Category Archives: The English Language

The History of Meme

The English language is fascinating, especially regarding the way new words are formed and how meanings evolve. Take “meme.” According to Merriam-Webster, the current meaning is “an amusing or interesting item (such as a captioned picture or video) that is spread widely online especially through social media.” But the word itself isn’t new. It actually goes

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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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