More a Quordle guy than a Wordle guy


quordleLike many people, I started playing Wordle a few months ago, and I still do. Still, I’m more a Quordle guy.

In Wordle, you must guess a 5-letter word in six tries or less. Every word you enter must be in the word list. A correct guess turns that letter green. A letter in the word but in the wrong place turns yellow. An incorrect letter turns gray. Letters can be used more than once. Answers are never plurals.

The game was purchased by the New York Times a few months ago. But what I’ve discovered is that there are LOTS of imitations.  Wordle Game and  Wordle-Play and Wordleplay and Wordle.NYC and Wordle Unlimited, just to name a few. Some games have more than five letters.

There seems to be a cottage industry swirling around Wordle, with hundreds of videos and websites suggesting the best first word. ADIEU is popular because it hits four vowels.

I don’t worry about getting the word early; just trying not to miss it. Of my first 100 words, I’ve got 99. None did I get one or two turns, 15 in three turns, 19 in four turns, 24 in five turns, and 41 in six turns. I have a 57-game streak.

I think I’m an impatient player. Unlike my wife, who can start and stop over a period of hours, I like to get it completed quickly.

What I DO enjoy about Wordle is the dialogue I have with my friend David. He’ll write: “Today’s reminder to check the scale.” I’ll reply RIGHT, which was a subtle clue. All the letters in RIGHT were in the day’s word GIRTH. Or when I find the word and tell him he’s full of it; the word is PIETY and he’s studying to join the ministry.

The more (words), the merrier

There is also Dordle and its variants, such as Dordlegame, where you must find two words in seven guesses.

My favorite is Quordle, with a variant Quordle Game. This requires getting four words in nine tries. Unlike Wordle, the primary goal of most of these games is not primarily to finish in the fewest turns but to complete it at all.

To that end, I pick the same four words, which knock off 20 letters, leaving JKQVXZ. So I like to know what’s NOT there.

I use the same words for Octordle or a variant, eight words in 13 attempts. I’ve never tried sedordle (16 words in 21 attempts), and tried duotrigordle (32 words in 37 tries) but once because I can’t see all of the words at once.

My favorite recent play left me with the letters IEP showing in slots 3 to 5, but none of them were correct. I used the word PIECE, which I knew to be wrong because the C had been eliminated. Still, this gave me a PI correct in the first two slots and E correct in the fifth. I got the word, PIXIE.

The Phrontistery word website, found


The PhrontisteryAs loath as I am to acknowledge it, sometimes I find a really cool resource, such as a useful website. I’ll access it for a period of time then forget about it. Then someone else will find it, I’ll check it out, and say, “Hey, I’ve been here before!”

This is the case for The Phrontistery. It contains “English obscure words and etymology resources; an online dictionary of weird and unusual words; word lists; technical vocabulary aids; lipograms; and word-related essays. Someone on the A Way With Words Facebook page posted about it. They proclaimed, “Stumbled across this… and immediately thought: ‘Uh-oh, there goes all of my free time for the next few months.'”

Steve Chrisomalis notes, “Since 1996, I have compiled word lists and language resources to spread the joy of the English language in all its variety through time and space. A phrontistery (from the Greek phrontistes – ‘thinker’) is meant to be a thinking-place for reflection and intellectual stimulation.”

Check out:
International House of Logorrhea -A 17,000-word dictionary of rare, cool, and unusual words
Compendium of Lost Words – 400 of the rarest words on the internet
Short Scrabble Words – From AA to ZUZ
A Loquacious Location of Lipograms – You’ll want to click on this link – do it and find out why!
Glossographia – A blog about linguistics, anthropology, and writing systems
Numerals and Numeration – Quirky facts and features about number systems
Glossaries – Over 30 topic-specific word lists
Contact – Email, Twitter, carrier pigeon

And in fact…

I never wrote about The Phrontistery per se, as far as I can tell, unless I misspelled the word. However, twice I linked to it, both for posts for ABC Wednesday, and each time involving the same difficult letter of the alphabet. In 2010, I found three-letter words that use the letter X. Then in 2014, I shared a list of unusual words beginning with X.

I’ve found several references to it, from ESL clubs to empowerment sites. And finding the right word certainly can be empowering.

Nog, nogg, noggin, nogging

the brain

Dan writes: For the next “Ask Roger:”

Is the word “noggin” derived from the word “nogg?” The implication that one has a wooden head… jammed in the wall with a nail through it?

