Tag Archives: games

Wordplay: License to Spell

So you’re sitting at a stoplight, waiting for the light to turn, bored out of your skull. Here’s a little something I turn to whenever I’m stuck in traffic. I think of a word using the letters on the license plate in front of me, keeping the letters in the same order. Here’s one from that vacation I’ve been meaning to take to Alaska.

Alaska_License_Plate_10432

For this plate, etude works well, but so do perturb, restaurant, and beautiful. It doesn’t matter how many letters separate the ones on the plate. You just need to use them in the order you see them. Or, if that stumps you, try them backward or mix them up.

This game works in American states that use the three-letter license plate format. Delaware, Rhode Island, Maryland, and Illinois, however, are out of luck.

If you’re traveling or live outside the United States, you may still be able to sharpen your verbal skills this way. Several Canadian provinces, for instance, style their plates with three letters, although you may find yourself flummoxed in Ontario, which went to a four-letter format in 1997.

Ontario License

Mexico, too, uses three letters in most states, including Chiapas.

800px-Chiapas_regtistration

Did you know that word games help stave off Alzheimer’s and dementia?

So when you’re out and about, sitting at a stoplight, backed up on the freeway, or even walking through a parking lot, try this little diversion on for size. Word games boost the memory and keep the mind sharp, and they might just help you come up with more word choices the next time you sit down to write.

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Wordplay: What’s in a Name?

Juliet:
What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.
(Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet)

Ever set out on a road trip and find yourself at a loss for entertainment? Maybe you’re tired of listening to music, or the small talk has ebbed to a trickle. Fear not; rescue is at hand. I’m a big fan of word games (and diversions in general), and I’d like to share one that even Shakespeare, that master of wordplay, might enjoy.

The rules are simple: Just choose a name, scramble the letters, and form new words. You don’t have to use all the letters. Pretty darn easy. It’s well suited to journeys by car because roadside signs are an endless source of proper names; think McDonald’s, Starbucks, Yellowstone. You can play with a group or enjoy this activity solo.

If you’re competing with others, once you’ve picked a name, take turns sharing, offering one word per turn. You’ll want to decide at the outset whether to allow—in addition to common words—names, foreign words, abbreviations, and acronyms. I’m all for mining as many terms as possible from one name before moving on to the next.

Chevron basic

Today’s name is Chevron. No shortage of possibilities here.

Common Words
no
ho
he
hoe
roe
roc
hone
cone
cove
coven
crone
rove
hove
hero
heron
or
ore
core
nor
over
hover
cover
oh
o (variant of oh)

First Names, Nicknames, and Surnames
Cher
Ron
Von
Nero
Ev
Che (Ernesto “Che” Guevara)
Chen
Cho

Foreign Words
vor (German for before)
voce (Italian for voice)
ver (Spanish for see)

Acronyms and Abbreviations
RN (registered nurse)
VCR (videocassette recorder)
CEO (chief executive officer)
COV (Commonwealth of Virginia)
Nov. (November)
Nev. (Nevada)
Rev. (Reverend)

Bonus Points
The person who forms the longest word using only the letters provided receives a gold star!
Chernov

Chevron turned out to be an unexpectedly plentiful source, with enough variations to propel the avid gamester a few miles down the road.

The player who is able to offer a word when others cannot is declared the winner. And what does the winner receive? I’ll leave that up to you, but I will say that victory, like virtue, is its own reward, and smells almost as sweet as true love.

Have you thought of a word I haven’t mentioned? Feel free to add to the list in the comments section.

Chevron station in Grants Pass, Oregon. Photo by Nicolas Vigier.

Chevron station in Grants Pass, Oregon. Photo by Nicolas Vigier.

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