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is a versatile word that occupies a unique semantic space in English, with nodes corresponding to ideas of scarcity, superior quality, preference, payment, and reward. The ways in which the usage of premium
has changed in the last century or so have given premium
a kind of circuit-training workout, allowing it to exercise its meanings vigorously at each of these nodes at different times.
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We've been keeping tabs on the fuss over the word "literally" over the past couple of weeks, as commentators have expressed indignation that the non-literal definition of the word can be found in both online and print dictionaries now. In a Washington Post opinion piece, copy editor Bill Walsh, a self-identified "enlightened stickler," ruminates on the "literally" debate, which he thinks is overblown despite his own peevishness over misuse of the word.
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Neither you nor I set the "rules" of English; we do it together, by using words in certain ways. But we do learn certain "rules," and we can either remember them, forget them, or ignore them. For example, most of us learned that "neither" and "nor" were a pair, like Lucy and Ricky, or peanut butter and jelly.
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With endless drama swirling around disgraced baseball players like Ryan Braun and Alex Rodriguez, the word doping
has been firmly ensconced in American sports headlines, just as it has been in international coverage of cycling and track and field. How doping
came to refer to taking drugs to improve one's athletic performance, however, is a complicated story.