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Social Distancing Word Game

Quiz Guy John Chaneski’s puzzle this week is inspired by social distancing. The first and last letters of each one-word answer are the same, but they’re separated by six letters. For example, what eight-letter word, beginning and ending...

Rhetorical Backoffs

Eric in Fairbanks, Alaska, notes the use of the phrase “I’m just saying” as a way to soften one’s comment or avoid responsibility for an observation. Some linguists call such a statement a rhetorical backoff. Other examples...

Synanagrams: Synonymous Anagrams

Anagrams are words formed by rearranging the letters of another word, such as star and arts. As Paul Anthony Jones points out on his site Haggard Hawks, some words can be anagrammed to a synonymous word, such as enraged and angered, or statement and...

To Be Honest With You

What does a person really mean when she starts a statement with “to be honest with you”? It’s important not to take such expressions too literally. This is part of a complete episode.