From Poor to Rich: A Word Ladder Puzzle

It’s easy for a rich man to become poor, but not the other way around. Transposing POOR to RICH in a game of word ladder isn’t as simple as well as you need ten steps to accomplish that. Can you figure out the steps? (Hint: One of the words is a contraction.) (Note: In a […]

Read More

The Economist’s Blunder

Geoffrey K. Pullum On March 20, 1997, linguist Geoffrey K. Pullum sent the following letter to The Economist in response to the article regarding the Russian oil pipeline problems the newspaper published a week prior: Sir: “Connections needed” (March 15) reports that Russia’s Transneft pipeline operator is not able to separate crude flows from different […]

Read More

Ambiguous Plurals

“Axes” is the plural of both ax and axis, and “bases” is the plural of both base and basis. Based on these observations, Willard Espy, in “A Plurality of Singular Verse”, Word Ways, Vol. 7, 1974, gave the following couple of short verses: Paul Bunyan swung his ax, with view To sundering the earth in […]

Read More

A Riddle That Might Make You Angry

Here’s a trivia. There are only two “common” words which end in “-gry”: angry and hungry. The puzzler named “Nightowl” mentioned the old “-gry” words riddle in her Rochester, New York, newsletter The Ag Mine, Mar. 1997: A local newspaper columnist found the first logical explanation I have seen of that so-called riddle. The correct version of the riddle is […]

Read More

A Curious Form Of Poetry: Univocalic Poems

Regular readers of Learn Fun Facts may already be familiar with lipograms. In today’s post, I’ll talk about another form of lipogrammatic constrained writing called univocalic. French author Georges Perec published a 300-page lipogrammatic novel La disparition in 1969. The entire novel did not contain the letter “e”. It seemed that he was saving up all […]

Read More

An I For An Eye: Napoleon’s Palindrome

“Able was I ere I saw Elba” is a famous palindrome attributed to Napoleon Bonapart. However, there is no concrete evidence that Napoleon himself created this palindrome. The Quote Investigator argued that Napoleon didn’t make this palindrome since it first appeared in the July 8, 1848, issue of The Gazette of the Union, Vol. 9, 27 […]

Read More

Scrabble Anagram

The March 11, 1975 issue of the London Times has this little curiosity. Phoebe Winch was able to arrange the 100 standard Scrabble tiles into a meaningful anagram: AAAAAAAAA BB CC DDDD EEEEEEEEEEEE FF GGG HH IIIIIIIII J K LLLL MM NNNNNN OOOOOOOO PP Q RRRRRR SSSS TTTTTT UUUU VV WW X YY Z [_] [_] = […]

Read More

Superghost

In 1951, John Thurber was challenged by his friend, Michell, to a word game called “Ghost” or “Superghost”. The objective of the game is to think of English words which contain a given difficult letter combinations. For example, “NEHE” becomes “swineherd” and “CKLU” becomes “lackluster”. When Thurber was asked to think of an English word that […]

Read More