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We Spelled This City

In Lexicopolis, buildings are constructed from the letters that make them up. Construct buildings by typing words like "HOUSE," "OFFICE," or "PARK."
posted by Iridic on Jul 30, 2014 - 71 comments

An ornithologist, an editor, & a VP walk into a conference room...

"We ornithologists, with our Important Capitals, continue to look Curiously Provincial" : copy-editors and ornithologists fight a very pilkunnussija-esque war over conventions of bird names.
posted by divabat on Jul 12, 2014 - 15 comments

Things not to say

A list of things I don't want you to say by Carlie Lazar
posted by josher71 on Jul 11, 2014 - 208 comments

Sometimes you just have to pick up a pen.

Calligraphy-skills.com is a wonderful throwback to the early days of the Web, when someone would just helpfully organize and present a wealth of information on a given topic for free, simply because they were that into it. [more inside]
posted by DoctorFedora on Jul 1, 2014 - 8 comments

Canadianisms

55 Canadianisms You May Not Know or Are Using Differently
A (non-scientific) survey providing a thorough & fascinating look at words in Canadian English [more inside]
posted by flex on Jul 1, 2014 - 245 comments

The horrrific 2014 GM rolling sarcophagus deathtraps are here!

What do the words "safety," ''chaotic" and "problem" have in common? They're all on General Motors' list of banned words for employees who were documenting potential safety issues. The revelation of the 68-word list is one of the odder twists in GM's ongoing recall of 2.6 million older-model small cars for defective ignition switches. Last Week Tonight with John Oliver weighs in.
posted by Room 641-A on May 19, 2014 - 78 comments

“Pawnee is literally the best town in the country.”

A Browser Extension That Replaces "Literally" With "Figuratively". Built by a programmer named Mike Walker, it’s an extension for Google’s Chrome browser that replaces the word “literally” with “figuratively” on sites and articles across the Web, with deeply gratifying results. Previously.
posted by Fizz on Apr 22, 2014 - 119 comments

The international swap trade in useful words

"In very many cases, English has borrowed a word from one language that had previously borrowed it from elsewhere. Among those Portuguese and Spanish words there are many that originated among speakers of very different languages. For instance, piranha comes ultimately from Tupi (a language of Brazil) and acai comes from a related language called Nheengatu, while mango is probably ultimately from Malayalam across the other side of the world in India, and monsoon is ultimately from Arabic (and in a further twist, Dutch may also have played a hand in how it came into English from Portuguese). " (There was a previous BBC article on this topic which is linked in the post which contains more examples.) BBC article about how words have flowed back and forth over the centuries.
posted by marienbad on Feb 13, 2014 - 31 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

Synonyms, paraphrases, equivalents, restatements, poecilonyms.

A thesaurus only lists adjectives. English Synonyms and Antonyms takes the time to explain the small distinctions of meaning and usage between, for example, example, archetype, ideal, prototype, type, ensample, model, sample, warning, exemplar, pattern, specimen, exemplification, precedent, and standard--or, at least, such distinctions as author James C. Fernald, L.H.D., perceived in 1896.
posted by Iridic on Jan 10, 2014 - 13 comments

OED birthday word generator: which words originated in your birth year?

Click on your birth year in the left-hand column to discover your OED birthday word. [more inside]
posted by JujuB on Dec 21, 2013 - 109 comments

Hickory Dickory Dock

"We began the present study by asking, as some linguists have asked before us, why the ordering of certain conjoined elements is fixed." -Cooper and Ross, 1975 (pdf) Siamese twins in linguistics: examples are "here and there (and everywhere)" and "peas and carrots." Siamese twins are also known as "binomial freezes," "irreversible binomials," or "freezes," and they can change over time, too. And that can lead to fossil words! Speaking of fossil words, did you know about cranberry morphemes? [more inside]
posted by aniola on Dec 10, 2013 - 40 comments

A Lackadaisy Air

From the New-York Mirror of February 24, 1883:
“. . . a new and valuable addition has been made to the slang vocabulary. … We refer to the term “Dood.” For a correct definition of the expression the anxious inquirer has only to turn to the tight-trousered, brief-coated, eye-glassed, fancy-vested, sharp-toes shod, vapid youth who abounds in the Metropolis at present. … The Dood is oftenest seen in the lobbies of our theatres on first-nights. He puffs cigarettes or sucks his hammered-silver tipped cane in the entr actes, and passes remarks of a not particularly intellectual character on the appearance and dresses of the actresses. His greatest pleasure lies in taking a favorite actress or singer to supper at Delmonico’s or the Hotel Brunswick—places he briefly calls ‘Dels’ and the ‘Bruns’—where he will spend his papa’s pelf with a lavish hand. … ”
[more inside]
posted by mannequito on Oct 26, 2013 - 40 comments

The longest palindrome in Morse code is "intransigence"

A Collection of Word Oddities and Trivia
posted by not_on_display on Oct 11, 2013 - 17 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

What Three Words

What Three Words has changed the complex numbers of zip codes and post codes, longitude and latitude, into three English words. [more inside]
posted by The otter lady on Jul 18, 2013 - 86 comments

We've got five years, stuck on my eyes!

