Free Rice

Perhaps you are wondering what I have been doing lately.  Perhaps you don’t really care.  But for those who do, I want to announce that I have been improving my vocabulary in two ways. 

First, I have been spending an awful lot of time on free rice — and am currently at a 46 (no 47!!), for those who are keeping track of how close to 50 you can get.  50 is the highest score possible on free rice, and it is unattainable, unless you cheat.  I have considered cheating, but it seems so uncool to do that on such a worthy site, one which donates so much needed food while you marvel at the fact that there is a word that means “splittable” — fissile, as in “that piece of chocolate cake looks so fissile.” 

The other thing I have been doing is not anywhere nearly as worthy, but does involve cleaning out my email, so it’s semi-worthy.  I am the recipient of half a dozen emails a day asking if I would like to have my penis enlarged, a question that never fails to make me laugh.  But the thing I love about these emails, beyond the zealousness of the enlargers, is the remarkable variety of words there are for the penis.  I’ve been keeping track, although because this is a family blog, I am not going to give you a list.  Just know that it has reached 37.  My favorite of all so far is contained in the email that invited me to obtain a “bigger sword to fit in her scabbard.”  It’s just such a weirdly chivalrous way of looking at it. 

 And that’s all I have to say today.


37 thoughts on “Free Rice

  1. My husband got 50. He is extremely annoying! Although handy to have around if I ever wish to know esoteric things like what all the separate parts of sundial are called

  2. Ms. Make Tea and Hob, Okay. I am not going to accuse anyone of cheating because that would be a very inhospitable thing to do. (A little like the Cyclops eating his visitors, which is when I first learned that there is such a thing as host-guest courtesy and such a thing as REALLY violating that code.) But I would like to know, Hob, and Mr. Make Tea, how it is that you have managed to retain so many geological and sundial-ish terms? Don’t tell me you use those every day or I will have to go and have a martini and lament my lack of language skills.

    Yogamum, Even spending a moment at 48 must have felt awesome. I see I have to do a little work here.

    Alice, I’m headed over there in a second. It is fun, isn’t it?

    You rule Charlotte, is all I can say about that.

    Susan, I think we’ll get there at the exact same moment, in a kind of northern California vocabulary goddess convergence, and then the hills of Montclair and the hills of Berkeley will ring with our triumph. Or maybe we’ll just quietly go and make tea.

  3. OK, I admit it: I have a FreeRice monkey on my back. I’ve learned words like vibrissa (whisker) and sastruga (a snowy ridge formed by wind). I can’t stop. I am beshrewed!

  4. My secret is lucky guesses. Plus, I know that the term for hospitality that the Cyclops violated is xenia. I’m a word geek.

  5. I’m going to go with not lucky guesses, Hob, but with total word mastery. Just call me Xenia, Warrior Princess from now on, okay, because that might make me feel better about my paltry 47.

    Tai, we are all beshrewed, then, if one of us is beshrewed.

  6. Free Rice is really addictive isn’t it? And I miss those days before we had a spam blocker at work when I was able to increase my vocabulary in other ways, as you’ve been doing. It usually meant starting the day with a few chuckles.

  7. After donating 6000+ grains of rice (which might amount to no more than a handful, I am afraid), I have reached level 51. A long time ago, when my cousin was attending Berkeley High, she told me that the easiest homework were the vocabulary lists because the words her English teacher considered as difficult words often had French or Latin origins. However, Free Rice would be a better word-teaching game if we could have an excerpt of the dictionary for each wrong answer.

    PS: in Latin, vagina really means scabbard. Which is strange when you think of all these valiant legionarii carrying their own vagina on the side.

    PPS: about spam collections — I have recently found several websites specializing in collecting hilarious spam names. How about “Helicopter U. Winfred” “Sharlene S. Typhoid”, or “Macabre H. Citibank”?

  8. Mandarine, Your cousin went to Berkeley High? How wonderful. And yes, I noticed the same thing about the words with French and Latin roots. You should email the free rice people with your idea about the wrong answers. It interests me very much how our mistakes can teach us as much as our successes. (Those are great spam names, by the way, and thank you for that insight into the meaning of the word vagina. Now I want to know — who writes those penis enlargement offers!)

