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English: A Peculiar Language

Animal Nickname Origins

Why We Call A Horse A Pony and Other Interesting Animal Nickname Origins

The English language, especially American English, is a conglomeration of other languages, and everyday words and slang sometimes get misconstrued, leaving them with a new meaning. This type of mixup has happened a lot in the world of animal nicknames. “Bunny,” for example, was intended for an entirely different animal, and the word "pig" is widely mis used. From “bunny” and “kitty” to “puppy” and “pony,” here are the fascinating origins of common animal names.

Powny, the Scottish word to describe a very small horse, has been around since the mid-17th century. Back then, the direct definition of a powny was a horse less than 13 hands tall. It likely came from a (now obsolete) French word, poulenet, that had roughly the same meaning: “little foal.” A foal, of course, is the technical term for a horse less than one-year-old, but in English (and especially among children) we commonly use the term pony instead. The modern definition of a pony is a horse of a small breed that is less than 58 inches (14 and a half hands) tall at the shoulder.

The usage of “pony” as an indicator of something smaller than usual has spilled over (literally and figuratively) into barware. As “pony” can also mean “something that is smaller than standard,” the pony glass comes in two styles: a quarter-pint of beer or a one-ounce shot (sometimes called a cordial glass).

“Bunny” is the word most commonly used to refer to a baby rabbit (or just any rabbit, period), but it’s technically incorrect. A baby rabbit is actually called a “kitten” or “kit,” and a newborn hare (a mammal that resembles a large rabbit) is called a “leveret,” but collectively, we tend to call them all bunnies. “Bunny” comes from the Scottish language; the use of bun in Scottish dialects can be traced back to the late 16th century, when it was used to describe a squirrel. In the late 17th century, it took on a new name, referring to rabbits OR hares.

For over 500 years, “puppy” has been used to describe a small dog, although in the late 15th century, it was specifically “a woman’s small dog.” It likely came from the French word poupée, which means “doll” or “toy." The likely connection was that the small size of the dog resulted in it being petted and played with like a doll. In the 1590s, its direct meaning shifted from a “toy dog” to a “young dog,” which is how we still use it today. Around that time, it replaced the nearly obsolete word for puppy, “whelp,” which is now used as a verb for when a female dog gives birth.

“Kitty,” a term that is now used as slang for any cat, originated from the word “kitten,” which has been around for nearly 700 years. It is an Anglo-French variant of kitoun, from the earlier Old French chaton or chitoun, meaning “little cat.” The word “kitty” itself was first recorded in 1719 as another word for a "young cat."

The use of “Kitty” as a common nickname for “Catherine” started around the 16th century, and around that time, it was also used as a sort of synonym for a young girl. This means that using “kitty” to describe a young girl was actually used BEFORE “kitty” to describe a cat. Other historic definitions of “kitty” include its use as a noun for “the pool of money in a card game” (from late 19th century American English) and as another word for “jail” (from early 19th century England). Perhaps most obscurely, in the early 20th century, “to have kittens” meant “to lose one’s composure.”

It seems as though all the words for swine have become muddled over the centuries. Now, “pig,” “swine,” “hog,” and sometimes, “boar,” are used interchangeably, but there are differences between all of these terms. A “pig'' (from Middle English pigge) is technically the word for a young swine that isn’t an adult yet (similar to “puppy” or “kitten”) but instead, we usually use “piglet” or “piggy,” leaving “pig” for a much broader definition. The word “piggy” (also spelled “piggie”) has been used since the 18th century, to denote a “little pig.” A “hog” (from Old English hogge) is technically a swine that weighs over 120 pounds, but again, “hog” is usually used for any adult swine. Further differentiating the porcine creatures, a boar (from Old English bar) is a domestic male pig, and a sow (from Old English sugu or su) is a domestic female pig. There is some modern understanding of a boar as a wild pig with tusks, but the word technically applies to all uncastrated domestic male pigs (and some other species, including badgers, guinea pigs, and hedgehogs).
ball1.gif (1653 bytes) Definition of "aphorism":
A concise and often witty statement of wisdom or opinion, such as “Children should be seen and not heard,” or “People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones.”.

ball1.gif (1653 bytes) Here's a collection of aphorisms:

1. Modern slaves are not in chain. They are in debts.

2. No matter how educated, talented, rich or cool you believe you are, how you treat people ultimately tells all.

3. In life, it's important to know when to stop arguing with people and simply let them be wrong.

4. Don't trust everything you see. Even salt looks like sugar.

5. "A ship is always safe on shore, but that is not what it's built for." - Albert Einstein

6. A smart person knows what to say. A wise person knows whether to say it or not.

7. "Any fool can know. The point is to understand." - Albert Einstein

8. "I fear the day that technollogy will surpass our human interaction. The world will have a generation of idiots." - Albert Einstein

9. When Albert Einstein met Charlie Champlin:
Einstein said: "What I admire most about your art is its universality. You do not say a word, and yet the world understand you!
Charlie Champlin said: "It's true, but your fame is even greater! The world admire you, when nobody understand you!

