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For my latest appearance on Slate's Lexicon Valley podcast, I quizzed the hosts Mike Vuolo and Bob Garfield about a five-letter word that seemed to spring out of nowhere in online usage about a decade ago but in fact has roots that are centuries old: snark.  Continue reading...
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When the ABC-TV sitcom "Black-ish" debuted in September, it joined a growing set of titles and brands built on the odd little ish suffix. There's a lot more to ish than "sort of" and "more or less." Here's a brand-by-brand rundown of the ish spectrum.  Continue reading...
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Blog Excerpts

Happy Dictionary Day!

October 16th is National Dictionary Day, commemorating the birth of the great lexicographer Noah Webster. Celebrate by delving into our archive for articles about Webster and the world of dictionaries. A sampling: "Noah Webster at 250: A Visionary or a Crackpot?," "The Case for Dictionary Day," "The Birth of Webster's Dictionary," and "Dictionary Day and the Quest for All-American Words."
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It's time once again for the latest in our series of quick tips on usage and style shared by Mignon Fogarty, better known as Grammar Girl. Here Mignon clarifies how to pluralize some nouns derived from Greek (sometimes by way of Latin).  Continue reading...
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Is there any point in remaining "spoiler-free," steering clear of any crucial plot points of movies or television shows you haven't seen yet? That's the question raised by Netflix in its new "Living with Spoilers" campaign, and it set me off on a search for the roots of the "spoiler" in my latest column for the Wall Street Journal.  Continue reading...
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As Americans celebrate Columbus Day, it's worth reflecting on the complicated cultural and linguistic legacy that Christopher Columbus left behind. There's a single word that aptly illustrates this legacy and all of its contradictions: Indians, the mistaken name that Columbus gave to the native peoples of the Americas.  Continue reading...
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Here's a problem facing most writers: We want our writing to be better, so we turn our laser-like gaze on what we are writing, the product. In fact, what we really need to focus on is the process.  Continue reading...
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1 2 3 4 5 Displaying 1-7 of 177 Articles