Yearly Archives: 2012

  1. The Worst Words of 2012

    2012 has been an interesting time in the life of our lexicon. From new coinages to new usages, English has had a nice growth spurt. Some neologisms quickly outgrow their usefulness, or through overuse, they become meaningless, like an overplayed song on the radio. Here are a few terms that many people have grown tired of in 2012.

  2. How do you sign “heterogeneous mixture” to a deaf person?

    Imagine you’re sitting in a high school biology class or a college chemistry lab. The professor is giving a heated lecture using a whole host of long, difficult words. But every time she says “heterogeneous mixture” or “Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle” she spells out the entire term one letter at a time. That’s what life is like for deaf students and professionals in the sciences.

  3. Why “Bluster” is Dictionary’s 2012 Word of the Year

    You may recall that last year we selected a rare word, a tongue-twister of sorts, as the 2011 Word of the Year: tergiversate which means “to change repeatedly one’s attitude or opinions with respect to a cause, subject, etc.; equivocate.” Rather than pick a word that rose to prominence through common usage during the year (like Occupy or Arab Spring), we selected a word hidden …

  4. What Should the 2012 Word of the Year Be?

    You may recall last year our editors selected an unusual, rare word, a tongue-twister of sorts as the 2011 Word of the Year. We picked tergiversate which means “to change repeatedly one’s attitude or opinions with respect to a cause, subject, etc.; equivocate.” 

  5. 11/11: Why Today is Special

    11 is a very odd number and has been subject to much interpretation over the ages. According to Yahoo! News, medieval scholars believed that while most numbers had positive and negative qualities, the number 11 represented pure evil. But of course, you probably already know the literal definition of eleven. Numerologists also think there is something special about the number 11. In numerology, 11 is a master …

  6. How the prefix “franken-” took on a life of its own. . .

    As Halloween quickly approaches, Frankenstorm is sneaking up on the East Coast. Forecasters are calling the hurricane headed for New York, New Jersey, and as far inland as Ohio, “Frankenstorm” because (like the monster in Mary Shelley’s 1818 novel Frankenstein or The Modern Prometheus) this storm is stitched together from three different weather systems

  7. Could an animal speak? Not just bark or meow, but actually speak.

    From Dr. Doolittle to Jane Goodall, human-animal communication has occupied our thoughts both in fiction and in reality. Dogs recognize their names when they are called; researchers have successfully taught primates to communicate in sign language; and the famed African gray parrot, Alex, built a vocabulary of over 100 English words out of which he learned to form cogent sentences. All of these examples show humans …

  8. Who put the $ in Ke$ha? Where did the $ come from?

    From the California dance band !!! to MIA spelling out her name in dashes, musical artists seem to love putting symbols in their names. Perhaps none more notable than pop star Ke$ha, who differentiates herself with a single letter substitution. Born Kesha Rose Sebert, the singer/songwriter/rapper simply exchanged the “s” in her first name with a $ (or dollar sign). The artist initially made the …

  9. How much talking does your body do?

    The phrase “body language” or nonverbal communication often gets tossed around. From public speaking to a first date, our movements and facial expressions say a lot about our feelings and intentions. Now, as we enter into political debate season, politicians’ body language will be under just as much scrutiny as their remarks, and if the candidates aren’t careful, they might misspeak without saying a word.

  10. Do babies speak with an accent?

    We all know that infants don’t actually speak with an accent because they don’t really speak at all. But for a long time scientists presumed that infants’ brains could not process sounds at all. Professor Patricia Kuhl, the director of the Center for Mind, Brain, and Learning at the University of Washington, wanted to test this notion.