Word Facts

  1. Getty

    Holy $#!%: Where Did The Symbolic Swear Come From?

    Why is @#$%&! naughty? When the force of a swear word is too extreme (but some form of cuss must be used) symbolic stand-ins have long been used for lewdness. Suffice it to say, any emotional keyboard-striker can blurt out something that people perceive as a sub for swears. Whether it’s to diminish the force of swear, to get around censorship rules, or maybe just because symbols are @#$%ing cool …

  2. getty

    Spelling Still Matters

  3. getty

    Digital Words With An Analog Past

  4. getty

    Did You Just Interrupt . . . My Sentence?

    What’s an interrupter? Interrupters—like this little guy right here—are squeezing into more and more contemporary writing. They’re often the goofy/sarcastic “wink-wink-nudge-nudge” asides writers play with in nonacademic writing and online content. Also called insertions, interrupting phrases, or parenthetical expressions, interrupters are words, phrases, or clauses that break the flow of writing—because if the author feels like it, why not?—to offer additional, can’t-be-held-back, or spur-of-the-moment thoughts …

  5. What’s The Difference Between Socialism And Communism?

    What is the difference between socialism and communism? Socialism has three main meanings: 1. a theory or system of social organization that advocates the vesting of the ownership and control of the means of production and distribution, of capital, land, etc., in the community as a whole. 2. procedure or practice in accordance with this theory. 3. (in Marxist theory) the stage following capitalism in the transition of a …

  6. em dash

    Getting To Know The Em Dash

    What is an em dash? The em dash is an incredibly versatile punctuation mark that can be used instead of parentheses, commas, colons, or quotation marks in a sentence. The em dash (—) sets off a word or clause and adds emphasis. Or, it can signal an interruption (see our article on interrupting sentences for more on that!) or amplification (“expanding”) of an idea. It’s also …

  7. miss mrs ms

    What Are Mr. And Mrs. Short For?

    What are Mr. and Mrs. short for? History and etiquette tell us that Mister and Missus, known by the contractions Mr. and Mrs., are the proper ways to address men and women. Beneath the surface of these everyday honorifics lies a linguistic glitch though. And, it has created social havoc since “Mrs.” entered mainstream English in the 17th century. Where did Mister and Missus come …

  8. what is a conjunction

    Making Connections With Conjunctions

    What is a conjunction? A conjunction is a connecting word used to join words, phrases, sentences, and clauses. Conjunctions are often single words (and, but, because). In some cases, they can also be phrases (in any case). The two main types of conjunctions are subordinating and coordinating. There are also correlative conjunctions. What is a subordinating conjunction? A subordinating conjunction connects a dependent clause to an independent …

  9. What’s The Deal With Piqued, Peeked, And Peaked?

    When do you use piqued? The word set we’re examining today can send writers into a spiral of uncertainty when it comes to word choice, particularly in the context of one expression: piqued my interest, peaked my interest, or peeked my interest? The answer is piqued—and here’s why. Pique means “to excite (interest, curiosity, etc.),” as in “The suspenseful movie trailer piqued my curiosity.” The term also …

  10. affect vs effect

    Affect vs Effect: Use the Correct Word Everytime

    Affect or effect? Both of these words are verbs and nouns and their meanings overlap. Very confusing! This slippery duo can send even experienced writers into a spiral of uncertainty. Especially, since many people pronounce them in almost the exact same way. Here’s a basic guideline for affect vs effect: Generally, we use affect as a verb (an action word) and effect as a noun …