10. "Men fight for liberty and win it with hard knocks. Their children, brought up easy, let it slip away again, poor fools. And their grandchildren are once more slaves." - D.H.Lawrence

11. When you see that in order to produce, you need tpo obtain permission from men who produce nothing -
When you see that money is flowing to those who deal, not in goods, but in favors -
When you see that men get richer by graft and by pull than by work, and your laws don't protect you against them, but protect them against you -
When you see corruption being rewarded and honesty becoming a self-sacrifice -
you may know that your society is doomed." - Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged, 1957

12. "Politicians should wear jackets like Nascar drivers, then we know who owns them." - Robin Williams

13. In America, they call it "lobbying" . Everywhere else in the world, they call it "bribery and corrruption.

14. "When the debate is lost, slander becomes the tool of the losers." - Socrates

15. "Complaining about a problem without posing a solution is called whining." - Teddy Roosevelt

16. "There is a major difference between intelligence and stupidity; intelligence has its limits." - Albert Einstein

Did You Know?

ball1.gif (1653 bytes)The sentence: "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog" uses every letter of the alphabet.
ball1.gif (1653 bytes)The words 'racecar,' 'kayak' and 'level' are the same whether they are read left to right or right to left (palindromes).
ball1.gif (1653 bytes)There are only four words in the English language that end in "dous": tremendous, horrendous, stupendous, and hazardous.
ball1.gif (1653 bytes)There are two words in the English language that have all five vowels (a e i o u) in alphabetical order: "abstemious" and "facetious."
ball1.gif (1653 bytes)TYPEWRITER is the longest word that can be made using the letters only on one row of the keyboard.
ball1.gif (1653 bytes)"Stewardesses" is the longest word typed with only the left hand and "lollipop" with your right.
ball1.gif (1653 bytes)No word in the English language rhymes with month, orange, silver, or purple.
ball1.gif (1653 bytes)"Dreamt" is the only English word that ends in the letters "mt".
English Language Resources
ball1.gif (1653 bytes)British and American words in the English language
ball1.gif (1653 bytes)Dictionary & Thesaurus online:
 Search:   for    
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Have you ever heard of "heteronyms"? They’re words that are spelled the same, but pronounced differently. Heteronyms often have multiple pronunciations and meanings. Depending on the context, your intended meaning might change quite a bit. Here are a few examples of heteronyms.

ball1.gif (1653 bytes) Record
Remember those vinyl disks spinning on a turntable that played music? That’s a record (REK-ord) and they’re making a comeback. However, musicians first have to record (ree-CORD) their songs before the album is sold.
ball1.gif (1653 bytes) Wound
If you’ve coiled something — like a string — around another object, you’ve wound (WOW-nd) it up. If your intent is to hurt someone, whether physically or with words, you’ll wound (WOO-nd) them. You might have wound up a rubber band, snapped it, and wounded someone nearby. We don’t recommend you try this.
ball1.gif (1653 bytes) Graduate
The pronunciation difference with graduate not only changes the word, but the part of speech as well. To graduate (GRAD-joo-ate), you cross the stage in your cap and gown and accept your diploma. If you’re a graduate (GRAD-joo-uht), you are the person crossing the stage.
ball1.gif (1653 bytes) Sewer
You’ll be glad to know that this is one case where the two pronunciations have absolutely no correlation. One sewer (SOO-er) is the underground tunnel system for household waste. The other sewer (SO-er) is known more professionally as a tailor, and makes and mends your clothes.
ball1.gif (1653 bytes) Excuse
The meanings behind the heteronyms "excuse" and "excuse" are similar, but you'll want to differentiate the two through the parts of speech and the way the “s” sounds in the last syllable. The noun excuse (ex-KYOOS) is the word to describe a reason for not completing your chores. In cases like these, you can use the verb excuse (ex-KYOOZ) to get out of the situation and pretend you’ve got to run an errand.
ball1.gif (1653 bytes) Minute
The only similarity between "minute" (MIN-uht) and "minute" (my-NOOT) with a long “i” is that the words both reference something small. In fact, minute with a long “i” is defined as something tiny or of little significance. A 60-second minute, however, is a brief unit of time.
ball1.gif (1653 bytes) Slough
How do you pronounce this one again? The good news is that if you guess, you’ll probably get at least one version right. If you pronounce the word as "sluff," you’re describing a snake shedding its skin. "Sloo" and "slow" (rhymes with cow) are different pronunciations for a swamp.
ball1.gif (1653 bytes) Nun
You probably recognize nuns as religiously affiliated women, but did you know "nun" can also rhyme with the word "noon"? If you say it like that, it’s the fourteenth letter in the Hebrew alphabet.
ball1.gif (1653 bytes) Deliberate
You can deliberate (de-LIB-er-ate) the pronunciations for many words — especially if you have an accent. Plenty of arguments spring from these conversations. However, don’t be deliberate (de-LIB-er-uht) in your intentions to feud if you want to keep your friends.

ball1.gif (1653 bytes)Meanings of homophones:
ball1.gif (1653 bytes) 1. One of a group of words pronounced in the same way but differing in meaning or spelling or both, as for example bear and bare
ball1.gif (1653 bytes) 2. A written letter or combination of letters that represents the same speech sound as another: ``ph'' is a homophone of ``f'' in English
ball1.gif (1653 bytes)Explanation of homophones
English (especially British English) is not spelt phonetically. Two words can share none, any or all of Spelling, Pronunciation and Meaning. All languages have synonyms (words with unrelated spelling and pronunciation but the same meaning) and words with multiple meanings. However English has an exceptional disparity between spelling and pronunciation.

