Garbage is such a trashy word. It suggests rubbish, waste, and, well, garbage. So why not put a positive spin on refuse with the term non-core assets? It applies equally well to financial garbage and garbage garbage, not to mention anything else that's not worth a lick.  Continue reading...

I've spent 81.7% of my life watching Seinfeld, but I just realized I never mentioned a Seinfeldian euphemism in one of my columns. Bagel technician, meaning someone who makes bagels, is the preposterous title on Kramer's business card during "The Strike" episode, which is better known for launching the holiday Festivus.  Continue reading...

We have another Euphemism of the Year candidate—and perhaps an entirely new category. In reference to her impending divorce, singer Jewel called the event a tender undoing, apparently seeking to create a more gibberish-soaked term than conscious uncoupling, which Gwyneth Paltrow famously used to describe her own divorce.  Continue reading...

Hillary Clinton put her foot in her mouth recently when she made some comments that made it sound like she and her family were inches from the poorhouse and perhaps down to their last mouthful of gruel. She tried to explain this gaffe by saying those comments were inartful. Huh?  Continue reading...

Context collapse is cited by researchers as a reason friendships fall apart online, with only the Borg mind of Mark Zuckerberg to connect them. That certainly makes sense. If the only context we share is that we were in the same fourth-grade English class, and the teacher tossed the same erasers at us for talking in class, and we didn't even like each other much then, our context is thinner than a supermodel.  Continue reading...

A few of my female friends have a fun hobby. Not knitting. Not kickboxing. Not baking pies. Not vampire-slaying. Hating Gwyneth Paltrow. I haven't fully grasped my friends' loathing in the past, but I'm beginning to understand, thanks to a humdinger of a euphemism Paltrow used to describe her impending divorce: conscious uncoupling.  Continue reading...

I've written columns culled from the Dictionary of American Regional English (DARE) before, but it wasn't easy. I always had to thumb through the pages like a caveman. No more! Now, finally, DARE is available digitally, allowing this deep well of regional English to be searched easily. This is a bonanza for writers and word nerds everywhere, so get a subscription or take your library hostage until it does so.  Continue reading...

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