This is actually an excellent question to receive. I learned that NOGG is the National Osteoporosis Guideline Group. Of course, it is “a multidisciplinary group including patient representation and professionals involved in the care of people with osteoporosis. It was established in 2007 to provide a clinical guideline for the management of men and women at high fracture risk, using the output from the FRAX calculator.”

I assume that a broken head is possible. Wait, wait, that’s the wrong usage. Nogg is a carpentry term for “a shave for shaping dowels and handles”.

Thus nogging:
(noun) One of a number of wooden pieces fitted between the principal timbers of a half-timbered wall.
(v.t.) To fill (a framed wall or partition) with small masonry, as bricks or stones.

Boozing it up

However, I’ve occasionally seen nogg, which my spellcheck does NOT like, as an alternative spelling of nog, as in egg-nogg.  Nog is:
“any beverage made with beaten eggs, usually with alcoholic liquor; eggnog” or
“a strong ale formerly brewed in Norfolk, England.”
First Known Use of nog: 1693, in the meaning defined at sense 1. History and Etymology for nog: origin unknown

Nog was also a character on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.

Now, the definitions of noggin are:
1: a person’s head
2: a small mug or cup
3: a small quantity (such as a gill) of drink
The first known use of noggin was in 1588, or 1620–30, depending on the source; origin uncertain.

Noggin is a Nick Jr. cable channel “where kids learn with characters they love.” In the UK, there is a brain supplement called Noggin. This seems to gravitate towards the idea of “using your noggin” i.e. your brain, not just the head itself.

The colloquial sense of “head” (originally as boxing slang) is included in the same OED  entry as “noggin” so, as Neil from a Facebook group dedicated to words surmised, maybe there was some slang notion of the head being like a bucket.

More interesting, and frankly more confusing to me, are articles about noggin as whatever this is from 2011. “The Bone Morphogenetic Protein Antagonist Noggin Protects White Matter After Perinatal Hypoxia-ischemia.” Yeah. “Perinatal HI was induced in transgenic mice in which the BMP antagonist noggin is overexpressed during oligodendrogenesis (pNSE-Noggin).” Does someone want to translate that into English?

Anyway, I’m finding a link between nog and noggin, in terms of alcohol or beverage, or the container. Nogg’s wood-related origin seems to have developed separately, as far as I am able to ascertain. Unless, of course, the bucket was made of wood, which it probably was.

Neil found for me a reference to nog or nogg as “a peg, pin, or cylindrical piece of wood, serving any of various purposes” is now “chiefly Australian and New Zealand.” As are so many of the definitions, it is also of uncertain origin.

 In other words, I just can’t be certain of the linkage, because so many of the derivations are unknown.

Cornhole, tea lights – words I didn’t know

You Can Count On Me

cornhole boardMy family was in a local bar/restaurant waiting for takeout. There were at least three televisions tuned to differing sports events. One was showing a competition from the American Cornhole League. No, I did not know that was a thing.

The competitors play by the rules of the American Cornhole Association, which sells “official cornhole bags.” There’s also the American Cornhole Association – ACO.

How do you score? “Bag In-The-Count (Woody): Any bag which comes to rest anywhere on top of the board. Each is worth one (1) point. Bag In-The-Hole (Cornhole): Any bag which is thrown through the hole or knocked through the hole by another bag. Each is worth three (3) points.”

I got home and asked my wife, “What was the name of that game in which they were tossing bean bags into a hole?” I had to look it up. When I would play it in a playground or someone’s yard, only the bag going into the hole counted.

Silent Night

At church on Christmas Eve, we usually have individual candles, which the congregation blows out after the lights come on and we sing Joy To The World. It was decided that the tradition wasn’t COVID safe. I thought we weren’t going to sing Silent Night at all. Instead, a bunch of tiny electric candles either were purchased or retrieved from somewhere.

In describing them to my wife and daughter, I described them as little electric votive candles. In fact, they have a very specific name: tea lights. I had never heard of that designation in my life.

What’s the name of that movie?

Sometimes, I have a difficult time remembering the name of movies when I find the titles unmemorable. The first movie I ever saw with Mark Ruffalo and Laura Linney was You Can Count On Me (2000). Yet I have the hardest time remembering what it’s called and end up searching IMBD for one of the actors.

