The first presidential debate between former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Donald J. Trump was held on September 26, 2016. Whatever your political affiliation, from a vocabulary perspective it was an intriguing contest. Continue reading...
As the United States celebrates Presidents' Day, it's a good time to mull over how we ended up calling the national leader "president" in the first place. Executive editor Ben Zimmer spoke to NPR's All Things Considered about the term's history. Continue reading...
Alejandro González Iñárritu's The Revenant leads all films with 12 nominations for the 88th Academy Awards, and it has already racked up several Golden Globes. The movie has put the unusual word revenant on the tip of a lot of tongues, with many of us asking, "What the heck does it mean?" Continue reading...
For the latest installment of Slate's podcast Lexicon Valley, I look at how the seemingly random number eighty-six became a verb meaning to get rid of something, thanks to a long-forgotten code of hash houses and soda-fountain lunch counters. Continue reading...
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
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...
On the latest installment of the Slate podcast Lexicon Valley, I look into the origins of the slang term humdinger, which hit it big around the turn of the 20th century to refer to someone or something remarkable or impressive. Continue reading...
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