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Today's Word



Mar 27, 2023
This week’s theme

This week’s words

“You are in the wrong bar, pal.”
Cartoon: Dan Piraro

Previous week’s theme
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with Anu Garg

I was taking a leisurely walk the other day when I noticed a bicycle pass by at high speed.

Saw it. Heard it. Smelled it too.

It was going fast. It was loud. It was smelly. It had a gas engine.

Bicycle, to my mind, is such a pure thing. Putting a gas engine on a bicycle is like adding cigarettes to your yoga practice.

Growing up in India, I learned how to ride a cycle (as we called it in British English) when I was in seventh grade. Late, I know. I walked to school until then.

It had a shiny red frame and I totally loved it. When I outgrew it, I used Dad’s large black cycle (he transitioned to a Vespa). When I went to college, my younger brother used it. When my brother went to college, our nephews used it.

All this use -- thousands of kilometers -- and it never asked for a sip of fuel, fossil or otherwise.

Now I call it a bicycle instead of a cycle. I measure distances in miles instead of kms, but I still believe a bicycle is one of the best inventions ever. When I see someone pedaling away on a bicycle I’m filled with hope for our species.

In this week’s selection I have picked words with wheels. In some words, it’s obvious, while in others you may have to look at their etymologies.

Another way to look at it, some words this week may have two o’s in their spellings. Other words may have only one o (or none), but they all have wheels in their origins.

Read this fascinating article about the Dutch bicycle culture and history. Also, check out “Why I ride my bike to work, by the Prime Minister of the Netherlands.”

What’s your relationship with the bicycle? Share below or email us at words@wordsmith.org. As always, include your location (city, state).



adjective: Relating to the wheel or the rotary motion.

From Greek trochos (wheel), from trechein (to run), which also gave us troche (lozenge) and the metrical trochee. Earliest documented use: 1570.

“The swirling fog augured a time sublime.
Trochilic mist ... still did not hear me yelp.”
Alexa Pope; Even More Gifts from Swift; Lulu; 2011.

If you view religion as necessary for ethics, you've reduced us to the ethical level of four-year-olds. "If you follow these commandments you'll go to heaven, if you don't you'll burn in hell" is just a spectacular version of the carrots and sticks with which you raise your children. -Susan Neiman, philosopher and author (b. 27 Mar 1955)

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