Topic:Words

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The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug was just released today. You can tell from the title that in this movie, someone's going to get desolated, and desolated but good. But who? Does Smaug desolate someone, or does someone desolate Smaug? What does desolate mean, anyway? Continue reading...
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Blog Excerpts

Freshman? Freshperson? Frosh? First-Year?

Despite the successful efforts of nonsexist language reform, the word "freshman" persists on college campuses. On the Chronicle of Higher Education's Lingua Franca blog, University of Michigan English professor Anne Curzan considers why this is and weighs the alternatives. Read her article here.
TOPICS: Language, Usage, Words
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Losing your job is scary. It raises many frightening questions. Can you find another job? How will you pay the bills in the meantime? Where will you get health insurance? Most importantly, what tacky and ridiculous euphemism will mask your firing so a corporate supervillain can sleep at night? Continue reading...
TOPICS: Fun, Language, Words
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In case you haven't heard, today is "Cyber Monday," the day that retailers have decided we should all be flocking to make online purchases for our holiday gift list. Last year, Ben Zimmer explained how the advent of "Black Friday" led to the branding of "Cyber Monday" and other days in the Holy Week of shopping. Continue reading...
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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...
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While Americans this week have marked the sad anniversary of John F. Kennedy's assassination, there is a more pleasant commemoration going on as well. On Nov. 23, 1963, the day after Kennedy died, the BBC first broadcast the science-fiction series "Doctor Who." The franchise is still going strong 50 years later. To celebrate, let's look at one of the lexical contributions of "Doctor Who": the name for the nefarious alien race, "Dalek." Continue reading...
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Oxford Dictionaries has named selfie its Word of the Year, bringing a great deal of attention to the trendy word. As it turns out, this social-media-friendly term for a photograph of oneself first cropped up in Australia, where the "-ie" ending is often used to form new words. Continue reading...
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3 4 5 6 7 Displaying 29-35 of 727 Articles