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Last August, the folks at Oxford Dictionaries published a list of words that they were adding to their dictionaries. Among them was neckbeard, which is listed as "A growth of hair on a man's neck." But this self-describing definition is not why the term was added. More interestingly, the term connotes someone with "poor grooming habits" and who's "socially inept."  Continue reading...
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If you've spent time lately in the world of startup brands, as I have, you've almost certainly noticed a conspicuous trend. Maybe the penny dropped as you searched for recipes on Yummly or bought home-delivered meals from Feastly. Perhaps you've skimmed headlines on Reportedly, Collectively, or Newsly. Or you've played games on Scopely, tracked gasoline usage with Fuelly, or researched colleges on Admittedly.  Continue reading...
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The critically lauded film The Imitation Game just won an Oscar for Graham Moore's screenplay, adapted from Alan Turing: The Enigma by Andrew Hodges. Crosswords play an important role in the story of the World War II codebreakers, but it turns out they also mastered the art of the palindrome. Palindromist Magazine editor Mark Saltveit reveals a long-hidden chapter of wordplay history.  Continue reading...
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Over the weekend, The New York Times presented an interactive quiz on newly prominent slang terms entitled "Are You On Fleek?" But what does "on fleek" mean, and how did it get to be such a trendy expression, especially on social media? Our resident linguist Neal Whitman investigates.  Continue reading...
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In January, I took part in an interesting discussion on Twitter. Washington Post copyeditor Bill Walsh posted a headline: "Hole-in-the-walls: East, west, and downtown, 19 named." He asked, "Would you take your sister-in-laws to such a place?"  Continue reading...
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Revising what one has written is a key part to the writing process. But what about revising the title, the way a work will be known for all time? Literary history is filled with titles that "almost were," and they are difficult to embrace, perhaps because the titles we know are so comfortably familiar.  Continue reading...
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The public radio show "On the Media" notes that "in the age of Snowden and Manning, the term 'whistleblower' is increasingly present in our media. But where exactly did the word come from?" Brooke Gladstone talked to our executive editor Ben Zimmer for some historical background.  Continue reading...
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1 2 3 Displaying 1-7 of 16 Articles