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Pronunciation of Measure

Anna, who lives in the San Francisco Bay area, wonders if it’s okay to pronounce the word measure as ?meɪʒər (rhyming with “hey sure”) instead of ?mɛʒər (rhyming with “treasure”). This pronunciation is scattered across...

Pronouncing Zoology

Jimmy and his high-school classmates wonder about the pronunciation of words like zooplankton, zoology, and zoological. The traditional pronunciation for many scientific terms that start with zoo- is to use a long o rather than an oo sound. The...

Don’t Get Into Any Jackpots

Ron, who lives in North Pole, Alaska, is curious about an admonition from his mother: Don’t get into any jackpots. This expression, which dates back to the 1800s, refers to getting trapped into adding bets to a round of high-stakes poker...

A Pangram Short of a Letter

This lyrical entry in Wordsmith.org’s pangram contest would have been a strong contender had it not been for the fact that it includes all but one letter of the alphabet: A quivering butterfly wing conjures a zephyr that expands to a storm...

The Bridge is Open but Closed

Chelsea says that after moving from the Midwest to Norfolk, Virginia, she was confused by traffic reports indicating that a local bridge was open. Turns out the bridge is a drawbridge, and by open, the announcers were saying that the bridge was...

Caster Sugar

Eben, a chef in Lummi Bay, Washington, who blogs about food at UrbanMonique, is curious about the term caster sugar, which denotes sugar less fine than powdered sugar, but less coarse than the regular table variety. The name caster sugar derives...

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