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It's hard to believe another year has left the building, leaving us all closer to singing with the angels, talking a dirt nap, or insert your euphemism for death here. Like any other year, 2015 was full of new words and old words newly prominent. While many of these terms were stalwart members of the lexicon, others were sneaky, sketchy, and suspect: there were euphemisms aplenty.  Continue reading...
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It's been a while since I've written a column for this space, and in large part the hiatus has been due to my (successful) campaign for a seat on my local school board. Or board of education. Which is it? Is there a difference?  Continue reading...
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As is the annual tradition, it is time once again to look back at the new and notable words of the past year. In 2015, could the most significant word have been a lowly pronoun?  Continue reading...
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For the latest installment of Slate's podcast Lexicon Valley, I look at how the seemingly random number eighty-six became a verb meaning to get rid of something, thanks to a long-forgotten code of hash houses and soda-fountain lunch counters.  Continue reading...
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It's almost the end of 2015, and a new frontrunner for Euphemism of the Year has emerged. In a Department of Justice press release, Attorney General Loretta Lynch wrote, "The Department of Justice is committed to giving justice-involved youth the tools they need to become productive members of society."

As Shakespeare put it, "Wow."  Continue reading...
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In 1948, the American journalist and language chronicler H.L. Mencken wrote an essay for The New Yorker, "Video Verbiage," in which he analyzed the lingo of the fledgling medium of television. Several of the words he gathered are now obsolete: vaudeo ("televised vaudeville"), televiewers (now just "viewers"), blizzard head (an actress so blonde that the lighting has to be toned down). Others are with us still, including telegenic and telecast. Nearly 70 years after Mencken published his essay, television itself is undergoing a massive redefinition, and so is our TV lexicon.  Continue reading...
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The latest episode of Slate's podcast Lexicon Valley is a hoot and a half, as I take a look at the origins of hootenanny, a word that emerged from rural America with many meanings before finding fame as a name for folk-music gatherings.  Continue reading...
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4 5 6 7 8 Displaying 36-42 of 1143 Articles