Author Archives: WordSnooper.com

About WordSnooper.com

Lexie Kahn: Word Snooper is a blog about words and their origins at WordSnooper.com.

Is This Trio of Words the Longest English Homonym?

These word pairs (and one trio) are identical, but not twins or triplets. Like the mythical doppelgangers, they were born at different times and places. Continue reading“Periwinkle 3″ by Mokkie http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Periwinkle_3.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Periwinkle_3.jpg “Littorina littorea 02″ by H. Zell – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Littorina_littorea_02.JPG#mediaviewer/File:Littorina_littorea_02.JPG Rosalba … Continue reading

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An Example That Defines “Humblebrag”

UrbanDictionary.com defines “humblebrag” as: Subtly letting others now about how fantastic your life is while undercutting it with a bit of self-effacing humor or “woe is me” gloss. Here’s a prime example, which I overhead last week at the Aspen … Continue reading

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Extra Lex: 14 Food and Beverage Words with Arabic Origins

An  alcoholic’s first nip of the morning may be called an “eye opener,” but who would have thought that the word “alcohol” derived from a term related to eyeliner?  Get the scoop here: http://shar.es/N9myH

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Extra Lex: A Three-Letter Word That Defies Definition

It’s a common word with only three letters. But can you define “art”? To Plato, art was imitation of nature, but in the 19th century, photography took over that function, and in the 20th, abstract art overturned the whole notion … Continue reading

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Extra Lex: Treacherous Look-Alike Words in Spanish and English

According to an old ditty, “Spanish is a funny language where ropa isn’t rope, sopa isn’t soap and the butter is meant t’ kill ya.” Here are 48 more examples of Spanish-English “false friends”: http://mentalfloss.com/article/57195/50-spanish-english-false-friend-words   Incidentally, mantequilla, butter, is the diminutive of manteca, lard.

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Lexie and Election Electricity

“Does that answer your question, ma’am?” Ms. Khan said into her phone. I hadn’t realized she had me on speaker. She looked down at the phone. Apparently Mrs. Big was responding by text. “Thanks, Ms. Kahn. My employer says she … Continue reading

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Extra Lex: Retronyms for when you’re talking old school

If Don Draper of “Mad Men” asked his secretary to place the GM file on his desktop near the dashboard icon, she might wonder what joker got him a plastic figurine for his car. Those terms have different meaning since … Continue reading

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Extra Lex: Century-Old Words

If you took our 100-Year-Old Words quiz, you may recognize some of these, but it’s hard to believe these words have been around for a century. Imagine Mr Selfridge spouting some of these words and phrases.         … Continue reading

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Extra Lex: Debunking Myths about Phrase Origins

A widely-circulated email called “Little History Lesson” gets the history of phrases like “big wig,” “to cost an arm and a leg” and “mind your own beeswax” all wrong. Here are the true stories from Mental Floss.  

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Spring Bounces In

I didn’t see her slip in — the tall, wavy-haired figure silhouetted in front of me. “Afternoon, Ms. Kahn,” she said. “And to you, Ms. Khan.” It was Amira Khan, the anonymous Boss Lady’s go-fer. Things were looking up. “Mrs. … Continue reading

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