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acrostic (a-KRAW-stik, a-KRAWS-tik) noun
A composition, usually a poem, in which the first letter of each line spells out a hidden word or message.
[From Latin acrostichis, from Greek akrostikhis, from akron (head) + stikhos (line).]
An acrostic is not an angry insect ("a cross tick"), any more than an oxymoron is a big dumb cow. Rather, an acrostic is a poem, in which the first letter of each line spells out a word. Thus, acrostics are the most complete type of deletion as nothing remains but a single letter per line.
The most widely read acrostics occur in literature. Should you have any doubt that Lewis Carroll wrote Alice's Adventures in Wonderland specifically for Alice Pleasance Liddell, take a closer look at the acrostic poem that concludes Through the Looking Glass:
A boat, beneath a sunny sky,
Children three that nestle near,
Long has paled that sunny sky:
Still she haunts me, phantomwise,
Children yet, the tale to hear,
It's a Wonderland they lie,
Ever drifting down the stream --
In William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, the following passage, spoken by Titania, spells out her own name with the initial letters of each line:
Thou shalt remain here, whether thou wilt or no,
Such acrostics are truly A + B the C of D -- "Above and Beyond the Call of Duty".
This week's theme: words about wordplay by guest wordsmith Richard Lederer.
If the secret sorrows of everyone could be read on their forehead, how many who now cause envy would suddenly become the objects of pity. -Italian proverb
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