Also see Knowledge and Learning and Knowledge - or Lack Thereof.
It's not the exact word if you can substitute another word for it without some loss of meaning.
Useful Metric Conversions
1 million microphones = 1 megaphone
1 million bicycles = 2 megacycles
2000 mockingbirds = 2 kilomockingbirds
10 cards = 1 decacards
1/2 lavatory = 1 demijohn
1 millionth of a fish = 1 microfiche
453.6 graham crackers = 1 pound cake
10 rations = 1 decoration
10 millipedes = 1 centipede
3 1/3 tridents = 1 decadent
10 monologues = 5 dialogs
2 monograms = 1 diagram
8 nickels = 2 paradigms
2 baby sitters = 1 gramma grampa
- A Decimal Point...I'm a Dot in Place
- Alec Guinness...Genuine Class
- Allegories...Lies Galore
- Animosity...Is No Amity
- Astronomer...Moon Starer
- Circumstantial Evidence...Actual Crime isn't Evinced
- Considerate...Care is Noted
- Contradiction...Accord not in it
- Conversation...Voices Rant On
- Curtailment...Terminal Cut
- Desperation...A Rope Ends It
- Disconsolate...Is Not Solaced
- Dormitory...Dirty Room
- Dynamite...May End It
- Eleven plus two...Twelve plus one
- Endearment...Tender Name
- ELECTION RESULTS...Lies--Let's Recount
- French Revolution...Violence Run Forth
- George Bush...He Bugs Gore
- HMS Pinafore...Name for Ship
- Integral Calculus...Calculating Rules
- Measurements...Man Uses Meter
- Misrepresentation...Interpret One Amiss
- Mother-in-law...Woman Hitler
- Parishioner...I Hire Parson
- Pittance...A Cent Tip
- Predestination...I Pertain to Ends
- Presbyterian...Best in Prayer
- Princess Diana...End is a Car Spin
- Revolution...Love to Ruin
- Saintliness...Least in Sins
- Schoolmaster...The Classroom
- Separation...One is Apart
- Slot Machines...Cash Lost in 'em
- Snooze Alarms...Alas! No More Z's
- Softheartedness...Often Sheds Tears
- The Earthquakes...That Queer Shake
- The Eyes...They See
- The Morse Code...Here come Dots
- The Nudist Colony...No Untidy Clothes
- The Public Art Galleries...Large Picture Halls, I Bet
- Uniformity...I Form Unity
- Upholsterers...Restore Plush
- Waitress...A Stew, Sir?
- Western Union...No Wire Unsent
- Year Two Thousand...A Year to Shut Down
No wonder the English language is so difficult to learn.
†(It's a wonder we manage to communicate at all!)
We must polish the Polish furniture.
He could lead if he would get the lead out.
The farm was used to produce produce.
The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.
The soldier decided to desert in the desert.
This was a good time to present the present.
A bass was painted on the head of the bass drum.
When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes.
I did not object to the object.
The insurance was invalid for the invalid.
The bandage was wound around the wound.
There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row.
They were too close to the door to close it.
The buck does funny things when the does are present.
To help with planting, the farmer taught his sow to sow.
The wind was too strong to wind the sail.
After a number of injections my jaw got number.
Upon seeing the tear in my clothes I shed a tear.
I had to subject the subject to a series of tests.
The singer had to record the record.
Will you be able to live through a live concert?
More English Language Confusion
- Cough, rough, though, through - why don't those words rhyme but for some inexplicable reason pony and bologna do.
- English can be confusing. It can be understood though, through tough thorough thought.
- Do you ever read read as read when it's supposed to be read as read?
- Struggling with the English language, the foreigner was frustrated by the reasoning behind the pronunciation of words like tough, bough, though. He gave up when he read this newspaper headline: BAZAAR PRONOUNCED SUCCESS.
She Called Him Mr.
She frowned and called him Mr.
Because in sport he kr.
And so in spite
That very night
This Mr. kr. sr.
- If teachers have taught, why haven't preachers praught?
- If vegetarians eat vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat?
- Why does quicksand work so slowly?
