Topic:Vocabulary

Anyone familiar with the children's movie Despicable Me 2 will not be surprised to hear that use of minion among children has grown by 250 percent in the last year. Similarly, kids who play Minecraft are not immune to the charms of unusual vocabulary ocelot, nether and spawn as never before. Does this mean screen time might actually be good for vocab? Continue reading...
TOPICS: Fun, Vocabulary
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Blog Excerpts

The 2014 Spelling Bee Is Here!

It's time once again for the Scripps National Spelling Bee! The preliminaries are today, and the nationally televised semifinals and finals are tomorrow (May 29). As in past years, our own Ben Zimmer will be live-tweeting the competition from the @VocabularyCom Twitter account and reporting on the results here in his Word Routes column. In the meantime, catch up on our coverage of the format changes introduced last year that brought vocabulary questions into the mix: here and here.
TOPICS: Fun, Spelling, Vocabulary
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In a Washington Post review of a recent performance by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Robert Battey used the word velleity. Once you know what it means you may find yourself dropping it into everyday speech, but for one reader, learning new words is not what the news should be all about. Continue reading...
TOPICS: Vocabulary
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I am guessing that the average electrician doesn't realize how much history is knocking about in his or her toolbox. Volt, amp, ohm, watt—these electrical units are all eponyms, derived from the names of pioneers in the field. Let's have a tour. Continue reading...
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When you come across a word like eleemosynary, it's time to whip out the binoculars and step into the waders. Reading has become word watching, where, as in bird watching, rarity is the thrill. Continue reading...
TOPICS: Vocabulary
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Writing for Vulture, "the first in a weekly series of six essays looking at hip-hop's recent past, thinking about its distant past, and wondering about the possibility of a future," The Roots' Questlove uses the word trivial in such a knowledgeable and cool way we had to offer up a shout-out. Continue reading...
TOPICS: Vocabulary
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Ever since College Board President David Coleman announced that the redesigned SAT would replace its testing of more obscure words such as mendacious or treacly with the analysis of more frequent, multiple-meaning words in context, educators have been fretting about what this may mean for the study of vocabulary and for the precision of the next generation of American students' English in general. Continue reading...
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