CONTRIBUTOR : Ben Zimmer

Ben Zimmer is executive producer of the Visual Thesaurus and Vocabulary.com. He is language columnist for The Wall Street Journal and former language columnist for The Boston Globe and The New York Times Magazine. He has worked as editor for American dictionaries at Oxford University Press and as a consultant to the Oxford English Dictionary. In addition to his regular "Word Routes" column here, he contributes to the group weblog Language Log. He is also the chair of the New Words Committee of the American Dialect Society.
2 3 4 5 6 Displaying 22-28 of 299 Articles
When Fox News host Megyn Kelly gamely took on Erick Erickson, a contributor to the network, for his provocative statements about gender roles last week, she was puzzled by one word in particular that Erickson had used to describe his ideological opponents. "I don't know what the word is... some sort of liberals, eco-liberals, what did you call them?" "Emo liberals," Erickson clarified. Continue reading...
TOPICS: Politics, Words, Usage
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Much of the buzz leading up to the 86th Scripps National Spelling Bee had to do with the first-ever inclusion of vocabulary questions in the off-stage portions of the competition. But in the end, it came down to a traditional spelling face-off over tricky words originating from other languages. Arvind Mahankali of Bayside Hills, New York had been stumped by German-derived words in the last two Bees, but this time a German word was his salvation. Continue reading...
TOPICS: Fun, Spelling
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Two hundred eighty-one young contestants took on the new-and-improved preliminaries of the Scripps National Spelling Bee, which for the first time included questions about words' definitions along with their spellings. After the dust had cleared, 42 of them managed to make it to Thursday's semifinals. Continue reading...
TOPICS: Fun, Spelling
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It's time once again for the Scripps National Spelling Bee, and the big news going into this year's competition is the inclusion of vocabulary questions along with the traditional spelling questions. Even though the new multiple-choice questions testing contestants' knowledge of definitions will only appear in the off-stage computerized portions of the Bee, it's still a controversial shift in format. Continue reading...
TOPICS: Vocabulary, Fun, Spelling
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"Lean in," thanks to the title of a new book by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, has become "the idiom of the moment," Motoko Rich writes in the New York Times, adding "the phrase seems to have taken on a life of its own." But where did all of this "leaning in" come from? Continue reading...
TOPICS: Usage, Vocabulary, Words
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In my latest column for the Boston Globe, I take a look at the rapid rise of the slogan "Boston Strong" in the month since the Marathon bombing. It seemed to come out of nowhere, but it's only the latest in a long line of "strong" slogans. Continue reading...
TOPICS: Language, Words, Usage
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An Inside Higher Ed article recently quoted Duke University physics professor Steffen Bass as describing the foolish stance of some of his colleagues as "bologna." Prof. Bass surely said baloney, a spelling that represents an Americanized pronunciation of bologna sausage, and it also came to mean "nonsense" in the 1920s. Continue reading...
TOPICS: Fun, Words, Usage
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2 3 4 5 6 Displaying 22-28 of 299 Articles