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The Word Detective
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The Word Detective

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It's where he grows his apprehension. Dear Word Detective: Today a British colleague of mine mentioned that he was on “garden leave.” Huh? Wikipedia to the rescue, for the meaning. But where the h...
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The Word Detective

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Hunka hunka whatsis. Dear Word Detective: The other day I was describing a new hire whom my wife knew from her nursing days. She immediately labeled her a “dingbat.” This word obviously came from the ...
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The foam-flecked grill is a nice touch. Dear Word Detective: Driving along the freeway the other day I found myself behind a Nissan — not a Nissan Murano, nor a Nissan Versa (both of which I think of ...
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The Word Detective

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There's a diplosaurus in your disk drive. Dear Word Detective: Talking with my family some time ago, we somehow got to the subject of those 'X-off' combinations which seem to have become f...
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Stuff it with stuff. Dear Word Detective: What is the origin of the word “stop”? — AJ. Well, there's a small but interesting question. Deceptively simple, too. After all, we all use “stop” at leas...
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Book that book, Danno. Dear Word Detective: I have been reading about the meaning of the word “policeman” in a book, which says that it originated in “polis” meaning “city,” and therefore “policeman” ...
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Welcome to iHell. Here's your iHarp. Dear Word Detective: In my mother's family there is a phrase that I haven't encountered elsewhere and I'm wondering about the origin. The phrase it...
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Not a clue. Dear Word Detective: I've heard the saying “can tell a hawk from a handsaw,” or sometimes “can't tell…,” but I have no idea what the saying means. Can you help? — Allan Pratt. Abso...
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People
Have them in circles
78 people
Sam Wakoba's profile photo
Greg Naumann's profile photo
Noah Sturr's profile photo
K Sinnott's profile photo
Nirmala Sekhar's profile photo
Leigh Dragoon's profile photo
Detectives EyA's profile photo
John Kidner's profile photo
Thám Tử's profile photo
Story
Tagline
Words and Language in a Humorous Vein
Introduction
The Word Detective on the Web is the online version of The Word Detective, a newspaper column answering readers’ questions about words and language. The Word Detective is written by Evan Morris and appears in finer newspapers in the U.S., Mexico and Japan.