Put your knowledge of idioms, animals, and state capitals to the test with these questions from the Logophile that appeared in the September/October 2017 issue of The Saturday Evening Post. Answers and explanations are below.
1. Aunt Jenny’s doctor said not only that she had a clean bill of health, but that she was
- hale and hearty.
- hale and hardy.
- hail and hearty.
- hail and hardy.
2. A young mother named her triplet sons after the animals they resembled at birth. The first was born roaring like a lion, so she named him Leonine. The second had a prominent nose and piercing eyes, like an eagle, so she named him Aquiline. The third brother had big feet, skinny legs, and a long neck, like an ostrich. What did she name him?
3. What is the only state capital whose name shares no letters with its state’s name?
Getting this idiom correct requires detangling two pairs of homophones. We’ll take them one by one:
The word hail has many different uses in English. It’s a salutation (“Hail, good sir!”), an acclamation (hail to the chief), a summoning or calling out (“Hail the starship.”), one’s hearing distance (staying within hail), and, of course, a downpour of car-dinging ice balls. But none of these senses has anything to do with one’s health.
Hale, on the other hand, does. It is etymologically related to the word whole and means “free from defect” or “retaining exceptional health and vigor.” Noticing that hale is an anagram of heal may help you remember that it is the homophone related to health.
Hearty can mean both “vehement, unrestrained” and “exhibiting vigorous good health.”
Hardy, as you might guess, is related to hard. It means “tenacious, inured to hardship” — like hardy mums, for example.
While being hardy — having the ability to withstand hardship without damage — is a good outlook for one’s health, the idiom for being in overall excellent health is “hale and hearty.”
The English lexicon includes a veritable zoo of words that mean “of or relating to” a particular animal. A few of them we use all the time, such as canine, feline, and bovine. Others are less well-known but rather transparent, as with hippopotamine, falconine, and serpentine. Others are not so obvious.
Like many of these “animal words,” struthionine derives from Latin: struthio means “ostrich.” Struthionine (or, alternatively, struthious) not only describes something that physically looks like or is related to an ostrich but can also refer to the figurative sense of “burying one’s head in the sand” that has long been attributed to ostriches — though the characterization is scientifically inaccurate.
Here are just some of the adjectives available and the animals they indicate:
- aquiline: eagle
- corvine: crow or raven
- formicine (also myrmecoid): ant
- hirundine: swallow
- ovine: sheep
- pavonine: peacock
- porcine: pig
- ursine: bear
3. Pierre, South Dakota
Coming up with this answer is simply a matter of remembering your state capitals and comparing letters.
While you’re thinking of state capitals, try this bonus question: The names of four state capitals begin with the same letter as the name of their state. How quickly can you name them?
This article is featured in the September/October 2017 issue of The Saturday Evening Post. Subscribe to the magazine for more art, inspiring stories, fiction, humor, and features from our archives.