Hey guys, I wrote a book. Fittingly, I can only state its title euphemistically in this column about euphemisms. It's sorta called Bull*#@$: A Lexicon. Not being able to name my book could be construed as an obstacle in my quest to use this column for shameless self-promotion. Or is it? Continue reading...
Topics: Fun Word Origins
This is the time of year where we revel in tradition, participating in rituals and using language that takes us "home for the holidays" whether we're physically traveling or not. But it's also a time to examine those traditions. Here, we put together some holiday-inspired columns and vocabulary lists that help us understand the origins of holiday language old and new. Continue reading...
Lin-Manuel Miranda's mega-hit Broadway musical Hamilton is all about upending expectations. From its casting of actors of all races to play the all-white founding fathers, to its rap-heavy score, to its percussive style of storytelling, Hamilton turns traditions upside down, including traditions involving words. Continue reading...
The latest episode of Slate's podcast Lexicon Valley is a hoot and a half, as I take a look at the origins of hootenanny, a word that emerged from rural America with many meanings before finding fame as a name for folk-music gatherings. Continue reading...
If you're standing in solidarity with France following last Friday's horrifying Paris attacks, it can help to remember that solidarity, which means "unity for a common purpose," is itself a French word. Solidarity showed up in English in 1829, following a long tradition of French-to-English language transfers that traces back to William the Conqueror and the 1066 Norman invasion. Continue reading...
While discussing her memoir "Hunger Makes Me A Modern Girl" on NPR's Fresh Air, Sleater-Kinney co-founder Carrie Brownstein used the word inchoate to describe her younger self. Later in the interview, she used trenchant when she explained the Sleater-Kinney sound. To call attention to Brownstein's sensitive care with her word choices, we pulled inchoate, trenchant and eight other words into a vocabulary list. Continue reading...
The fourth Republican debate was, in terms of content, an exploration of the future of the United States economy. Linguistically, however, it was a bit of a throwback. Several of the candidates used words and phrases that can strike the modern ear as a bit antiquated. Continue reading...
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