1. 5 words that are badly broken

    Some words are born from strange splits that were never meant to happen



  3. Niblings.

    A new term for your nieces and nephews. Use of this term seems to be growing among aunts and uncles who want an easy way to refer to their little bundles of sibling-provided joy in a collective or gender-neutral way.

    11 little-known words for specific family members


  4. It’s grammar quiz time. Which of the following uses of myself are acceptable?

    1. "You seem like a better version of myself."

    2. "I just want to be myself."

    3. "I haven’t seen any myself."

    4. "I myself haven’t seen any."

    5. "Myself, I haven’t seen any."

    6. "You would even say that to me myself?"

    7. "There are two others here besides myself."

    8. "He asked William and myself to do it."

    9. "He was a man as big as myself."

    10. "Myself, as director here, will cut the ribbon."

    11. "William and myself will be there."

    12. "Myself and William will be there."

    13. "I asked myself what I could do."

    14. "I directed all inquiries to myself."

    The answers?

    Not so simple.


  5. If you get three people, one from Toronto, one from Buffalo, and one from Los Angeles, to stand next to each other and talk to you, you’ll know which one is from Buffalo right away, but you might have trouble telling which one is from Toronto and which one is from L.A.

    Dude. That’s a bit of a surprise… eh?


  6. Grotesk

    Noah Webster’s proposed new spelling of “grotesque”.  Nice try though.

    26 of Noah Webster’s spelling changes that didn’t catch on


  7. 4 changes to English so subtle we hardly notice they’re happening

    There are a number of verbs that can take a complement with another verb in either the “-ing” form or the “to” form: “They liked painting/to paint;” “We tried leaving/to leave;” “He didn’t bother calling/to call.” Both of these constructions are still used, and they have both been used for a long time. But there has been a steady shift over time from the “to” to the “-ing” complement. “Start” and “begin” saw a big increase in the “-ing” complement until leveling out in the 1940s, whiles emotion verbs like “like,” “love,” “hate,” and “fear” saw their proportion of “-ing” complements start to rise in the 1950s and 60s. Not all verbs have participated in the shift: “stand,” “intend,” and “cease” went the “to” way.


  8. Suede and swayed. Mine and mine. They’re homophones, right? No, wait — homonyms? Are homophone and homonym synonyms? And what’s the deal with homographs, anyway? How do they fit in?

    A handy guide to homophones, homonyms, and homographs


  9. Tips from old etiquette books:

    • "Don’t say gents for gentlemen or pants for pantaloons. These are inexcusable vulgarisms.”

    • "A little graceful imitation of actors and public speakers may be allowed. National manners, and the peculiarities of entire classes, are fair game. French dandies, Yankee bargainers, and English exquisites, may be ridiculed at pleasure."

    • Never ask a lady a question about anything whatever.”
    • "In the company of ladies, do not labor to establish learned points by long-winded arguments. They do not care to take too much pains to find out truth."

    14 more antiquated rules…

    Photo from: Thinkstock


  10. It’s all about context.

    • Oversight is the noun form of two verbs with contrary meanings, “oversee” and “overlook.” “Oversee,” from Old English ofersēon ’look at from above,’ means ‘supervise.’ “Overlook” usually means the opposite: ‘to fail to see or observe; to pass over without noticing; to disregard, ignore.’

    • Left can mean either remaining or departed. If the gentlemen have withdrawn to the drawing room for after-dinner cigars, who’s left? (The gentlemen have left and the ladies are left.)

    12 more…


    • In the ’50s, when chocolate companies began encouraging people to celebrate Valentine’s Day in Japan, a mistranslation from one company gave people the idea that it was customary for women to give chocolate to men on the holiday. And that’s what they do to this day. On February 14, the women of Japan shower their men with chocolate hearts and truffles, and on March 14 the men return the favor. An all-around win for the chocolate companies!



  11. This Sunday is the birthday of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, better known as Lewis Carroll, the English mathematician and writer whose most famous works include Alice’s Adventures in WonderlandThrough the Looking-Glass, and The Hunting of the Snark. Such works featured Carroll’s specialty: coining blends and nonce words. Here are some of our favorites:
    1. Boojum
      The boojum is “a particularly dangerous variety of ‘snark,’” an imaginary creature of Carroll’s invention. The word boojum has inspired the naming of everything from “a species of tree… native to Baja California, Mexico” (found in 1922 by plant explorer Godfrey Sykes, who proclaimed, “It must be a boojum!”); to a supersonic cruise missile that “was determined to be too ambitious a project… and was canceled in 1951”; to “a geometric pattern sometimes observed on the surface of superfluid helium-3,” as named by physicist David Mermin in 1976.
      Example: But oh, beamish nephew, beware of the day, / If your Snark be a Boojum!  For then / You will softly and suddenly vanish away, / And never be met with again!” — Lewis Carroll, The Hunting of the Snark, 1876
    2. Chortle
      To chortle means “to exclaim exultingly, with a noisy chuckle.” According to the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), Carroll coined the word as a blend of chuckle and snort.
      Example: ”He chortled in his joy.” —Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking-Glass, 1871
    3. Frabjous 
      Frabjous means “great, wonderful, fabulous,” and is a blend of either fabulous and joyous, or fair and joyous. “O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!” cries the narrator of The Jabberwocky upon learning that the Jabberwock has been slain.
      Example: “‘O frabjous day!’ rejoiced Emma Dean, using her bath towel as a scarf and performing a weird dance about the room.” — Jessie Graham Flower, Grace Harlowe’s Return to Overton Campus, 1915

  12. You’ve heard of a “flight of stairs,” “a board of trustees,” and a “school of fish.” But a “business of ferrets” is probably a new one. 

    • Mustering of Storks
    • Shrewdness of Apes
    • Smack of jellyfish
    • Kindle of kittens
    • Worship of writers

    45 more…