Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Word Addicts

Word Mechanics
Part Five

We're back onto word puzzles for today's exercise, and exercise is what it's all about. Well, it's about the meanings and properties of words - which will prove good practice for when we delve into the dangerous and mysterious world of cryptic crosswords.

When working on word puzzles, rather than letter puzzles it's really important to have a good vocabulary and understanding of the ways words change their meanings, spellings, pronunciations and so on as the situation changes.

Not only that, but having a good idea of the shared properties of words will help no end with solving not only single word problems, but grouping puzzles, riddles and of course the dreaded crosswords.

Wordplay and
Logic Puzzles
That's My Word

Here are three sets of words and phrases, one word from the first group belongs in the second group and one word from the second group belongs in the third group - but which ones, and why?

Group One: Bicycle, Floppy Disk, Sellotape, Cassette Tape, Rollerblades

Group Two: Frisbee, Microchip, Post-It, Walkman, Escalator

Group Three: Yo-Yo, Tabloid, Zipper, Celluloid,

I'm not going to do the work for you, but group two holds the key to this puzzle as of course four of the five words share a common property, and one that it quite well known. It might also be good to think about group three in terms of the invention of the items present. Indeed 'Great Inventions' was going to be the name of this puzzle, but you know, puzzle setters love their title-hints.

Do you remember when we talked about the word head, and all it's many meanings - it was all the way back when we were discussing misdirection in riddles. I tried to clue you in on the idea that many words have alternative meanings, sometimes quite different.

Here's a puzzle all about the meanings of words, the challenge here is not working out what this group of words has in common, but how and why they share the property.

A pair of synonyms are words that mean the same as each other; place and pimple for example are synonyms of spot although not obviously of each other. On the other hand a pair of antonyms have the opposite meaning; left and wrong are both antonyms of right, although again, not of each other.

A contronym is a word that is it's own antonym, a word that in the right situations, has opposite meanings. An example is the word 'variety' it can mean a single variety of something, for instance a variety of apple. It can also mean a selection of different items, as in, a variety of apples.

A Contronym Conundrum

Here are a list of contronyms, your challenge is to make two sentences or phrases for each, where the contronym in question has its two opposite meanings.

  • Bolt
  • Left
  • Help
  • Mean
  • Seed

Contronyms are a great way to exercise your word power as you are essentially given the solution and asked to create the question.

Finally for today a bit of fun with words taken from one of my favourite resources, fun with words. The proverb is a wonderful thing, and can be found in most languages. Although they don't actually translate very well the same idea is often conveyed through different proverbs in different languages. English however has a very odd attitude to proverbs, as many of our most common proverbs have antonyms which are also proverbs.

Knowledge is Power but Ignorance is Bliss

In this exercise (it's not a puzzle because I'm giving you the method) you have to find a proverb which is the opposite of the one given.

The title of this puzzle is of course an example. Remember, you aren't looking for the litteral opposite of each word, but an existing proverb which conveys the opposite message.

  • Opposites attract.
  • He who hesitates is lost.
  • Beware of Greeks bearing gifts.
  • Money talks.
  • One mans meat is another mans poison.
  • Many hands make light work.
  • The pen is mightier than the sword

There'll be more on words in the coming weeks as we get ready to face, I know, I keep saying it, the dreaded Cryptic Crossword.

Until then, keep puzzling.

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