Worse is a 2014 movie about a character played by Jon Favreau who buys a food truck. The film shows the best-looking grilled cheese sandwich I’ve ever seen filmed. Yet I can’t remember the name of the movie. Oh, yeah, Chef, which is what the Favreau character was BEFORE he bought the food truck.

Similar to…

When I occasionally can’t up with a common word, I’m comforted that first, I think of a related term then work back to the one I want. For instance, if you were going to make dinner, you might need that list of food items. What’s that called? I might think Menu, which IS a list of foods. No that’s not right. Recipe. Of course.

Word debates: sheroes and herstory

Nellie Bly

Nellie Bly statuesSomeone on a Facebook page that is about words asked a question. “Heard on NPR a discussion of heroes and sheroes. What’s wrong with heroine?”

Folks on the list replied that heroine is a diminutive for “hero” and may demean and trivialize the qualities of the women. They noted that words such as comedienne and poetess have fallen by the wayside. I remember that, in my lifetime, some people were trying to reintroduce the word authoress. For what purpose, I no longer recall. It hasn’t been embraced, fortunately, except as an “old-fashioned” word in some dictionaries.

The one word that has survived is the word actress. While I’ve often heard “actor” used for all performers, “actress” still is in the lexicon for awards, such as the Oscars and the Tonys. That is understandable. Getting rid of categories by gender might be someone’s idea of “equitable,” but one could reasonably believe that men would end up receiving the lion’s share of recognition.


“Heroine” also has people thinking that it sounds very much like something else, which I’ve believed for a half-century. Even the Free Dictionary and others note this. “Not to be confused with: heroin – highly addictive narcotic derived from morphine: He had a hard time kicking heroin.” This I did not know: “The name heroin was coined from the German heroisch meaning heroic, strong. Heroin is stronger (more potent) than morphine.”

One objection to sheroes was this: “I just think it’s mostly patronizing. If a woman is a hero, she’s a hero. ‘Sheroes’ sounds like the Women’s Auxiliary of Heroes. It’s the ‘Hear Me Roar’ version of heroism.” I don’t hear it that way, but OK.

We can beat them, just for one day

Another noted all the female heroes we have had for decades. “Alice Stebbins, first American woman police officer hired in the 1910s. Loretta Walsh, the first woman to enroll in the military in 1917. A whole century earlier in 1815, Molly Williams was the first woman firefighter and I’m pretty sure women have been doing ‘everyday stuff’ since the beginning of time.

“I mean, sure, let’s go with sheroes but don’t excuse it thinking that women police officer/military/firefighter are some progressive new thing. That’s just the wrong narrative and honestly, most of my personal heroes are some (my mom and grandma for example) and a new word just seems unnecessary in my opinion.” Ah, but what of severe pushback are some of those women still receiving, particularly in the US military?

“Language is a social thing and if the majority decide to start using this kind of language, then my opinion becomes irrelevant. Let society decide.” Which, inevitably, it does. I really don’t have skin in that game. Maybe it’s because of the ease people are presently dubbed heroic, IMO. Though I’m rather fond of the Misty Copeland-inspired Barbie ‘Sheroes’ Doll.


On the other hand, I’m rather fond of herstory, though my spellcheck is not. Sure, women’s history IS history, just as black history IS history. But there are so many examples where it’s not as well-known as it should be.

I was particularly taken by a monument of several statues honoring journalist Nellie Bly opening on Roosevelt Island. It was created by sculptor Amanda Matthews. “In 1887, Bly went undercover as an inmate at the island’s asylum. Her report ‘Ten Days in a Mad-House’ revealed the deplorable treatment of women in the facility and prompted outrage and reform.” On the backs of the sculptures are engraved with the quote from Bly’s writings that inspired the selection of each subject.

“Matthews also made a sculpture of educator Nettie Depp. It will be installed next year at the Kentucky State Capitol. She said she made the statue after she discovered the state lacked sculptures honoring women.” The only female who had been honored with a statue in KY heretofore was a horse.

“‘Women’s history didn’t show up in our history books the same as men. It’s not written down as much. It’s not portrayed as much. So, we have to reach back into history, find this information, bring it into the 21st century,’ said Matthews.” And I would agree. For instance, I had never heard of Alice Stebbins Wells, Loretta Perfectus Walsh, or Molly Williams.

What do you all think of sheroes and herstory?

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