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15,000 Useful Phrases

Being a practical handbook of pertinent expressions, striking similes, literary, commercial, conversational, and oratorical terms, for the embellishment of speech and literature, and the improvement of the vocabulary of those persons who read, write, and speak English. (Grenville Kleiser, 1917)
posted by Iridic on Aug 13, 2014 - 19 comments

Navicular! Strobilaceous! Pandurate! Botryoidal!

Whether your object's shaped like a ship, a pine cone, a violin, or a bunch of grapes, this handy cheat sheet from Barbara Ann Kipfer's Flip Dictionary will tell you the suitable Latinate adjective. [more inside]
posted by Iridic on Jul 29, 2014 - 17 comments

Ah yes, the old rumpscuttle and clapperdepouch (aka "fadoodling")

31 Adorable Slang Terms for Sexual Intercourse from the Last 600 Years Lexicographer Jonathon Green’s comprehensive historical dictionary of slang, Green’s Dictionary of Slang, covers hundreds of years of jargon, cant, and naughty talk. He has created a series of online timelines (here and here) where the words too impolite, indecent, or risqué for the usual history books are arranged in the order they came into fashion. (If you don’t see any words on the timelines, zoom out using the bar on the right.) We’ve already had fun with the classiest terms for naughty bits. Here are the most adorable terms for sexual intercourse from the last 600 or so years.
posted by mikeand1 on Jul 18, 2014 - 30 comments

The Largest Vocabulary in Hip Hop

Literary elites love to rep Shakespeare’s vocabulary: across his entire corpus, he uses 28,829 words, suggesting he knew over 100,000 words and arguably had the largest vocabulary, ever (average people have a vocab of 5,000 words). I decided to compare this data point against the most famous artists in hip hop. I used each artist’s first 35,000 lyrics. That way, prolific artists, such as Jay-Z, could be compared to newer artists, such as Drake.

posted by cthuljew on May 3, 2014 - 79 comments

The Made Up Words Project

The Made Up Words Project is an on-going undertaking by illustrator Rinee Shah (who you may remember from her Seinfood poster series.) The goal is to collect and catalog the made up words that we share with family and friends.
posted by BuddhaInABucket on Feb 10, 2014 - 56 comments

How good is your English vocabulary, really?

In a move sure to delight MeFites everywhere, Ghent University in Belgium has created an online, almost arcade-game-like test of word knowledge which is almost BS-proof. Know the word? Press J. Don't? Press F. But don't lie! You will be punished.
posted by grumpybear69 on Jan 29, 2014 - 332 comments

Old words never die; they just wend their way to their just deserts.

12 Old Words that Survived by Getting Fossilized in Idioms. We generally know what the idioms we use every day mean, but do we give much thought to the individual words that make them up, or why we rarely, if ever, see some of them out of that context? Maybe they're just plain outdated. [more inside]
posted by The Underpants Monster on Dec 29, 2013 - 52 comments

Words of the Day

Please enjoy this smattering of Word of the Day sites and pages: OED (RSS), Wordsmith (RSS), Wordnik, The Free Dictionary (RSS), Merriam-Webster (RSS), WordThink (RSS), Urban Dictionary (RSS), Macmillan (RSS), NY Times Learning Network Blog (RSS), Scrabble, Wordsmyth (RSS), Easy Speak (Toastmasters), Wiktionary, Wiktionary "Foreign", OLDO (RSS: Chinese, French, German, Italian, Russian, Spanish, all in OLDO), Arabic (RSS), Japanese (RSS), Nahuatl, ASL, History, Geology, Theology (RSS), and Sesame Street (not daily, unfortunately).
posted by cog_nate on Dec 13, 2013 - 11 comments

“!#@$%” = This could be filthy, NSFW language if it weren’t for Grawlix

48 Names for Things You Didn't Know Had Names [slyt]
posted by quin on Sep 13, 2013 - 36 comments

EmPHAsis on the right sylLABle

How to pronounce Chicago street names. How to pronounce London street names. How to pronounce Austin street names. How to pronounce New Orleans street names (and a whole lot else). How to pronounce "Spuyten Duyvil," "Kosciuszko" and "Goethals." How to pronounce "Van Nuys," "Sepulveda," "San Pedro," and "Los Angeles." [more inside]
posted by Iridic on Jun 28, 2013 - 120 comments

Important communication skills

Use "Metatalk" skill to discuss communication problems.
posted by Brandon Blatcher on May 15, 2013 - 46 comments

