A reader recently asked why a building is called a building. The answer has to do with the great variety of functions that '-ing' performs in modern English.
A word that starts out as a neutral or even positive term for men feminizes (becomes exclusively identified with women) and often pejorates (gets worse).
It is hard even to imagine hoyden as a meaningful term of reproach and criticism today. Why shouldn’t girls climb trees? What’s wrong with women laughing loudly and saying what they think?
Why, as John Pollack writes in “The Pun Also Rises,” do we consider puns “the lowest form of humor?”
A group of psychologists recently published a paper claiming that nominative determinism actually works. They found that men named Dennis were more likely to be dentists, the theory being that 'people choose – or are unconsciously drawn to – careers that resemble their own names.'
A 1395 translation of the Bible demonstrates that the word 'sad' didn’t mean what it does now.
What do the words politicaster, mongrel, and braggart have in common? They end with a pejorative suffix, a few final letters that change a neutral or positive word into a negative one.
In English, the right to vote itself is sometimes referred to as suffrage. There is a folk etymology on the internet that holds suffrage to be derived from to suffer, in the older sense of 'allow' or 'permit.'
There are so many wonderful campaign words, I feel as if I could go on forever – just like campaign season.
Counter-demonstrators shout during a white nationalist-led rally marking the one year anniversary of the 2017 Charlottesville ‘Unite the Right’ protests, in Washington, Aug. 12.
The US Senate is – or was – strongly associated with ideals of comity. Many of the recent articles about former FBI Director James Comey, however, suggest that Senate comity is under threat or already destroyed.
Even if you decide to make a firm distinction between bi- and semi-, these words are used so interchangeably that it’s still confusing.
It was only at the turn of the 20th century that a high enough proportion of Westerners had so much food that thinness resulting from self-denial became the standard of beauty.
As a result of technology and the prevalence of social media, we are now seeing a return to much earlier attitudes about spelling. The criterion then was simple: If people understood you, you were spelling it right.
I never met Ruth Walker in person, but I felt I got to know her.