Yesterday we talked to seventh-grader Tony Incorvati of Canton Country Day School, who has competed in the Scripps National Spelling Bee for the last two years and is going for a three-peat. We asked Tony to share some of his favorite words. And try Tony's Community Spelling Bee for some more tough words! Continue reading...
A few months ago we interviewed sixth-grader Nicholas Rushlow of Pickerington, Ohio, who participated in the Scripps National Spelling Bee the last two years, placing 17th last spring. We were pleased to hear that another Ohio student, seventh-grader Tony Incorvati of Canton Country Day School, has also made it to the Nationals twice and, like Nicholas, has been using the Visual Thesaurus Spelling Bee to study for this year's bee season. We talked to Tony and his mother Nancy Incorvati about how they've been preparing. Continue reading...

Blog Excerpts

To a Thesaurus

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Franklin P. Adams, a regular at the Algonquin Round Table in the 1920s and '30s, was a master of comic verse. His best-known work is no doubt "Baseball's Sad Lexicon," an ode to the Chicago Cubs double-play combination of "Tinker to Evers to Chance." The blog Futility Closet brings to our attention another playful ode by Adams that's right up our alley: "To a Thesaurus." Continue reading...

Blog Excerpts

Sweet Tooth Fairies

Combine sweet tooth with tooth fairy and you get sweet tooth fairy. That's the premise for The Illustrated Sweet Tooth Fairy, a website that seeks to collect such whimsical fusions as magnetic personality disorder, periodic table manners, and emotional baggage carousel. Erin McKean describes the project in the Boston Globe here.
Topics: Vocabulary Fun Words
When google, a verb meaning "to search the Internet," was chosen by the American Dialect Society as Word of the Decade (2000-09), my ADS colleague Grant Barrett wondered whether Google's trademark lawyers might have preferred it if the runner-up, blog, had won instead. It is of course a tribute to the vast popularity of Google that it has become accepted as a generic verb for online searching, but the protectors of the trademark wouldn't necessarily see it that way. Meanwhile, Microsoft, creators of the rival search engine Bing, would very much like people to use their brand name as a verb. Continue reading...
When the New Oxford American Dictionary selected unfriend as its 2009 Word of the Year, Oxford University Press senior lexicographer Christine Lindberg was quick to point out that the verb long predates the Facebook era. As she explained in an NPR interview, the Oxford English Dictionary has a citation for unfriend from 1659. "I think it's a remarkable resurrection," Lindberg told NPR. "In a way, I look at unfriend as the Sleeping Beauty of 2009 words." Now it appears that the Dutch language has its own Sleeping Beauty... or should that be Rip Van Winkle? Continue reading...
Wendalyn Nichols, editor of the Copyediting newsletter, offers useful tips to copy editors and anyone else who prizes clear and orderly writing. Here she takes a look at the predilection of headline-writers for the word likely. Continue reading...
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