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Words that Looks Like What They Refer to

Dan from Elmira, New York, wonders if there’s such a thing as “structural” onomatopoeia, where the visual appearance or architecture of a written word suggests the meaning of the word. For example, he says, the word level is a...

Two-Word A Puzzle

All the answers to this puzzle from Quiz Guy John Chaneski are two-word phrases, and the only vowel they contain is the letter A. For example, suppose John is lounging in a shaded spot where only one variety of fruit is allowed. Where is he? This is...

How Do You Pronounce “Palindromist”?

The Palindromists documentary explores a mini-controversy: How do you pronounce the word palindromist? Some people put the stress on the first syllable, but other people and reference works, including the Oxford English Dictionary, stress the second...

Pronouncing “Leicester”

Sean in Asheville, North Carolina, wonders how to pronounce the nearby town of Leicester. Say it the way the locals do. It’s part of a family of British place names affected by vowel reduction and haplology, the omission of a sound or syllable...

Help Pronounced as “Hope”

Joe in Huntsville, Alabama, says an elderly friend consistently says hope to mean help. For more than a century, some speakers in parts of the Southern United States to drop the L sound before another consonant in words, which then affects the...