8 9 10 11 12 Displaying 64-70 of 322 Articles

Last week on NPR's Morning Edition, sports commentator Frank Deford said in a piece about Serena Williams and her volatile style that "the proof is in the pudding." After a listener questioned the usage, I was called in to be the arbiter on the idiomatic expression. Is the proof in the pudding? Or is the proof of the pudding in the eating?  Continue reading...
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Can a simple slangy acronym mark a generation gap? YOLO, short for "You Only Live Once," has emerged as an age-based shibboleth: all too familiar to members of the millennial set, and all but meaningless to their elders. In my latest Boston Globe column, I dissect the YOLO phenomenon, but there's much more to say about those four letters.  Continue reading...
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If there's one thing that dictionary publishers have learned, it's that announcing new words added to their latest editions is good for generating some media attention — and also generating public hand-wringing over what the new entries say about the state of our society and our language.  Continue reading...
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In two recent articles, The New York Times has reported on culture wars involving "hipsters": locals in the Long Island town of Montauk are suffering from "hipster fatigue," while in Park Slope, Brooklyn, the hipsters are battling with new parents and their babies. All of this raises the question: where did the term hipster come from? Does it have something to do with hippies? And what about the even older term, hepcat?  Continue reading...
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"The whole nine yards," meaning "the full extent of something," remains one of the most puzzling idioms for word-watchers. Everyone seems to have their own explanation for where the expression comes from, and yet there is still no definitive origin story for it. This is surprising for a phrase that's not terribly old: scattered uses can be found from the 1960s, and now it's been pushed back a bit earlier, to 1956.  Continue reading...
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Via Twitter, theatre director Jen Bender posed a question that had recently come up in conversation: "A married man's lover is his mistress. What's the name for a woman's illicit lover?" Searching for an answer to that question points to the many gender-related asymmetries in English.  Continue reading...
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Yesterday marked the 50th anniversary of the first official performance of the Rolling Stones. When it comes to songwriting, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards usually don't receive as much adulation as their counterparts in the Beatles, John Lennon and Paul McCartney. But Mick and Keith have churned out some wonderful turns of phrase over the past half century. Consider this, from the Stones' 1969 single, "Honky Tonk Women": "She blew my nose and then she blew my mind."  Continue reading...
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8 9 10 11 12 Displaying 64-70 of 322 Articles