 The possible combinations or some but all characteristics being the same are as follows:-
Spelling Pronunciation Meaning Classification Example
Same Different Different Homonym refuse
Different Same Different Homophone See below
Same Same Different Multiple meanings trap
Different Different Same Synonym rare/uncommon
Same Different Same Alternative pronuncation Schedule (British/American pronuncation)
Different Same Same Alternative spelling jail/gaol

This is a list of British-English homophones.

A collection of 441 homophones:  
396 pairs, 40 triples and 5 quadruples. 
546 pairs of homophone words.

  1. accessary, accessory
  2. ad, add
  3. ail, ale
  4. air, heir
  5. aisle, I'll, isle
  6. all, awl
  7. allowed, aloud
  8. alms, arms
  9. altar, alter
  10. arc, ark
  11. aren't, aunt
  12. ate, eight
  13. auger, augur
  14. auk, orc
  15. aural, oral
  16. away, aweigh
  17. awe, oar, or, ore
  18. axel, axle
  19. aye, eye, I
  20. bail, bale
  21. bait, bate
  22. baize, bays
  23. bald, bawled
  24. ball, bawl
  25. band, banned
  26. bard, barred
  27. bare, bear
  28. bark, barque
  29. baron, barren
  30. base, bass
  31. bay, bey
  32. bazaar, bizarre
  33. be, bee
  34. beach, beech
  35. bean, been
  36. beat, beet
  37. beau, bow
  38. beer, bier
  39. bel, bell, belle
  40. berry, bury
  41. berth, birth
  42. bight, bite, byte
  43. billed, build
  44. bitten, bittern
  45. blew, blue
  46. bloc, block
  47. boar, bore
  48. board, bored
  49. boarder, border
  50. bold, bowled
  51. boos, booze
  52. born, borne
  53. bough, bow
  54. boy, buoy
  55. brae, bray
  56. braid, brayed
  57. braise, brays, braze
  58. brake, break
  59. bread, bred
  60. brews, bruise
  61. bridal, bridle
  62. broach, brooch
  63. bur, burr
  64. but, butt
  65. buy, by, bye
  66. buyer, byre
  67. calendar, calender
  68. call, caul
  69. canvas, canvass
  70. cast, caste
  71. caster, castor
  72. caught, court
  73. caw, core, corps
  74. cede, seed
  75. ceiling, sealing
  76. cell, sell
  77. censer, censor, sensor
  78. cent, scent, sent
  79. cereal, serial
  80. cheap, cheep
  81. check, cheque
  82. choir, quire
  83. chord, cord
  84. cite, sight, site
  85. clack, claque
  86. clew, clue
  87. climb, clime
  88. close, cloze
  89. coal, kohl
  90. coarse, course
  91. coign, coin
  92. colonel, kernel
  93. complacent, complaisant
  94. complement, compliment
  95. coo, coup
  96. cops, copse
  97. council, counsel
  98. cousin, cozen
  99. creak, creek
  100. crews, cruise
  101. cue, kyu, queue
  102. curb, kerb
  103. currant, current
  104. cymbol, symbol
  105. dam, damn
  106. days, daze
  107. dear, deer
  108. descent, dissent
  109. desert, dessert
  110. deviser, divisor
  1. dew, due
  2. die, dye
  3. discreet, discrete
  4. doe, doh, dough
  5. done, dun
  6. douse, dowse
  7. draft, draught
  8. dual, duel
  9. earn, urn
  10. eery, eyrie
  11. ewe, yew, you
  12. faint, feint
  13. fah, far
  14. fair, fare
  15. farther, father
  16. fate, fête
  17. faun, fawn
  18. fay, fey
  19. faze, phase
  20. feat, feet
  21. ferrule, ferule
  22. few, phew
  23. fie, phi
  24. file, phial
  25. find, fined
  26. fir, fur
  27. fizz, phiz
  28. flair, flare
  29. flaw, floor
  30. flea, flee
  31. flex, flecks
  32. flew, flu, flue
  33. floe, flow
  34. flour, flower
  35. foaled, fold
  36. for, fore, four
  37. foreword, forward
  38. fort, fought
  39. forth, fourth
  40. foul, fowl
  41. franc, frank
  42. freeze, frieze
  43. friar, fryer
  44. furs, furze
  45. gait, gate
  46. galipot, gallipot
  47. gallop, galop
  48. gamble, gambol
  49. gays, gaze
  50. genes, jeans
  51. gild, guild
  52. gilt, guilt
  53. giro, gyro
  54. gnaw, nor
  55. gneiss, nice
  56. gorilla, guerilla
  57. grate, great
  58. greave, grieve
  59. greys, graze
  60. grisly, grizzly
  61. groan, grown
  62. guessed, guest
  63. hail, hale
  64. hair, hare
  65. hall, haul
  66. hangar, hanger
  67. hart, heart
  68. haw, hoar, whore
  69. hay, hey
  70. heal, heel, he'll
  71. hear, here
  72. heard, herd
  73. he'd, heed
  74. heroin, heroine
  75. hew, hue
  76. hi, high
  77. higher, hire
  78. him, hymn
  79. ho, hoe
  80. hoard, horde
  81. hoarse, horse
  82. holey, holy, wholly
  83. hour, our
  84. idle, idol
  85. in, inn
  86. indict, indite
  87. it's, its
  88. jewel, joule
  89. key, quay
  90. knave, nave
  91. knead, need
  92. knew, new
  93. knight, night
  94. knit, nit
  95. knob, nob
  96. knock, nock
  97. knot, not
