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Blog Excerpts

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wordbook

The latest movie installment of C.S. Lewis's "The Chronicles of Narnia" is in the theaters, and Jeremy Marshall, a researcher for the Oxford English Dictionary, celebrates by digging into Narnia's fantastic world of dryads, boggles, and orknies. Read Marshall's post on OUPblog here.
Sarah Palin's political opponents made hay out of her gaffe last Wednesday, when she said on Glenn Beck's radio show that "We gotta stand with our North Korean allies," when she meant "South Korean allies." Palin fought back with a Thanksgiving Facebook message that pointed to numerous slips of the tongue by President Obama. I don't find her "North Korean" error particularly remarkable (she was swiftly corrected by Beck, and she didn't confuse North and South Korea elsewhere in her remarks). I was more interested in what she said before that: "We're not having a lot of faith that the White House is going to come out with a strong enough policy to sanction what it is that North Korea is going to do." Was her use of sanction also erroneous? Continue reading...

What's "cherpumple"? Let naming expert and word-watcher Nancy Friedman define it for you...

Cherpumple: A dessert comprising cherry, pumpkin, and apple pies, each baked inside a layer of cake. The word is a portmanteau of cherry, pumpkin, and apple. Continue reading...
Topics: Vocabulary Fun Words

Blog Excerpts

OK? OK!

A new book by Allan Metcalf, Professor of English at MacMurray College and Executive Secretary of the American Dialect Society, is all about the history of a single word: OK. You can read a Q&A with Metcalf about OK: The Improbable Story of America’s Greatest Word on the Oxford University Press blog here.
The outrage over new security procedures enforced by the Transportation Security Administration has thrust the word pat-down into the news. Airline passenger screenings in the U.S. now involve full-body scans, or if the passenger refuses the scan, a full-body pat-down. While the TSA faces backlash against these so-called "enhanced pat-downs" (an unfortunate term reminiscent of "enhanced interrogation techniques" at Guantanamo), plain-old pat-downs have been part of the lexicon of law enforcement for decades. Continue reading...
There's a new campaign to boost awareness of U.S. public libraries that goes by the curious name, "Geek the Library." I'm all for the campaign's stated mission of improving public perceptions of libraries by championing their importance to local communities. But what really fascinates me is the way they're using geek as a transitive verb to mean "be geekily enthusiastic about." I guess you could say I geek innovative uses of the word geek. Continue reading...
We welcome back Merrill Perlman, who writes the "Language Corner" column for Columbia Journalism Review. Here she considers how "scapegoat" gets turned into "escape goat" — an error that actually has an etymological basis. Continue reading...
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