- Why are they called boxing rings when they are square?
- How did guinea pigs get their name when they are neither from Guinea nor are they pigs.
- Why do we recite at a play but play at a recital?
- If a lot and a few are opposites why do quite a lot and quite a few mean the same thing?
- If up and down are opposites why is a house burning up and a house burning down the same thing?
- Why do we say an alarm is going off when it is actually turning on?
- Why do doctors call what they do 'practice'?
- Why is the time of day with the slowest traffic called 'rush hour'?
- Whose idea was it to put an 'S' in the word 'lisp'?
- Why is there no egg in eggplant, and no ham in hamburger?
- Why is it called a pineapple when it has neither pine nor apple?
- Why is it that writers write but grocers don't groce and hammers don't ham?
- What's another word for Thesaurus? (Stephen Wright)
- 'Dreamt' is the only English word that ends in the letters "mt".
- "I am." is the shortest complete sentence in the English language.
- The longest one-syllable word is 'screeched'.
- No word in the English language rhymes with month, orange, silver, or purple.
- The longest words that can be spelled without repeating a letter are 'uncopyrightable' and 'dermatoglyphics'.
- The sentence: "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog" uses every letter of the alphabet. This sentence was originally used to test typing ability but is now mostly used to test computer keyboards.
- 'Stewardesses' is the longest common word that can be typed with only the left hand and 'lollipop' with only the right. (There are several obscure and hyphenated words that are longer.)
- There are only four words in the English language which end in 'dous': Tremendous, horrendous, stupendous, and hazardous.
- There are only two common words in the English language that have all five vowels in order: 'abstemious' and 'facetious'. (There are several zoological and botanical words that also include the vowels in order.)
- 'Typewriter' is the longest common word that can be made using the letters only on one row of the keyboard. (There are obscure and hyphenated words that are the same length or longer.)
- If the plural of tooth is teeth, why isn't the plural of booth beeth? And if the plural of goose is geese why isn't the plural of moose meese? And why in the world is the plural of index indices?
- It's weird that you can make amends but not one amend and that you can comb through the annals of history but not a single annal.
- If you have a bunch of odds and ends and get rid of all but one of them, what do you call the one that is left?
Miscellaneous Word Stuff
- Department of Redundancy Department
- Help stamp out, eliminate and abolish redundancy!
- The difference between the right word and almost the right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.
- I avoid cliches like the plague.
- A metaphor is like a simile.
- A pun is its own re-word.
- Palindromes are words that read the same backwards as forward. Some examples: racecar, level, kayak. One palindrome phrase is something that could have been said by Napoleon after his exile: Able was I ere I saw Elba.
- Two trucks loaded with a thousand copies of Roget's Thesaurus collided as they left a New York publishing house last Thursday, according to the Associated Press.
Witnesses were stunned, startled, aghast, taken aback, stupefied, astonished, astounded, mesmerized...
- Have you ever had an awkward moment when you spell a common word correctly, but it looks wrong so you stare at a while and question whether it is really a word at all.
by George Carlin
- Why is the third hand on the watch called the second hand?
- If a word is misspelled in the dictionary, how would we ever know?
- If Webster wrote the first dictionary, where did he find the words?
- Why does "slow down" and "slow up" mean the same thing?
- Why does "fat chance" and "slim chance" mean the same thing?
- Why do "tug" boats push their barges?
- Why are they called "stands" when they are made for sitting?
- Why is it called "after dark" when it really is "after light"?
- Why are a "wise man" and a "wise guy" opposites?
- Why do "overlook" and "oversee" mean opposite things?
- Why is "phonics" not spelled the way it sounds?
- If you are cross-eyed and have dyslexia, can you read all right?
- Why is bra singular and panties plural?
- Why do we put suits in garment bags and garments in a suitcase?
- How come abbreviated is such a long word?
- Why are they called apartments when they are all stuck together?
- Why do they call it a TV set when you only have one?
- If horrific means horrible, why doesn't terrific mean terrible?
- Does killing time damage eternity?
- Why is it that when you transport something by car, it's called a shipment, but when you transport something by ship, it's called cargo?