  98. know, no
  99. knows, nose
  100. laager, lager
  101. lac, lack
  102. lade, laid
  103. lain, lane
  104. lam, lamb
  105. laps, lapse
  106. larva, lava
  107. lase, laze
  108. law, lore
  109. lay, ley
  110. lea, lee
  1. leach, leech
  2. lead, led
  3. leak, leek
  4. lean, lien
  5. lessen, lesson
  6. levee, levy
  7. liar, lyre
  8. licence, license
  9. licker, liquor
  10. lie, lye
  11. lieu, loo
  12. links, lynx
  13. lo, low
  14. load, lode
  15. loan, lone
  16. locks, lox
  17. loop, loupe
  18. loot, lute
  19. made, maid
  20. mail, male
  21. main, mane
  22. maize, maze
  23. mall, maul
  24. manna, manner
  25. mantel, mantle
  26. mare, mayor
  27. mark, marque
  28. marshal, martial
  29. marten, martin
  30. mask, masque
  31. maw, more
  32. me, mi
  33. mean, mien
  34. meat, meet, mete
  35. medal, meddle
  36. metal, mettle
  37. meter, metre
  38. might, mite
  39. miner, minor, mynah
  40. mind, mined
  41. missed, mist
  42. moat, mote
  43. mode, mowed
  44. moor, more
  45. moose, mousse
  46. morning, mourning
  47. muscle, mussel
  48. naval, navel
  49. nay, neigh
  50. nigh, nye
  51. none, nun
  52. od, odd
  53. ode, owed
  54. oh, owe
  55. one, won
  56. packed, pact
  57. packs, pax
  58. pail, pale
  59. pain, pane
  60. pair, pare, pear
  61. palate, palette, pallet
  62. pascal, paschal
  63. paten, patten, pattern
  64. pause, paws, pores, pours
  65. pawn, porn
  66. pea, pee
  67. peace, piece
  68. peak, peek, peke, pique
  69. peal, peel
  70. pearl, purl
  71. pedal, peddle
  72. peer, pier
  73. pi, pie
  74. pica, pika
  75. place, plaice
  76. plain, plane
  77. pleas, please
  78. plum, plumb
  79. pole, poll
  80. poof, pouffe
  81. practice, practise
  82. praise, prays, preys
  83. principal, principle
  84. profit, prophet
  85. quarts, quartz
  86. quean, queen
  87. rain, reign, rein
  88. raise, rays, raze
  89. rap, wrap
  90. raw, roar
  91. read, reed
  92. read, red
  93. real, reel
  94. reek, wreak
  95. rest, wrest
  96. retch, wretch
  97. review, revue
  98. rheum, room
  99. right, rite, wright, write
  100. ring, wring
  101. road, rode
  102. roe, row
  103. role, roll
  104. roo, roux, rue
  105. rood, rude
  106. root, route
  107. rose, rows
  108. rota, rotor
  109. rote, wrote
  110. rough, ruff
  1. rouse, rows
  2. rung, wrung
  3. rye, wry
  4. saver, savour
  5. spade, spayed
  6. sale, sail
  7. sane, seine
  8. satire, satyr
  9. sauce, source
  10. saw, soar, sore
  11. scene, seen
  12. scull, skull
  13. sea, see
  14. seam, seem
  15. sear, seer, sere
  16. seas, sees, seize
  17. sew, so, sow
  18. shake, sheikh
  19. shear, sheer
  20. shoe, shoo
  21. sic, sick
  22. side, sighed
  23. sign, sine
  24. sink, synch
  25. slay, sleigh
  26. sloe, slow
  27. sole, soul
  28. some, sum
  29. son, sun
  30. sort, sought
  31. spa, spar
  32. staid, stayed
  33. stair, stare
  34. stake, steak
  35. stalk, stork
  36. stationary, stationery
  37. steal, steel
  38. stile, style
  39. storey, story
  40. straight, strait
  41. sweet, suite
  42. swat, swot
  43. tacks, tax
  44. tale, tail
  45. talk, torque
  46. tare, tear
  47. taught, taut, tort
  48. te, tea, tee
  49. team, teem
  50. tear, tier
  51. teas, tease
  52. terce, terse
  53. tern, turn
  54. there, their, they're
  55. threw, through
  56. throes, throws
  57. throne, thrown
  58. thyme, time
  59. tic, tick
  60. tide, tied
  61. tire, tyre
  62. to, too, two
  63. toad, toed, towed
  64. told, tolled
  65. tole, toll
  66. ton, tun
  67. tor, tore
  68. tough, tuff
  69. troop, troupe
  70. tuba, tuber
  71. vain, vane, vein
  72. vale, veil
  73. vial, vile
  74. wail, wale, whale
  75. wain, wane
  76. waist, waste
  77. wait, weight
  78. waive, wave
  79. wall, waul
  80. war, wore
  81. ware, wear, where
  82. warn, worn
  83. wart, wort
  84. watt, what
  85. wax, whacks
  86. way, weigh, whey
  87. we, wee, whee
  88. weak, week
  89. we'd, weed
  90. weal, we'll, wheel
  91. wean, ween
  92. weather, whether
  93. weaver, weever
  94. weir, we're
  95. were, whirr
  96. wet, whet
  97. wheald, wheeled
  98. which, witch
  99. whig, wig
  100. while, wile
  101. whine, wine
  102. whirl, whorl
  103. whirled, world
  104. whit, wit
  105. white, wight
  106. who's, whose
  107. woe, whoa
  108. wood, would
  109. yaw, yore, your, you're
  110. yoke, yolk
  111. you'll, yule
Near misses
These are word pairs that have been suggested but rejection, for one of the following reasons:-

