1 2 3 4 5 Displaying 15-21 of 335 Articles

After the Seattle Seahawks shellacked the Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl last night, the Seahawks players, coaches, and owners all made sure to thank "the twelfth man," as the team's boisterous fans have come to be collectively known. But the Seahawks only have the right to use that phrase because of a licensing agreement worked out with Texas A&M University, the trademark holders. Texas A&M claims the expression goes back to a legendary 1922 game, but its true history is far more complex.  Continue reading...

When Run Run Shaw, a giant of the Hong Kong entertainment industry, died earlier this month at the ripe old age of 106, I took the opportunity to look at a term with which he was intimately connected: kung fu. In the 1970s, martial-arts movies from the Shaw Brothers studio (and its Hong Kong rival, Golden Harvest) firmly planted kung fu in the global consciousness. But I was surprised to learn that kung fu as we know it was actually born on American soil.  Continue reading...

Leading up to the American Dialect Society's Word of the Year vote last night, handicappers might have favored such terms as selfie, twerk, or Obamacare as possible winners. But the society's selection was a bit of a surprise: the humble word because, which has recently expanded in new grammatical directions in informal use online.  Continue reading...

At the American Dialect Society's annual conference in Minneapolis, we have nominated words in various categories in our Word of the Year selection. I presided over the nominating session on Thursday in my capacity as chair of the society's New Words Committee. Winners will be selected from the different categories on Friday evening, culminating in the vote for the overall Word of the Year. Here's the list of nominees.  Continue reading...

As the year comes to a close, it's time once again to survey the new words and phrases that made their presence felt in the popular consciousness. For the Wall Street Journal, I surveyed the "words that popped in 2013," from cronut to Sharknado, but there were too many good choices to include in one article. Here I present my more comprehensive list of notable words of the year.  Continue reading...

While Americans this week have marked the sad anniversary of John F. Kennedy's assassination, there is a more pleasant commemoration going on as well. On Nov. 23, 1963, the day after Kennedy died, the BBC first broadcast the science-fiction series "Doctor Who." The franchise is still going strong 50 years later. To celebrate, let's look at one of the lexical contributions of "Doctor Who": the name for the nefarious alien race, "Dalek."  Continue reading...

We all know the old fairy tale: Goldilocks enters the house of the Three Bears and samples their porridge, their chairs, and their beds. Each time she finds one item that's "just right." In recent years, the familiar story has been making the rounds, with the word "Goldilocks" showing up in some unexpected contexts, from astronomy to economy.  Continue reading...

1 2 3 4 5 Displaying 15-21 of 335 Articles