Download The Stories: Five Years of Original Fiction on Tor.com Nearly 4000 pages of some of your favorite authors for free. [Past offers not valid in all countries. Sorry if yours is one of these.]
posted by cjorgensen on Jul 18, 2013 - 29 comments

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dad

Book Titles with One Letter Missing [more inside]
posted by ActionPopulated on Jul 1, 2013 - 529 comments

"family, nationhood, verbal imperative, and accountability"

"Trading Faith for Wonder: On Judaism's Literary Legacy". The LARB reviews Jews And Words, by Amos Oz and Fania Oz-Salzberger. [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on May 29, 2013 - 6 comments

"I love the idea of witnessing the birth of that word."

"In 1872 two men began work on a lexicon of words of Asian origin used by the British in India. Since its publication the 1,000-page dictionary has never been out of print and a new edition is due out next year. What accounts for its enduring appeal? Hobson-Jobson is the dictionary's short and mysterious title." [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on May 27, 2013 - 10 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

Yet another reason books are awesome.....as if we needed one.

Mining books to map emotions through a century. Emotion words aren't consistently used through time, it seems. Things got scary in the 80's.
posted by littleap71 on Apr 2, 2013 - 20 comments

Compare and contrast, bits vs dead trees

As lexicographers revel in the capabilities of online dictionaries, one person notes the death of print encyclopedias.
posted by Brandon Blatcher on Mar 19, 2013 - 18 comments

You Can't Say That In English

Approximately 375 million people speak English as their first language, and 470 million to over a billion people speak it as a second language (to varying degrees). Even so, there are some words that do not exist in English, even with new word entries periodically being added to the Oxford Dictionary. 25 words that do not exist in English. [more inside]
posted by anya32 on Jan 10, 2013 - 134 comments

Word As Image, by Ji Lee

Challenge: Create an image out of a word, using only the letters in the word itself.
Rule: use only the graphic elements of the letters without adding outside parts.
From the mind of Ji Lee [more inside]
posted by growabrain on Jan 7, 2013 - 20 comments

Lousy? Crummy? Fed Up?

Trench Talk now entrenched in the English Language - Military historian Peter Doyle and Julian Walker, an etymologist at the British Library, have written Trench Talk about how words from the first World War have become part of everyday English. [more inside]
posted by pointystick on Dec 3, 2012 - 22 comments

Everything has an end, only the sausage has two. And what would a monkey know of the taste of ginger anyway?

Alles hat ein Ende, nur die Wurst hat zwei.
Bandar kya jaane adrak ka swad?
...and other foodie figures of speech. A few more to nibble on. Or jump to 27:25 of this week's World in Words to hear butchered renditions of the podcast crew's favorites (iTunes link)
posted by iamkimiam on Dec 2, 2012 - 17 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

Rapscallion was robbed.

Starting with a bracket for every letter of the alphabet, a bracket suggested by readers and a "Fuck" play-in bracket, blogger Ted McCagg just finished a contest for the Best Word Ever. In the running were Umpteen, Eke, Isthmus, Skedaddle and Akimbo. The Final Four. The finals. The champion. [Via The Paris Review & Kottke.]
posted by mediareport on Sep 25, 2012 - 68 comments

Claws sharp

The alphaDictionary Historical Dictionary of American Slang presents a unique way for studying slang. It contains over 2200 slang words with the centuries in which they were first printed. The dates were taken from the Oxford English Dictionary, the Online Etymological Dictionary, or the earliest occurrences the editors can remember. [more inside]
posted by netbros on Sep 14, 2012 - 8 comments

M is for Myriapod

Mysteries of Vernacular is a series of delightful papercraft animations about etymology, by filmmaker Jessica Oreck. Four of a projected 26 videos, one for each letter of the alphabet, have been completed so far: Assassin, Hearse, Pants, and Clue. (via)
posted by Horace Rumpole on Sep 14, 2012 - 5 comments

Long live logolepsy

Victorious Vocabulary : A Lackadaisical Lexicon for Laggard Logophiles. [possibly nsfw]
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken on Sep 14, 2012 - 11 comments

A kit for the pen-sucked flap-dragons in your life

Are the verbal pignuts nipping at thine clay-brained heels yet again? Does your dankish, knotty-ated mind quiver at scouring the bard's odiferous works for suitable defense? Then attend thee to the Shakespeare Insult Kit, where all manner of creations await your dullish wit.
posted by Brandon Blatcher on Aug 29, 2012 - 5 comments

"Grief bacon."

Wonderful words with no simple English equivalent.
posted by mudpuppie on Aug 13, 2012 - 231 comments

Fearing cacodemonomania from jettatura, the acersecomic leptosome set off a biblioclasm of his scripturient neogenesis on ktenology, unwittingly bringing about hamartia.

