History

  1. Can You Untangle These Regional Mix-Ups?

    Watch what you say while you're traveling around the US - not all words mean the same things in the same places.

  2. The Meaning of Labor Day

    For many of us, Labor Day means the end of summer vacation, a guilt-trip for anyone wearing white, and an excuse for department stores to have sales. But, it’s important to keep in mind the true history behind this holiday: Labor Day is a celebration of laborers, introduced at a time when labor meant something far more grueling than it generally does today. In the …

  3. Swear Words You’re Neglecting

  4. Place de la Bastille

    What’s a Bastille?

    On Bastille Day, the world parties in the name of France. But do you know what makes Bastille Day so important—not just for France but the history of all democracies? The occasion is typically honored with military parades and copious consumption of libations. This mix of weapons and wooziness arguably sums up the legacy of July 14, 1789. Bastille is French for “fortress,” “castle,” or “bastion.” The Bastille …

  5. The Forgotten Verses of “The Star-Spangled Banner”

    Do you know all the words to “The Star-Spangled Banner”? Many people have difficulty memorizing the lyrics of the first verse of this song, which is commonly performed at sports events and other public gatherings. But did you know that there are three additional verses that we almost never hear? In 1814, the poet and lyricist Francis Scott Key penned the lyrics to “The Star-Spangled …

  6. O Say Can You Hear? A Look at Our National Anthem’s Poetic Roots

    This weekend, many Americans will gather with loved ones to commemorate our country’s heritage by firing up the grill, admiring some fireworks, and attempting to sing one of the most difficult songs in the English language. “Star-Spangled Banner” was adopted as our national anthem in 1931, and its soaring melody and densely packed lyrics have been tripping up those tasked with performing it ever since. …

  7. The Buzz About Spelling Bees

    Do you know what these winning words mean—all the way back to the first Scripps National Spelling Bee, in 1925?

  8. Words Moving From There to Here

  9. I Say Tom-AY-toe, You Say Tom-AH-toe

  10. easter egg, turquoise

    The Other Easter Eggs: Coded Messages and Hidden Treats

    When was the last time you discovered an Easter egg hiding in plain sight? If your answer was “at the last Easter egg hunt I went to,” it’s time to expand your playing field. The term Easter egg started popping up in the 16th and 17th centuries. As most would guess, its original meaning refers to a hollowed-out or hard-boiled egg, dyed or painted for …