Origins

  1. What Do “Numpire” and “Ewt” Have in Common?

    These funny-looking words may not be recognizable, but they were the ancestors of our modern-day umpire and newt. So, how did they evolve into their current forms? Because of the pesky letter n, the indefinite article a/an, and the fact that a bunch of English-speakers hundreds of years ago had hearing problems. The bouncing n and rebracketing Words like numpire and ewt underwent a process we’re playfully calling the …

  2. Clickbait Isn’t New

    Clickbait existed before clicking did “When you find out what these kids are jumping into, your jaw will drop!” “Baby ducks see water for the first time—can you BELIEVE what they do?” Confronted with such emotionally charged lines, it’s almost impossible not to click. Do the tykes tumble into a vat of chocolate syrup? Are ducklings reaching for toothpaste to brush their beaks? Can you …

  3. Terms To Know In Order To Seal The Deal

  4. Famous Names That Inspired Common Words

  5. “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” in the Dictionary

  6. Who to Blame for English Spellings!

    Let’s be honest: It’s practically impossible to be a “good” speller in English. The way words are spelled in English just don’t match how they are pronounced. Why, English language, why? Well, we can start by blaming William Caxton and the printing press. Diving into the historical context Let’s begin at the beginning, though: England, 1476. Norman French presence was in decline as the Bubonic Plague …

  7. Know Your Ghosts or Get Spooked

  8. French Fries Aren’t French: Names That Went Wrong

  9. Dirty Minds Think Alike: Old Words That Raise Eyebrows Today

  10. Meaning Mash-Ups: Words You Didn’t Know Were Portmanteaus