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Word Police by Barbara Wallraff
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Confused? Take a peek at a sample exam before you try your hand at the real thing.

Read about the new Word Police training manual, Word Court, by Word Police Commissioner Barbara Wallraff.

Join a conversation on Word Police and Word Court in Atlantic Unbound's reader forum, Post & Riposte.

Read recent Word Court columns from The Atlantic Monthly, and browse the Word Fugitives archive, in The Court Record.

Meaning Detectives (N-Z)
Entrance Exam


In each case, assume that the speaker is a highly articulate person -- a Word Police officer, for example -- and is using all words in their strict senses. Choose the answer that you most nearly agree with. Once you've answered all five questions, press the "Submit answers" button to have your responses scored. If you're not sure of the answer to any question, why not take your best guess? (No points are deducted for wrong answers.) You'll need to get at least four answers right to be allowed to proceed. On the next page, you will be asked a final question that you must answer correctly in order to pass the exam.

1. "He doesn't misuse language often, but when he does, it makes him nauseous"

means that when he misuses language, he becomes sickened.
means that when he misuses language, he becomes sickening.
means that when he misuses language, he goes to sea.
2. "Word Police officers are rarely officious"

means that officers are rarely to be found in the office.
means that officers are rarely strict and stern.
means that officers are rarely meddlesome and oversolicitous.
3. "She gave them an unwrapped tin of shelled almonds"

means that the tin had no wrapping on it, and the almonds had shells.
means that the tin had no wrapping on it, and the almonds had no shells.
means that they'll be sure to invite her back.
4. "The sentence is wrong because an adverb has been substituted for an adjective"

means that the sentence incorrectly contains an adverb.
means that the sentence incorrectly contains an adjective.
means that the sentence incorrectly uses advertising lingo.
5. "The program is scheduled for twelve P.M."

means that it's scheduled for noon.
means that it's scheduled for midnight.
must have been said in error; it doesn't properly mean either of the choices above.

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