Browsing Posts of Author

By Any Other Name, It’s Still a Bump in the Road

And about that page with a German term for “driving around when you’ve arrived too early”? It also includes a photo of a street sign with a Swedish word for “speedbump,” which apparently causes certain American visitors no end of hilarity. Here’s another pic. Naturally, I’m now pondering terms for various “bumps in the road.” more…

Martha Barnette’s . . . Ortkontrollfahrten?

Okay, so it’s a different kind of “ort,” but still. Leave it to the Germans to engineer an oh-so-efficient automotive word like this. Hat tip to Erin, who also knows from dresses.

That’s Okay, I’ll Sit in The Dark

And speaking of Grant Barrett’s read-’em-and-weed article about dictionary-making, the New York Times has a piece today about something similar happening in the classic text, Janson’s History of Art: . . . As with all renderings of history, deciding who made the cut and who did not often came down to the mundane realities of more…

Not Your Grandma’s Scrabble

How did I manage to miss, until now, the 2004 documentary “Word Wars”? Sort of like “Spellbound,” only with adult (mostly male) contestants, this look at the world of competitive Scrabble is cleverly presented, often hilarious, a little disturbing, and a good reminder that when it comes to utter nerditude unleashed, you really can’t make more…

Today’s Word: Anatine

Speaking of ducks, if you need a single term that means “like a duck,” the word you want is anatine (ANN-uh-tyne). It’ll come in handy if, for example, you ever need to describe a funny walk, or Aku Ankka, the popular also-ran in Finnish elections.

Required Weeding

Fascinating article by Grant Barrett in Lost magazine on all the real words that aren’t in dictionaries. Often lexicographers must weed them out or decide against including them in the first place (as happens with the vast number of chemical names): For lexicographers, cutting entries is an act of desperation brought on by a goat more…

If It Runs Like a . . .

See, if you’re not reading The Lexicographer’s Rules, then you’re not learning fascinating things like, for example, the enormous number of Finns who vote for the Finnish version of “Donald Duck” in national elections.

Latin Words of the Week

Was brushing up on some Latin this afternoon and came across this gem: Disce quasi semper victurus vive quasi cras moriturus. “Learn as if you were going to live forever; live as if you were going to die tomorrow.” Works for me!

And Today’s Golden Pineapple Award Goes To . . .

. . . daz, who points out in one of the comment sections below that if you disregard the tilde, pinacoladaism is an anagram of dipsomaniacal. Enjoy the award, daz. The Golden Pineapple doesn’t get doled out to just anybody!

It’s Raining . . . How’s That Again??

One more thing about rain: You’ve heard “It’s raining cats and dogs,” of course. There are several proposed explanations for this phrase, but the most likely, I think, is simply that it alludes to an “improbable cacophony.” That’s because there’s a veritable torrent of similarly noisy and improbable phrases in other languages. Czechs say, “It’s more…