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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.

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.

On Twitter, the single word "blessed" has been pressed into service as a popular hashtag, often appended to self-serving portrayals of enviable lifestyles. The overuse of "#blessed" has led to a backlash against the hashtag, and now it frequently appears in tweets sarcastically. Has "#blessed" run its course? Our own Ben Zimmer joined in a discussion about the shelf-life of hashtags on Huffington Post Live.  Continue reading...

Six years ago, Fred Shapiro, editor of the Yale Book of Quotations, stirred up some controversy over the origins of the famous Serenity Prayer: "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference." Shapiro cast doubt on the popular attribution of the saying to the theologian Reinhold Niebuhr. But now Shapiro has gained some serenity of his own by concluding that Niebuhr really did originate the prayer.  Continue reading...

A great challenge for anyone looking to improve their vocabulary is identifying the words they don't know. Yesterday, Slate contributor Seth Stevenson gave the phenomenon a name in "Bubble vocabulary: the words you almost know, sometimes use, but are secretly unsure of."  Continue reading...

Has Shakespeare's Dictionary Been Discovered?

Just in time for William Shakespeare's 450th birthday comes word of what could be an extremely important Shakespearean find. Two rare-book dealers have in their possession a copy of a sixteenth-century quadrilingual dictionary (bought on eBay!) that they claim belonged to Shakespeare himself. The dictionary is already known to be a favorite reference of the Bard, and the owners of this copy think the annotations are in Shakespeare's hand. But there are already many doubters. Read about it in the Guardian here.

It's William Shakespeare's 450th birthday today. What better way to celebrate than with a whole host of learning resources focused on his words?  Continue reading...

1 2 3 4 5 Displaying 8-14 of 465 Articles