We welcome back linguist Neal Whitman, who has noticed that many educators are fond of "choice" language, as in "He made good choices." Neal plumbs the history of this usage and talks to teachers and administrators about how the words "choose" and "choice" have shifted in recent years. Continue reading...

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Gift Words

Just in time for the holidays, Visual Thesaurus contributor Mark Peters has rounded up a selection of gift-related words and phrases for his latest "Wordtastic" column in Good Magazine — covering everything from Seinfeldian "regifting" to "shopper's block." Read it here.
Is there any drink more seasonal than eggnog, that Yuletide mixture of sweetened milk, beaten eggs, and (at least traditionally) liquor? As we head into the peak time for eggnog consumption, let's put aside our mugs and stop to consider where the word eggnog actually comes from. Continue reading...
Jan Freeman, language columnist for the Boston Globe, has published a fascinating new book: an expanded edition of Write It Right, Ambrose Bierce's 1909 volume on English usage, "deciphered, appraised, and annotated for 21st-century readers." We caught up with Jan to ask how Bierce's century-old language peeves have held up, and what his work tells us about current usage struggles. Continue reading...

Blog Excerpts

Early WOTY Nominees

The early nominations have been posted for the American Dialect Society's Word of the Year selection. ADS members who specialize in following language trends, including Visual Thesaurus executive producer Ben Zimmer, have submitted their lists of nominees. Read all about it here.
Wendalyn Nichols, editor of the Copyediting newsletter, offers useful tips to copy editors and anyone else who prizes clear and orderly writing. Here she looks at why a seemingly simple rule of English, whether to use a or an as an indefinite article, can cause confusion. Continue reading...
As we bid farewell to the strangely nameless first decade of the 21st century, University of Illinois linguist Dennis Baron takes a look back at the lingo that enlivened the last ten years. Continue reading...
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