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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."

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...

Happy National Punctuation Day!


Celebrating Labor (and Labour) Day

On the first Monday in September, the United States observes Labor Day, while Canadians celebrate Labour Day. If you want to know why labour is the accepted spelling in the United Kingdom and Commonwealth countries like Canada, while Americans prefer labor (and color, favor, honor, humor, and neighbor), check out this classic Word Routes column by Ben Zimmer.

Earlier this month, the Times Higher Education reported on the practice of "Roget-ing," in which plagiarism is disguised by swapping synonyms found in Roget's Thesaurus for words used in the copied paper. Though untraceable, the resulting language ranges from not quite right to cataclysmically horrible.  Continue reading...

"YOLO" Enters Oxford Dictionaries

Among the new words just added to Oxford Dictionaries is "YOLO," an acronym for "You Only Live Once." Loyal readers will recall that our own Ben Zimmer has been on the YOLO beat for a couple of years. Read his August 2012 Word Routes column, "Further Adventures of YOLO," here, and read about how his Boston Globe column helped put the word on the map here.

Why You'll Be Able to Play "Qajaq" in Scrabble

The new edition of the official Scrabble dictionary is being released, and with it come 5,000 new words that North American players will be able to make with their tiles. There are helpful two-letter words like DA, GI, PO, and TE, but perhaps most interesting are such oddities as QAJAQ and QUINZHEE. It turns out those are both Inuit words, included because the Canadian Oxford Dictionary is one of the sources. Read all about it in the National Post here.

1 2 3 4 5 Displaying 8-14 of 477 Articles