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You won't believe the data on this Star Trek: TNG character!

Search for word usage in movies and television over time.
Movies and television shows often reflect cultural trends of the time they are made in. Even movies that take place during the past or future can say something about the present through metadata or production style. Using the Bookworm platform, Benjamin Schmidt, an assistant professor of history at Northeastern University, provides a tool that lets you see trends in movie and television dialogue.

posted by Room 641-A on Sep 17, 2014 - 40 comments

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

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

“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 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

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

"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

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

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

"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

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

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

"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

The Metaphor Program

Daniel Soar on the militarisation of metaphor: Spies aren’t known for their cultural sensitivity. So it was a surprise when news broke last month that IARPA, a US government agency that funds ‘high-risk/high-payoff research’ into areas of interest to the ‘intelligence community’, had put out a call for contributions to its Metaphor Program, a five-year project to discover what a foreign culture’s metaphors can reveal about its beliefs.
posted by jack_mo on Jun 27, 2011 - 41 comments

Online Corpora

Online Corpora. In linguistics, a corpus is a collection of 'real world' writing and speech designed to facilitate research into language. These 6 searchable corpora together contain more than a billion words. The Corpus of Historical American English allows you to track changes in word use from 1810 to present; the Corpus del Español goes back to the 1200s.
posted by Paragon on Jan 24, 2011 - 11 comments

word: /wɜrd/ -noun 1. a unit of language, consisting of one or more spoken sounds or their written representation, that functions as a principal carrier of meaning.

Words of the World is a site dedicated to the exploration and life of words and language. [more inside]
posted by Cat Pie Hurts on Oct 24, 2010 - 8 comments

“When words are scarce they are seldom spent in vain.”

Words I love, not to be confused with Words I hate.
posted by Fizz on Oct 24, 2010 - 32 comments

"Impossible is a word only to be found in the dictionary of fools."

Climate change and the vuvuzela leave mark on Oxford Dictionary of English. Other words and phrases introduced for the latest edition include 'toxic debt', 'staycation', 'cheesebal' and 'national treasure'. To balance them out among the 2,000 or so new items there are a few more left-field choices. Among them are 'cheeseball', which refers to someone or something lacking taste, style or originality, and the more disturbing phenomenon of 'hikikomori', the Japanese word for the acute social withdrawal that occurs in some teenage boys.
posted by Fizz on Aug 19, 2010 - 18 comments

Game theory and hangman.

'Jazz' is the best word to use in hangman.
posted by shakespeherian on Aug 19, 2010 - 96 comments

That's what they said

The Michigan Corpus of Academic Spoken English is a searchable collection of almost 2 million words of transcribed spoken English from the University of Michigan, including student study groups, office hours, dissertation defenses, and campus tours. Researchers use the Michigan corpus to investigate questions about usage, like "less or fewer?" (cf. this contentious Ask Meta thread) and more general topics, like "Vague Language in Academia." Browse or search MICASE yourself.
posted by escabeche on Nov 21, 2009 - 20 comments

You say poe-TAY-toe.

Forvo: All the words in the world, pronounced by native speakers. At the time of this post, the tally stands at: 327,492 words; 239,165 pronunciations; in 220 languages; with 25,040 users submitting.
posted by not_on_display on Aug 4, 2009 - 26 comments

Base 26

Java Demo: "four-letter words have a special status in the english language and culture. counting in at over 1650 words,...this small project is an attempt to give a spacial overview of the entirety of this part of english language heritage, as well as to explore and visualize relations between all those words."
posted by hortense on Jun 4, 2009 - 18 comments

Look at all the pretty words

A few weeks from now, English will have it's millionth word. Or will it? [more inside]
posted by Dumsnill on May 12, 2009 - 54 comments

Death of the dirty word

Why would an evolutionary biologist study words? It turns out there is an astonishing parallel between the evolution of words in a lexicon and the evolution of genes in an organism. The word two, for example, has been around much longer than most, and will likely be with us for millennia, whereas the comparatively rare and recent word dirty has undergone many mutations, and will probably be extinct in a few hundred years. Professor Mark Pagel, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Reading, UK, tells us why on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's program As It Happens. Pull slider to 16:00 to start the seven minute interview.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium on Mar 7, 2009 - 49 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

Meh

Meh. (Previously).
posted by swift on Nov 17, 2008 - 61 comments

Stephan Kinsella's rulings on term coolness

Annoying and/or pretentious terms: "jejune", "pyjamas", "piping hot", "social justice". Cool terms: "cogitate", "cul-de-sac", "high dudgeon", "orangutan".
posted by colinmarshall on Oct 17, 2008 - 112 comments

From the original Greek, meaning 'I like big donuts'

A Brief History of English, with Chronology by Suzanne Kemmer is one of many articles at Words in English, a website designed as "a resource for those who want to learn more about this fascinating language – its history as a language, the origins of its words, and its current modern characteristics."
posted by blue_beetle on Oct 4, 2008 - 37 comments

Two effect they're effluent capitol.

