A look at a distinctively American political term and its distinctively obscure derivation.
Thoughts on language rights and language learning as International Mother Language Day is observed.
Unraveling the mysteries of proper names.
A look at how some odd place names may – or may not – have come to be.
Does a term borrowed from Arthurian legend get maybe too much of a workout in the news media?
After year-end remembrances of the dear departed, a look at why we call them ‘late.’
A phrase much in use lately to describe uncomfortable silences reminds us how idioms work best when they stay in touch with their origins.
‘Care’ began as an emotion but now is an activity accounting for nearly a fifth of the United States economy.
A look at Washington’s vocabulary for ways of making officials available to the media – or not.
Political ‘women in white’ at the US president’s address to Congress prompt thoughts on the link between ‘suffering’ and ‘suffrage.’
The discovery of a whole family of new-to-us planets is a reminder how observatories have evolved over time.
A new(ish) term of art for resistance that moves at a stately pace.
Merriam-Webster’s ‘trending now’ words: the vocabulary of a new era in Washington.
Aurora, a 7-year-old female polar bear, sits inside an open-air cage at the Royev Ruchey zoo in a suburb of the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk, Russia, on Monday.
A look at three idioms for different kinds of ‘distance’ – literal and figurative.
If you've read 'Verbal Energy' over the past year, you'll have all the answers.
‘Elite’ has become such a pejorative over the last while; let’s take a look at its roots and its word kin.
A little hygge may be just what we need as we head into the northern winter.
When civilization seems to be under pressure in the ‘post-truth’ era, the public library helps hold things together.
We don’t know the roots of ‘gig,’ but its sound symbolism suggests a certain resilience – which we’re all going to need.
Data cruncher extraordinaire Josh Katz has turned the responses he got to his fascinating online dialect quiz into a new book.
Before the holiday, a look at the roots of our vocabulary of gratitude.
A look at the many meanings of a useful little word – and those of its evil twin.
An official form that must be filed with 12 copies prompts some musings on how hardworking the metaphor ‘folding’ is in our language.