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noun: The science or study of words.

[From Greek logos (word) + -logy (study), from Greek logos (word).]

In 1965, Dmitri Borgmann resurrected an old word, logology, and gave it a new meaning of recreational letter play. How appropriate that the word denoting the study of words viewed as letter patterns should itself be of such recreational interest. Logology encompasses two five-letter anchored palindromes -- logol and golog -- and repeats the cluster log.

Logology is a beautifully balanced word:

  • It alternates between consonant and vowel throughout.
  • In its lower case form, its odd letters alternate between poking their heads above the writing line (the two l's) and dragging their tails below that line (the two g's).
  • If you assign a value of 1 to the letter a, 2 to b, and continue up to 26 for z, logology averages 13.5, the perfect midpoint of the alphabet.
This week's theme will be logological terms, words that describe how we make the alphabet dance:

From alpha to omega,
You can bet the alphabet,
Like a painting done by Degas,
Will leap and pirouette.

See dancing words, entrancing words,
Sterling words unfurling.
Watch prancing words, enhancing words,
Whirling, twirling, swirling.

-Richard Lederer (richard.lederer@pobox.com)

(This week's guest wordsmith, Richard Lederer, punster extraordinaire, is author of countless books and articles about language and humor.)


A book is a version of the world. If you do not like it, ignore it; or offer your own version in return. -Salman Rushdie, writer (b. 1947)

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