Confusing Words is a collection of 3210 words that are troublesome to readers and writers. Words are grouped according to the way they are most often confused or misused.
posted by blue_beetle on Aug 11, 2008 - 76 comments

Wordchamp: hover over a foreign-language word and get its definition

Wordchamp lets you view foreign-language web pages with definitions in your language as mouseovers (registration-only). [more inside]
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane on Jul 5, 2008 - 10 comments

Capitol Words - US Congress In A Word A Day

Capitol Words allows you to see what the most often used word was on any given day in the U.S Congress. [via mefi projects]
posted by Effigy2000 on Jun 21, 2008 - 23 comments

Try Spelling These

The Most Horrible English Words
posted by chuckdarwin on Mar 28, 2008 - 124 comments

From Anschluss to Zyklon B

The Dictionary of Coming to Terms with the Past (Wörterbuch der 'Vergangenheitsbewältigung') examines over 1,000 German words that have Nazi connotations, such as Endlösung (Final Solution) and Selektion, It is featured in a review by der Spiegel. Such loaded words still constitute a minefield for Germans today, as the Archbishop of Cologne discovered last year in a situation analogized to Senator Biden's use of the term "articulate" when referring to Senator Obama. [more inside]
posted by Rumple on Feb 17, 2008 - 49 comments

This X is something you need a Y to understand

Snowclones (as you may know) are "some-assembly-required adaptable cliché frames": for example, "X is the new Y," "He's a few Xs short of a Y," or "If Eskimos have N words for snow, X surely have Y words for Z." The Snowclones Database collects and traces the origins of lots of these.
posted by tepidmonkey on Dec 17, 2007 - 28 comments

a fascinating short timely rectangular (due to the CSS box model) white-on-blue American pixel-based educational post (about adjectives)

"The old, mean man" vs. "The mean old man." Here's an aspect of English (and other languages) I've never thought of before. If you're using a string of adjectives, there's a natural order for them to appear in: "opinion :: size :: age :: shape :: color :: origin :: material :: purpose". (Although I find "old, mean," due to it's strange order, sort of striking.) [more info: 1, 2, 3]
posted by grumblebee on May 19, 2007 - 91 comments

You, Sir (Or Madam), Are A Pontifical Nincompoop

Pompous Ass Words is a site dedicated to identifying words that shouldn't be used, on the grounds that doing so makes you sound like a pompous ass. With humorous citations and links to examples of pompous word usage by the media.
posted by amyms on Jan 27, 2007 - 202 comments

Tags only!

Wordie: social networking... for words. Catalog your favourite (or least favourite) words — make any variety of word lists, and connect to other users using the same words. Silly, but fun!
posted by Robot Johnny on Nov 29, 2006 - 12 comments

'What words say does not last. The words last. Because words are always the same, and what they say is never the same.'

The Phrontistery presents A Compendium of Lost Words
posted by anastasiav on Jul 1, 2006 - 14 comments

also featuring the mystery of chicken tikka masala

Were you a minger, sporting a mullet, looking a bit naff when you were getting mullered while out on the pull, anytime before 1988? Or were you posh and minted, looking snazzy after spending your dosh to get a nip and tuck before 1980? If so, the Oxford English Dictionary and the BBC need you for their Wordhunt – a call to help find the earliest verifiable usages of a list of words from the past decades whose origin is still uncertain.
posted by funambulist on Jan 9, 2006 - 28 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

A MERLE TIFT

We are a LAME FITTER, FALTER ITEM and A FELT TIMER. We need some MATT RELIEF. Fun with anagrams.
posted by KevinSkomsvold on Nov 18, 2005 - 56 comments

A whole nother newt..

A whole other newt with an ekename. I was looking up the origin of "nother" and learned about the phenomenon known as word misdivisions. Color me educated.
posted by KevinSkomsvold on Nov 16, 2005 - 24 comments

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