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  • Word Matrix: Tract

    Word Matrix: Tract

    <tract> “draw, drag, move,” from stem of trahere “to pull, draw” Words Sums Tract -> tract Tract + s -> tracts Tract + or -> tractor Tract + or + s -> tractors Tract + or + Beam -> tractorbeam Tract + or + Beam + s -> tractorbeams Tract + ion -> traction Tract + ion […] More

  • Word Matrix: Beau

    Word Matrix: Beau

    <beau> “pretty, handsome, charming,” from Anglo-French beute, Old French biauté, earlier beltet, from Vulgar Latin *bellitatem (nominative bellitas), from Latin bellus “pretty, handsome, charming” Words Sums Beau -> beau Beau + ty -> beauty Beau + ty + es -> beauties Beau + ty + ful -> beautiful Beau + ty + ful + ly -> beautifully Beau + ty + ful […] More

  • Word Matrix: Augur(e)

    Word Matrix: Augur(e)

    <augur(e)> “predict, foretell” from French inauguration and directly from Late Latin inaugurationem, presumably originally “installment under good omens,” from in– “on, in” + augurare “to act as an augur, predict” Words Sums Augur(e) -> augur Augur(e) + s -> augurs Augur(e) + y -> augury in + Augur(e) + ate -> inaugurate in + Augur(e) […] More

  • Word Matrix: Thank

    Word Matrix: Thank

    <thank> “thought, gratitude; think, feel,” from Old English þancian, þoncian, compare related Old English noun þanc, þonc Words Sums Thank + s -> thanks Thank + ed -> thanked Thank + ing -> thanking Thank + ful -> thankful Thank + ful + ness -> thankfulness Thank + ful + ly -> thankfully un + Thank + ful -> […] More

  • Word Matrix Sign

    Word Matrix: Sign

    <sign> from Latin signum “identifying mark, token, indication, symbol; proof” Words Sums (248) Sign -> sign Sign + s -> signs Sign + ed -> signed Sign + ing -> signing Sign + ing + s -> signings Sign + er -> signer Sign + er + s -> signers Sign + ee -> signee […] More

  • Thieves, Knives, and Chiefs and English Plurals

    Thieves, Knives, and Chiefs and English Plurals

    English is rule-based. I repeat: Like all languages, English is rule-based. A tweet recently appeared in my Twitter feed in which Merriam-Webster, the dictionary, touted the nonsense that English rejects order. “Because English rejects order. It actively opposes it. It lures order into an empty house and sets a series of Home Alone-style traps to […] More

  • Why Is Spelled with the Digraph?

    Why Is <broad> Spelled with the <oa> Digraph?

    Yesterday I posted on my social media about the spelling of the word <broad>. I just introduced the <oa> grapheme to my 5-year-old. The digraph <oa> typically spells the phone [oʊ] as in <oak>, <boat>, <soap>, <road>, and <hoax>. So why does the <broad> spell [bɹɔd] (or [bɹɑd] in Englishes with the cot-caught merger)? The […] More

  • Word Matrix: Leve

    Word Matrix: Leve

    I always misspell the word <relevant> as <*relavant> based on a thinking that <relevant> is related to <relative>. I recently decided to look up <relevant> to do a word study in the hopes of teaching myself the correct spelling. If SWI could help me remember the spelling of <tomorrow> by learning that <To + Morrow […] More

  • and My Phonics Phail

    <Urine> and My Phonics Phail

    I grew up in the 1990s. I entered kindergarten in 1990 and began learning to read that year. Phonics and sight words still stick out for me. I remember being handed lists of “sight words” to learn to read and spell. I would ask questions like “why is X spelled ABC?” The only answers I […] More

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