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As keynote speaker at the 2015 American Copy Editors Society meeting, lexicographer Ben Zimmer showed off the resources in the Vocabulary.com Dictionary as part of a talk on "Nitpickery, Debunkage, and the Joys of Getting It Right." Not surprisingly, ACES attendees live-tweeting the address were more likely to take note of Zimmer's singing, rapping, and discussion of language anachronisms in "Mad Men" and "Downton Abbey."  Continue reading...
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At the 2015 American Crossword Puzzle Tournament, it came down to a neck-and-neck battle between Dan Feyer and Tyler Hinman, the two titans of speed-solving. And in an absolutely heart-stopping finish, Dan beat Tyler by half a second.  Continue reading...
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Recently in an online forum for editors, someone balked at then being used as a coordinating conjunction, as in: "I went to high school, then I went to college." Coordinating conjunctions, you'll recall, join two items of equal status: two words of the same parts of speech, two phrases of the same type, or two clauses.  Continue reading...
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People awakening from a "nightmare" often have the sensation that they can't breathe. Not surprising: That's where the word "nightmare" comes from.  Continue reading...
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References made by authors sometimes don't age very well. If these references are lost to history, or fall on deaf ears, it can be very frustrating for the reader. This can be especially true when the reference is part of the title. Many schoolchildren know that the Emma Lazarus poem at the base of the Statue of Liberty is called "The New Colossus," but the reference to the statue of Helios at Rhodes is probably obscure, and the relationship between the two statues themselves is not entirely clear.  Continue reading...
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Earlier this month, Apple pulled back the curtain on its new wrist-borne technology, the Apple Watch. Much of the subsequent chatter centered on pricing ($349 to $17,000), features (digital crown, sapphire crystal), and release date (April 24). Some of us, however, directed our curiosity elsewhere: to the device's three model names. Why "Watch," "Watch Sport," and "Watch Edition"? What do those spare yet evocative names tell us about Apple's objectives?  Continue reading...
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When the Academy Awards were given out last month, entertainment news was full of commentary about which movies, directors and performers should have been nominated but weren't—who got snubbed by those snobs in the Academy. That made me wonder if snub and snob were etymologically related.  Continue reading...
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1 2 Displaying 1-7 of 14 Articles