7 8 9 10 11 Displaying 57-63 of 188 Articles

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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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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7 8 9 10 11 Displaying 57-63 of 188 Articles