Here's a look at the OED's latest quarterly update to see if there are any euphemisms. If not, I'll suggest how some of the terms could be euphemisms. After all, this column is an offering to the Malarkey Gods.  Continue reading...
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Peter Martin's new book, The Dictionary Wars, is an account of the beginnings, twists, and turns in American lexicography that have led to the unique place of the name "Webster" in the minds of Americans today. If you're a lover of words and dictionaries, you'll want to put this excellent book on your reading list.  Continue reading...
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Lexicography has been and continues to be a gig occupation for many who do it, and that is the case for Charles Sanders Peirce. One place he found work was in writing definitions for the Century Dictionary, which may be the greatest dictionary you've never heard of.  Continue reading...
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Turns out evasion can take the form of a Trojan horsepucky so subtle and tiny most would not recognize it as evasive at all. This expanded edition of The Evasion-English Dictionary shows how small, everyday, nothing-to-see-here words can hide as much hokum as the longest and vaguest jargon.  Continue reading...
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When judges cite dictionaries, especially as a way of underpinning or justifying a particular decision, the dictionary is suddenly elevated to a position of influence that it did not previously enjoy.  Continue reading...
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I have long been a bit disposed (and definitely not predisposed) to peeve about pre- words that don't really require pre-. Lately I have added a new peeve, actually a lexicographer's lament, about words that begin with the complementary prefix post-. These two prefixes share the quality of suggesting a timeline, and the problematic nature of both of them arises when the reader or listener isn't quite clear on where to land on that timeline, or what is happening there.  Continue reading...
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Lexicography is famously considered an art and science, but Kory Stamper thinks of it as a craft, a term implying "care, repetitive work, apprenticeship, and practice." Word by Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries is a wonderful firsthand account of a lexicographical craftsperson who is master of another craft: writing. Few books about words—or anything else—are this well-written.  Continue reading...
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