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In this month's crossword, we're commemorating the 50th anniversary of The March on Washington with a quotation from Martin Luther King, Jr. Figure it out and you could win a Visual Thesaurus T-shirt!  Continue reading...
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When Oxford Dictionaries announced that its quarterly update would include the word twerk, a term for a particularly racy dance style, the timing was perfect: just two days earlier, Miley Cyrus had created a sensation by "twerking" at MTV's Video Music Awards. The result, writes our own Ben Zimmer, was a "perfect lexicographical storm."  Continue reading...
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There is a new trend in concierge medicine, with concierge practices consisting of concierge doctors, concierge physicians, or maybe concierge dentists, all offering their versions of concierge healthcare. How did the word for the guy in the hotel lobby who can get you show tickets, a restaurant reservation, or almost anything else you need, come to refer to this kind of ultra-personalized medical care?  Continue reading...
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"We have to turn the page on the bubble-and-bust mentality," President Obama said in a recent weekly address. After the economic ruin of the housing bubble, it's hard to argue with that sentiment. But "bubbles" have long been with us — the metaphor of the bubble has been applied to fragile financial schemes for nearly three centuries, originating as a literary device.  Continue reading...
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"In the mood for dance"? "My heart bleeded"? While creating vocabulary lists of unusual words found in pop music, writer and linguist Adam Cooper ran across some words that go beyond peculiarity and into the realm of error.  Continue reading...
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We've been keeping tabs on the fuss over the word "literally" over the past couple of weeks, as commentators have expressed indignation that the non-literal definition of the word can be found in both online and print dictionaries now. In a Washington Post opinion piece, copy editor Bill Walsh, a self-identified "enlightened stickler," ruminates on the "literally" debate, which he thinks is overblown despite his own peevishness over misuse of the word.  Continue reading...
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Neither you nor I set the "rules" of English; we do it together, by using words in certain ways. But we do learn certain "rules," and we can either remember them, forget them, or ignore them. For example, most of us learned that "neither" and "nor" were a pair, like Lucy and Ricky, or peanut butter and jelly.  Continue reading...
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1 2 3 4 Displaying 1-7 of 23 Articles