Archive for ‘playing with words’

February 28th, 2014

Word(nerd) Search

This week we’re celebrating our wordnerds, all of you who visit the site, and participate in our community. After Anatomy of a Wordnerd, we can count even more of you among our number – welcome, wordnerds of Moldova, Mali, Senegal, Honduras and San Marino!

February 23rd, 2014

X Portmanteau Competition – The Results

Thanks to everyone who entered our little competition. We thoroughly enjoyed reading all of your concoctions.

The Judging Panel had a tough job deliberating, but in the end came to a unanimous decision.

The winning portmanteau was xegret: from xerox and regret, which describes “when you photocopy something at an office party then regret it later”.

CheekCopy

The prize, an e-book version of The Horologicon by Mark Forsyth, goes to KayleeAnn McGregor. Well done, KayleeAnn!

 

December 25th, 2013

Christmas Wordsearch

Ho! Ho! Ho! Merry Christmas from the TWS team!
We wish you could see how magical TWS Towers is looking, festooned in lights and decorations. But you’ll just have to use your imaginations. We’re all here wearing silly hats and groaning at terrible cracker jokes.
We hope Santa Claus brought you what you wanted. Since you’re all wordnerds, we expect you’re all thumbing through shiny new dictionaries or thesauruses… or maybe word puzzle books. No? Oh well. Whatever you’ve received, perhaps we can lure you away for a little while with our bumper festive Christmas Wordsearch. The puzzle is here and the solution is here. But no peeking!
Have fun!
candycane
July 20th, 2013

An extra portion

We thought the best way to round off our week of schooling you in the ways of fish would be a complementary wordsearch – a wordquarium if you will, filled with mellifluous names of fish, adrift in a sea of letters.

You can find the wordsearch here, and the solution here.

June 26th, 2013

Our Elite Sextathletes

At long last the answers have been marked – we’re rather smug that none of you got full marks, but a whopping 52 people managed 20 out of 21, a near-genius level achievement. Our geeky system of choosing random prize recipients was fired up, and we are ready to present to you our winners – perhaps clap your red pens together?

Marco Silver

Jennifer Lower

Anne-Marie Curtis

Louis Fortune

Chris Harries

applause

June 25th, 2013

Cranial Callisthenics: The Answers

Wordnerds, you’ve done us proud. As the entries to our Cranial Callisthenics Contest came flying in it was evident that all your hours of preparation had not been wasted. And by George, your responses were not to be sneezed at. We got some great feedback too, as you told us how [expletive deleted] happy you were to have the opportunity to show off your mental agility.

While we didn’t get billions of responses, there were definitely more than we’d expected, so our winners will be announced tomorrow. In the meantime – at long last – the answers. Please keep your “oh I DID know that” groaning to a minimum.

18940897-one-green-check-mark-and-many-cross-symbols-in-checklist

  1. What 8-letter word is the shortest English word that contains all the letters A, B, C, D, E, and F? Feedback
  2. Which came first, the Chicken McNugget or the Egg McMuffin? Egg McMuffin (1973, Chicken McNugget 1983)
  3. Which two-word phrase was used to replace swearing in the White House transcripts used in the “Watergate” hearings? “Expletive deleted”
  4.      Everyone knows that the naturally-occurring chemical elements with the longest names are Protactinium and Praseodymium.  But which element has the shortest name? Tin
  5. Which is the only day of the week to be named (in English) after a Roman god? Saturday
  6. The late American singer Andy Williams owned a 45ft-high letter “W” that cost him over $27,000 – where is it? Hollywood (the “W” in the HOLLYWOOD sign)
  7. Which is the only letter that doesn’t appear anywhere in the symbols for elements in the periodic table? J
  8.     A pencil can be designated “HB”.  What does “HB” stand for? Hard Black
  9. Which familiar 10-letter word can be written using only the top row of a typewriter keyboard (QWERTYUIOP)? TYPEWRITER (there are others, such as perpetuity, proprietor and repertoire)
  10. What type of object might have “pinxit” written on it? A painting (it is Latin for “he/she painted it”)
  11. Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin was the second man to set foot on the Moon. What was his mother’s maiden name? Moon
  12. Shakespeare’s “A Winter’s Tale” contains a stage direction said to be the most difficult to achieve, where a character must “Exit, pursued by a…” what? Bear
  13. In the UK, it used to be called a milliard – what do they call it now? Billion
  14. How many letters are there in the answer to this question? FOUR
  15. What is Sternutation better known as? Sneezing
  16. At Pratt’s Club in London, members refer to all male staff by the same first name – which name?  George
  17.   NONE, FLOUR, WEIGHT, TERN, THIRSTY – what do they have in common?  Take one letter away and they spell numbers
  18. Which Paul Simon song title was inspired by him seeing a chicken and egg dish in a Chinese Restaurant with the name?  Mother and Child Reunion
  19. Which fruit gets its name from the Aztec word for “testicle”? Avocado
  20. What phrase is said to have originated from when Robert Arthur Talbot Gascoyne-Cecil, 3rd Marquess of Salisbury unexpectedly appointed his nephew Arthur Balfour as Minister for Ireland? “Bob’s your uncle”
  21. If all 50 US state names were listed alphabetically, which would appear last? Wyoming
June 22nd, 2013

Cranial Callisthenics Contest

By now you should be running mental laps around your friends and wowing everyone with your mental abilities. You are the elite, the athletes who have made it through our weeklong bootcamp, and emerged as mental pentathletes. But how many of you are ready to be “sextathletes”? (No…stop it…not that. Tsk!)

