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.

Throughout the 1920s, in an era of mah-jongg, goldfish swallowing and bicycle racing, solving crosswords became the biggest puzzle craze ever. In 1924, The New York Times vociferously complained about the fad, branding it a “sinful waste in the utterly futile finding of words the letters of which will fit into a prearranged pattern, more or less complex. This is not a game at all, and it hardly can be called a sport. Solvers get nothing out of it except a primitive form of mental exercise, and success or failure in any given attempt is equally irrelevant to mental development.”

Despite such skepticism and alarm, in 1942, 75 years ago, The Times printed its first crossword puzzle, and the venerable newspaper’s daily installments, which run in the Union-Tribune, have become the most challenging and respected in the US of A. Incredibly, over the span of three quarters of a century, The Times puzzle has had only four editors Margaret Farrar (1942-1969), Will Weng (1969-1977), Eugene T. Maleska (1977-1993) and Will Shortz (1993-the present).

Gentle reader: When your time comes to depart this earthly life, may you go across and up.


Neologisms (“new words”) are vivid reflections of our changing language and social trends. As language inexorably advances into the future, don’t be left behind. Master neologisms such as alt-right, bitchface, dad bod, embiggen, farm-to-table, gene editing, hangry, lightsaber, Quiddich, sext, superfood, teachable moment and Twitter storm. Even as I write this column, these neologisms are coming to an online dictionary near you.


A few weeks ago, I devoted a column to confusable words those that look as though they mean one thing but turn out to mean another. Fulsome was one of them, because it appears to mean “full, abundant,” but actually means “offensive to the senses.”

Sure enough, Secretary of State Rex Tillseron said of a telephone call between presidents Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin, “It was a very constructive call that the two presidents had. It was a very, very fulsome call, a lot of detailed changes.”


Two weeks ago, I challenged readers of the San Diego Union-Tribune to wing me their original “irregular conjugations.” Based on the philosopher Bertrand Russell’s model “I am firm. You are obstinate, He is a pig-headed fool,” these jocular triads maintain their denotations while growing increasingly mean spirited as they move from I to you to he or she. I’m pleased to share the most sprightly among them, starting with the three winners:

from Jean Graham, Serra Mesa:

I am contemplative.
You are slow-witted.
He is out of his depth in a parking lot puddle.

I am big-boned.
You are fat.
She tries to run, and her thighs catch fire.

from Art Hamilton, San Diego:

I have aged quite well.
You look your age.
He appears to have succumbed to an ancient Egyptian curse for opening a mummy’s tomb

I run like the wind.
You get winded while you jog.
He breaks wind whenever he walks.

 from Cheryl Old, Normal Heights:

I am easy-going.
You are unambitious.
He is a lazy bum.

I am unique and special.
You are eccentric.
He is a real weirdo.

 and honorable mention to all:

I am a conversationalist. You are a gossip. He is a babbling newsmonger. –Phyllis Ingram, La Jolla

I am discriminating. You are choosey. He is persnickety. –Eric Witt, Bay Ho

I am devout. You are a fanatic. He is a homophobic, racist terrorist. –William L. White, West Mission Valley

I like keepsakes for sentimental reasons. You keep a cluttered home. She is a horrible hoarder. – Alan Iglesias, Escondido

I don’t suffer fools gladly. With you it’s your way or the highway. She is impossible to deal with. –Lyn Lake, Carlsbad

I am a homebody. You are home-bound. She is homely. –Ann Holt, La Jolla

I am friendly. You are flirtatious. He is given to harassment. – William J. Pease, Rancho Bernardo