  • Not precisely the same pronunciation.  I only reject on this grounds, if my dictionary gives different pronunciation (or is unclear) and I think there is a difference, or am not sure how one of the words in pronounced. 
    • accept, except
    • acetic, ascetic
    • advice, advise
    • affect, effect
    • axe, acts
    • axle, axil
    • deal, dele
    • caret, carrot
    • close, clothes
    • cask, casque
    • deuce, juice
    • facts, fax
    • formerly, formally
    • halve, have
    • hostel, hostile
    • ion, iron
    • jota, jotter
    • liar, layer
    • loch, lock
    • mana, manna
    • ordinance, ordnance
    • paw/pore/pour, poor
    • pecan, pekan
    • picture, pitcher
    • plaintiff, plaintive
    • prince, prints
    • presence, presents
    • tense, tents
    • wan, won
  • The two spellings have a meaning in common.  Even if each spelling has distinct meanings, any common mean classifies them as alternative spellings rather than homophones.  (American, or other non-British, spellings are ignored for this purpose.)
    • ambiance, ambience
    • assay, essay
    • aught, ought
    • cot, cote
    • depositary, depository
    • forbear, forebear
    • forego, forgo
    • gage, gauge
    • gel, jell
    • genet, jennet
    • gibe, gybe
    • gray, grey
    • grill, grille
    • groin, groyne
    • gunnel, gunwale
    • hippie, hippy
    • main, maine
    • prise, prize
    • ray, re
    • ton, tonne
  • It would be double counting.  If two forms of two words are different homophones, then a single example an only be counted.
    I list complement/compliment and hence don't list complementary/complimentary.  I normally list the simplest form (singular rather than plural; present tense etc.) unless other form is a longer list.
    e.g. I list holey/holy/wholly rather than hole/whole.
  • Proper nouns and associated adjectives are not allowed, notably a lot of nations, nationalities, and place names are pronounced the same as common nouns. 
    • Capitol, capital
    • Crewe, crew
    • Czech, check/cheque
    • Chile, chilly/chilli
    • Dane, deign
    • Greece, grease
    • Hungary, hungry
    • Lapp, lap
    • Nice, niece
    • Pole, poll
    • Rome, roam
    • Sikh, seek
    • Thai, tie
    • Towcester, toaster
    • Wales, whales
    And many, many more.
Alleged homophones that aren't in the dictionary. 
Word Homophone(s) Comment
wether weather, whether I am told this is a type of sheep.
basinet bassinet ?A musical instrument?
hele heal,heal ?Song, from the German?
how'll howl Not really establisted enough to count
leider leader ?Song, from the German?
lune loon The moon (if so fails as a proper noun)
meer mere
rayed raid
sice syce
sorel sorrel
velum vellum
wyrd weird
Inconsistency of the English Language

English is a crazy language. There is no egg in eggplant, nor ham in hamburger; neither apple nor pine in pineapple.

English muffins weren't invented in England or French fries in France. Sweetmeats are candies while sweetbreads, which aren't sweet, are meat.

We take English for granted. But if we explore its paradoxes, we find that quicksand can work slowly, boxing rings are square and a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig.

And why is it that writers write but fingers don't fing, grocers don't groce and hammers don't ham? If the plural of tooth is teeth, why isn't the plural of booth, beeth? One goose, 2 geese. So one moose, 2 meese? One index, 2 indices? Doesn't it seem crazy that you can make amends but not one amend? If you have a bunch of odds and ends and get rid of all but one of them, what do you call it?

If teachers taught, why didn't preachers praught? If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat? Sometimes I think all the English speakers should be committed to an asylum for the verbally insane. In what language do people recite at a play and play at a recital? Ship by truck and send cargo by ship? Have noses that run and feet that smell?

How can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same, while a wise man and a wise guy are opposites? You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language in which your house can burn up as it burns down, in which you fill in a form by filling it out and in which, an alarm goes off by going on.

English was invented by people, not computers, and it reflects the creativity of the human race, which, of course, is not a race at all That is why, when the stars are out, they are visible, but when the lights are out, they are invisible.

