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How Do You Spell “Embarrassing”?

Who can blame poor Sara Beckman and her parents of Washoe County, Nevada for being f-u-r-i-o-u-s? From the Reno Gazette-Journal: Parents of an O’Brien Middle School eighth-grader are demanding an instant replay of the Washoe County Spelling Bee after their daughter was eliminated despite spelling a word correctly. “I’m a momma bear with her bear more…

Today’s Word: Macarize

A language-loving pal in New York just wrote to say that she’d just found this blog and wanted to macarize me. Not that I’m paranoid, but I assumed that she was yet another of the Mac users in my life who keep nagging me to ditch my beloved IBM Thinkpad and come on over to more…

A Cruciverbalist Fills Us In

Some 60 million of us do it at least once a week. Marc Romano gets anxious if he doesn’t do it at least once a day. I’m talking, of course, about solving crossword puzzles. (What’d you think I meant?) Marc’s new book, Crossworld: One Man’s Journey into America’s Crossword Obsession, is about his wild and more…

Today’s Word: Perendinate

The other day I heard from a listener named Lenore from Cambridge, Wisconsin. Of course, it was hard to resist opening her email, considering that the message header read: “I had the radio on but wasn’t listening.” (Gee, thanks, Lenore! We’re flattered. No, really.) Actually, Lenore said some very nice things about “A Way with more…

“It’ll Never Be Seen on a Galloping Horse”

The other day a caller reminded us of one of the most wonderfully liberating expressions in all of the English language: It’’ll never be seen on a galloping horse. This caller told us that her mother used to say this whenever she was talking about something that “wasn’t perfect, but was good enough.”” It seems more…

Today’s Word: Poculation

Here’s one you don’t hear very often: poculation. Pronounced “pock-yew-LAY-shun,” it means “the drinking of wine or other intoxicating brews.” It’s from the Latin poculari, which means to frequent the cup,” from poculum, “cup.” Something tells me there’s going to be a poculation explosion tomorrow, just about the time the Super Bowl comes on.

So, Listen to Us on NPR already!

Now you can download “A Way with Words,” the show about language that I co-host with the uber-verbivorous Richard Lederer, as a podcast from National Public Radio. It’s sort of like NPR’s “Car Talk,” only our listeners call in with questions about language — word origins, grammar, slang, word puzzles, pronunciation, idioms, regionalisms, and bloopers. more…

Blogorrhea for Logophiles and Logorrhea for Blogophiles . . .

This is the place to find blogorrhea for logophiles and logorrhea for blogophiles. That’s a nice example of chiasmus, a picturesque literary term inspired by the “X” shape of the Greek letter “chi.” More about it here.

Oy! She’s Kvetching Again!

If you’re sick of phrases like “leveraging our repurposeable mindshare,” you may enjoy the kvetching I’ve been doing about corporatespeak in various media outlets lately, namely here and here. And don’t get me started on the overuse of that otherwise weighty word, gravitas!

OK, I’ll bite. What’s an Ort?

I was hoping you’d ask! The Oxford English Dictionary defines ort this way: “A fragment of food left over from a meal; fodder left by cattle; a refuse scrap; leavings. Usu. in pl. Also fig.: a fragment, esp. of wisdom, wit, knowledge, etc.” That’ s pretty much what you’ll find here — leftovers from my more…