In the past year, fake news has gained currency as well as a new sense: Not only can it signify "disinformation or falsehoods spread as real news" – but it has also come to mean "actual news that is claimed to be untrue" if it's perceived as unflattering.  Continue reading...
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The recent discovery of Octlantis, an undersea community of octopuses just off the eastern coast of Australia, is a reminder of how a novel blend can perfectly name a new phenomenon, no matter how wild or multi-tentacled.  Continue reading...
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Apparently, one of the things that is making our Facebook feeds appetizing is a sauce—a combination of metrics mixed in exactly the right proportions to make this particular meal ever appealing.  Continue reading...
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From a linguistic perspective, the now burgeoning field of genetic genealogy provides an interesting case study for the ways in which we develop new terminology for new concepts, picking and choosing among the raw materials we have (that is, words) to designate things for which we didn't have or need particular names before.  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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In many areas of business and personal life, failure is being redefined as either a challenge that can be overcome with the right coaching or attitude – or, at the extreme, as a source of pride. What's behind this upbeat sense of what it means to fail?  Continue reading...
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Eight pairs of sounds that are scattered across the lexicon of English support Henry Fowler's observation that relations among words in English come to us from our forefathers as an odd jumble and plainly show that the language has not been neatly constructed by a master builder who could create each part to do the exact work required of it, neither overlapped or overlapping; far from that, its parts have had to grow as they could.  Continue reading...
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