6 7 8 9 10 Displaying 50-56 of 1003 Articles

When coming up with adjectives for made-up things, we have many to choose among: fictional, fictitious, or fictive, or even factitious. Choose wisely, or risk saying something you don't mean.  Continue reading...
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It's a popularly held idea that dictionary writers have the power to add words to the lexicon when in fact language is changed the by people who use it and the job of the lexigrographer is to take note. Our own Ben Zimmer revisits this distinction in a look at a recent episode of the Nickelodeon teen comedy "Sam & Cat," in which the titular characters take on word-creation head on.  Continue reading...
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In the spirit of New Year's resolutions like quit smoking, lose weight, exercise more, each January brings new calls to ban words, the linguistic equivalent of losing weight. But while New Year's resolutions are self-imposed — I decide that an hour on the elliptical watching Sherlock would be better than an hour on the couch with Sherlock and a bowl of chips — word bans tend to be imposed by someone else.  Continue reading...
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When Run Run Shaw, a giant of the Hong Kong entertainment industry, died earlier this month at the ripe old age of 106, I took the opportunity to look at a term with which he was intimately connected: kung fu. In the 1970s, martial-arts movies from the Shaw Brothers studio (and its Hong Kong rival, Golden Harvest) firmly planted kung fu in the global consciousness. But I was surprised to learn that kung fu as we know it was actually born on American soil.  Continue reading...
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Here's a riddle for you: How is clothing similar to a bomb that doesn't detonate or a seed that doesn't sprout? No, the answer is not "They're all useless." (Sorry, nudists.) Rather, they all share a single label: duds.  Continue reading...
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To many, the selfie — a picture of yourself, taken by yourself and shared on social media — is a sign of rampant narcissism. I tend to share that belief. Even before I heard the word, I thought there was something mentally amiss with my Facebook friends who posted over a hundred head shots of themselves. However, as a lexicographer, I have to admit the selfie trend is now broader than the self.  Continue reading...
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Ready for a ghost story? In the latest installment of his "Word Tasting Notes," James Harbeck has a ghost story about the word ghost.

This word has a ghost in it, a little guest in the host: a letter h, symbol of a soft breath, here seen but not heard — like many a spectre.  Continue reading...
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6 7 8 9 10 Displaying 50-56 of 1003 Articles