Thursday, January 3, 2013

What Word Is That?

About a week ago I was rummaging through a friend's house to find a vacuum cleaner and stumbled upon the game closet. Unable to stop myself, I rummaged further to see what treasures I could find and down on a bottom shelf, buried back behind some dust was a jigsaw puzzle name "What Word Is That?"

Now, I'm not a jigsaw person in any sort of way. Haven't done one or even been tempted as such since I was a child. But this one caught my eye. It's a jigsaw puzzle of words and their definitions. Now, lest this sound like an easy venture to you linguists out there, beware, said definitions aren't always the ones you'll find in a Merriam Webster Dictionary. Some of them are, but many are etymology based hints or country of origin clues or even just random examples as to how the word could potentially be used.

Needless to say, with very teeny tiny pictures to make the puzzle possible it took a lot of arranging ,rearranging, head banging, re-rearranging, cries of frustration, futile and successful attempts and googlery, yet more re-re-rearranging until finally, it all fit together. It went so far as the last six pieces not matching into place. Oh that was not a happy moment; thinking of the coming time to be spent poring over the slightest hints of colors on the piece edeges since all the definitions matched; to see where the last 3 sets were supposed to fit since the last 3 locations available were not correctly pairing.

Here are some pictures of the process!

This is just starting out. The outline isn't even complete, which was going to take a long time anyway. Turns out that connecting the edges is not the first thing you can do with this puzzle. Yes, I did line up all the words on one side and the definitions on the other, eventually into little grids. No, I did not go so far as to alphabetize the words.

The borders are completed here, but in errancy. I was unaware of this  even though I'd already fixed the borders a couple of times up to this point. I was starting to gain hope by now that the puzzle would be possible, howbeit I would lose this hope later.

Later, being such as now. I was getting giddy with happiness considering the hours of toil I'd spent over this puzzle. Alas, it was not to be. Those six missing pieces all fit together but they did not fit there in the puzzle. Luckily it only took me about 5 minutes to spot the alternate six pieces with which to exchange them.

My good friend was kind enough to scour each line of the answer key to make sure each and every line of the puzzle was accurate. I was on pins and needles because if something was wrong (which the past had said was likely), then I was going to want to quit. Not an option I would take of course, but I would be quite sore over the fact that something was wrong but I didn't know what. I was elated when this was not the case!!!

So now that I've completed this gigantic intrusion upon my daily waking hours, I'll hope to learn a few new words or things about those words. And I'd like to share just a few (or more) with you.

Now of course, I'm not just going to tell you the word and definition. That wouldn't be any fun!

Instead, I'll give you some definitions and please, without googling them (which I know I did so this just means you're more awesome than me), can you tell me what any of the words are or at least take a stab?

1. Is the most frequently used letter in English:

2. Has more synonyms than any other condition or object described in the English language:

3. Has more meanings than any other word in English, with 126 verbal uses and 58 noun uses.

4. Someone skilled at across the table chit chat (yes, there is a term for this although I didn't know it).

5. The longest common word made up of letters from the top line of the typewriter. (This should be fun for all you typists out there).

6. The joy one feels at someone else's misfortune (from the German).

7. Is the most frequently used word in spoken English.

8. A device for allowing an object such as a compass to remain level no matter how a ship moves. (only an appropriate definition to include right?)

9. Meaning 'very elegant', may be an acronym of 'port out, starboard home' as these were the cabins sheltered from the harsh sun on British ships to India.

10. To osculate.

And a bonus that you'll have to look up just to spell it:

11. It means 'the action of estimating as worthless' and is the longest real word in English. (hint, there are 29 letters)