International Art English

"The internationalized art world relies on a unique language. Its purest articulation is found in the digital press release. This language has everything to do with English, but it is emphatically not English. It is largely an export of the Anglophone world and can thank the global dominance of English for its current reach. But what really matters for this language—what ultimately makes it a language—is the pointed distance from English that it has always cultivated. " - Triple Canopy magazine on why do artists' statments and press releases sound so utterly odd and confusing.
posted by The Whelk on Apr 26, 2013 - 45 comments

Speculative Lexography

POWER VOCAB TWEET. Boost your vocabulary with these fiercely plausible words and definitions. About. [via mefi projects] [more inside]
posted by aniola on Apr 26, 2013 - 19 comments

YOLO with it

Oxford Dictionaries' 2012 words of the year have been chosen: for the US, it's "gif" (as a verb); for the UK, "omnishambles." It contended for this crown with the likes of "YOLO," "superstorm," and "nomophobia." Previous Oxford words of the year can be found here (other notable year-end word lists such as those from Merriam-Webster, the American Dialect Society, and the Global Language Monitor, have yet to appear).
posted by BlackLeotardFront on Nov 12, 2012 - 92 comments

Meta: word-forming element meaning 1. "after, behind," 2. "changed, altered," 3. "higher, beyond;" from Gk.

Are you enthusiastic ("pertaining to possession by a deity," from Gk. enthousiastikos "inspired," from enthousiazein ) about Etymology? ( ethimolegia "facts of the origin and development of a word," from O.Fr. et(h)imologie (14c., Mod.Fr. étymologie), from L. etymologia, from Gk. etymologia, properly "study of the true sense (of a word)," Then why not explore ( 1580s, "to investigate, examine," a back formation from exploration, or else from M.Fr. explorer (16c.), from L. explorare ) the vast resources (1610s, "means of supplying a want or deficiency," from Fr. resourse) of the ONLINE ETYMOLOGY DICTIONARY [more inside]
posted by The Whelk on Nov 12, 2012 - 30 comments

Coronet Instructional Films

From the mid 40s to the mid 50s Coronet Instructional Films were always ready to provide social guidance for teenagers on subjects as diverse as dating, popularity, preparing for being drafted, and shyness, as well as to children on following the law, the value of quietness in school, and appreciating our parents. They also provided education on topics such as the connection between attitudes and health, what kind of people live in America, how to keep a job, supervising women workers, the nature of capitalism, and the plantation System in Southern life. Inside is an annotated collection of all 86 of the complete Coronet films in the Prelinger Archives as well as a few more. Its not like you had work to do or anything right? [more inside]
posted by Blasdelb on Nov 1, 2012 - 41 comments

Vocabulary fail

Ten insulting words you should know. And a good deal of words you may wish you didn't. (SFW unless mild swear words count).
posted by londonmark on Sep 9, 2011 - 57 comments

Challenging Chompsky

In the late Sixties and early Seventies several experiments were begun to test whether or not a non-human primate could construct a sentence. Several species were involved in these various experiments including the chimpanzees Washoe and Nim, a gorilla named Koko, and later in the Eighties work began with a bonobo named Kanzi. While great progress was made in teaching these primates a vocabulary, it would be difficult to see any of these experiments as a success. And all of these projects raised important questions about the ethics of such experiments. [more inside]
posted by Toekneesan on Aug 20, 2011 - 39 comments

I feel like I know what terpsichorean means, but I don't actually remember.

How many words do you know?
posted by jacquilynne on Jul 20, 2011 - 257 comments

"It is of such stiff stuff that the upper lip of the British phonetician should be fashioned, giving short shrift to chauvinism."

Howjsay.com is a unique online speaking dictionary that offers clear pronunciations of English words, phrases, slang terms, technical terms, brand names, proper names, profanity, and many foreign words, including common variations and alternatives. Astoundingly, the sound files are not computer-generated -- every single one of the site's 138,152 entries are enunciated in the dignified tones of British academic and polyglot Tim Bowyer, who has steadily expanded its glossary over the years using logs of unsuccessful searches and direct user suggestions. The site is part of Bowyer's Fonetiks.org family of language sites, and is also available as a browser extension and as a mobile app for iPhone/iPod and Blackberry.
posted by Rhaomi on Dec 23, 2010 - 27 comments

A flat disc made of ceramic or china on which is placed a small pile of legumes in a hearty tomato sauce

Knoword is a game where it's good to be loquacious.
posted by tehloki on Dec 17, 2010 - 53 comments

Are you happy to see me or is that just a dictionary in your pocket?

