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The Word Detective receives dozens of questions every week, so obviously we can’t promise to answer every question we receive.

If your question is answered, it will appear first in The Word Detective newspaper column and then, after a decent interval, it will be posted on this web page. This process could take from weeks to months.

In other words, we cannot answer questions via individual return e-mail, and if you are relying on a quick answer to complete that term paper due Monday, you’re barking up the wrong web site.

The good news is that if your question is used in a column, we will e-mail the column to you when it is distributed to newspapers (assuming that you have provided a valid e-mail address, of course).

Lastly, please check to be certain that the answer to your question is not in our extensive archives. Questions already answered will usually not be answered again.

All questions submitted become the property of the Vast Word Detective Global Empire, Ltd.

Privacy Policy: The Word Detective will never sell, use or distribute your e-mail address or other personal information. If we use your question in a column, your e-mail address will not be included in the column. If you wish to have your name kept confidential as well, please let us know when you submit your question.

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