There has been a lot of hubbub over the last few months about states defecting from the original group of 45 states that had adopted the Common Core State Standards. But how different are the state standards that have diverged from the Common Core when it comes to the teaching of vocabulary? Continue reading...

Blog Excerpts

What Do You Call a Group Selfie?

If a "selfie" is a photograph of oneself, then what do you call a self-portrait of a group of people? The Associated Press has a suggestion: "An 'usie,' of course! As in 'us.' Pronounced uss-ee, rhymes with 'fussy.'" Read the AP article, which quotes our own Ben Zimmer, here, and then check out Mark Peters' exploration of "selfie" variants here.
Topics: Fun Online Words
I asked fellow editors recently what usage rule they wanted to know more about or what rule they saw broken regularly. I received lots of answers (thanks, all!), including this one: "Why is worth preceded with a possessive noun or pronoun, as in two days' worth?" Continue reading...
Adding to our collection of Beatles linguistic analysis (we've written about the iconic band's pronouns, nonsense sounds, and gear language) and in a manner reminiscent of recent analysis of rappers' vocabularies, the Liverpool Echo has conducted a vocabulary survey of British pop music, and concluded that the Beatles "have one of the smallest vocabularies in pop music." Continue reading...
On Lexicon Valley, Slate's podcast about language, I'm taking part in a regular feature. I come prepared with a mystery word, and the hosts have to guess the word itself and its origins. The first word didn't remain a mystery for very long: discombobulate. Continue reading...
In honor of the Muslim festival of Eid al-Fitr, which signals the close of the month-long Ramadan fast and takes places at sundown this evening, we bring you a new vocabulary list: Food and Drink Words with Arabic Roots. Continue reading...
"A breath of fresh air." "Few and far between." "At the end of the day." These are just a few of the clichés examined by Orin Hargraves, an experienced lexicographer and one of our regular contributors, in his new book It's Been Said Before: A Guide to the Use and Abuse of Cliches. In this excerpt, Hargraves explains how to "free your speech and writing of unneeded and detrimental clichés." Continue reading...
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