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After aa and ab one might expect ac to be next, but alas ac is not a word. Oddly enough, there are no two-letter words in the English language containing the letter c. Every other letter is represented — except v.

Thus the next word to consider is ad, a banal word if ever there was one, short for advertisement. With all apologies to my friends in the biz, no one really likes advertisements, except during the Superbowl, and even that’s an iffy proposition. So ad is sad.

Speaking of which, you can make a slew of three-letter words by adding a letter to the front of ad, all quite familiar: bad, cad, dad, fad, gad, had, lad, mad, pad, rad, sad, tad and wad, which stands out like a sore thumb as the only one that doesn’t rhyme. On the other end we get add, ado and of course ads. The only one that’s new to me is adz, which is just an alternative spelling of the old cutting tool adze, but obviously an important strategic word for game players.

Ho hum. As a rule I hate to call anything boring, but this word is getting close to it. It did get me wondering, how many ads do we see (or hear) each day? According to one survey of the research, the answer is anywhere between 247 and three thousand — or even more. That seems clearly ludicrous, but it underscores a reality few would dispute: Namely, whatever the true number is, it’s a lot. A significant percentage of our collective mindshare is occupied by advertising messages — information no one desires. That is problematic.

Let’s-Go-Shopping / James Vaughan /

Published inWords & Numbers

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