The Wide, Wide World of Wordplay

Stray Thoughts: Reflections From The Lighter Side of AdServices


As inventions go, words are a pretty good one. They can persuade, provoke, motivate, and inspire. They can get people thinking, feeling, talking and changing. And when you’re in a more playful mood, they can just provide some harmless, learning-free amusement. Need to lighten up? Let the wordplay begin …

Don’t Hassle Me, Man.

People use to say “hassle” all the time. “What a huge hassle.” “We got hassled by the cops.” “She kept hassling me to join her cheese of the month club.” I miss hearing hassle pop up in everyday conversation – it was a good all-purpose word for life’s numerous aggravations. But it would be a pretty big task to try and revive it. In fact, if you ask me, it’s just not worth the hassle.

Fresh Cilantro.

Cilantro. It’s an herb that adds flavor to everything from salsa to marinades. But it also sounds like it might be a female vocalist discovered by Simon Cowell. “Ladies and gentleman, singing her new hit single ‘Summer Crush’ – Cilantro!”

Passion Play.

The word passion can be used in a wide variety of contexts. “Wes has a passion for backpaking.” “Leslie’s poems are filled with passion.” “Ken and Gwen shared a night of passion.” “Alan has a passion for beating a word to death.” Case in point: Passion.

Something Fishy.

While reading an article about fishing I ran across the phrase Fish Officials. “Fish officials had no comment on the Captain Corky controversy.” Maybe it’s because I’m a word guy, but the inadvertent wackiness of that phrase gave me a cheap thrill I’ll savor for days.

Dangerous Rhymes.

Life is a mystery, love is a riddle, hi diddle, ho diddle, hey diddle diddle. Sorry about that, but once you use the word riddle in a poem you’ve pretty much unlocked the door to diddle.


Alliteration – the repetition of initial consonant sounds in adjacent words or syllables – can add rhythm and flair to your writing. Or it can be a compulsive-obsessive disease without a cure. For example, this sentence was originally meant to showcase the proper use of the word dillydally: “Don’t dillydally, DeeDee – I’m done at the deli and ducking into Dunkin’ Donuts before my date with Donny downtown.”

Weird Words.

Some words just sound weird. “Overzealous,” for example, sounds bizarre. And “bizarre” sounds goofy, too. Funny thing is, “goofy” sounds fine to me. Are we done here? I think we’re done here.

You are now exiting the Wide, Wide World of Wordplay. Any learning, enlightenment or growth is purely coincidental. And no disrespect to fish officials was intended.


Alan Williamson
Senior Copywriter
AdServices Inc.

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