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.


About two weeks ago, at the age of 101, Katherine Johnson slipped the surly bonds of earth. She was a brilliant African American mathematician who calculated rocket trajectories and earth orbits for NASA’s early space missions. Ms. Johnson was later portrayed in the 2016 film “Hidden Figures,” about pioneering black female aerospace workers, who were scarcely noted until the film with the spot-on double-entendre title.

Johnson was one of the “computers” who solved equations by hand during NASA’s early years. Yes, you read that right. The women themselves were identified as “computers,” but it wasn’t the first time that humans and machines were linguistically merged, as in this passage from The Octopus, a 1901 American novel by Frank Norris:

Lyman Derrick sat dictating letters to his typewriter . . . “That’s all for the   present,” he said at length.
Without reply, the typewriter rose and withdrew, thrusting her pencil into the coil of her hair, closing the door behind her, softly, discreetly.

DEAR RICHARD LEDERER: Is it true that Harry S Truman’s middle initial does not have a period with it? It is not an abbreviation?-Florence De Lucia, Campo

Is it Harry S. Truman — or is it Harry S Truman, without the period? Truman initiated this punctuation controversy in 1962, when told reporters that the S wasn’t an initial for a particular name. Rather, the S was a compromise between the names of his grandfathers, Anderson Shipp Truman, and Solomon Young, making the letter a kind of embracive middle name.

But Truman himself usually placed a period after the S, and the most authoritative style manuals recommend its use in the interest of consistency, even if the initial does not appear to stand for any particular name.

Speaking of presidents, you are reading a column written by a man whose daughter was fired on national television 11 years ago by an American president. Yep, back in 2009 my daughter, Annie Duke, then the winningest woman in the history of poker, was a contestant on NBC’s reality show “Celebrity Apprentice.” On the last day of the season, when the apprentices had been winnowed from 16 to two, then emcee Donald Trump fired my daughter in favor of the late comedienne Joan Rivers.

DEAR RICHARD LEDERER: I am currently teaching children here at a small country school. I gave the kids the challenge of finding a word that rhymes with orange and they found sporange!? We have also uncovered blorange and Gorringe. My question simply is these real words? I was always under the impression, growing up, that orange does not have it equal in the rhyming kingdom. –Andy Froiland, Grace, CA

A number of words, such as breadth, depth, fifth, gulf and month, are famous for being unrhymable. A spectrum of color words — most colorfully orange, purple and silver — are often cited as having no words that rhyme with them. But they do.

Gorringe is indeed a real word. One Henry Honeychurch Gorringe was a naval commander who in the mid-19th century oversaw the transport of the obelisk Cleopatra’s Needle to New York’s Central Park. Pouncing on this event, the poet Arthur Guiterman wrote:

In Sparkhill buried lies a man of mark
Who brought the Obelisk to Central Park,
Redoubtable Commander H. H. Gorringe,
Whose name supplies the long-sought rhyme for orange.

Or you can bend the rules of line breaks and sound as light versifier Willard Espy did:

Four eng-
Wear orange

Sporange is also a real word that means “a botanical structure in which spores are formed,” and blorange is trendy blend of blonde and orange hair coloring. So orange is rhymable, as are purple – curple: “headquarters, especially of a horse,” and silver – chilver: “a ewe lamb.”