Category Archives: words

Jazz, Blues & Babes: The Latest Words from 1915

 [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons Terms that first appeared in print in 1915 reveal something about life a hundred years ago. Although the war in Europe left its mark on the lexicon, there are also signs of the changing times … Continue reading

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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: 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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Words of the Year Quiz

The publishers of the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) generated a sharknado of publicity by proclaiming selfie their Word of the Year for 2013.  Although the Australian term for a photographic self-portrait goes back 20 years, the confluence of camera phones, social … Continue reading

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Should “Husband” Be Banned?

While I was getting us all another round of java, I tried to scope out the two couples for clues. No hairy hands. Just how big was Pat’s Adam’s apple? I turned to take the cardboard tray from the barista … Continue reading

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Spouses in the House

Elmore Leonard cautioned us never to open with the weather, but sometimes I get reckless. The chilly blast that swept through the coffee shop foretold summer’s end and perhaps a final farewell to flip-flops for my aloha-attired friends. The young … Continue reading

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Show Biz Quiz Results

How did crowdsourcing work to answer the show biz word quiz? Sitcom: 67% thought it dates from 1954, 33% said 1964. No one thought 1974. Two thirds guessed wrong. One third of participants was correct on the earliest Oxford English … Continue reading

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