9 10 11 12 13 Displaying 71-77 of 200 Articles

Haven't you always thought that throughfare seemed more sensible than thoroughfare? I mean, it's a through road, not a thorough road, right?  Continue reading...
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Last week on NPR's Morning Edition, sports commentator Frank Deford said in a piece about Serena Williams and her volatile style that "the proof is in the pudding." After a listener questioned the usage, I was called in to be the arbiter on the idiomatic expression. Is the proof in the pudding? Or is the proof of the pudding in the eating?  Continue reading...
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We'd like to welcome writer, editor, and designer James Harbeck as our newest regular contributor! His specialty is "Word Tasting Notes." "Words are delicious and intoxicating," Harbeck writes. "So why not taste them like a fine wine?" Here, he savors the word chiaroscuro.  Continue reading...
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As my sons Doug and Adam have spent more time surfing the Internet, they've seen plenty of examples of people leaving insulting comments on Facebook pages or YouTube videos just to get a reaction out of other people, who don't realize they're being played. They've also picked up the vocabulary for this kind of behavior: trolling. I've been familiar with the concept of trolling for 20 years now, but it turns out to have undergone some changes during that time.  Continue reading...
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In two recent articles, The New York Times has reported on culture wars involving "hipsters": locals in the Long Island town of Montauk are suffering from "hipster fatigue," while in Park Slope, Brooklyn, the hipsters are battling with new parents and their babies. All of this raises the question: where did the term hipster come from? Does it have something to do with hippies? And what about the even older term, hepcat?  Continue reading...
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What does a Hanseatic city have to do with America's most popular sandwich? How is the city of Mozart related to a ballpark favorite? And how did the names of these cities end up as common and productive English words? It's all because of Americans' love for an ethnic food that's so much a part of our diet that we might not even realize it's ethnic: namely, German cuisine.  Continue reading...
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"The whole nine yards," meaning "the full extent of something," remains one of the most puzzling idioms for word-watchers. Everyone seems to have their own explanation for where the expression comes from, and yet there is still no definitive origin story for it. This is surprising for a phrase that's not terribly old: scattered uses can be found from the 1960s, and now it's been pushed back a bit earlier, to 1956.  Continue reading...
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9 10 11 12 13 Displaying 71-77 of 200 Articles