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Is it possible to take vocabulary expansion too far? In a piece in the Wall Street Journal, Elizabeth Bernstein points out the situations where word-knowledge can work against you, making the point that "language junkies" might want to be careful lest they alienate people they're trying to impress, or just render themselves incomprehensible.  Continue reading...
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We all know what a varmint is, thanks to Yosemite Sam (and others). It's an annoying animal (or person), the fauna equivalent of a weed. It's something (or someone) who takes your nice, tidy set-up, your lovely garden or lawn or your livestock, and makes a mess of it. Before you had a good environment; now you have a nasty varmint.  Continue reading...
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March is National Reading Month, and to commemorate the occasion, Time's Katy Steinmetz points to some great writing in small packages. She also checks in with our sister site, Vocabulary.com, for insights into vocabulary items in the texts she has chosen.  Continue reading...
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Decimate. Literally. Hopefully. These words, and others like them, provoke so much ire in some readers that they become troublesome to use. Critics feel that the writer is using the word in an unauthorized way, that it's being using to mean what it does not mean.  Continue reading...
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Jim Burke's The English Teacher's Companion includes a list of 358 academic vocabulary words culled from a survey of textbooks, assignments, standards, and examinations. Although the term academic vocabulary means different things to different educators, I like to think of Burke's use of the term as representing the vocabulary of directions.  Continue reading...
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Sometimes, a photo "ekes out of the printer." Other times, electronics help "to eke out extra mileage" in cars. And in a more familiar usage, a movie "shows how a once-budding folk singer tries to eke out a living." It's no wonder, then, that most people think "eke out" means to achieve something through effort, to barely get by.  Continue reading...
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We welcome back James Harbeck for another installment of his "Word Tasting Notes." Here he considers "a word for people who look at things with the arch eyebrows and droopy eyelids of cool superiority," supercilious.  Continue reading...
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1 2 3 4 5 Displaying 8-14 of 746 Articles