Read “Lederer on Language” every Saturday in the San Diego Union Tribune and on this site.
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.

Some of our most alluring, astonish­ing and astounding words begin with the last letter of our alphabet:

Zarf. Few people know that the holder for a paper cone coffee cup is called a zarf. Here are my favorite thingamabobs that have names you probably never knew existed:

• aglet. the little plastic tip of a shoelace;

• chimb. the rim of a barrel;

• dingbat. a cute little typesetter’s mark or ornament, such as the bullet point to the left of each item in this section;

• escutcheon. the decorative metal plate around a keyhole, drawer pull, or doorknob;

• ferrule. the metal band that holds an eraser to a pencil or the metal tip of an umbrella;

• harp. the small metal hoop that supports a lampshade;

• muntins. the frames for holding windowpanes;

• neb. the curved end of the handle of a knife;

• pintel. the vertical post that runs through a door hinge;

• punt. the indentation at the bottom of some wine bottles that provides added strength to the vessel but reduces the holding capacity.

Zeugma, from a Greek word meaning “yoke,” is one of my favorite figures of rhetoric, in part because I love the sound of it. Zeugma features the omission of a verb or surprising use of the same verb, creating a striking yoking of two nouns. As poet Alexander Pope wrote zeugmatically, “Or stain her Honor, or her new Brocade/Or lose her Heart, or necklace at a Ball.”

For a more modern example, in “You can call me Ray, and you can call me Jay, but please don’t call me late for dinner,” the verb call takes on a new meaning the third time it appears. For another example, when I am speaking on behalf a large-hearted organization, I sometimes declare, “ABC Charity validates your parking and your humanity.” If you still don’t understand what I’m saying, don’t get mad. Get even.

Zika is a tropical forest near Entebbe in Uganda. Zika means “overgrown” in the Luganda language. In 1947, scientists studying in the Zika Forest near Lake Victoria isolated a new virus in a sick rhesus monkey. The researchers extracted and examined the virus, and they named it after the location where it was first discovered.

zodiac. Derived from the Greek zoidiakos kyklos , “circle of little animals,” zodiac is the ancient Greek name for the heavenly belt of 12 signs believed to influence human behavior. The zo ­in zodiac is related to the zo ­in zoology — “ life.”

zoology. Being both a birdwatcher and a word botcher, I took three of my granddaughters to the Safari Park, where we attended “Frequent Flyers,” the famous bird show. Our family enjoyed various avians strutting their stuff on the ground, hawks swooping down from the sky and a gray parrot squawking and squeaking all sorts of sound effects.

In their ongoing narrative, two of the Park’s trainers kept pronouncing the name of the San Diego Zoological Society as ZOO-uh-LAHJ-i-kul society. After the performance, I mentioned to the young women in private that there are two, not three, o ’s in zoological so the proper sounding is ZOH-uh-LAHJ-iku l.

They told me they knew that but had been instructed by their bosses to say ZOO-uh-LAHJ-i-kul because people wouldn’t understand the proper pronunciation. Glug. Talk about the dumbing down of America.

ZOONOOZ. Since January 1925, the magazine published by our zoological society has been titled ZOONOOZ. That first issue was all of eight pages, and its first cover animal was the famous Caesar the bear. ZOONOOZ is a bedazzling, beguiling and bewitching name because it’s a palindrome, a word that reads both forwards and backwards.

Too, ZOONOOZ looks the same right side up and upside down. Topsyturvy words like ZOONOOZ that retain their appearance when turned on their heads are called ambigrams. Swivel this page 180 degrees and read the words below: dip dollop mow NOON pod SIS suns SWIMS

zyzzyva. You know that just about all dictionaries of the English language begin with an entry for the letter A , defined as an article, as in “a word,” as well as the first letter of the alphabet. But what is the last entry in most comprehensive dictionaries?

The answer is zyzzyva, a genus of tropical South American snouted weevil discovered in Brazil. No longer than an ant, this insect could be labeled “the lesser of two weevils.” With the first five of its seven letters being z or y, zyzzyva is the last word in most hefty dictionaries.