In the News

  1. End of an Era: Word Lookups From Obama’s Farewell Speech

    President Barack Obama’s second and final term is at an end. He gave his farewell speech Tuesday January 10 in Chicago, the city that launched his rise to national prominence. Word choices and speech patterns of our world leaders are a constant source of discussion (and comedy skits), as every administration has a style and at least one tic. Long known as an effective public …

  2.’s 2016 Word of the Year: Xenophobia

    At we aim to pick a Word of the Year that embodies a major theme resonating deeply in the cultural consciousness over the prior 12 months. This year, some of the most prominent news stories have centered around fear of the “other.” Fear is an adaptive part of human evolutionary history and often influences behaviors and perceptions on a subconscious level. However, this particular …

  3. The Force at Work: Star Wars Words

    Words for a galaxy far, far away… The conversations are flowing, and the debates are raging: Do we call Rogue One: A Star Wars Story a stand-alone? A spin-off? A prequel? An offshoot? A sequel? All of the above? Whether you’re a dedicated contributor to Wookieepedia or just proud of yourself for knowing what a Wookiee is, there are some great words at work in a galaxy …

  4. Category 4 or Category 1: What Hurricane Category Numbers Mean

    It’s rare that we talk about hurricanes in October, but 2016 will be a noted exception. Hurricane Matthew has already wreaked havoc across the Carribbean, and continues to move across the southeastern US. Part of the drama of hurricane season revolves around the predicting and changing of the severity – or category – of the storm. What category will the hurricane be when it hits land? What kind of …

  5. Hurricane “Lisa?” Hurricane “Matthew?” Who picks storm names, and what’s next on the list?

    Nobody can guess how serious the next hurricane will be, but you might be able to find out what it will be named. An important thing to note is that weather events aren’t eligible for a name until they transform from a tropical depression into a tropical storm. When tropical storms reach a certain velocity, they become cyclones, which North Americans call hurricanes. Then, the name of a hurricane …

  6. Words on the Move: Thug

    In recent past the word thug has been receiving quite a lot of attention, following its use to describe rioters, looters, and occasionally, non-violent protesters in Baltimore last year. Thug has been poked and prodded, argued over ad nauseam, and written about quite extensively. At issue is the question of whether or not it has become a euphemistic code word for people of color, generally …

  7. Your College in a Word 2016

    In 2014, you may have seen our analysis of what words are most looked up in certain US cities. We found that Boston was looking up fender-bender and Dallas was looking up peep. Last year we took that approach to a different sort of community: college campuses.

  8. debate

    Your Candidate in a Word

    We can learn a lot about our presidential candidates from the individual words they use. Through computational analysis, we’ve pulled together lists of words that each candidate tends to use more frequently than their competition. These words shed light on the issues, policies, and rhetoric of individual candidates on an extremely granular level, ultimately giving us valuable insight into the people vying for the title …

  9. By the Numbers: The Language of Political Parties Today

    You can learn a lot about politicians from the words they use. Recently Five Thirty Eight had political speech writer Jeff Nussbaum construct and annotate “the Perfect Stump Speech” for imaginary Democratic and Republican candidates. Even without the expertise of a seasoned political speechwriter, it’s possible to gain insight on the words and rhetoric of a political party through computational analysis.

  10. There’s a Word for Why Adele’s Music Makes You Cry

    Adele, whose single “Hello” debuted at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 list in 2015, will be performing at this year’s Grammy Awards. Year after year, one thing remains constant with the Grammy winner’s music: It makes the tears flow.

Sign up for our Newsletter!
Start your day with weird words, fun quizzes, and language stories.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.