As most word-watchers predicted, the American Dialect Society picked Netflix and chill as 2015's Most Euphemistic term. It was an obvious and strong choice, even though it makes me want to Netflix and take my own life at this point.  Continue reading...
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Happy Thesaurus Day!

January 18th is celebrated as Thesaurus Day to honor the birthday of the author of the first thesaurus, Peter Mark Roget. Get into the spirit by reading our two-part interview with Roget biographer Joshua Kendall here and here. Also check out an ode to the thesaurus penned by Franklin P. Adams here and Johnny Carson's hilarious "Funeral for a Thesaurus Editor" sketch here.
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Gathering in Washington D.C. for its annual meeting, the American Dialect Society has made its 26th annual selection for Word of the Year. And as predicted in this space last month, the winner is a lowly pronoun: they used as a gender-neutral alternative to he and she, with special attention paid to its use as an expression of "non-binary" gender identity.  Continue reading...
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Greetings from Washington, D.C., where the American Dialect Society is holding its annual conference. On Thursday, in my capacity as chair of the society's New Words Committee, I presided over the nominating session for various categories in our Word of the Year selection. 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...
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It's hard to believe another year has left the building, leaving us all closer to singing with the angels, talking a dirt nap, or insert your euphemism for death here. Like any other year, 2015 was full of new words and old words newly prominent. While many of these terms were stalwart members of the lexicon, others were sneaky, sketchy, and suspect: there were euphemisms aplenty.  Continue reading...
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It's almost the end of 2015, and a new frontrunner for Euphemism of the Year has emerged. In a Department of Justice press release, Attorney General Loretta Lynch wrote, "The Department of Justice is committed to giving justice-involved youth the tools they need to become productive members of society."

As Shakespeare put it, "Wow."  Continue reading...
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Recently I spent an afternoon with friends wandering through Manhattan's Whitney Museum, gazing at a wide variety of canvases by Frank Stella, Jackson Pollack, Joseph Albers, Mark Rothko, and many more. As we wandered, my skepticism (you call this art?) gave way to admiration (wow, abandoning pictures could be fun!), and to thinking: hey, we writers could do the same thing with words, not using them to paint pictures but scattering them willy-nilly like Jackson Pollack's dribbles.  Continue reading...
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