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Category: language


Spell checkers and pullet surprises

I have a love/hate relationship with spell checkers. They’ve saved me some embarrassment on more than one occasion, but as often as not, they simply frustrate me. They flag words […]


Got apophenia?

Today is 11/11/11 or 11.11.11 or 11-11-11. It’s lovely to look at. A palindrome even. But there’s nothing special about the date other than its interesting appearance. The apocalypse is […]

Wordplay: newfangled

Newfangled. We all know what it means. But I started wondering if there was simply a fangle (there is), or such a thing as oldfangled (didn’t see it). The surprise […]

Pop vs. soda vs. whatever

(Updated May 19, 2013) It’s hard to imagine anyone spending much time browsing the Internet without coming across the colorful coke-pop-soda map, the one showing the preferred term for a […]

You’ll really sound precocious

Still scowling into my coffee this morning, I flipped open the laptop to read my email. And there was that word, leaping from the screen: supercalifragilisticexpiali-fuck-it Big. Bright blue. A […]

Nothing new under the sun

When I logged on this morning, the first thing that caught my eye was the Sallust quotation in the sidebar: “Harmony makes small things grow, lack of it makes great […]

Spade cats and gas turbans

When my son mentioned eggcorns and I didn’t know what he was talking about, I had to go find the website. I couldn’t let him be the sole possessor of […]