What's in a Word | All Blogs


A word worth puzzling out

By Debra Dobbins

“Conundrum” is a word worth knowing.

In its broad sense, it means a problem to be solved or a mystery. As noted in last Saturday’s story on 3B, the Buffs’ coach has the problem of deciding which of two talented quarterbacks will start games this season.

Webster’s first definition, though, is much more precise. It’s “a riddle whose answer contains a pun.”

Webster’s gives this example: “What’s the difference between a jeweler and a jailer?” Answer: “One sells watches and the other watches cells.”

Dictionary.com provides another example, one near and dear to my heart:

“What is black and white and read all over?” Yes, you guessed it: “a newspaper.”

If you find words in a newspaper that are conundrums to you, it’s almost always worth your time to look them up or try to figure out their meanings from their context--the words around them. (See Aug. 4th entry.)

When learning new words becomes habitual, reading becomes less of a conundrum and more of a pleasure.


 

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