The Project Twins have created bold illustrative posters of unusual words from A to Z. (via)
posted by divabat on Jul 25, 2012 - 19 comments

Dictionary, n. A malevolent literary device for cramping the growth of a language and making it hard and inelastic. This dictionary, however, is a most useful work.

Collins Dictionary is seeking suggestions for popular new words that deserve official definitions. Most recent suggestions: blurge, wammocky, dingbat, sloading, and many more.
posted by Fizz on Jul 19, 2012 - 29 comments

Technology Enhancements for Sensory Impaired

Recent technologies developed at American universities are making communication easier for the sight and hearing impaired. Last summer a Stanford undergrad developed a touchscreen Braille writer that stands to revolutionize how the blind negotiate an unseen world by replacing devices costing up to 10 times more. Thanks to a group of University of Houston students, the hearing impaired may soon have an easier time communicating with those who do not understand sign language. During the past semester, students in UH’s engineering technology and industrial design programs teamed up to develop the concept and prototype for MyVoice, a device that reads sign language and translates its motions into audible words, and vice versa.
posted by netbros on Jul 3, 2012 - 4 comments

"Words -- so innocent and powerless as they are, as standing in a dictionary, how potent for good and evil they become in the hands of one who knows how to combine them."

Save the Words: Adopt words that have been abandoned by the English language.
posted by Fizz on Jul 3, 2012 - 83 comments

Our heads are round so that our thoughts can fly in any direction. - Francis Picabia

Little Surrealist Dictionary A game of re-definitions.
posted by adamvasco on Jun 30, 2012 - 138 comments

EYYyyyWWWww

Sound-Word Index — Emotions and their sound can invade our digital messages. Our words become flexible and vibrate according to the volume of our voices, transforming their written form into an expressive and resonating language. Without the help of body language, words can sometimes fall short in our digital conversations. However, sound, volume and rhythm can influence the spelling of our words, helping to translate our emotions hidden behind our screens.
posted by netbros on Jun 25, 2012 - 1 comment

If you liked the verbal portion of the SAT, but hated the monster portion...

Kingdom of Loathing creator Jick and the rest of the Asymmetric crew have spent the last four years developing a new game. Next month, the beta for the game is coming out: Word Realms! Make sure to watch the video, it's full of hilarity. [more inside]
posted by Night_owl on May 25, 2012 - 28 comments

Lexcavator

"Lexcavator is an arcade/word game for Mac, PC, and Linux. The goal: guide your guy (@) deeper into an infinite of letters by clearing words from the board! Multiple game modes, detailed record-keeping, online global leaderboards—there's something here for everybody! Pay what you want (even $0, if you are so inclined)." [via mefi projects] [more inside]
posted by davidjmcgee on May 10, 2012 - 13 comments

Need a word for it?

The Lonely Planet has come up with a list of thirty travel terms that aren't in the dictionary.
posted by gman on Feb 5, 2012 - 70 comments

This Year's Just Six Words Long

Inspired by SMITH magazine's six-word Memoir project and books (previously), Minnesota Public Radio asks, "In six words, how would you describe 2011?"
posted by ZeusHumms on Dec 29, 2011 - 94 comments

Capitol Words Holiday eCards

"What do reindeer, Christmas trees, eggnog and Hanukkah have in common? They’re all part of what our elected representatives have been saying around the holidays. Things get even crazier when their quotes are taken out of context and made into crafty, bizarre and occasionally touching holiday e-cards."
posted by sciurus on Dec 18, 2011 - 10 comments

Words of the last 100 years

Dave Wilton of wordorigins.org (prev) has been compiling etymological snapshots for each year of the past 100 years, based on words that first appeared in English that year. As of now, he is up to 1941. The 1911 entry gives a good overview of his goals and parameters. (via) [more inside]
posted by kmz on Nov 10, 2011 - 9 comments

Drink My Words

My machine converts words into cocktails. And, yes, it does work. Now I can literally taste the flavor of my words. [more inside]
posted by zamboni on Sep 23, 2011 - 39 comments

don't abuse the online haters

Living in a post-modern, information-rich world should lead us to more civility rather than less – thought this might be interesting to readers - Both Nietzsche and Brecht understood the temptations of arguing in rage, but did not follow their own prescriptions; we should learn from their example.
posted by hopefulmidlifer on Sep 21, 2011 - 30 comments

"One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter,"

What's in a name? The UK riots and language: 'rioter', 'protester' or 'scum'? [Guardian.co.uk] "The BBC drew a small storm of criticism for the word it initially used to describe the people taking part in this week's trouble."
posted by Fizz on Aug 11, 2011 - 146 comments

Literally Awesome!

Worn-out Words: [Guardian] Last year Ledbury poetry festival asked poets to name their most hated words. For this year's festival – running from 1 to 10 July – they've asked for the expressions that have become such cliches that they have lost all meaning. Here are their responses: please add your own.
posted by Fizz on Jul 1, 2011 - 163 comments

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