    Well, Emily, I’m glad earthlink is totally lame about blocking spam, at least for now.

  9. My cousins grew up on 2824 Forest. But the parents split, the house was sold. Now my uncle and aunt still live in Berkeley, but the kids are in Brussels, Strasbourg and Tucson respectively.

    “Now I want to know — who writes those penis enlargement offers”. The answer is obvious: con artists. It’s like all those shampoos against receding hairline: if they worked, there would be no bald men. And you do not file a complaint when you the penis enlargement paraphernalia you ordered come short of the expected result.

  10. I have played Free Rice and could easily become addicted. I reached 46. Unfortunately I am not fissile and so decided to stay blogging instead of free ricing. Now I have to find a way to include “Fissile” into a couple of blog posts. That is such a wonderful word, full of the overtones of atomic destruction and rhyming so well with “Missile” – I wonder if the rhyming dickonarry will give me some extra rhymes so i can commit a limerick 🙂 hmmm – resile – nope, the accent is on the wrong syllibub – – –

  11. Hmm, they have geology terms: I should have known about this site earlier. I know nothing about caves, but nevertheless decided to write a “Diary of a Caveman”. It was a struggle to throw in a few terms just to set the scene, having only been in a cave once as a young child. Talking about the spam euphemisms, I came up with “Chloë rolled us over again and with her cave she squeezed my overgrown soda-straw stalactite, nursing it with her inner lips.”

  12. Free Rice is horribly addictive. I can get to 50 – now my frustration is that I can’t stay there and I get dumped right back to 46 and have to work my way up again. But I must admit to a lot of luck, a Latin degree, and a smattering of Greek, French and Italian, which all help. Plus being a word nerd and an obsessive, of course.

  13. Hi BL– my daughter turned me on to free rice– I hope they really do deliver the rice–it is fun. Today, some kind stranger warned me that if my warrior of love is too small, I may lose the war! I had 26 junk messages in my bulk folder– I just love the delete :all function. Hope all is well with you and yours– Happy Holidays!
    Love, m

  14. Marymom, I am convinced there are some very creative, very interesting people writing these penis enlargement spam emails. And I do think the free rice people are on the level — someone told me the story of one of the guys behind it, and he sounded like a kind of nerdy dad who developed a program to help his son study for the SAT and then he supercharged it so it’d really get him hooked. But I can’t remember who told me this, and maybe it is just a big lie.

    Ms. Musings. As I said, I will not accuse anyone of cheating (which is what many in my familiy resort to when I’m beating the pants off them at word games), but I’m impressed as heck that you can do that.

    Hello Doug, and welcome. I figure if men have been writing about women’s souls for centuries, why can’t you conjure up a caveman? And Doug, tell me you’re not part of the cadre of enlargement wordsmiths, because that cave/stalagtite one is very, very good.

    Archie, you win the bloglily award for best use of the word fissle in a comment. (You are awesome.)

    Mandarine, that thing about the product coming up short made me laugh. How nice to know there are Mandarine-esque people in my neighborhood!

  15. Thanks for the welcome. No, I’m not part of the cadre, and as Mark Twain said,”I wouldn’t join a group that would have me as a member…”. I did the caveman’s blog for a while in first person as “Caveman Doug” but then I wrote myself into a corner because the narrator gets shot and loses consciousness. So who is to say what happened? Now, one of my characters, a cave woman, Zawmb’yee, is writing in first person. Writing as her is a stretch which I might not carry off, but anyway….

  16. Just when I thought the internet was safe again you send me to a site like Free Rice. I rapidly reached 48 and stuck there, fell back to 46, and then I realized I definitely needed to move on. I am a word geek, I love to read the dictionary in addition to other books.

    so I guess I should say “thanks for the link?” Or should it be more like “get thee behind me?”

  17. Oh yes. And back when I was way too young I read “Fanny Hill”, which had many situations that had “him” sheathing his “Sword” so the enlargement sites are just really old fashioned. Thirty seven? Now I am going to have to start racking my brains. I thought I knew them all!

