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"How do I get my word in the dictionary?" This is a question that lexicographers in the Lounge and elsewhere are asked more often than you might expect. While it might be unkind to characterize the sort of person who asks the question, we hope it will be instructive to describe how new words actually make their way into dictionaries. That, in turn, should reveal why there are probably many better things to do in life than getting one's word in the dictionary. By doing some of them, you might get your word in anyway. Continue reading...
Gelett Burgess. Rings a bell? This irrepressible early 20th century figure was at once a linguistic inventor, humorist, poet and creative powerhouse who today is... almost forgotten. Which is a shame, and which is why we celebrate the re-release after a long, long slumber of his classic Burgess Unabridged: A Classic Dictionary of Words You Have Always Needed. We spoke to lexicographer Paul Dickson, who wrote a new foreword to the book, about this remarkable man and his work. Continue reading...
That extra bit of dust floating about this month is from some venerable old tomes we pulled down from the Lounge library shelves to investigate a word pattern brought to our attention by a Lounge visitor. We hope that he will find the results of our investigation... splendid! Continue reading...

Slips of the tongue? Mixed up consonants? Verbal blunders are more than simple mistakes to linguist and journalist Michael Erard. The author of Um... Slips, Stumbles, and Verbal Blunders, and What They Mean, Michael explores what gaffes in speech tell us about language, and ourselves. We called him to learn, um, more about this subject: Continue reading...

Dept. of Word Lists

Baseball Words

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"Baseball has had a phenomenal influence on the English language," says writer and lexicographer Paul Dickson. Paul should know. As the author of The Hidden Language of Baseball and The New Dickson Baseball Dictionary (and over 40 other books!), he's studied the impact of America's favorite pastime on English for the past three decades. Paul graciously shared some examples of baseball lingo that's now part of everyday speech.

Designated hitter. "This is a strange construction in English, 'designated 'x'' but it gave birth to the term 'designated driver.'"

Hit-and-run. "A baseball play that's been around since the 19th century. When the automobile arrived, all of a sudden the phrase also meant 'a hit-and-run accident.'"

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This month we sweep away the cobwebs in the Poetry Corner to spend some time with a poem just over a hundred years old that still speaks loud and clear today. Continue reading...
Topics: Vocabulary Poetry

Dept. of Word Lists

Beer Words

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Beer authority Justin Philips was originally a wine guy -- until his epiphany. "I worked in a wine shop in Boston and we started carrying boutique beers," he explains, "And I got hooked." So hooked went to work for specialty beer importer B. United, and is now opening a beer-focused restaurant in Brooklyn, NY, called the Beer Table, which is where we called Justin to ask about these beer-related words:

Head. "Refers to the foam on the top of a glass of beer. Wheat beers are traditionally served with a big monster head that's inch and a half to two inches high and stays around for quite a while."

Stout. "A style of beer, originally a heavily malted, lightweight 'session beer.' A session beer is one you can sit down and drink a lot of - it has low alcohol and is very drinkable."

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Topics: Vocabulary Words
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