The critically lauded film The Imitation Game just won an Oscar for Graham Moore's screenplay, adapted from Alan Turing: The Enigma by Andrew Hodges. Crosswords play an important role in the story of the World War II codebreakers, but it turns out they also mastered the art of the palindrome. Palindromist Magazine editor Mark Saltveit reveals a long-hidden chapter of wordplay history.  Continue reading...
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Turns out the American Dialect Society callously disregarded my selection of conscious uncoupling (Gwyneth Paltrow's cuckoo-bananas term for divorce) for Euphemism of the Year. Instead, these linguists, lexicographers, word mavens, and rogue wordanistas selected EIT: an abbreviation of enhanced interrogation techniques, which is a euphemism of a euphemism.  Continue reading...
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The Story Behind Stuart Scott's "Booyah!"

ESPN sportscaster Stuart Scott died of cancer over the weekend, and tributes to him have noted his ebullient use of slang, especially his signature word, "Booyah!" For Slate's Lexicon Valley blog, our own Ben Zimmer traces the origins of "Booyah!" back to a hip-hop imitation of gunfire. Read all about it here.
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It's never easy picking a Euphemism of the Year. For 2014, it feels like a four-horse race—or should I say a four-pronged equine competition. My picks for EOTY are a Gwyneth Paltrow special and three other mounds of mumbo-jumbo. Read them and weep for clear, honest, non-sneaky language.  Continue reading...
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The holiday season is famous for its hustle and bustle. But that doesn't mean word learning has to come to a stop. In fact, the holidays provide many opportunities to acquire and think about words. It's just a question of knowing where to look for them.  Continue reading...
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When potential tourist-carrying SpaceShipTwo crashed, resulting in one death, you just knew there would be some euphemisms to explain the disaster. The euph of choice was anomaly.  Continue reading...
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It's almost Euphemism of the Year time, and whoa nelly, do I have a contender: sluggish cognitive tempo. As Peter Aldhous notes in Slate, "The name of a 'new attention disorder' sounds like an Onion-style parody. It also sounds like a classic case of disease mongering: blurring normality with sickness to boost drug companies' bottom lines."  Continue reading...
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