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An Inside Higher Ed article recently quoted Duke University physics professor Steffen Bass as describing the foolish stance of some of his colleagues as "bologna." Prof. Bass surely said baloney, a spelling that represents an Americanized pronunciation of bologna sausage, and it also came to mean "nonsense" in the 1920s.  Continue reading...

What the city of Boston experienced last week was described again and again as surreal. It was the only word that seemed capable of encompassing the week's unfolding events, from Monday's deadly explosions at the Boston Marathon finish line to Friday's lockdown of the city as SWAT teams zeroed in on the remaining suspect of the bombing.  Continue reading...

In my latest column for The Boston Globe, I observed that Beantown has more than its fair share of local terms for sketchy traffic maneuvers: the Boston left, the Boston bump, the Boston block, and so forth. But these regional labels can be found all over the country, and new ones keep cropping up.  Continue reading...

Scalawag, "a deceitful and unreliable scoundrel," is a fun word to say. It sounds like something a pirate on the high seas might call a rival. In fact, it originated in western New York in the 1830s, and a young genealogy buff recently turned up some fascinating early evidence on the word when he was investigating an ancestor.  Continue reading...

For those who like their wordplay competitive, this weekend featured two high-stakes contests: the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament and the first-ever Symmys Awards for the year's best palindromes. The top contenders at the ACPT were the same names that have dominated the crossword world for the past few years, while the surprise overall winner of the Symmys was a palindromic novice.  Continue reading...

This weekend, it's time once again for the best crossword solvers to gather in Brooklyn for the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament. Meanwhile, in Portland, Oregon, another kind of wordy celebration is going on, as the winners will be announced in the first annual Symmys Awards, given to the best palindromes of the year.  Continue reading...

National Grammar Day is just around the corner — it falls on Monday, March 4th (march forth, get it?). Among the festivities is the annual Grammar Haiku Contest, overseen by editor Mark Allen. In the contest, verbivores vie for glory by submitting grammar- or usage-based haikus on Twitter. This year, I've been asked to be a judge.  Continue reading...

4 5 6 7 8 Displaying 36-42 of 330 Articles