We’ve devised a cunning set of 21 questions, some lexicographical, some that amuse us, some that might, just might, be devious enough to trip even you, our elite wordnerds, at the final hurdle.

And this time around we’re not going to give you the answers – not quite yet. Because we think it’s time for you to give us the answers. Tweet us a picture of your answers, comment with a link to a picture, or drop us an email at thatwordsite@gmail.com. The five best answers we receive by the end of Monday will be awarded GOLD MEDALS – well, ebooks, anyhow. We’ll resort to the ThatWordSite hat if necessary. May the best wordnerds win!

brain champion

1. What 8-letter word is the shortest English word that contains all the letters A, B, C, D, E, and F?

2. Which came first, the Chicken McNugget or the Egg McMuffin?

3. Which two-word phrase was used to replace swearing in the White House transcripts used in the “Watergate” hearings?

4. Everyone knows that the naturally-occurring chemical elements with the longest names are Protactinium and Praseodymium. But which element has the shortest name?

5. Which is the only day of the week to be named (in English) after a Roman god?

6. The late American singer Andy Williams owned a 45ft-high letter “W” that cost him over $27,000 – where is it?

7. Which is the only letter that doesn’t appear anywhere in the symbols for elements in the periodic table?

8. A pencil can be designated “HB”. What does “HB” stand for?

9. Which familiar 10-letter word can be written using only the top row of a typewriter keyboard (QWERTYUIOP)?

10. What type of object might have “pinxit” written on it?

11. Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin was the second man to set foot on the Moon. What was his mother’s maiden name?

12. Shakespeare’s “A Winter’s Tale” contains a stage direction said to be the most difficult to achieve, where a character must “Exit, pursued by a…” what?

13. In the UK, it used to be called a milliard – what do they call it now?

14. How many letters are there in the answer to this question?

15. What is Sternutation better known as?

16. At Pratt’s Club in London, members refer to all male staff by the same first name – which name?

17. NONE, FLOUR, WEIGHT, TERN, THIRSTY – what do they have in common?

18. Which Paul Simon song title was inspired by him seeing a chicken and egg dish in a Chinese Restaurant with the name?

19. Which fruit gets its name from the Aztec word for “testicle”?

20. What phrase is said to have originated from when Robert Arthur Talbot Gascoyne-Cecil, 3rd Marquess of Salisbury unexpectedly appointed his nephew Arthur Balfour as Minister for Ireland?

21. If all 50 US state names were listed alphabetically, which would appear last?

June 21st, 2013

A puzzling bookend

We’re into the final stretch of Puzzle Week, but we’re not done exercising your minds yet. Can you remember Monday, when your grey matter was an effete and flabby specimen compared to the muscular, toned figure it is now? Of course you do, because all the wordplay has sharpened your memory. We gave you a wordsearch entirely composed of the letters from the first half of the alphabet. But we’re an equal opportunity site, where all letters get a fair shot at glory, so today we bring you (drumroll please) a wordsearch made entirely of letters from the second half of the alphabet! Didn’t see THAT coming, did you?

alphabet_bookends_bgdzm

You’ll find the wordsearch here, and the solution (only after due effort on your part, mind) here.

Oh, and check back tomorrow to discover what your brains have been in training for all week…
June 20th, 2013

Any way you look at it

We hope your brains are feeling fitter and more limber by this stage of Puzzle Week. If you’re just joining us, do take a moment to do some warm up exercises – we have wordsearches, fallen phrases and word ladders.

Today we’re exploring an ancient form of wordplay, so ancient that the earliest recorded version is in Latin.

 220px-Sator_Square_at_Oppède

Sator Square

A word square is a special kind of acrostic, in which, kind of like the name says, a square of words is built. The square reads the same along its horizontal and vertical axes. Think of it as word puzzle tailor made for those with OCD.

A three letter example is:

B I T

I C E

T E N

Ready to give it a bash? We’ve provided all the letters that need to go into the grid, as well as giving you a head start. All the words are in (fairly) common usage.

K

I

S

S

I

S

S

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Missing letters: A A D E E S X Y Y

 

 

C

R

A

B

R

A

B

Missing Letters: A E E R R T T S S

 

L

R

T

E

Missing letters: A A E E L L O O S S V V

 

How about a word square riddle?

My first is something used to catch

My second where you do as Romans do

My third ends conversations with God

My fourth is stored up inside

       
       
       
       

 

And, for the serious wordnerds, a couple of bigger challenges:

 

A

B

A

C

U

S

B

A

C

U

S

Missing letters: A A D D D E E E E E E G G M M N N N N N N O O O O

 

S

E

N

E

C

S

E

N

E

C

A

Missing letters: C C E E E E I I I I I M M N N N N O R S S T T T V

June 19th, 2013

Twisting our Words

I have a stepladder. It’s a very nice stepladder, but I wish I’d known my real ladder

Today’s instalment of Puzzle Week gives us a weak excuse to shoehorn in that joke. We thought we’d [bowl you a googly | pitch you a curveball] (delete as appropriate) in the form of a few Word Ladders. If you aren’t familiar with Word Ladders, why not read up about them here?

Now, because you’re all brainy wordnerd types we’ve made things a little bit trickier. So the start and end words are the reverse of each other, and every letter must be changed at some point to reach the solution (e.g. as with WOLF being changed to FLOW). Our solutions (which may, of course, not be the same as yours) are here.

1. BONK to KNOB

2. DIAL to LAID

3. SMUT to TUMS

4. NUTS to STUN

5. PAWS to SWAP caution ladder