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.


The dictionary defines a gaffe as a blunder; faux pas.” Faux pas derives from the French “false step,” and gaffe may descend from the French gaff, “a barbed spear used in landing a large fish.” Local blooper snoopers with the gift of gaffe have speared numerous humorous specimens, hauled them aboard and shipped them, transfixed and wriggling, to me:

Dear Richard Lederer: I’m a long-time fan of yours and thought I’d forward an amusing thing I saw scrolling across the bottom of my TV screen during a local news broadcast. I don’t recall the news story but the headline said something about the “recently passed gas tax.” Hmmm. I haven’t heard anything about taxing passed gas yet! -Stefanie Vartanian, Borrego Springs

Reminds me of a sign that adorns a number of gas stations I’ve visited: EAT HERE AND GET GAS.

Dear Richard Lederer: What do you think of this Boston Globe headline?: AMPHIBIOUS PITCHER MAKES DEBUT / VENDITTE BECOMES FIRST PITCHER TO THROW WITH BOTH ARMS IN MLB GAME. Too bad this pitcher can’t make an appearance in Petco Park. He would receive a rousing welcome in this seafaring city. I work with a group of World War II Navy veterans who sailed the Landing Craft Infantry ships — the amphibious forces. I know they will get a kick out of this. -Joe Flynn, Collwood Park

When people misuse words in a pretentious but humorous manner, such as amphibious for ambidextrous, we call the result a malapropism. The word echoes the name of Mrs. Malaprop (from the French mal a propos, “not appropriate”), a character who first strode the stage in 1775 in Richard Brinsley Sheridan’s comedy “The Rivals.” Mrs. Malaprop was a garrulous “old weather-beaten she dragon” who took special pride in her use of the King’s English but who, all the same, unfailingly mangled big words: “Sure, if I reprehend anything in this world it is the use of my oracular tongue, and a nice derangement of epitaphs!” She meant, of course, that if she comprehended anything, it was a nice arrangement of epithets.

Dear Richard Lederer: Millions of citizens are receiving a letter regarding a new numbering system for Medicare cards.  In that letter is this direction:  “Your card may arrive at a different time than your friends or neighbors.” Shucks, I didn’t even know I invited my friends or neighbors! -Gilbert Omens, Encinitas

In a recent column, I presented a line-up of punderful knights, each starting with Sir, as in Sir Cumference, the roundest knight at the Round Table, and Sir Loin, the rarest of the knights. Here are more knights, created by you readers:

Sir Up: a sweet old Knight; Sir Face; always on top of things; Sir Een, the most relaxed Knight at the Round Table; Sir Ten, the Knight who knows his stuff; Sir Ta, the lazy Knight who always lies down on the job; and Sir Pent, the snake-in-the-grass knight..

We “sir”-tainly had fun with these royal puns. Methinks that one could stay up all knight in this wonderful word arena. -John and Linda Gross, Carlsbad

Sir Rious, the solemn Knight; Sir Cumstantial, the incidental Knight; Sir Cumspect, the prudent Knight; Sir Vey, the sharp-eyed knight -Carl Kruse, Poway

Sir Rogate, a stand-in at jousting contests; Sir Pass, the knight who was supposed to joust, but got Sir Rogate to stand-in for him.-Sandra Morris, Rancho Bernardo

David Smollar, Tierrasanta, passes on more new Knights, made up by his 5th-grade tutees: Sir Ching, the missing Knight; and Sir Ten, the know-it-all Knight; Sir Vive, the oldest Knight; Sir Cumstance, the conditional Knight; Sir Mise, the thoughtful Knight; Sir Gin, the alcoholic Knight; and Sir Cumspect, the poker-faced Knight.


William Shakespeare is alive and well and living robustly in San Diego. On Saturday, April 28, I’ll be emceeing one of the four open-air stages at the San Diego Student Shakespeare Festival at the Casa Del Prado in Balboa Park. Sponsored by the San Diego Shakespeare Society (sandiegoshakespearesociety.org), 500 students will perform scenes, sonnets, music and dance from William Shakespeare’s astonishing works. These youngsters don’t just read Shakespeare; they become his characters. Festivities begin at 12 noon. The only admission fee is your love of (or curiosity about) the playwright and poet of whom Ben Jonson wrote, “He was not of an age but for all time.”