Let's unmask the Greek roots of the word pandemic. Continue reading...
Don't be cowed by this word's bovine origin. Continue reading...
See Which Schools Came Out on Top Last Month. Continue reading...
Topics: Vocabulary Bowl

Blog Excerpts

Pronouncing the World's Words

Forvo is a new website where you can find a huge array of words pronounced in their original languages. Native speakers can upload their own pronunciations — it's "crowdsourcing" at its best.
If you've been keeping up with the news about the Obama transition, you might have noticed an awful lot of "czar" talk. From "health czar" to "climate czar" to "urban affairs czar" to "technology czar" to "copyright czar," it seems like there's a czarship for every policy area in the new administration. And even though the proposal for a "car czar" stalled on Capitol Hill, expect that pirate-friendly rhyme to make headlines again in 2009. Continue reading...
My mention earlier this week of the word gerrymander (after Massachusetts Governor Elbridge Gerry, blamed for the tortuous redistricting in his state in 1812) inspired some free association. One commenter posited a connection to the jerry of jerry-built ("shoddy; of inferior workmanship and materials"), though it turns out that word only shows up about half a century after Gerry first gerrymandered. Jerry-built, in turn, led another reader to wonder, "What about jerry-rigged? I've heard that it's really supposed to be jury-rigged." Continue reading...

Blog Excerpts

Trans-Atlantic Word Winners

The trans-Atlantic words of the year have been selected on the Separated by a Common Language blog. Best American-to-British import is meh, and the best British-to-American import is vet (the verb). Read all about it here (and read our own discussion of meh here and vet here).

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