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Today's Word



Feb 11, 2019
This week’s theme
Words that aren’t what they appear to be

This week’s words

Meet Rana catesbeiana.
Bloody noun!

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with Anu Garg

To redo is to do again, but to react does not mean to act again. Illogical is the opposite of logical, but illustrate is not the opposite of lustrate.

Welcome to the English language! Trying to find logic in language, any language, is futile. Thousands of years of human use has produced a contraption that does a job, but looks and works like it’s held together with chewing gum and baling wire. (You mean to tell me the word colonel has an R sound? About half the letters in the spelling of the word knowledge are just for show?)

This week we feature five words which you may be tempted to figure out by patterns. Resist the temptation. You have been warned.

These words defy patterns. They look like they must mean something familiar, but they mean something completely different.



noun: A bullfrog -- a heavy-bodied frog having a deep resonant croak. Also known as bloody noun.

Of imitative origin. Earliest documented use: 1880.

“You sit here at night, listen to the cicada and the bloodnouns.”
Jeffery Deaver; The Empty Chair; Pocket Books; 2000.

I was sixteen years old when the first World War broke out, and I lived at that time in Hungary. From reading the newspapers in Hungary, it would have appeared that, whatever Austria and Germany did was right and whatever England, France, Russia, or America did was wrong. A good case could be made out for this general thesis, in almost every single instance. It would have been difficult for me to prove, in any single instance, that the newspapers were wrong, but somehow, it seemed to me unlikely that the two nations located in the center of Europe should be invariably right, and that all the other nations should be invariably wrong. History, I reasoned, would hardly operate in such a peculiar fashion, and it didn't take long until I began to hold views which were diametrically opposed to those held by the majority of my schoolmates. ... Even in times of war, you can see current events in their historical perspective, provided that your passion for the truth prevails over your bias in favor of your own nation. -Leo Szilard, physicist (11 Feb 1898-1964)

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