Why doesn't 'Buick' rhyme with 'quick'
ball1.gif (1653 bytes)Lexophile" is a word used to describe those that have a love for words, such as "you can tune a piano, but you can't tuna fish", or "to write with a broken pencil is pointless."
Below are more examples of lexophiles:
01. When fish are in schools, they sometimes take debate.
02. A thief who stole a calendar got twelve months.
03. When the smoglifts in Los Angeles U.C.L.A.
04. The batterieswere given out free of charge.
05. A dentist and amanicurist married. They fought tooth and nail.
06. A will is a dead giveaway.
07. With her marriage, she got a new name and a dress.
08. A boiled egg is hard to beat.
08. When you've seen one shopping center you've seen a mall.
09. Police were summoned to a daycare center where a three-year-old was resisting a rest.
10. Did you hear about the fellow whose entire left side was cut off? He's all right now.
11. A bicycle can't stand alone; it's just two tired.
12. When a clock is hungry it goes back four seconds.
13. The guy who fell onto an upholstery machine is now fully recovered.
14. He had a photographic memory which was never developed.
15. When she saw her first strands of grey hair she thought she'd dye.
16. Acupuncture is a jab well done. That's the point of it.
17. Those who get too big for their britches will be totally exposed in the end.
ball1.gif (1653 bytes)Origins of Words and Names

ball1.gif (1653 bytes)Palindrome Definition
A palindrome is a word or sentence that reads the same forward as it does backward. The words a and I are perhaps the simplest and least interesting palindromes; the word racecar and the name Hannah are more interesting and illustrative. Neither spaces nor punctuation are usually taken into consideration when constructing sentences that are palindromes -- one of the most famous palindromes is "A man, a plan, a canal, Panama" -- but when the spaces are properly positioned as well, so much the better. An example would be the also famous palindrome "Able was I ere I saw Elba," purportedly spoken by Napoleon, referring to his first sighting of Elba, the island where the British exiled him.

Palindromes are a type of palingram called letter palingrams. A palingram is a sentence in which the letters, syllables, or words read the same backward as they do forward. The sentence, "He was, was he?" is a word palingram, because the words can be placed in reverse order and still read the same. The sentence, "I did, did I?" is not only a word palingram but a letter palingram (or palindrome) as well.
ball1.gif (1653 bytes) A number of interesting palindromes are given below for your amusement.
  • aibohphobia
  • alula
  • cammac
  • civic
  • deified
  • deleveled
  • detartrated
  • devoved
  • dewed
  • evitative
  • Hannah
  • kayak
  • kinnikinnik
  • lemel
  • level
  • madam
  • Malayalam
  • minim
  • murdrum
  • peeweep
  • racecar
  • radar
  • redder
  • refer
  • reifier
  • repaper
  • reviver
  • rotator
  • rotavator
  • rotor
  • sagas
  • solos
  • sexes
  • stats
  • tenet
  • terret
  • testset
  • Glenelg (Australia)
  • Kanakanak (Alaska)
  • Kinikinik (Colorado)
  • Navan (Meath, Ireland)
  • Neuquen (Argentina)
  • Ward Draw (South Dakota)
  • Wassamassaw (South Carolina)
  • Yreka Bakery (Yreka, California)

