VOCABULARY.COM BLOG

I've been a fan of Lexicon Valley, Slate's podcast about language, since it began a couple of years ago, and so I was honored when Mike Vuolo, who hosts the show with Bob Garfield, asked if I'd like to be featured regularly on it. Together, we decided on a format that would be fun for us, as well as, we hope, the listeners: I would come prepared with a mystery word, and Mike and Bob would have to guess the word itself and its origins. Continue reading...
"A breath of fresh air." "Few and far between." "At the end of the day." These are just a few of the clichés examined by Orin Hargraves, an experienced lexicographer and one of our regular contributors, in his new book It's Been Said Before: A Guide to the Use and Abuse of Cliches. In this excerpt, Hargraves explains how to "free your speech and writing of unneeded and detrimental clichés." Continue reading...
TOPICS: Books, Language, Writing
It's summer reading season, a great time for vocabulary growth. One summer reading option, Carol Weston's Ava and Pip, a novel for young readers, takes engagement with words to a new level, introducing the concept of words as toys to be taken apart and shaken around before being put back together. Continue reading...
Mignon Fogarty, better known as her alter ego Grammar Girl, has been sharing a series of short tips on usage and style. In her latest installment, she explains why the plural of the word ox is oxen instead of oxes. Continue reading...
TOPICS: Grammar, Language, Usage
When you play Vocabulary.com, you'll see a wide variety of question types quizzing you on the meanings of words. But so far, the questions have been entirely text-based, relying on definitions, synonyms, antonyms, and example sentences. Today we are pleased to announce a brand-new type of question that takes advantage of the visual potential of vocabulary learning. Continue reading...
When you visit your bank's website or enter a credit-card number, you've probably noticed that in the browser's address box, the URL begins with https. The "S" stands for "secure," and the security technology your browser uses for that "S" represents one of the great inventions in the history of secrets. In this piece I'll walk you through some of the terms of that rich field. Continue reading...
One of the students in my Fiction Writing Workshop told a classmate to take a red pen and cross out the multitude of adverbs he had strewn throughout his story. The rest of the class nodded their heads in agreement. But just before I could move us on to the next item on the agenda, the author asked the young woman who'd spoken up, "But why? Why can't I use adverbs?" Continue reading...
TOPICS: Teaching, Usage, Writing
Weird Al Yankovic's "Word Crimes" video transforms Robin Thicke's scandalous "Blurred Lines" into a prescriptivist grammarian's screed. We think it's brilliant and are happy to see it getting much play in the language-loving community this week. Continue reading...
TOPICS: Fun, Grammar, Usage
TOPICS