In search of the world’s hardest language
posted by Gyan on Jan 3, 2010 - 148 comments

Flatpots, Fire Corals, and Four Blasters

A Common Nomenclature for Lego Families.
posted by Iridic on Nov 5, 2009 - 49 comments

On the Division of Our Three Score & Ten

Ben Schott (previously) on The Ages of Man.
posted by HumanComplex on Oct 20, 2009 - 3 comments

All the news that's fit to cromulate

The 50 words that generate the most click-throughs to the dictionary from the New York Times. The Nieman Journalism Lab reveals the words that sent NYT readers running to the Merriam-Webster. Key fact: Maureen Dowd is overly fond of the word "louche." If the post is TL;DR for you, here's the list in Wordle.
posted by escabeche on Jun 15, 2009 - 132 comments

a selcouth galimatias

International House of Logorrhea, at The Phrontistry, a free online dictionary of weird and unusual words to help enhance your vocabulary. Generous language resources, 2 and 3 letter Scrabble words l The Compass DeRose Guide to Emotion Words l all kinds of glossaries for color terms, wisdom, love and attraction, scientific instruments, manias and obsessions, feeding and eating, carriages and chariots, dance styles and all kinds of fun word stuff. [more inside]
posted by nickyskye on Jan 11, 2009 - 12 comments

Playing For Kibble

Play Trivia to Help Save Abandoned Animals. Free Rice set the standard for on-line charity games and Free Poverty soon followed by donating water. Now you can play for free kibble to be donated to either Rocket Dog Rescue or The Urban Cat Project.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy on Dec 17, 2008 - 9 comments

Why yes, I do have a clue

EclipseCrossword is a powerful windows tool for automatically creating crossword puzzles. You can create multiple puzzles from the same word list; print the puzzles in assorted formats; or export interactive puzzles for web pages. [more inside]
posted by Mitheral on Dec 8, 2008 - 9 comments

A Presidential Word-a-Day

The wonderful wordsmith, Anu Garg, at Wordsmith.org has posted five words this week: "To barrack"."Bidentate"."Meeken". "Palinode". "Obambulate". Definitions inside. [more inside]
posted by Tarn on Oct 24, 2008 - 26 comments

Correct letters in wrong positions

Use everyone's logic and vocabulary skills to figure out what the secret word is.
posted by Blazecock Pileon on Jul 20, 2007 - 27 comments

The Wikipedia of dictionaries

Wikiwords is a collaborative project to create a dictionary of all terms in all languages.
posted by anjamu on Aug 11, 2006 - 18 comments

I can't believe quonsar didn't win.

The American Dialect Society has announced the 2005 word of the year. Sadly, muffin top, crotchfruit, Cruizasy (PDF file), and the obviously wonderful popesquatting were big old losers.
posted by DeepFriedTwinkies on Jan 7, 2006 - 36 comments

Dictionary

Merrian-Webster open dictionary "Have you spotted a new word or a new sense for an old word that hasn't made it into the dictionary yet? Well, here's your chance to add your discovery (and its definition) to Merriam-Webster's Open Dictionary"
posted by robbyrobs on Dec 11, 2005 - 22 comments

The Little Prince in a 100 Languages

If listening to sound of different languages is something you may be interested in, visit the multimedia language project website hosted by the Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg. It features the sound files of a small blurb from Saint-Exupéry's The Little Prince read outloud in a 100 different languages. The blurbs are also textually transcribed. [See more inside]
posted by gregb1007 on May 17, 2005 - 22 comments

Gay Gayer Gayest

JoeMyGod implores his queer peers: What's the Gayest Thing You've Ever Done? • ''That is SO gay! I've been thinking about that expression a lot lately. What does it mean? Is it a playground epithet that is simply in vogue with the grown-ups? Or is it a sign that gay culture is so integrated into the pop culture that even the hets now see the evidence of homo-style in their everyday lives, and make jokes about it?" A followup to the original post, Part II: Flaming Son of "Gay, Gayer, Gayest"
posted by dhoyt on Feb 4, 2005 - 94 comments

Word play

Collins Word Exchange "At Collins we pride ourselves on reflecting current language, used by real English speakers across the world." Collins have launched a public forum designed for (amongst other things) discussing 'new' words and the legitamacy of their inclusion in official dictionaries. Chav is probably on its way, but I'm no intellectual snob, but bounce-backability? Even I'd balk at that one.
And, just remember kids, flip-flopper is not valid for use in scrabble
posted by qwerty155 on Dec 16, 2004 - 8 comments

Dude, where's my safely heterosexual intimacy?

