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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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Hey guys, I wrote a book. Fittingly, I can only state its title euphemistically in this column about euphemisms. It's sorta called Bull*#@$: A Lexicon. Not being able to name my book could be construed as an obstacle in my quest to use this column for shameless self-promotion. Or is it?  Continue reading...
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Intensive purposes? Slight of hand? Linguist Adam Cooper contemplates phrases whose meanings are in transition as we replace unfamiliar words fossilized with language that sounds more reasonable to our modern ears.  Continue reading...
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Maybe it's the newly chilly air, or the dwindling daylight, or the thrilling prospect of costumes and candy. Whatever the reason, each autumn brings a harvest of seasonal neologisms, word blends, and commercial coinages as colorful as the falling leaves.  Continue reading...
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1 2 3 4 5 Displaying 8-14 of 412 Articles