9 10 11 12 13 Displaying 71-77 of 205 Articles

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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The Oxford English Dictionary has long relied on "the wisdom of the crowds" to build a comprehensive historical record of English words and phrases back to their origins. The dictionary's latest experiment in crowdsourcing is "OED Appeals," an online initiative to engage the public in finding "antedatings," or citations that predate the earliest known examples in the OED files.  Continue reading...
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Blog Excerpts

Mysteries of Vernacular

Here's a project we can get behind: Mysteries of Vernacular, which presents etymological stories behind common words via beautiful papercraft animation. One word per letter of the alphabet is planned: so far they've finished assassin, clue, hearse, and pants. Check 'em out.
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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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9 10 11 12 13 Displaying 71-77 of 205 Articles