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Logophile Language Puzzler: Dumpster Diving

In Issue:

1. Oscar hid in a dumpster for three hours in his failed attempt to ______ police.

  1. allude
  2. elude
  3. illude

 

2. Erin is an avid taphophile. Practically every weekend, you can find her at

  1. an airport.
  2. a candy store
  3. a cemetery.

 

3. Ramona likes cameras but not Polaroids, appreciates manners but not etiquette, and enjoys being amorous but not romantic. What does Ramona like?

Answers and Explanations

1. b. elude

To elude means to evade or escape. Notice how all three words start with e? Keeping that in mind can help you remember what this word means.

To allude means to call something to mind without explicitly mentioning it — in other words, to make an allusion. For example, when someone refers to a holiday naysayer as a “Scrooge,” they are alluding to Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol and its main character, Ebenezer Scrooge.

Illude, the least commonly used of this trio, is a verb that coincides with illusion. When you illude someone, you subject them to an illusion, usually for the purposes of deceit. Oscar might try to illude the police in order to elude them, but it’d be pretty hard to do from inside a dumpster.

 

2. c. a cemetery.

A taphophile is someone who enjoys tombstones and crypts. The word stems from the Greek roots taphos “tomb” and philos “friendly, loving.” You’ll find the taph root in the more common words cenotaph and epitaph (which literally means “on the tomb”). And the phile root shows up all over the place, from Philadelphia (The City of Brotherly Love) to the philharmonic (“love of harmony”) orchestra to, ahem, logophile (“word-lover”).

 

3. Ramona likes words that have no ascenders or descenders.

An ascender is a stroke (line) in a letter that rises above the midline, also called the x-height — the imaginary line that marks the top of most lowercase letters. The letters with ascenders are b, d, f, h, k, l, and t.

A descender is a stroke in a letter that dips below the baseline — the imaginary line a letter “sits on.” The letters with descenders are g, j, p, q, and y.

Ramona likes cameras, manners, and being amorous, all words that have neither ascenders nor descenders.

Many words in the English language use only letters with no ascenders or descenders because half the letters, including all the main vowels, fit the bill: a, c, e, i, m, n, o, r, s, u, v, w, x, and z. From this collection you can spell the words cream, curvaceous, erroneous, nervous, worsen, both men and women, and many others.

Bonus: The dot above the lowercase i and j is called a tittle.

 

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