1 2 3 Displaying 1-7 of 17 Articles

It was another dramatic finish at the Scripps National Spelling Bee. After the 46 semifinalists were whittled down to the dozen contestants for last night's finals, I tweeted, "12 kids enter, 1 kid leaves." Little did I know that two kids would be named co-champions in the Bee's first tie since 1962.  Continue reading...
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It's time once again for the Scripps National Spelling Bee! Two hundred and eighty-one young spellers gathered near Washington, D.C. and sweated through the preliminary rounds yesterday. For the second year, those rounds included not just questions about the spelling of words but also their definitions. After all was said and done, 46 survived to advance to Thursday's semifinals.  Continue reading...
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The 2014 Spelling Bee Is Here!

It's time once again for the Scripps National Spelling Bee! The preliminaries are today, and the nationally televised semifinals and finals are tomorrow (May 29). As in past years, our own Ben Zimmer will be live-tweeting the competition from the @VocabularyCom Twitter account and reporting on the results here in his Word Routes column. In the meantime, catch up on our coverage of the format changes introduced last year that brought vocabulary questions into the mix: here and here.
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Whilst we often lament that language has become too informal, there are times when we try to make it too formal, and thusly too stiff-upper-lipist. "Amongst" and "amidst" are perfectly fine words, listed in dictionaries and everything, but they fall a bit on the "I know big words" scale of writing.  Continue reading...
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On the last Monday in May, Memorial Day is celebrated in the United States. But wait: is celebrated the right word? Would it be more appropriate to say Memorial Day is observed? Wendalyn Nichols, an experienced editor and lexicographer, guides us through this usage quandary.  Continue reading...
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I am guessing that the average electrician doesn't realize how much history is knocking about in his or her toolbox. Volt, amp, ohm, watt—these electrical units are all eponyms, derived from the names of pioneers in the field. Let's have a tour.  Continue reading...
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Merriam-Webster Adds New Words, While Collins Crowdsources

Merriam-Webster has added a batch of new words to its Collegiate Dictionary, with tech words like big data, gamification, hashtag, selfie and tweep predominating. Meanwhile, across the pond, Collins is crowdsourcing the choice of a new word for its latest dictionary edition, allowing people to tweet their favorites from such choices as adorkable, duckface, and fracktivist. Read the Merriam-Webster announcement here and the Collins announcement here.
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1 2 3 Displaying 1-7 of 17 Articles