Focusing on Words Newsletter #08

(the eighth newsletter of a series that was formerly presented to subscribers by the Sr. Scribe, a.k.a. John Robertson)

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The Senior Scribe is trying to find more info for his project.

“Education is not a product: mark, diploma, job, money—in that order; it is a process, a never-ending one.”

—Bel Kaufman, 1967.
The four greatest risks to your mental health
1. Excessive consumption of television.
2. Neglect of reading challenging materials.
3. Lack of stimulating conversation.
4. Avoidance of challenging word (vocabulary) acquisitions from a variety of perspectives.

It’s not what you get, it’s what you keep that counts!

—John Rayoa

Any word or name that is spelled the same forward and backward is called a palindrome (from Greek palindromos, literally "running [back] again") [palin ="again, backwards" and dromos = "course"].

Such words as "madam" and "sees" are examples of palindromes.

There are many common English words that fit the category of palindromes. Below are ten definitions of such words followed by a number in parenthesis that indicates how many letters there are in each English palindrome.

See how many of these "everyday" words you can solve.

  1. A notable achievement; a feat or exploit. (4)
  2. Even; not sloping. (5)
  3. More blood-colored. (6)
  4. Twelve hours after midnight. (4)
  5. Males and the females; genders. (5)
  6. One who resuscitates another. (7)
  7. To peek; to peer through a crevice. (4)
  8. Pertaining to public affairs, or to a city. (5)
  9. Made wet with dew. (5)
  10. To blow, as a horn, in rapid blasts. (4)

The above palindrome answers are available at this Palindromes Solutions page.


A dictionary is merely the universe arranged in alphabetical order.

The finest words in the world are only vain sounds if you cannot comprehend them.

—Both quotes are from Anatole France

Emotional outbursts do need to be properly scripted, and I find that the impromptu, in particular, requires prior practice.

—Matthew Parris, former member of the British Parliament,
who was criticizing the current state of British oratory.

The vocabulary of science and medicine is the language of Greece and Rome. Lack of knowledge of Greek and Latin roots hampers the mastery of scientific terminology.

—Dean John Pomfret

To be a power one must know how to use language; and how can you place words together unless you know their derivation and their real meaning?

—Henry Kraemen

Words play an enormous part in our lives and are therefore deserving of the closest study.

—Aldous Huxley
Sesquipedalia Verba or Sesquipedalians Challenge

A reference to the use of long words; especially when verbal construction utilizing less amplification might represent a more naturally efficacious phraseology and as a result, verba obscura.

Enjoy your play with words by translating these into their “simple-English proverb” forms.

  • Verba Obscura #1: Those of deficient intellect usually press forward where members of the heavenly host dread to venture.

  • Verba Obscura #2: The time to smite the ferrous metal is when it is at a super thermic temperature.

  • Verba Obscura #3: A vociferous domesticated carnivorous animal belonging to the genus Canis generally is not prone to put his dental equipment to use when it is busy making a noise.

  • Verba Obscura #4: The feathered creature that appears before the usual time captures the small, creeping, legless animal.

  • Verba Obscura #5: The upsetting of a container of a white, nourishing fluid does not call for expressions of bereavement.

  • Verba Obscura #6: Conduct a careful survey before you commit yourself to a springing, forward movement.

  • Verba Obscura #7: It is one thing to conduct a hoofed, four-legged animal to a colorless and odorless fluid but it is another matter to force it to imbibe.

  • Verba Obscura #8: It is impossible to create a small money receptacle made of a soft, tenacious thread from the auricle of a female porker.

  • Verba Obscura #9: The Creator lends valuable assistance to those who practice self-aid.

  • Verba Obscura #10: An intermixture or succession of different things seasons and flavors a person's existence.

The translations of the “verba obscura” are located at this Translations of the "verba obscura" page.

There are additional sesquipedalian groups at this Sesquipedalia page.

Fact and Logic

A fun way to see if you are paying attention. This activity consists of simple questions with tricky answers and may be found by going to verb forms Quiz.

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