WordPower 3


1 What do drainpipes, flares, knickerbockers and plus-fours have in common? They are all forms of trousers. You could do quite an intriguing project on the history of leg-wear, starting with these terms.

2 What do these have in common and which is the odd one out? They are all dogs. Three of them originated in China. The lhasa apso, however, originated in Tibet, so it is the odd one out. You probably saw the clue, Lhasa, in the name itself.

3 Which is the odd one out, and why? Three of them mean shortages of one kind or another, but a plethora is an abundant supply.

4 An oesophagus or esophagus is a passage leading down to your stomach. So what is a sarcophagus?

5 The same word, placed after each of these words, explains what they are. What are they? Abyssinian, Cheshire, Manx, tortoiseshell cats. The second one, however, is somewhat different in its nature from the others. Why?

6 Spot the mistake in each of these statements:

Entomology is the study of the origin and use of words. Not it isn’t. Entomology is about insects. The study of word origins is etymology.

Geneology is the study family histories. A common spelling and pronunciation error. Should be genealogy.

Meteorology is the study of heavenly bodies in orbit. Not it isn’t. It’s the study of weather. But the word meteor links the two.

7 The second word in the name of this website and the first name of the person who compiled it are an example of an anagram: brain & brian.

8 The following words are called portmanteau words because they are combinations of two other words. Which two words were combined to make:

Avionics: aviation + electronics

Denim: de Nimes, the name of the town where this fabric was first made.

Heliport: helicopter + airport.

Moped: motor + pedal.

Permafrost: permanent + frost.

Sitcom: situation + comedy (but most of them are not funny).

Smog: smoke + fog.

9 What is the original meaning of ‘portmanteau’ and why would we include these in a list of related words: portmanteau, attaché case, briefcase, Gladstone bag, suitcase, are all cases or bags.

10 You might one day encounter a polymath. What do you expect to see? A person of great and diversified learning. From Greek in the 17th century, polumathes, having much knowledge. You might see one if you look in the mirror.

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