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Wednesday, 28 August 2019

Nuts and Bolts: logogriph.

A logogriph sounds like something from Alice in Wonderland - perhaps a rather harassed animal which spends its whole time stressing over the meaning of words (and let's hope he never meets Humpty Dumpty) - but it's not.

A logogriph is a word puzzle, which I'm afraid will probably involve anagrams. In its grandest form the author will cut the one-word answer to the puzzle down into its various constituent parts and give clues to each part, and then, at the end, a clue to the whole thing.

Yes, they do tend to be quite long-winded, and in this age of the one-liner they have fallen, thank heavens, out of favour. Formerly, though, people actually found them entertaining and even respectable people made them up.

Here's one by Lord Macauley:

Cut off my head, how singular I act!

Cut off my tail, and plural I appear.

Cut off my head and tail - most curious fact,

Although my middle's left, there's nothing there!

What is my head cut off?--a sounding sea!

What is my tail cut off?--a flowing river!

Amid their mingling depths I fearless play

Parent of softest sounds, though mute for ever!
...and for those of you who have now lost the will to live, which will surely be most of us, the answer is below.

A logogriph can also be a puzzle consisting of two words which give clues to two other words which are anagrams of each other. For instance QUIET HEARING gives you SILENT LISTEN.

On the whole, I wish the logogriph had been a fabulous beast from Alice in Wonderland. Well, it would have been more fun, wouldn't it?

Word To Use Today: logogriph. This word is made of the Greek logos, word, and griphos, puzzle or fishing basket (presumably one like a lobster pot, from which the prey can't escape).

The answer to Lord Macauley's logogriph is the kind of fish called  a cod. Head cut off: od (which sounds like odd, geddit?); tail cut off co, as in company; middle consists of o, or zero; head alone c, or something which sounds like sea; tail alone d, which sounds like Dee, a British river.

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