Deconstructing Dude A linguist from the University of Pittsburgh has published a scholarly paper deconstructing and deciphering the word "dude," contending it is much more than a catchall for lazy, inarticulate surfers, slackers and teenagers. An admitted dude-user during his college years, Scott Kiesling said the four-letter word has many uses, all of which express closeness between men in a safely heterosexual manner. How about you? Do you do the dude? If so, does that mean you're white [PDF]?
posted by owenville on Dec 8, 2004 - 32 comments

More on arithmetic in the Amazon

More on arithmetic in the Amazon The 10/15 issue of Science has the official publication of Peter Gordon's work on numerical cognition among the Pirahã, and a companion article by Pierre Pica et al. on similar research among another Amazonian tribe, the Mundurukú. What with the U.S. election and the discovery of H. Floresiensis, this is not getting nearly as a much play as the pre-publication back in August of Peter Gordon's work. Brian Butterworth has an piece in the Guardian about both articles, and I've put some links, quotes and diagrams here. Compared to the reports on the Pirahã, the Mundurukú people, language, and experiments are all somewhat different, although the conclusions are broadly similar.
posted by myl on Oct 31, 2004 - 19 comments

English to English

The Internet's Most Accurate English-to-English Dictionary This internet service will translate any English word, phrase or passage into English, or vice versa. Your original grammar, style, and spelling are left intact!
posted by adampsyche on Sep 29, 2004 - 21 comments

Native Languages of the Americas

Native Languages of the Americas: Preserving and promoting American Indian languages.
posted by Ufez Jones on Sep 2, 2004 - 13 comments

It'll go over well in Nantucket...

The OEDILF is an audacious project which is attempting to write a limerick for every word in the English language. 642 limericks have been completed so far. Here's an overview of the project. Is it possible? Here's what editor-in-chief Chris J. Stolin says:
Skeptics say it's inconceivable.
A new OED? Unbelievable!
But I feel secure
That if we only endure,
It's a goal that is wholly achievable!
(via languagehat.)
posted by Vidiot on Aug 18, 2004 - 16 comments

tk

"Hey fagdaddy why u killl teammates?" A cobbeled session in word parsing.
posted by the fire you left me on Jun 23, 2004 - 6 comments

You will learn something, I guarontee!

The Encyclopedia of Cajun Culture features everything from Acadiana to Zydeco. Two of the more interesting entries I've found are the Un-Cajun Committee and the unknown to me genre of Swamp Pop
posted by Ufez Jones on Sep 4, 2003 - 15 comments

Lost Words

The Compendium of Lost Words
posted by ttrendel on Sep 3, 2003 - 9 comments

Compendium of lost words

Compendium of lost words You may have been wondering what "triclavianism" means. You may have been disappointed when dictionary.com couldn't help. Look no further.
posted by adamrice on Aug 16, 2003 - 19 comments

Must eschew talk about fatness, Iraq, liquor, tobacco - else regret.

Apronyms: Apt Phrases, Redolent Of Novel Yet Meaningful Sense.
"An apronym is a special kind of acronym where the initials spell out a word or phrase relevant to the expanded version". This in contrast to you run-of the-mill acronyms. Yes, the link might come in handy for the perpetuation of this, already legendary, thread.
posted by talos on Jul 31, 2003 - 18 comments

Bitch Slap (noun) enters the mainstream...

Bitch Slap (noun), buggeration (noun), and trash-talking (noun) are now in the OED. The latest quarterly update of the Oxford English Dictionary is now available. (Scroll to the bottom of the list for the most shocking and transgressive new words).
posted by mfoight on Jun 17, 2003 - 22 comments

world languages

The World has at least 6,800 active languages and countless more dialects ranging from Alacatlatzala to Zoque Tabasco. These are the Top 10 languages.
posted by stbalbach on Apr 2, 2003 - 21 comments

Pronouncing words

Qatar Home of Central Command and Al Jazzera television, it's a small oil-rich country we've all heard of, and that's the problem: I hear Qatar called Cutter, Gutter, Katar, and Kwatar. How do the Qataris' pronounce it; is it possible to accurately pronounce foreign words in English? Who decides? More inside...
posted by Mack Twain on Mar 29, 2003 - 32 comments

New OED Words

Dungeons and Dragons, bigorexia, arse-licker, bass-ackward... The online OED (Oxford English Dictionary) quarterly adds a host of new words to the canon of what has become the standard dictionary of the english language(s). Some of the new and spicey words are: arsehole, arseholed, arse-lick,arse-licker, ass-backward, ass-backwards, bass-ackward, bass-ackwards, dragon lady, Dungeons and Dragons, telenovela, and transgenderist!! Thank the gods of language for these new words! So what is you favorite new word and why?
posted by mfoight on Mar 17, 2003 - 26 comments

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