Category Archives: The English Language

Word Origins — Boilerplate

With so many words in the English language (I’ve seen estimates of from 400,000 to a million), there are some interesting origin stories. For example, boilerplate. According Merriam-Webster, boilerplate can mean a syndicated material supplied especially to weekly newspapers in matrix or plate form, or standardized text, especially formulaic or hackneyed language. These meanings originated in the

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How to Make Up a Word

There are at least a quarter of a million words in the English language. I’m basing this on the Second Edition of the Oxford English Dictionary, which contains entries for 171,476 words in current use, 47,156 words considered obsolete, and around 9,500 derivative words included as subentries (https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/explore/how-many-words-are-there-in-the-english-language/). Yet we’re adding words all the time,

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America’s Most Misspelled Words

In case you missed it, Google Trends recently researched the hardest-to-spell words in the first four months of this year.  Their analysis identified what words was searched most often when people typed “how to spell ___” into the Google search engine.  The results were tabulated by state, then published in this map. According to a

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A Word For Today — Retronym

I have on occasion written about the English language, especially how it morphs to keep up with changing times.  Today I have another example — The relentless advance of technology has necessitated the creation of a new word — retronym.  Google it, and you get this definition — a new term created from an existing

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What English Doesn’t Have Words For

Sometimes language expresses concepts, and since different cultures develop in different circumstances, other languages have words that English-speakers have no need for.  For example, I have always heard that Eskimo have many words for snow*.    I’ve found an article that highlights more of these examples, like malu, an Indonesian word for “the sudden experience

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