Puzzler Will Shortz' favorite word

Asked of him by the person calling in to his NPR bit today.

Ucalegon: a neighbor whose house is on fire. From Greek.

Fun. My favorite word isn’t in English: **Cinquecento **, Italian for the number 500. Just say it: Cheen-kwah-CHEN-toh. :wink:

Last week, Shortz said he was in Hawaii for the first time in his life. I don’t know why I found that as shocking as I did. I guess I just assumed that a Puzzle Master had been everywhere!


There’s no earthly reason not include the possessive “s” after his name.

Thank you!!! :slight_smile: :slight_smile: :slight_smile:



Well, not everywhere, but certainly places like MAUI, OAHU, and LANAI.

Perhaps, but it’s a style guide quirk. Modern US styles tend to go with apostrophe-ess, regardless of final letter and whether it is sounded or not (and this is style I follow), but others had you use a bare apostrophe on names ending in s, z, or x. Still other style guides had you use the bare apostrophe, unless the final consonant was not pronounced (like Perez’, but Montreaux’s).

I’ve always kind of been fond of trying to sneak antepenultimate (second from last) into conversation with certain types of wordish people. Simulacrum is nice, too. And, of course, callipygian.

I should’ve included an Oxford comma.

While I agree with the sentiment (I also write “Jesus’s robe” and “Rory Williams’s wife”), there is in fact a reason not to use the apostrophe-s to indicate the possessive form. Orthography tends to follow pronunciation. The tendency in English is to elise the genitive /ɨs/ marker in words ending in /s/ or /z/. If you do that, you’ll also tend to jdrop the [s] in spelling the clitic.

I find both the pronunciation and the orthography grating, but it’s become so common that it’s no longer an error.

My rule of thumb as a professional translator and editor: If you pronounce the possessive ending, write it.

I’m perfectly happy with “Mel Brooks’ movies,” but not “Jesus’ disciples.” WTF is a “Jesus’ disciple”??? :confused:

Marvelous words, all! They rank right up there with manichaeistic, spudder, struthiomimus, and threnody.* :cool:

*I’ve been waiting 20 years to use this word in a sentence! :o

Except that people are increasing eliding the /ɪz/ in speaking. I heart it all the time.

¿Qué? :dubious:

Ha ha! Yeah, you would think Shortz would feel comfortable in a place where one is surrounded by so many vowels and a limited range of consonants

Typo for “hear.” Bad eyes. Sorry.

To be clear, when you say that “antepenultimate” means “second from last,” you mean third from the end, yes? Considering a row of 10 objects, “ultimate” would be #10, “penultimate” would be #9, and “antepenultimate” would be #8.

FUN FACT: The “O” in such Pacific names (Polynesian, I think) is a noun marker. In William Bligh’s book about the mutiny on the Bounty, he talks about visiting “Otahiti,” as Europeans then called it.

You’re right. I was about to post this same correction.

I was going with ‘before the second-from-last,’ which would be a more general meaning.

I would have figured Shortzseses’ favorite word was NENE, ERTE, OMOO, EMU, or LEI.