Blog Excerpts

In an interview with Stephen Colbert, whose "Colbert Report" ends this week after nine years on the air, Ben Zimmer gets the inside scoop on truthiness, Colbert's ultimate "silly word that would feel wrong in your mouth." Continue reading...
In an interview with BBC Future, Ben Zimmer, executive editor of Vocabulary.com and the Visual Thesaurus, weighed in on the question, "Is technology changing language?" Watch this video to find out why the pace of change in language right now makes this an "exhilarating time." Continue reading...
TOPICS: Language, Online, Usage
Today is "Cyber Monday," the day that retailers have anointed as the kickoff of the online holiday shopping season. "Cyber Monday" is a recent coinage, going back to a 2005 press release. "Black Friday," on which "Cyber Monday" is modeled, goes back to the early 1960s, and some newly discovered evidence illuminates its early use. Continue reading...
On Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, Americans kick off the holiday shopping season with a bang. We look back to a Word Routes column by lexicographer Ben Zimmer exploring the origins of the phrase "Black Friday." It is not, as many believe, the day when retailers' balance sheets change from red to black. Continue reading...
There are many things we can all love about Thanksgiving, but word confusion is not one of them. That's why, as food talk get increasingly hysterical at this time of year, and recipe words blur before our eyes, we bring you clarity. Or, for those of us who find a profusion of new and abundant vocabulary as welcome as the pilgrims found the assistance provided by Native Americans, call it a cornucopia of delight! Continue reading...

Oxford's Word of the Year is "Vape"

The editors at Oxford Dictionaries have selected their choice for 2014 Word of the Year, and it is "vape," defined as "to inhale and exhale the vapor produced by an electronic cigarette or similar device." Check out Oxford's announcement here. Our contributor Nancy Friedman was on the case back in 2010, in her column, "But Wait, There's Less!" (Nancy also named "vape" one of her Words of 2013.)
TOPICS: Language, Usage, Words

One Troop, Many Troops

As Veterans Day is observed in the United States, a question of military usage continues to pose a puzzle: if "50,000 troops" refers to 50,000 people, then does "one troop" refer to one person? Linguist Neal Whitman looked into the matter on Veterans Day in 2009. Check out his column here.
TOPICS: Usage, Words
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