A couple of weeks ago, Merriam-Webster announced their top words of 2009 based on the intensity of lookups to its online dictionary and thesaurus. Now Dictionary.com has their own announcement of the most looked-up words of the past year. Though the main list is full of usual suspects like affect
(perennial stumpers even for native English speakers), the "top gainer" is a very unusual word: esurient
, meaning 'extremely hungry; desirous; greedy.' What might explain the ravenous interest in this obscure term?
The National Museum of Language near Washington, D.C. is putting together an exhibit on the role of the War of 1812 in the development of American English, as we approach that war's bicentennial (or bicentenary, as they still say on the other side). In the Lounge we've been exploring ideas with the museum, and this month we wanted to share some of our findings.
Have you ever wondered why we say "hello" when we answer the telephone? Nate Barksdale of the think tank Cardus takes a long look at the history of the greeting here.
Visual Thesaurus subscriber "Curious Cat" has struck a nerve. Commenting on a Word Routes column last month about annoying words, "CC" wrote:
My bugbear: "No problem" in response to "Thank you" in restaurants. "You're welcome" is disappearing in this context. I assume that my business is not a problem.
These scenes from my life in Boston — when my wife Carol and I lived there many years ago and during our recent work there on "More Words That Make a Difference" — employ a number of words that appear in that book, with illustrative sentences from the Atlantic Monthly.
When I read in the New York Times
recently that everyone is going quant
in "the Age of Metrics," my first thought was, "Is that anything like Sarah Palin going rogue
?" What's going on with these new ways of going
The latest selection for 2009 Word of the Year comes from the good people at Merriam-Webster. Unlike other dictionary publishers that anoint an annual word, Merriam-Webster bases its winner and runners-up on actual user lookups to its online dictionary and thesaurus. So instead of the novelties selected by its competitors (distracted driving
from Webster's New World, unfriend
from New Oxford American), Merriam-Webster's choice is an old word that worked its way into current events: admonish