Etymology

Why Were Shoemakers 'Snobs'?

People love facts. Especially those of the small and neat variety, which present a minor and triumphant bit of knowledge with a hint of seeming …

Language

Sly Fox, Fat Cat: Animal Names for People

Biologically, of course, human beings are animals. The definition of <i>human</i> uses the term <i>mammal</i>; the definition of <i>mammal</i> uses <i>vertebrate</i>; the definition …

Language

Definition of BOMBINATE

Note: Latin <i>bombināre</i> has had a shadowy existence from the time of Martianus Capella (5th century c.e.), who uses the agent derivative <i>bombinātor</i> in …

Language

Definition of FERVID

Hoping investors will respond as ecstatically as the <i>fervid</i> fitness enthusiasts who typically shell out $34 for its 45-minute spin classes, SoulCycle …

Language

Words We're Watching: 'Gig Economy'

"I'll get us a Lyft."<p>"The Postmates guy is downstairs with my Taco Bell."<p>"That website still owes me money."<p>Phrases like this are quite common in the</i> …

Language

Comedy in the trenches

Share selection to:<p>Australian soldiers, turned amateur scribes, found relief from the relentlessness of the First World War by using the language of …

Australian Universities

Time Traveler by Merriam-Webster: Words from 13th century

See which words were first recorded in 13th century. Or search for other words by the year when they were first used.

Language

Find The Cousins: Weekly Challenge

Language

How to Use 'Munificent' and 'Beneficent'

The handful of English words that end in <i>-icent</i> share both a rhyming last syllable and a Latin heritage, but not much else. One of them, <i>magnificent</i>, …

Language

8 More Words for Inept People

: a writer of light or inferior verse<p>The teacher is Nira (Sarit Larry), a woman with a warm professional manner and pleasant, ordinary middle-class …

Language

Words We're Watching: 'Pizzly' vs. 'Grolar'

In the spring of 2006, the untimely death of a very unlucky bear introduced to the English language the need for a new word, and thus was born a pair …

Language

'Jive' vs. 'Jibe' vs. 'Gibe'

Does your <i>gibe</i> <i>jibe</i> with your <i>jive</i>? Or is your <i>jibe</i> <i>jiving</i> with your <i>gibe</i>? This trio of words has some overlapping qualities (not to mention letters), and …

Language

Out of the 'Ether'

New words and senses can emerge from the farthest reaches of the imagination and find a home in the English language. Some seem to come from the …

Award Shows

8 Nicer Ways to Say 'Stupid' : Ignoration

<b>Definition:</b> stupid, silly<p>Here we have a lovely example of a word which began its life (in our language, at least) with a figurative meaning, and only …

Language

Do We Get 'On Track' or 'Untracked'?

When someone is achieving or doing what is necessary or expected, we say they are <i>on track</i>:<p>Codey plans to introduce a bill that would take away a year …

Language

Under The Sea : Sea urchin

Pity the porpoise: sometimes endangered, often thought to be a fish, usually confused with dolphins. From its very earliest appearances, the porpoise …

Language

Fruit vs. Vegetable

It's easy to go through life feeling like you know the difference between a fruit and a vegetable, but it's likely that at one time some truculent …

Language

Definition of URCHIN

The young chef brings a trio of spankingly fresh <i>urchins</i>, whole scampi, and fish carpaccio, naked but for a few drops of olive oil and citrus.<p>The …

Language

Definition of SHILLY-SHALLY

SHILLY-SHALLY Defined for English Language Learners<p>Learn More about <i>shilly-shally</i><p>Seen and Heard<p>What made you want to look up <i>shilly-shally</i>? Please tell …

Language

9 Fanciful Words for Your Favorite Things : Dilly

Everything about this little bee is adorable, including her knees.<p>Photo: AleksandarNakic<p><b>Definition</b>: a highly admired person or thing<p>A bee's knees …

Language

8 Words and Phrases from the Road

<b>Definition:</b> to operate a motor vehicle at high speed or so as to create a great deal of engine noise<p>We now so associate the word <i>vroom</i> with the …

Language

The Unsteadiness of 'Drank' and 'Drunk'

Perhaps you have, at some point, found yourself saying "I have drank..." or "I had drank...." Pretty reasonable. Or maybe you’ve used <i>drunk</i> rather …

Language

Trending: 'Veteran' Searches Up Ahead Of Holiday

<i>Veteran</i> rose to the forefront of our lookups on November 10th, 2017, with increased interest in the word arising from the imminent <i>Veterans Day</i>, a …

Language

How to Use 'Dependent' and 'Dependant'

The suffixes <i>-ant</i> and <i>-ent</i> are alike in sound and meaning, and they often give a noun or adjective variant spellings. For instance, <i>propellant</i> is the …

Language

Name That Thing: Animal Edition: Weekly Challenge

We know you're excited to learn a new word. We are too.<p>Sign up for our <b>Word of the Day</b> daily newsletter and get excited every day!<p>No thanks, I don't …

Language

Language Is Magic : Hocus pocus

Photo: VeraPetruk<p>Here's where all the magic (sense 2b) begins: with <i>magic</i>.<p>The word <i>magic</i> goes back to the 1300s, and it originally referred to rituals, …

Language

'Insure' vs. 'Ensure' vs. 'Assure'

Do you find yourself jolted awake in the middle of the night, seized with the paralyzing dread that you may have used either <i>ensure</i>, <i>insure</i>, or <i>assure</i> …

Language

Anatomy 101: Obscure Words for Body Parts

<b>:</b> face<p>This charming synonym of <i>face</i> packs a punch:<p>The real Truth is, any one would guess him to have been a seven Years Apprentice to the Prince of …

Language

Trending: GOP Rep: Election A 'Referendum'

<i>Referendum</i> (which, before you ask, may be pluralized as either <i>referenda</i> or <i>referendums</i>) rose to the top of our lookups on November 8th, 2017, with an …

Language

What Does It Mean to Be 'On Tenterhooks?'

When someone is in a state of uneasiness or suspense, you might say that person is <i>on tenterhooks</i>.<p>Other property owners in the area remain <i>on</i> …

Language