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This month's crossword celebrates the birthdays of two noted literary figures. Figure out the word chain and you could win a Visual Thesaurus T-shirt!  Continue reading...
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Blog Excerpts

Scandal at the OED? Not So Much

Earlier this week, an article in the Guardian reported that "an eminent former editor of the Oxford English Dictionary covertly deleted thousands of words because of their foreign origins and bizarrely blamed previous editors." But it turns out that this seemingly sensational story is "completely bogus," according to OED editor at large Jesse Sheidlower. Read Sheidlower's explanation on The New Yorker's Culture Desk blog here. (Update, 12/3: Our own Ben Zimmer has a column about the pseudo-controversy on the New York Times op/ed page.)
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It's been about three months since I started my job as a teaching assistant at the University of Pittsburgh. Since doing so, I've not just left behind Brooklyn for the 'Burgh, and "Fuhgedaboutit" for "Yinz want some food?"; I've also adapted my vocabulary, too. The words I use in my classroom now are different from when I taught high school. This is a challenge, and one I've been interested to watch my students — all first-semester freshmen — take on, as well.  Continue reading...
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Last week we brought you an excerpt from Constance Hale's new book, Vex, Hex, Smash, Smooch: Let Verbs Power Your Writing, focusing on the power of phrasal verbs. In this second part, Hale looks at just how productive those "fertile phrasals" have grown to be.  Continue reading...
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Apple has just patented page turning. On Nov. 13, 2012, the U. S. Patent and Trademark Office granted Apple patent no. D670,713s for a "display screen or portion thereof with animated graphical user interface." In plain English, that's a page turnerĀ®.  Continue reading...
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Retailers, not content with branding products, have lately taken to branding days of the week, as a way to hype the holiday shopping rush. "Black Friday," the name for the day after Thanskgiving, was transformed from a negative to a positive by some clever etymological mythologizing (make that etymythologizing). Then the Monday after Thanksgiving was christened "Cyber Monday," and now some marketers would like to extend that to a "Cyber Week."  Continue reading...
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On Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, Americans kick off the holiday shopping season with a bang. In his Word Routes column last year, lexicographer Ben Zimmer explored the origins of the phrase "Black Friday." It is not, as many believe, the day when retailers' balance sheets change from red to black.  Continue reading...
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1 2 3 4 Displaying 1-7 of 27 Articles