  18. Free rice is clearly going to be a woeful new addiction. Oh dear.

    Bloglily – mine is not a family blog. If you’d like to post your words for wongers there whizz me an email and I’ll set you up as a user. I *like* words for wongers. They make me laugh.

    Merry Christmas.


  19. BL–I just wanted to share with you that today, concerned strangers sent e-mail inquiring whether I had enough meat for her sandwich, and encouraging my willy to grow more mighty in the New Year. May we all grow more and more mighty–

  20. I put a banner ad for Free Rice on my blog, figuring that I could addict an even wider section of the population. I think that your blog readership will probably have among the highest average scores/levels for the site.

  21. i liked your blog about free rice. i blogged about it too, at

    thing is, i have reached 50 without any cheating, but by using the occasional educated guess. of course, there is parsing word roots and all that. and the fact that many of the words are downright foreign words one either knows or doesn’t. but there are also patterns to the questions. such as, if there is a bizarre word you never heard of, and your choices are three conceptual ideas, and one concrete object or animal, choose the concrete object or animal. also, if there are three short answers and one choice that takes many words to describe, choose that one. there are other tips like this. not cheating, since guessing is a valid part of multiple choice. but that’s how i get to 50. it rocks at 50.

  22. Hey! I didn’t cheat (I just used my rudimentary knowledge of Latin and Greek) and I got to 50 in three days and about 50,000 grains of rice. I’m an English teacher. Maybe that helped.

  23. Oh Nancy! You rock. I’m so impressed by how many people reach 50 and a little ashamed that I haven’t gotten further. (And welcome, by the way! It’s so great to have those who teach English come by.)

    Welcome Jeffrey — I actually thought I’d replied to this ages ago, but see I did not. Anyway, I think those are such good tips. Thank you. And I enjoyed your blog very much! How nice to find a good writer on such a great subject.

    Cole, It is indeed addicting. And the rice keeps piling up, even if there is a small slippage from your top score.

    Hey Abi — What a fabulous idea. And yes, they are a very clever lot, aren’t they?

    Mary, that’s very good! You need to head over to Aphra’s non-family blog and give her your carefully compiled list also.

    Dear Aphra — I just realized that whatever answer I made to your most generous offer disappeared somewhere. But yes, I will email you when, well, there is enough meat in that sandwich to wrap it up and send it your way.

    HMH — I see this “how many words are there for the sword and the sheath” is going to become as addicting as Free Rice. I am way beyond 37 at this point.

    Doug — I loved checking your blog out. In addition to being such a fine writer, it looks like you’re having ‘way too much fun over there.

  24. I hit 49 in the first 10 minutes; 50 second time.

    The player who knows Latin and Greek is right: if you know some rudiments like “a-” or “an-” as a prefix means “not,” and suffix “-ology” means “study of,” you can figure out a lot.

    Remaining puzzlers are words that have not been current outside remote parts of the world or since the 17th century.

    Lotta French, too.
    Surprising quantity of Yiddish.

    I’d be pleased if Free Rice did something to boost the written vocabulary of most e-mail correspondents, the spoken vocabulary of most businesspeople, and the expletive vocabulary of the teenagers lounging permanently downtown.

  25. Hi. I play Free Rice everyday and hit 50 every time. In fact I stay there sometimes through 3 or 4 more correct answers but it never budges. I could not possibly cheat.

    This is the only thing I’m good at–vocabulary. I’ve never held a particularly good paying job. I took Latin in high school and college, plus speak a little Spanish and a tiny bit of French which really helps.

  26. HI………..currently 45………do you know what that “coded message” thing is that interrupts your game and pops up on the screen with three choices? (man’s hat, small anchor, recovery). Still a novice….thanks for the help!

  27. Oh Wow! This game is very addictive and so much fun. I have donated more than 300,000 grains so far. I have worked up to a high score of 52, although I usually stay around 49-50, occasionally slipping back to 46. After you have played as much as I have, you begin to remember words and see patterns that help along the way. Having studied Latin in high school also is a tremendous aid.

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