Wednesday, April 19, 2017

What’s In A Name Or A Word?

Strange books and strange names have existed since both came into existence. But, how about books that are oddly named or are titled in a way that connects to the author’s name?

·         Jack Ray Strange penned Abnormal Psychology:  Understanding Behavior Disorders (1965).
·         John Goodbody wrote The Illustrated History of Gymnastics (1983).
·         A.Lord produced The Craze of God (1859).
·         William A. Christian wrote Oppositions of Religious Doctrines (1972).
·         Jane Arbor penned The Cypress Garden (1969).
·         Geoff Carless wrote Motorcycling for Beginners (1980).
·         Roger Grounds wrote The Perfect Lawn (1974).

Then there are popular homophone-titled books:

·         The King Who Rained by Fred Gwynne
·         All Paws on Deck by Jessica Young
·         A Chocolate Moose for Dinner by Fred Gwynne
·         How Much Can a Bare Bear Bear?  By Brian P. Cleary
·         Cat Tale by Michael Hall

Maybe something stranger than odd author names and homophonic book titles would be a list of towns and cities with some weird names.  Here’s a list of real people with some unfortunate names:

·         Anita Dick
·         Ben Dover
·         Donny Brook
·         Hung Lo
·         P. Daily
·         Kiss Myass
·         Moe Lester
·         Rose Bush
·         Winsome Ho

I want to give credit to all of the above to Rod L. Evans, Ph.D., who crafted ones of the best books on wordplay, Tyranosaurus Lex.

His book is filled with all kinds of linguistic treasures for word nerds.

He also identifies some great resources for those in pursuit of English oddities:

He also points out these quirky anomalies of our language:

These are words that are formed by combining two words.  It is not a compound word, where two whole words join together.  In this case, part of a word joins with the part of another word.

Brunch – breakfast and lunch
Frenemy – a friend who is really an enemy
Smog – smoke plus fog

It’s a play on words, where there’s a suggestion of multiple meanings.

To write a letter with a broken pencil is pointless.
Did you hear about the woman whose left side was sliced off?  She’s all right now.

A word or phrase that looks like it’s the opposite to the meaning of another word or phrase, but isn’t.

Give in – take out
Downfall – uprise
Pair - impair

When a word loses its first letter and is still a word

Grumble – rumple
Emotion – motion
Orange – range

Words that lose their last letter are still words.

Beard – bear
Quartz – quart
Pearl – pear

Words that change in meaning or become names once capitalized.

August, August  magnificent/eighth month
Herb, Herb plant/short for Herbert
Reading, reading understanding written language/PA town

Words that sound alike, but mean different things – They can sometimes be spelled the same.

Too – to
Carat – carrot
Pail – pale
Rose (flower) - rose (to rise up)

Words that mean similar things

Murdered - killed
Cold – freezing
Close - shut

Words that are opposite in meaning

Good – bad
Dark – light
Day – night

Misleading expressions (terms or illogical name)
Boxing rings are square.
To say you could care less really means they couldn’t care less
A near miss is actually a near hit

Newly minted words or expressions that may or may not have lasting power.

Staycation – vacation at home
Starter marriage – first marriage that ends quickly
Paperphilia – preference to read from paper over a screen

Word Chains
Can you change a dog into a cat?  In the spirit of Six Degrees of Separation, take a word and switch out a letter, and another, and so on, until you created the polar opposite.

Give hate
Live rate
Like rave
Lake cave
Take cove

Internal Deletion Homophones
A word that becomes its own homophone where just one of its letters is removed.

Aunt – ant
Add – ad
Two – to

The pronunciation of certain words that consist entirely of non-consonant sounds

Decay = dk
Ivy – iv
Tedious – tds
Excellency= xlnc
Obediency = obdnc

Piano Words
These are words that only use letters a through f – like the note on musical instrument.


These are words that have multiple words inside of them – without rearranging or losing any letters.  Just put a space in the right spot.

Across – a cross
Beauties – beau ties
Mean = me an

A word that can become multiple words when letters are used alternately, in a strict sequence.  Every letter must be used.

Schooled – shoe + cold
Waist = wit + as

Words that consist of the duplication of the same letters.  They can be hyphenated.

Testes – tes
Twenty-twenty – twenty
Murmur = mur

This is a sentence that uses every letter of the alphabet at least once.

Pack my box with five dozen liquor jugs.


When words are confused for one another.

Statue (statute) of limitations
Child progeny (prodigy)

Yogi Beara was a colorful Hall of Fame baseball player for the New York Yankees, as well as a coach and manager.  He was notorious for making funny statements.

“It’s like déjà vu all over again.””
“The future ain’t what it used to be.”

A phrase or string of words that sounds the same as another phrase but is spelled differently. 

Ice cream = I scream
The stuffy nose (stuff he knows) can be harmful.

Re-arrange letters of a word to form a different word.

Diet = tide
Eat = tea

Re-arrange the letters of a phrase to state something in a different form but with a similar connected meaning.

A shoplifter + has to pilfer
The eyes = they see

Re-arrange the letters of a word to form one or more words that act as an antonym (the opposite).

Earliest – rise late
Funeral – real fun

When the initials of a group form a word

ACNE = Action Committee for Narcotics Education
CRASH – Canadians for Responsible and Safe Highways

Turning an existing word into an acronym

WIT – whatever it takes
PUSH – pray until something happens
SMART – specific, measured, agreed, realistic, time bound

Paradoxical Statements

A contradictory statement that rings true.

“A mask tells us more than a face.”
--Oscar Wilde

“A real knowledge is to know the extent of one’s ignorance.”

Expressions that contain elements or words with opposite or contradictory meanings.

Random order
Jumbo shirimp
Military intelligence
Business ethics
Science fiction
Necessary never
I’d give my left arm to be ambidextrous

Word That Sound Like a Letter
Sea = c
Be = b
Are = r
Tea = t

A word or phrase that can be read backwards and forwards.


Describes a type of speech where the end of the sentence twists, contradicts, or to totally change the expectation of the reader’s interpretation of the initial part of the statement.  These usually end as a joke.

“I’ve had a perfectly wonderful evening, but this wasn’t it.”
--Groucho Marx

“Change is inevitable, except from a vending machine.”

This is a specific kind of anagram, where a word spelled backward forms a different word.

Bard – drab
Bats – stab
Naps - span

“The book-collector is the hermaphrodite of literature neither a reader nor a writer.”
--Shane Leslie

“To buy books would be a good thing if we also could buy the time to read them.  As it is, the act of purchasing them is often mistaken for the assimilation and mastering of their content.”
--Arthur Schopenhauer
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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog 2017©. Born and raised in Brooklyn, now resides in Westchester. Named one of the best book marketing blogs by Book Baby 

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