year-old with no travel experience.

I soon learned that people from Texas sound different that people from Pennsylvania.

I also discovered that different regions of the U.S have different names for some items.

This all came back to me this week when I was surfing—wasting time–on Facebook.

I discovered a quiz that can tell where you grew up from your answers to some simple questions. Go to to see if this NY Times test can decide where you are from.

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