- Daylight savings time is a mystery. Why are they saving it and where do they keep it?
- How do you get off of a non-stop flight?
- How do you write zero in Roman numerals?
- Why do signs that say "slow children" have a picture of a running child?
- If I jog backwards would I gain weight?
- How many weeks are there in a light year?
- If blind people wear dark glasses, why don't deaf people wear earmuffs?
- If space is a vacuum, who changes the bags?
What Was That Again?
- I tried to catch some fog...I mist.
- When chemists die they barium.
- I know a guy who's addicted to brake fluid but he says he can stop anytime.
- I stayed up all night to see where the sun went. Then it dawned on me.
- Iím reading a book about anti-gravity...I can't put it down.
- I did a theatrical performance about puns. It was a play on words.
- A dyslexic man walked into a bra.
- I am going on a class trip to the Coca Cola factory. I hope there's no pop quiz.
- Energizer Bunny arrested! Charged with battery.
- I didn't like my beard at first but it grew on me.
- How do you make Holy water? You boil the hell out of it.
- I wondered why the baseball was getting bigger...then it hit me.
- Broken pencils are pointless.
- I used to be a banker, but I lost interest.
- I dropped out of communism class because of lousy Marx.
- I got a job at a bakery because I kneaded dough.
- Velcro is a real rip off!
- A cartoonist was found dead in his home. Details are sketchy.
- Venison for dinner again? Oh deer!
- The earthquake in Washington obviously was the government's fault.
- Be kind to your dentist. He has fillings, too.
Great Examples of Oxymorons
- Act naturally
- Advanced BASIC
- Airline Food
- Almost exactly
- Alone together
- Business ethics
- Clearly misunderstood
- Computer security
- Definite maybe
- Diet ice cream
- Exact estimate
- Found missing
- Genuine imitation
- Good grief
- Good morning
- Government organization
- Legally drunk
- Living dead
- Microsoft Works
- Military Intelligence
- New classic
- Peace force
- Plastic glasses
- Political science
- Pretty ugly
- Same difference
- Sanitary landfill
- Small crowd
- Soft rock
- Software documentation
- Sweet sorrow
- Synthetic natural gas
- Taped live
- Temporary tax increase
- Terribly pleased
- Tight slacks
- Twelve-ounce pound cake
- Working vacation
An Unusual Paragraph
You probably cannot find any paragraph that is as unusual as this paragraph.
But what is odd about it? That is hard to say at first, but as you study it, you will catch on, no doubt. I will add that you might look through thousands of paragraphs in any book--all containing as many words as this--and probably not find any that can boast this oddity. Do you know what it is?†
The answer is at the bottom of the file)
The Importance of Correct Punctuation
I want a man who knows what love is all about. You are generous, kind, thoughtful. People who are not like you admit to being useless and inferior. You have ruined me for other men. I yearn for you. I have no feelings whatsoever when we're apart. I can be forever happy--will you let me be yours?
I want a man who knows what love is. All about you are generous, kind, thoughtful people, who are not like you. Admit to being useless and inferior. You have ruined me. For other men, I yearn. For you, I have no feelings whatsoever. When we're apart, I can be forever happy. Will you let me be?
Punctuation is Important!
An English professor wrote the words, "Woman without her man is nothing" on the blackboard and directed the students to punctuate it correctly.
The men wrote: "Woman, without her man, is nothing."
The women wrote: "Woman! Without her, man is nothing."
Weird but Interesting
(Don't worry if you can't read this. Only 55 out of a hundred people can.)
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D0 4M4Z1NG 7H1NG5!
1N 7H3 B3G1NN1NG
17 WA5 H4RD BU7
N0W, 0N 7H15 LIN3
Y0UR M1ND 1S
W17H 0U7 3V3N
7H1NK1NG 4B0U7 17,
B3 PROUD! 0NLY
C3R741N P30PL3 C4N
The Power of the Human Mind
I cdnuolt blveiee that I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd what I was rdanieg.