Not Quite Legitimate

  • Retteb, si flahd noces eht tub, but the second half is better.
  • Doctor Reubenstein was shocked and dismayed when he answered the ringing telephone, only to hear a strange, metallic, alien voice say, "Yasec iovn eilacilla temeg! Nartsa raehoty lnoenoh pelet gnig, nirehtde rewsnaehn ehw. Deya! Msid! Dnadek cohssaw nietsne buerro, tcod?"
Phrases and Sentences
  • A dog, a plan, a canal: pagoda.
  • A man, a plan, a canal: Panama.
  • A new order began, a more Roman age bred Rowena.
  • A tin mug for a jar of gum, Nita.
  • A Toyota. Race fast, safe car. A Toyota.
  • Able was I ere I saw Elba.
  • Animal loots foliated detail of stool lamina.
  • Anne, I vote more cars race Rome to Vienna.
  • Are we not drawn onward, we few, drawn onward to new era?
  • Are we not pure? "No sir!" Panama's moody Noriega brags. "It is garbage!" Irony dooms a man; a prisoner up to new era.
  • As I pee, sir, I see Pisa!
  • Barge in! Relate mere war of 1991 for a were-metal Ernie grab!
  • Bombard a drab mob.
  • Bush saw Sununu swash sub.
  • Cain: a maniac.
  • Cigar? Toss it in a can. It is so tragic.
  • Daedalus: nine. Peninsula: dead.
  • Dammit, I'm mad!
  • Delia saw I was ailed.
  • Denim axes examined.
  • Dennis and Edna sinned.
  • Depardieu, go razz a rogue I draped.
  • Desserts, I stressed!
  • Did I draw Della too tall, Edward? I did?
  • Do good? I? No! Evil anon I deliver. I maim nine more hero-men in Saginaw, sanitary sword a-tuck, Carol, I -- lo! -- rack, cut a drowsy rat in Aswan. I gas nine more hero-men in Miami. Reviled, I (Nona) live on. I do, O God!
  • Doc, note I dissent: a fast never prevents a fatness. I diet on cod.
  • Drab as a fool, aloof as a bard.
  • Drat Saddam, a mad dastard!
  • Draw, O coward!
  • Draw pupil's lip upward.
  • Ed, I saw Harpo Marx ram Oprah W. aside.
  • Eva, can I stab bats in a cave?
  • Evil did I dwell; lewd I did live.
  • Gateman sees name, garageman sees name tag.
  • Go hang a salami; I'm a lasagna hog.
  • Goldenrod-adorned log.
  • Golf? No sir, prefer prison-flog.
  • Harass sensuousness, Sarah.
  • I roamed under it as a tired, nude Maori.
  • Laminated E.T. animal.
  • Lay a wallaby baby ball away, Al.
  • Lepers repel.
  • Let O'Hara gain an inn in a Niagara hotel.
  • Live not on evil.
  • Lived on Decaf; faced no Devil.
  • Lonely Tylenol.
  • Ma is a nun, as I am.
  • Ma is as selfless as I am.
  • Madam, I'm Adam.
  • Madam in Eden, I'm Adam.
  • Marge lets Norah see Sharon's telegram.
  • May a moody baby doom a yam.
  • Meet animals; laminate 'em.
  • Mr. Owl ate my metal worm.
  • Murder for a jar of red rum.
  • Never odd or even.
  • No, Mel Gibson is a casino's big lemon.
  • No cab, no tuna nut on bacon.
  • No lemon, no melon.
  • No sir -- away! A papaya war is on.
  • On a clover, if alive, erupts a vast, pure evil; a fire volcano.
  • Party boobytrap.
  • Poor Dan is in a droop.
  • Reviled did I live, said I, as evil I did deliver.
  • Rise to vote, sir.
  • Saw tide rose? So red it was.
  • Senile felines.
  • So many dynamos!
  • Some men interpret nine memos.
  • Stab nail at ill Italian bats.
  • Stack cats.
  • Stella won no wallets.
  • Step on no pets.
  • Stop! Murder us not, tonsured rumpots!
  • Straw? No, too stupid a fad; I put soot on warts.
  • T. Eliot, top bard, notes putrid tang emanating, is sad. I'd assign it a name: gnat dirt upset on drab pot-toilet.
  • Tarzan raised Desi Arnaz' rat.
  • Ten animals I slam in a net.
  • Too bad I hid a boot.
  • Was it a car or a cat I saw?
  • Wonder if Sununu's fired now.
  • Won't I panic in a pit now?
  • Won't lovers revolt now?
  • Yo, banana boy!
  • Yo, Bob! Mug o' gumbo, boy!
  • Yo, bottoms up! (U.S. motto, boy.)
ball1.gif (1653 bytes)Another list of palindrome examples:
Don't nod
Dogma: I am God
Never odd or even
Too bad – I hid a boot
Rats live on no evil star
No trace; not one carton
Was it Eliot's toilet I saw?
Murder for a jar of red rum
May a moody baby doom a yam?
Go hang a salami; I'm a lasagna hog!
Satan, oscillate my metallic sonatas!
A Toyota! Race fast... safe car: a Toyota
Straw? No, too stupid a fad; I put soot on warts
Are we not drawn onward, we few, drawn onward to new era?
Doc Note: I dissent. A fast never prevents a fatness. I diet on cod
No, it never propagates if I set a gap or prevention
Anne, I vote more cars race Rome to Vienna
Sums are not set as a test on Erasmus
Kay, a red nude, peeped under a yak
Some men interpret nine memos
Campus Motto: Bottoms up, Mac
Go deliver a dare, vile dog!
Madam, in Eden I'm Adam
Oozy rat in a sanitary zoo
Ah, Satan sees Natasha
Lisa Bonet ate no basil
Do geese see God?
God saw I was dog
Dennis sinned

ball1.gif (1653 bytes) What is a ponderism?
A ponderism is a kind of a bridge between a joke and a witty word play, not far from a pun, and quite close to a re-evaluation of an axiom. Sometimes it is an incorrectly understood rhetorical question and rarely an impressive thought. For most people, however, it is just a poor and lame attempt at “pondering” matters that have not mattered to anyone else before. But still, a few people do not take things for granted and actually think about what they say. These then “ponder” evident things, racking their brains with something they thought was as clear as day, but which turned out not to be so crystal clear after all.

Ponderism is a new word in English. Not a single dictionary knows it and even the online urban dictionary is behind the curve. The word has obviously been derived from the verb ponder meaning to consider, contemplate, or deliberate. It could perhaps be that until today nobody needed to name the activity of thinking of such ordinary and tedious things as everybody had been busy with the more difficult and tricky linguistic stuff. However, in the 21st century when we discovered the paradoxical basics of the language that we have already been exploring for hundreds of years, we suddenly need a word for the discovery...

ball1.gif (1653 bytes) Here are some examples to illustrate ponderism from Richard Lederer 's Crazy English:

1. There is no egg in eggplant or ham in hamburger, neither apple nor pine in pineapple.
2. Sweetmeats are candies, while sweetbreads, which aren’t sweet, are meat.
3. English muffins were not invented in England or french fries in France.
4. And why is it that writers write, but fingers don’t fing, grocers don’t groce, and hammers don’t ham?
5. If teachers taught, why didn’t preachers praught? If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat?
6. If the plural of tooth is teeth, why isn’t the plural of booth beeth? One goose, 2 geese. So, one moose, 2 meese? Is cheese the plural of choose?
7. How can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same, while a wise man and a wise guy are opposites?
8. How can the weather be hot as hell one day and cold as hell another?
9. When a house burns up, it burns down.

