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Blog Excerpts

"YOLO" Enters Oxford Dictionaries

Among the new words just added to Oxford Dictionaries is "YOLO," an acronym for "You Only Live Once." Loyal readers will recall that our own Ben Zimmer has been on the YOLO beat for a couple of years. Read his August 2012 Word Routes column, "Further Adventures of YOLO," here, and read about how his Boston Globe column helped put the word on the map here.
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Like has a new meaning. The word used to mean 'feel affection for,' 'take pleasure in,' or 'enjoy.' Now, thanks to Facebook, like can also mean, "Yes, I read what you wrote," or just a noncommittal "uh huh."  Continue reading...
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Here is the latest in a series of tips on usage and style shared by Mignon Fogarty, better known as Grammar Girl. One of Mignon's correspondents inquires about when setup should appear as a single, unbroken word, and when there should be a space or a hyphen between set and up.  Continue reading...
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We have another Euphemism of the Year candidate—and perhaps an entirely new category. In reference to her impending divorce, singer Jewel called the event a tender undoing, apparently seeking to create a more gibberish-soaked term than conscious uncoupling, which Gwyneth Paltrow famously used to describe her own divorce.  Continue reading...
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Blog Excerpts

Why You'll Be Able to Play "Qajaq" in Scrabble

The new edition of the official Scrabble dictionary is being released, and with it come 5,000 new words that North American players will be able to make with their tiles. There are helpful two-letter words like DA, GI, PO, and TE, but perhaps most interesting are such oddities as QAJAQ and QUINZHEE. It turns out those are both Inuit words, included because the Canadian Oxford Dictionary is one of the sources. Read all about it in the National Post here.
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Last week, as part of the Lexicon Valley podcast, I talked about how the word discombobulate grew out of a vogue in the Jacksonian era for making up jocular polysyllabic words with a pseudo-classical air. That impulse for concocting silly-sounding sesquipedalianisms has often bubbled up in the history of English.  Continue reading...
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A peculiar feature of some adjectives ending in -y is their ability to take on a semantic life of their own, separate from the meaning of their root. A handful of food-based adjectives fit this pattern, in which an English learner would be at a great disadvantage in thinking that the adjective's meaning might be composable from its parts. Think of corny, meaty, fishy, and cheesy.  Continue reading...
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