The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid. Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it dseno't mtaetr in what oerdr the ltteres in a word are, the olny iproamtnt tihng is that the frsit and last ltteer
be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can still raed it whotuit a pboerlm. This is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed Ervey lteter by istlef, but the word as a wlohe.
New Meanings for Old Words
The Washington Post has a yearly contest in which readers are asked to supply alternate meanings for words. Here are some winning entries:
- Abdicate (v.): to give up all hope of ever having a flat stomach.
- Balderdash (n.): a rapidly receding hairline.
- Circumvent (n.): the opening in the front of boxer shorts.
- Coffee (n.): a person who is coughed upon.
- Esplanade (v.): to attempt an explanation while drunk.
- Flabbergasted (adj.): appalled over how much weight you have gained.
- Flatulence (n.): the emergency vehicle that picks you up after you are run over by a steamroller.
- Gargoyle (n.): an olive-flavored mouthwash.
- Lymph (v.): to walk with a lisp.
- Negligent (adj.): describes a condition in which you absent-mindedly answer the door in your nightie.
- Oyster (n.): a person who sprinkles his conversation with Yiddish expressions.
- Pokemon (n): A Jamaican proctologist.
- Rectitude (n.): the formal, dignified demeanor assumed by a proctologist immediately before he examines you.
- Testicle (n.): a humorous question in an exam.
- Willy-nilly (adj.): impotent
In another Washington Post contest readers are invited to change a word by one letter and give an amusing meaning.
- Arachnoleptic fit (n.): The frantic dance performed just after you've accidentally walked through a spider web.
- Beelzebug (n.): Satan in the form of a mosquito that gets into your bedroom at three in the morning and cannot be cast out.
- Bozone (n.): The substance surrounding stupid people that stops bright ideas from penetrating. The bozone layer, unfortunately, shows little sign of breaking down in the near future.
- Cashtration (n.): The act of buying a house, which renders the subject financially impotent for an indefinite period.
- Caterpallor (n.): The color you turn after finding half a grub in the fruit you're eating.
- Decaflon (n.): The grueling event of getting through the day consuming only things that are good for you.
- Disconfect (v.): To sterilize the piece of candy you dropped on the floor by blowing on it, assuming this will somehow remove all the germs.
- Dopelar Effect (n.): The tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter when you explain them rapidly.
- Elbonics (n.): The actions of two people maneuvering for one armrest in a movie theater.
- Foreploy: Any misrepresentation about yourself for the purpose of getting laid.
- Frisbeetarianism (n.): The belief that, when you die, your soul goes up on the roof and gets stuck there.
- Giraffiti: Vandalism spray-painted very, very high.
- Glibido: All talk and no action.
- Inoculatte: To take coffee intravenously when you are running late.
- Intaxication: Euphoria at getting a tax refund, which lasts until you realize it was your money to start with.
- Karmageddon: It's like, when everybody is sending off all these really bad vibes, right? And then, like, the Earth explodes and it's like, a serious bummer.
- Osteopornosis: A degenerate disease.
- Reintarnation: Coming back to life as a hillbilly.
- Sarchasm: The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the person who doesn't get it.
(I couldn't think of any word to add to the list but I made a new word by combing two others. DeJaNesia: The feeling that you've forgotten this before. (Denny)
How many of these phrases do you recognize?
- Scintillate, scintillate, asteroid minific
- Surveillance should precede catapultation
- Members of an avian species of identical plumage congregate
- Pulchritude possesses solely cutaneous profundity
- It is fruitless to become lachrymose over precipitately departed lacteal fluid
- Freedom from encrustations of grime is contiguous to rectitude
- The stylus is more potent than the scimitar
- It is fruitless to attempt to indoctrinate a superannuated canine with innovative maneuvers
- Eschew the implement of correction and vitiate the scion
- The temperature of the aqueous content of an unremittingly ogled saucepan does not reach 212 degrees F.
- All articles that coruscate with resplendence are not truly suriferous.
- Where there are visible vapors having their prevalence in ignited carbonaceous materials, there is conflagration.
