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A scene utterly ridden with (as opposed to rid of) flowers, or having that general sense or quality literally or metaphorically, is called florid. What about when there aren’t many flowers but there are a whole lot of leaves and other green things? 462 more words

Word Tasting Notes


This article first appeared in Active Voice, the national newsletter of Editors Canada.

What’s English for Schadenfreude? Schadenfreude, of course.

Words are like Barbie dolls or trading cards or Hummel figurines or camera lenses or kitchen gadgets: if we see one that fills a spot that we don’t already have filled, we want it. 777 more words

Word Tasting Notes


Every morning on my way to work, I pass a fence entirely overgrown with a very vigorous vine. The fence is a standard-issue chain-link fence; on the other side of it is a broad green expanse, a playing field with soccer goals and such like, and reigning over it are power lines. 706 more words

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Who is this man in white? A plaintiff, a caitiff, Hiram Abiff? A bailiff, a mastiff, a hippogriff? A sheriff with a tariff for a whiff of spliff? 408 more words

Word Tasting Notes


Life’s paths are fantastical and fractious, following not what line some abstract geometer might limn but carving the segments and curves that present least resistance, most opportunity, or simply the most enticing caprice. 714 more words

Word Tasting Notes


We do so many things by reflex these days, and so seldom pause for reflection. We are too often too likely to view things through a single lens, and not to put them in perspective. 812 more words

Word Tasting Notes


Some people learn a thing, know it, and act like they know it. They apply the knowledge scrupulously. Others learn a thing and, as soon as they think no one is going to be checking up on them, stop acting like they know it. 733 more words

Word Tasting Notes