Read “Lederer on Language” every Saturday in the San Diego Union Tribune and on this site. Dr. Lederer and Caroline McCullagh’s American Trivia quizzes currently appear on the front page every day.
Welcome to the website woven for wordaholics, logolepts, and verbivores. Carnivores eat meat; herbivores eat plants and vegetables; verbivores devour words. If you are heels over head (as well as head over heels) in love with words, tarry here a while to graze or, perhaps, feast on the English language. Ours is the only language in which you drive in a parkway and park in a driveway and your nose can run and your feet can smell.

 

Fifty years ago today, Gen. Douglas MacArthur exited the earthly stage. When he retired from the military in 1951, he declaimed the famous line “Old soldiers never die — they just fade away.” But five-star generals are not the only ones who never say die:

• Old librarians never die — they just check out, become overdue and lose their circulation.

• Old crossword puzzlers never die — they just go across and up.

• Old milkmaids never die — they just kick the bucket and lose their whey.

• Old plumbers never die — they just get out of sink and go down the drain.

• Old teachers never die — they just grade away and lose their principals, their faculties, and their class.

• Old mimes never die — they’re just never heard from again.

• Old housemaids never die — they just return to dust.

• Old classicists never die — they just keep declining.

• Old can collectors never die — they just go to the redemption center.

• Old candle makers never die — they just get snuffed out.

• Old cartoonists never die — they just draw their last breath and go into a state of suspended animation.

• Old gangsters never die — they just go to the underworld.

• Old Egypt tourists never die — they just go senile and meet their mummies.

• Old calliope players never die — they just run out of steam.

• Old songwriters never die — they just decompose.

• Old bowlers never die — they just end up in the gutter.

• Old air conditioner repairmen never die — they just lose their cool.

• Old gardeners never die –— they just go to seed and pot.

• Old golfers never die — they just lose their drive.

• Old gamblers never die — they just cash in their chips and get discarded.

• Old statisticians never die — they get broken down by age, sex, and marital status.

• Finally, old columnists never die — we just lose our circulation.

Had enough? No? Good. Fill in each blank in this die-hard quiz. Suggested answers follow.

  1. Old quarterbacks never die — they just fade back and _ away.
  2. Old skiers never die — they just go _.
  3. Old Australians never die — they just end up _.
  4. Old tree surgeons never die — they just pine away and take a final _.
  5. Old sausage makers never die — they just take a turn for the _.
  6. Old bricklayers never die — they just throw in the _.
  7. Old logicians never die — they just vacate the _.
  8. Old welders never die — they just pass the _.
  9. Old florists never die — they just rest on their _.
  10. Old clockmakers never die — they just get _.

Please send your original “never say die” puns to the e-dress below.

Answers 1. pass 2. downhill 3. Down Under 4. bough 5. wurst 6. trowel 7. premises 8. torch 9. laurels 10. run down (and ticked off)

Please send your questions and comments about language to richard.lederer@utsandiego.com