4 5 6 7 8 Displaying 36-42 of 1015 Articles

Any word in a living language can develop different meanings in different contexts. These uses of the word can have distinct tones and qualities, with the result that one goes largely unnoticed while its twin draws regular complaints. For example, my bank recently sent me a form to fill in, which included the following instruction: Please advise your Country of Birth.  Continue reading...
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A few of my female friends have a fun hobby. Not knitting. Not kickboxing. Not baking pies. Not vampire-slaying. Hating Gwyneth Paltrow. I haven't fully grasped my friends' loathing in the past, but I'm beginning to understand, thanks to a humdinger of a euphemism Paltrow used to describe her impending divorce: conscious uncoupling.  Continue reading...
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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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Having associated the interjection boo with ghosts since childhood, it took me a while to get used to it as a term of endearment for one's (presumably living) significant other. However, it's been around long enough by now that some of you may well have grown up with it. But never mind boo: it's time to get ready for bae, the latest monosyllabic pet name starting with B.  Continue reading...
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Is it possible to take vocabulary expansion too far? In a piece in the Wall Street Journal, Elizabeth Bernstein points out the situations where word-knowledge can work against you, making the point that "language junkies" might want to be careful lest they alienate people they're trying to impress, or just render themselves incomprehensible.  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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4 5 6 7 8 Displaying 36-42 of 1015 Articles