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Spring has sprung, and we have some seasonally appropriate wordplay in this month's puzzle. Figure it out and you could win a Visual Thesaurus T-shirt!  Continue reading...
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The city of Providence, RI is embarking on a bold initiative to narrow the "word gap": young children in families of lower socioeconomic status tend to hear fewer words in their home environment than higher-income counterparts, leading to inequalities in academic success when they enter school. Providence has won a $5 million grant to address this problem by means of a high-tech vocabulary intervention program, as our own Ben Zimmer writes in his latest Boston Globe column.  Continue reading...
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The hashtag, which was born on Twitter as a handy way to organize conversation, is now spreading to Facebook. But there's a #hashtag #backlash, too, with some wondering if the convention has outlived its usefulness.  Continue reading...
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Blog Excerpts

Gosh-All-Potomac! 10 Great Minced Oaths

"Minced oaths," Arika Okrent of Mental Floss reminds us, are "creative substitutions" of taboo expressions, and English used to be full of them. Okrent lists ten entertaining ones, including "G. Rover Cripes!" and "Gosh-All-Potomac!" See the whole list here.
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"Kindle-schmindle, Nook-schnook, give me a good old-fashioned book," I wrote a year ago in a Visual Thesaurus column that garnered more comments, and more negative comments, than any other column I've written in three years contributing to the site. "Fie on you, Michael Lydon," VT subscribers told me in no uncertain terms, "we love our Kindles, and don't you dare say mean things about our little black and white darlings!"  Continue reading...
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The NCAA College Basketball Tournament, nicknamed "March Madness," is in full swing again, and some early-round upsets have spelled bad news for those betting on chalk, meaning the favorites in the tournament. How did the term chalk come to be associated with teams favored by oddsmakers? A Word Routes column by Ben Zimmer has the answer.  Continue reading...
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The pope gets to wear nice red shoes, and a friend said, "I'm really jealous of those!" But, technically, she couldn't be jealous, unless she thought the shoes were hers, and the pope had stolen them. Instead, she "envied" the shoes, and was "envious" that he gets to wear them.  Continue reading...
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