1 2 3 4 5 Displaying 15-21 of 199 Articles

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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If you read the Visual Thesaurus Word of the Day you know that it often explores word origins. Even without keeping count, you are probably vaguely aware that the language mentioned more often than any other besides English is Latin. Statistics about the English lexicon reflect this.  Continue reading...
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After the Seattle Seahawks shellacked the Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl last night, the Seahawks players, coaches, and owners all made sure to thank "the twelfth man," as the team's boisterous fans have come to be collectively known. But the Seahawks only have the right to use that phrase because of a licensing agreement worked out with Texas A&M University, the trademark holders. Texas A&M claims the expression goes back to a legendary 1922 game, but its true history is far more complex.  Continue reading...
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1 2 3 4 5 Displaying 15-21 of 199 Articles