9 10 11 12 13 Displaying 71-77 of 209 Articles

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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In last night's vice-presidential debate, there was one clear winner: the word malarkey. Joe Biden used it not once but twice against Paul Ryan. First, in responding to Ryan's criticism of the Obama administration's handling of last month's attacks in Benghazi, he told Ryan, "With all due respect, that's a bunch of malarkey." And then later, Biden euphemistically called Ryan's rhetoric "a bunch of stuff" before clarifiying, "We Irish call it malarkey."  Continue reading...
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Ever since hippies embraced it in the '60s, granola has always had countercultural connotations. In the years since it took the country by storm, the words crunchy and granola, together and even individually, have come to act as shorthand adjectives to describe people with a streak of cultural rebellion, from vegetarians and war protesters in the '70s to hybrid electric car drivers and vaccine-rejecting parents in the 2000s.  Continue reading...
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9 10 11 12 13 Displaying 71-77 of 209 Articles