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March distinctions

1. Is a shamrock a four-leaf clover?

2. Of the three words that typically describe spring's changeable weather - fickle, capricious, and mercurial - which one used to mean clever or imaginative as well?

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3. Is a soft, deep slushy mud called mire, ooze, or slime?

4. Are the ides (made memorable by Shakespeare's 'Julius Caesar') always on the 15th of the month?

5. On a warm day, the first crocus suddenly pushes through the frosty earth. Does the plant spring forth, rise, or arise?

ANSWERS

(1) No. A shamrock, the national emblem of Ireland, is a clover composed of three leaflets, while a four-leaf clover is rare in that it has four leaflets. (2) Now obsolete, capricious used to mean 'characterized by wit or fancy.' (3) Mire. Mire is also a wet, swampy ground or bog. Ooze is a soft mud often found at the bottom of a pond, river, or ocean. Slime is sticky, slippery mud or something like it. (4) No. In March the ides falls on the 15th, as it does in May, July, and October. The ides were the 13th day of the other months in the ancient Roman calendar. (5) Spring forth - 'spring' implies rapid or sudden emerging. Arise and rise both convey coming into existence or notice but may also stress gradual growth or ascent.


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