Category Archives: The English Language

Does English have Enough Words?

How many words are there in the English language? I’ve seen estimates ranging from 400,000 to as many as a million if you count all the scientific and technical terms, although a quick Google search says the Second Edition of the 20-volume Oxford English Dictionary contains full entries for 171,476 words in current use (https://wordcounter.io/blog/how-many-words-are-in-the-english-language/). No matter who is counting, a

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Following Politics Through Words

One way to keep up with what’s happening is to follow word trends, According to Merriam-Webster, here are some of the words people have been looking up recently. Kangaroo Court — Inquiries jumped 11,000% on October 8 after President Trump described the congressional impeachment hearings as “a totally compromised kangaroo court.” Merriam-Webster’s definition is either “a

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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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