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stanch, staunch

Many a stanch defender of the language will try to staunch the flow of misspellings. Wait. No. Many a staunch defender of the language will try to stanch the flow of misspellings. Right? It’s like a gauntlet/gantlet and pour over/pore over thing. Every lexical fussbudget knows that. The sight of the wrong one is like aluminum foil touching a filling. And if you feel that way about staunch and stanch, you… are not going...

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defenestrate

If you’re like a lot of people, defenestrate is one of your favourite words. It has that marvellous scuffling sound, more finicky than finesse, looking like an ungainly portmanteau of defense, demonstrate, and perhaps a few others such as infestation and finasteride, and all of that going right out the window – for who does not appreciate the image of throwing things or people out of windows? Its construction is straightforward...

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Life lessons I learned from Scrabble

In my leisure time, I play Scrabble online against friends. Over the years I’ve gotten reasonably good at it; I’m happy to say that I know several people who are also good at it and give me interesting games. And as I’ve learned to be better at it (some of it from playing, some of it from reading Stefan Fatsis’s book Word Freak), I’ve learned bits of perspective that are very useful for doing well at the game but also often...

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Don’t look busy

This article originally appeared on The Editors’ Weekly, the official blog of Canada’s national editorial association It’s a good thing I’m not working in-house anymore. I’ve been far too busy lately to look busy. Those of you who have worked in corporate environments know what I’m talking about: You can spend an awful lot of time and effort looking busy instead of getting things done. There are a few reasons for that. One...

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paella

As I said in my tasting of chorizo, this week we’re having paella. Or is it? Does it qualify? I don’t mean the absence of shellfish – that’s characteristic of a regional version of paella, but it’s not universal; this dish has many variations. But there’s one thing that doesn’t vary about this dish: the dish. By which I mean the dish it’s made in. Or, in this case, the pan. You tell me if you can have a tuna casserole...

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gowl

Margot had learned a word she liked from Haggard Hawks, and she had determined to use it in her fiction. She posted a draft of her latest short story to her Facebook writers’ group. Various members immediately seized on the passage containing the word, and by the time Margot got back to her computer there were several replies. “Great story!” commented Talisa Curdy. “Loved the emotional truth of it. Noticed a typo: ‘She stood...

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thester

It is thester out, ever more thesterly; thesterness descends from the thester dome and all thesters until today is thesterday. And thester way I like it. Do I seem like thester-crazy kind? Oh, I am undimmed by dimness. When the sun is hidden, the countless little points of light come out, and it is so personally illuminating and downright photogenic; corners are contrasts, and life passes alternately in pools of vivid colour and...

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fessitude

I confess: I have a ’tude. You know, an attitude. But not so much one that’s inclined to making a fuss. Rather, one that is from too much time on my fesses – but keeps me even more on my fesses. Sorry – for those who don’t know: fesses is French for ‘buttocks’. Basically, fessitude comes from being bummed out, perhaps from being on your bum but definitely with the result of being even more on your bum. It’s the result...