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At the American Dialect Society's annual conference in Minneapolis, we have nominated words in various categories in our Word of the Year selection. I presided over the nominating session on Thursday in my capacity as chair of the society's New Words Committee. 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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As the year comes to a close, it's time once again to survey the new words and phrases that made their presence felt in the popular consciousness. For the Wall Street Journal, I surveyed the "words that popped in 2013," from cronut to Sharknado, but there were too many good choices to include in one article. Here I present my more comprehensive list of notable words of the year.  Continue reading...
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In a comical scene in the film The Princess Bride, the character Inigo Montoya has finally had enough of hearing the bad guy Vizzini say "Inconceivable!" when things are not only conceivable, but just keep happening. Montoya is finally moved to say, "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."  Continue reading...
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The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug was just released today. You can tell from the title that in this movie, someone's going to get desolated, and desolated but good. But who? Does Smaug desolate someone, or does someone desolate Smaug? What does desolate mean, anyway?  Continue reading...
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Oh, to be svelte. To be as light as felt, a suave fellow or a lass as light as a velleity, not swelling like Elvis but sweltering hot: no thicker than the drop of sweat that falls down your brow at the sight or the plucked eyebrows of a stylish lady. And stylish, yes, svelte always seems stylish, fitted, bespoke tailored.  Continue reading...
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In "eminent domain," a government can seize property for public use, as long as it compensates the owner. In "imminent domain," it stands to reason, the government wants to do it NOW. Except that there is no such thing as "imminent domain." It's a mistake — a common one, but a mistake nonetheless.  Continue reading...
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Words can be thought of as historical artifacts; they carry with them a stamp of time and place, and sometimes it's important to take the long view and think about words outside their immediate context and use a broader perspective.  Continue reading...
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5 6 7 8 9 Displaying 43-49 of 772 Articles