- Twinkle, twinkle, little star
- Look before you leap
- Birds of a feather flock together
- Beauty is only skin deep
- No use crying over spilt milk
- Cleanliness is next to godliness
- The pen is mightier than the sword
- Can't teach an old dog new tricks
- Spare the rod and spoil the child
- A watched pot never boils
- All that glitters is not gold
- Where there's smoke, there's fire
Most Old Cliches Are Nonsense
- Everything Comes in Threes . . .
- . . . Not true. In reality, everything comes in ones. Sometimes, when three 'ones' come in a row, it seems like everything comes in threes.
- You Can't Take it With You . . .
- . . . That depends on what it is. If it's your dark blue suit, you can certainly take it with you. In fact, not only can you take it with you, you can probably put some things in your pockets.
- You Learn Something New Every Day . . .
- . . . Actually, you learn something old every day. Just because you've just learned it doesn't mean it's new. Other people already knew it, Columbus is a good example of this.
- The Sky's the Limit . . .
- . . . Well, how can the sky be the limit? The sky never ends. What kind of a limit is that? The earth is the limit. You dig a hole and what do you keep getting? More earth. The earth is the limit.
- You Get What You Pay For . . .
- . . . Clearly this is not true. Have you been shopping recently? In point of fact, if you check your purchases carefully, you'll find that you get whatever they feel like giving you.
- Tomorrow is Another Day . . .
- . . . Not necessarily true. Today is another day. We have no idea what tomorrow is going to be. It might turn out to be another day, but we can't be sure.
- Nice Guys Finish Last . . .
- . . . Not true. Studies have shown that, on average, nice guys finish third in a field of six. Actually, short guys finish last.
- If You've Seen One, You've Seen Them All . . .
- . . . Do we even have to talk about this one? This should be obvious. If you've seen one, you've seen . . . one. If you've seen them all, *then* you've seen them all.
- Those Were the Days . . .
- . . . No. Those were the nights! Think back. Weren't the nights better? Days you had to work. Nights you went to parties, danced, drank. 'Those were the nights!'
- They Don't Make 'Em Like They Used To . . .
- . . . Actually they do make 'em like they used to, they just don't sell 'em anymore. They make 'em, and then they keep 'em.
- Two Wrongs Don't Make a Right . . .
- . . . Well, it just so happens that two wrongs do make a right. Not only that, but as the number of wrongs increases, the whole thing goes up exponentially. So that while two wrongs make one right, and four wrongs make two rights, it actually takes sixteen wrongs to make three rights.
- If It's Not One Thing, It's Another . . .
- . . . No, not always. Sometimes if it's not one thing, not only is it not another, but it turns out to be something else entirely.
- You Can't have it Both Ways . . .
- . . . That depends on how intimately you know the other person. Maybe you can't have it both ways at once, but if you've got a little time, you can probably have it six or seven ways.
- Things have to get Better, They Can't Get Any Worse . . .
- . . . This is an example of truly faulty logic. Just because things can't get any worse, is no reason to believe they have to get better. They might just stay the same. And who says things can't get any worse? For many people, things get worse and worse and worse.
- It Takes Two to Tango . . .
- . . . Sounds good, but simple reasoning will reveal that actually it takes only one to tango. It does take two to tango together, maybe. But one person is certainly capable of tangoing on his own. He just might look a little silly.
- What You Don't Know Won't Hurt You . . .
- . . . Why don't we just ask Julius Caesar and John F. Kennedy about this one?
- Life is Short . . .
- . . . Sorry. Life is not short, it's just that everything else lasts so long--mountains, rivers, stars--life seems short. Actually life lasts just the right amount of time. Until you die. Death on the other hand . . . is very, very short.
A University of North Carolina English instructor introduced to his class what he termed "one of the finest, most elegant lines of poetry in the English language." He had duly recorded it in all of his notebooks as a constant reminder of its beauty. "Walk with light!" he quoted, and then repeated softly and blissfully to himself, "Walk with light . . . now isn't that a wonderful thing to say to someone?" The class agreed, of course, and wished to know the author.
"I suppose it's anonymous," said the instructor. "It's written on a sign at an intersection of Franklin Street."
Answer: What's unusual about the paragraph is that it has no 'e'.