1 2 3 4 5 Displaying 15-21 of 201 Articles

With the teams competing in the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament whittled down to the Final Four, "March Madness" is coming to a close. (Actually, as has been the case for a few decades now, March Madness extends into the beginning of April, when the semifinal and final games are played.) In honor of college hoops, I've selected a "Final Four" of important terms associated with the tournament.  Continue reading...
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We all know what a varmint is, thanks to Yosemite Sam (and others). It's an annoying animal (or person), the fauna equivalent of a weed. It's something (or someone) who takes your nice, tidy set-up, your lovely garden or lawn or your livestock, and makes a mess of it. Before you had a good environment; now you have a nasty varmint.  Continue reading...
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Yesterday, March 23, 2014, marked the 175th anniversary of a word that may be the most widely used expression in the world: "OK." MacMurray College English professor Allan Metcalf says "OK" is America's greatest export and debunks the various origin theories surrounding it.  Continue reading...
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A "bear market" is one where stock prices fall, and a "bull market" is one where prices rise. But why do financial folks talk about "bears" and "bulls"? The public radio show Marketplace looked into various origin stories and called on our own Ben Zimmer to explain the history.  Continue reading...
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Meryl Davis and Charlie White made history this week as the first Americans ever to win the Olympic gold medal in ice dancing. But for language watchers, an even more interesting question than who would take first place was this: What's a twizzle?  Continue reading...
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While watching the Winter Olympics, did you ever wonder why figure skaters await their scores in the "kiss and cry" area? Stefan Fatsis, sports blogger for Slate, tells the story behind the phrase.  Continue reading...
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Blog Excerpts

Remembering the "Gear" Language of The Beatles

When the Beatles invaded America 50 years ago, it wasn't just their music and hairstyle that struck Americans as novel, but their Liverpudlian language as well. In his latest column for the Wall Street Journal, Ben Zimmer looks at how words like "gear" and "fab" emerged out of the Liverpool dialect known as Scouse. Read the column here.
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1 2 3 4 5 Displaying 15-21 of 201 Articles