8 9 10 11 12 Displaying 64-70 of 204 Articles

In his latest Word Tasting Note, James Harbeck presents a baker's dozen of reasons why he likes lagniappe, a word meaning "a small gift, especially one given by a merchant to a customer who makes a purchase."  Continue reading...
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Americans are approaching an auspicious anniversary: it has been two hundred years since the first known appearance of "Uncle Sam" as an initialistic embodiment of the United States. The earliest example of "Uncle Sam" was found in the December 23, 1812 issue of the Bennington (Vermont) News-Letter. But another town not too far from Bennington — Troy, New York — has maintained that it is the true birthplace of Uncle Sam.  Continue reading...
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On Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, Americans kick off the holiday shopping season with a bang. In his Word Routes column last year, lexicographer Ben Zimmer explored the origins of the phrase "Black Friday." It is not, as many believe, the day when retailers' balance sheets change from red to black.  Continue reading...
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Last February, Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke warned the House of Representatives that "under current law, on January 1st, 2013, there is going to be a massive fiscal cliff of large spending cuts and tax increases." Now, with the election over, President Obama and the lame-duck Congress are trying to figure out a way to avoid the "fiscal cliff." But where did the phrase come from? And is the cliff metaphor really so apt?  Continue reading...
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Norton Juster's The Phantom Tollbooth planted an inspirational seed in 5th grade teacher Francesca Leibowitz's mind: "What if our class were to grow a Word Orchard by planting roots and affixes? And what if the fruits of our labor (pun fully intended) were those morphemes' derivatives?"  Continue reading...
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As most histories of Halloween will tell you, Hallowe'en (or Halloween) is a shortened version of All-Hallow(s)-Eve, but how and why did eve turn into e'en? For that matter, what is a hallow? Why did the all get dropped?  Continue reading...
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When Obama and Romney crossed swords in last night's presidential debate, the word bayonet made a surprising but memorable appearance. That inspired James Harbeck to compose the latest in his series of Word Tasting Notes.  Continue reading...
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8 9 10 11 12 Displaying 64-70 of 204 Articles