If you're a fan of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, I have some bad news for you: The English language is notoriously anti-minimalist. English loves multiples and hangs onto old words while continuously adding new ones. I could dig up many examples, but today I want to talk about just one pair, crisp and crispy, both of which mean essentially the same thing. Except when they don't.  Continue reading...
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Though I made a case for alt-right as 2016's Euphemism of the Year, the American Dialect Society went in another direction, those rascals! They selected locker-room talk, which is a pretty solid euphemism, though I'm not sure it made the top ten twaddlesome terms of 2016. This year is young, but there's already a candidate I suspect everyone and their uncle is going to support or at least suggest for 2017's euphemism of the year: alternative facts.  Continue reading...
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At its annual meeting the American Dialect Society selected dumpster fire as its word of the year for 2016 and set a precedent by including an emoji in its announcement of the vote.  Continue reading...
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The American Dialect Society will be meeting in early January to present papers and share research about our ever-evolving language. They'll also pick the Word of the Year, along with many other categories—including Euphemism of the Year. Here's a list of suggested contenders.  Continue reading...
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It would be an interesting social experiment to bring the language surrounding New Year's Resolutions more into line with the meaning of resolution—that is to say, the act of declaring a firm intention to act.  Continue reading...
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Just as the OED will never be finished documenting the English language, there's always more to tell about the OED itself. So the latest addition to the historical record of our greatest historical dictionary—The Making of the Oxford English Dictionary by lexicographer Peter Gilliver—is most welcome.  Continue reading...
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With the new Star Wars movie Rogue One opening today, it's a fitting moment to look at how the meaning of rogue has evolved over the years, from one who is deceitful and worthless to today's connotation of the charming scoundrel.  Continue reading...
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