Riddle #1: What can travel around the world while staying in a corner?
Ans: A Stamp

Riddle #2: A truck driver is going the opposite direction to the other traffic on a one-way street. A police officer sees him but doesn't stop him. Why doesn't the police officer stop him?
Ans: The Truck Driver was not driving but walking

Riddle #3: Paul's height is six feet, he's an assistant at a butcher's shop, and wears size 9 shoes. What does he usually weigh?
Ans: Meat

Riddle #4: There was a green house. Inside the green house there was a white house. Inside the white house there was a red house. Inside the red house there were lots of babies. What is it?
Ans: Water Melon

Riddle #5: What kind of room has no doors or windows?
Ans: Mushroom

Riddle #6: What kind of tree can you carry in your hand?
Ans: Palmtree

Riddle #7: Brothers and sisters I have none, but this man's father is my father's son. Who is the man?
Ans: Myself

Riddle #8: What is greater than God, more evil than the devil, the poor have it, the rich need it, and if you eat it, you'll die?
Ans: Nothing

Riddle #9: The maker doesn't need it. The buyer won't use it. The user can't see it. What is it?
Ans: Coffin

Riddle #10: Which word in the dictionary is always spelled incorrectly?
Ans: "Incorrectly"!
Some English words with multiple meanings are confusing
  • The bandage was  wound  around the  wound.
  • The farm was used to  produce produce.
  • The dump was so full that it had to  refuse  more  refuse.
  • We must  polish  the  Polish  furniture.
  • He could  lead  if he would get the  lead  out.
  • The soldier decided to  desert  his dessert in the  desert.
  • Since there is no time like the  present  , he thought it was time to  present  the  present.
  • bass  was painted on the head of the  bass  drum.
  • When shot at, the  dove dove  into the bushes.
  • I did not  object  to the  object.
  • The insurance was  invalid  for the  invalid.
  • There was a  row  among the oarsmen about how to  row.
  • They were too close  to the door to  close it.
  • The buck  does  funny things when the  does  are present.
  • A seamstress and a sewer  fell down into a  sewer  line.
  • To help with planting, the farmer taught his  sow  to  sow.
  • The  wind  was too strong to  wind  the sail.
  • Upon seeing the  tear  in the painting I shed a   tear.
  • I had to  subject  the  subject  to a series of tests.
  • How can I  intimate  this to my most  intimate  friend?
The many conflicting uses of the word "UP"

There is a two-letter word that perhaps has more meanings than any other two-letter word, and that is 'UP.'

It's easy to understand  UP , meaning toward the sky or at the top of the list, but when we awaken in the morning, why do we wake  UP At a meeting, why does a topic come  UP ? Why do we speak  UP  and why are the officers  UP  for election and why is it  UP  to the secretary to write  UP  a report?

We call  UP  our friends. And we use it to brighten  UP  a room, polish  UP  the silver, we warm  UP  the leftovers and clean  UP  the kitchen. We lock  UP  the house and some guys fix  UP  the old car. At other times the little word has real special meaning. People stir  UP  trouble, line  UP  for tickets, work  UP  an appetite, and think  UP  excuses. To be dressed is one thing, but to be dressed  UP  is special.

And this  UP  is confusing: A drain must be opened  UP  because it is stopped  UP  We open   UP  a store in the morning but we close it  UP  at night.

We seem to be pretty mixed  UP  about  UP To be knowledgeable about the proper uses of  UP , look the word  UP  in the dictionary. In a desk-sized dictionary, it takes  UP  almost 1/4th of the page and can add  UP  to about thirty definitions. If you are  UP  to it, you might try building  UP  a list of the many ways  UP  is used. It will take  UP  a lot of your time, but if you don't give UP , you may wind  UP  with a hundred or more. When it threatens to rain, we say it is clouding  UP . When the sun comes out we say it is clearing  UP.

When it rains, it wets the earth and often messes things  UP.

When it doesn't rain for a while, things dry  UP.

One could go on and on, but I'll wrap it  UP , for now my time is  UP , so it is time to shut  UP!

What is the first thing you do in the morning & the last thing you do at night?   U-P
The truth behind British politeness

The table below sheds light on just how difficult it can be for a foreigner to understand what the British really mean when they're speaking – especially for those take every word at face value.

Phrases that prove the trickiest to decipher include 'you must come for dinner', which foreigners tend to take as a direct invitation, but is actually said out of politeness by many Britons and often does not result in an invite.

The table also reveals that when a person from Britain begins a sentence "with the greatest respect ...', they actually mean 'I think you are an idiot'.

I hear what you say
I disagree and do not want to discuss it further
He accepts my point of view
With the greatest respect
You are an idiot
He is listening to me
That's not bad
That's good
That's poor
That is a very brave proposal
You are insane
He thinks I have courage
Quite good
A bit disappointing
Quite good
I would suggest
Do it or be prepared to justify yourself
Think about the idea, but do what you like
Oh, incidentally/ by the way
The primary purpose of our discussion is
That is not very important
I was a bit disappointed that
I am annoyed that
It doesn't really matter
Very interesting
That is clearly nonsense
They are impressed
I'll bear it in mind
I've forgotten it already
They will probably do it
I'm sure it's my fault
It's your fault
Why do they think it was their fault?
You must come for dinner
It's not an invitation, I'm just being polite
I will get an invitation soon
I almost agree
I don't agree at all
He's not far from agreement
I only have a few minor comments
Please rewrite completely
He has found a few typos
Could we consider some other options
I don't like your idea
They have not yet decided
Copyright © 2000 Siakhenn
Last modified on
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