What’s in a Word?

The word Ocarina is a favourite with crossword compilers. They like the word because it’s familiar to many people, but few know what it actually means. Ocarina also contains a lot of vowels for its size, which is apparently really useful in the world of crossword creation.

So, what’s in a name? I came across the following and thought you might be as amused as I was by the unexpected rearrangement of letters in the following pairs of words…

ASTRONOMER MOON STARER
THE EYES THEY SEE
THE MORSE CODE HERE COME THE DOTS
SLOT MACHINES CASH LOST IN ME
ELECTION RESULTS LIES LET’S RECOUNT
SNOOZE ALARMS ALAS NO MORE Z’S
A DECIMAL POINT I’M A DOT IN PLACE
ELEVEN PLUS TWO TWELVE PLUS ONE

Well I tried my best with OCARINA and all I could come up with was IONA CAR which is a bit sad, but exciting if you are a new car owner. Even sadder, I visited the beautiful Scottish island of Iona many years ago and my friend John bought a tee shirt printed with an ‘Iona’ logo so he could say ‘I own a’ tee shirt!

Anyway, back to the point. As any Italian will tell you, Oca means goose and the –ina ending makes it into little goose. And not just any little goose but a very affectionate and endearing little goose (sweet-sounding, a bit like principessina – little princess, only more macho). So Ocarina – little goose is how the 17 year old Giuseppe Donati described his joke bird whistle when he first created it in 1853 to amuse his teenage mates. The name stuck. And the strange-shaped flute became a favourite with generations all around the world.

And that same sense of inventive fun, seen in the young Donati, is typical of Ocarina fans to this day. Play yours with a twinkle in your eye and keep people guessing!

Email your favourite Ocarina crossword clues and anagrams to add to the collection…!

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