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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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Have them in circles
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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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Have them in circles
78 people
Seyyid Shadee's profile photo
Nirmala Sekhar's profile photo
Detectives EyA's profile photo
Jane Shevtsov's profile photo
Elif Akyol's profile photo
Wataru Tenga's profile photo
Leigh Dragoon's profile photo
Rebekka Wellmanns's profile photo
Flor González'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.