Kori and Amanda Learn

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“yegg” May 26, 2010

Filed under: Crossword,Movies,Vocabulary — Amanda @ 12:01 PM

A curious word popped up on yesterday’s crossword: yegg. 

Origin uncertain, possibly from English or Scottish dialect, yark or yek; popularized in 1930s gangster movies.

Noun (slang)

A person who breaks open safes, a burglar.


1904 Capture of the ‘Yegg’ Bank Burglars – movie directed by Edwin S. Porter (with quotes in as part of title)

Movie Plot: A group of bank robbers meet at their campsite to plan a burglary. When everything is ready, they break into the bank and blow open the safe. Their getaway, though, is not a clean one. They have to shoot their way out, and the gun battle sets off a desperate chase.

I want to watch this movie now.  And I want a campsite from which to do my scheming.


Not so Smazing May 10, 2010

Filed under: Annoying things,Crossword,Vocabulary — Amanda @ 2:39 PM

We completed today’s NY Times crossword with a word that neither Korilearns nor Amandalearns had ever heard of: smaze.  The clue was “some air pollution.” 

What a great word: smaze.  It’s just fun to say “SMAZE!”  Now, we love learning new words, especially words that are fun to say.  You can probably imagine our excitement when we went to look up the actual definition and history of the word smaze:

A thick, heavy atmospheric condition offering reduced visibility because of the presence of suspended particles: brume, fog, haze, mist, murk.  (answers.com)

Dictionary.com gave us the detailed definition “smoke + haze.”  That’s it.  Try Googling “smaze.”  You get nothing.  No one ever uses it in a sentence.  Ever.

We’re pretty sure that Randy Sowell, today’s puzzle creator, made it up and then convinced Will Shortz that smaze is a real word.  Shame on you, Mr. Shortz.  We expect more from you.


What the Veldt?! April 27, 2010

Filed under: Crossword,Geography,Uncategorized,Vocabulary — Amanda @ 2:40 PM

Effigy Mounds National Monument, Iowa, United States

Today’s crossword threw us for a little loop with the clue “Open grassland.”  We had 4 of the 5 letters (_ELDT) and, for the life of us, could not figure out the first letter of the word.  Luckily, we deduced that the answer to “End of a Shakespeare play” should be “ACT V,” thus giving us the V for veldt!  

Turns out that Veldt (also commonly spelled Veld) refers primarily (but not exclusively) to the wide open rural spaces of South Africa or southern Africa and in particular to certain flatter areas or districts covered in grass or low scrub. The word veld (velt in Middle High German, and feld in Old High German) is preserved also in the Afrikaans and Dutch, literally meaning ‘field’.  Veldt can also be likened to “prairie,” “outback,” or my personal favorite: “boondocks.” 

For our musically inclined readers, you might know of an English band called The Veldt.  

Any video gamers out there might recall in the video game Final Fantasy VI, the Veldt is a large flatland in which the characters can fight most previously encountered enemies.


Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth. April 15, 2010

Filed under: Animal Kingdom,Idiom,Vocabulary — Kori Learns @ 3:00 PM

This phrase or proverb is to remind you to be grateful for what you are given.  It comes from the idea that if you are given a horse as a gift, you should not open it’s mouth to examine it’s teeth to see how old it is [the phrase “long in the tooth” also comes from this indicator of a horse’s age].  Be grateful you got the horse in the first place.  An old horse is better than no horse at all.  And it’s much better than a bagel twist.

Some people in our office thought that this phrase was associated with the Trojan horse.  If you are given a large wooden horse instead of the real kind, feel free to look in its the mouth since it might have armed invaders inside.  That is not the same thing nor does it have any relation to the above phrase.  So look away!

By the way, this saying does not apply to bagel twists.  Even if you get a free bagel twist, run away and leave it in the dust.  No bagel twist is always better than a free bagel twist.

Read the whole explanation of “Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth” here!


Pumpkin Pirate April 7, 2010

Filed under: Crossword,Vocabulary — Kori Learns @ 5:33 PM
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Today we learned that one of the plural forms of podium is “podia.” I knew this intuitively, but Amanda made me look it up to confirm, as she was a nonbeliever.

We came across this word in the NYT Wednesday crossword (which we sadly lost) as the answer to the clue “conductors’ platforms.” Pumpkin pirate was probably the best answer in that puzzle.