Posts by Dictionary.com

  1. Why Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” Was Pure Poetry

    Politicians and political figures often use anaphora in speeches to emphasize their points. A classic example of anaphora comes from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech. King uses the anaphoral phrase, “I have a dream,” to start eight consecutive sentences: “I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi . . . will be transformed into an oasis …

  2. Where Did The Word “Pizza” Come From, Anyway?

    The origin of the word pizza The word pizza is Italian for pie, and we English borrowed (and loved it) from Italian in the 1930s. But just how that word wound up in the Italian language boggles etymologists. It may have come from the Latin pix meaning “pitch” or Greek pitta, but others say that it originated in a Langobardic word bizzo meaning “bite.” Who made the …

  3. Before X Was X: The Dark Horse Story Of The 24th Letter

    With its long, ambiguous history and multiple phonemes, the letter X is quite a dark horse. It can mean Christ, like the X in Xmas, stand for a chromosome, and even show up in friendly and amorous correspondence (XOXO). But, how did X end up in the alphabet to begin with? The origin of X Since its inception, the letter X has struggled to establish its own …

  4. Where Does The Name January Come From?

    If you were asked to pick which month is most often associated with deep reflection, you’d probably choose January. Known for recaps and resolutions, the new year starts with retrospection (as we bemoan past regrets and celebrate successes), then moves forward with hopes for the year ahead! So, in January, we’re all a little bit like Janus, the Roman deity for whom the month is …

  5. What’s The Word For When You Can’t Remember A Word?

    The word was there a second ago. You were just about to say it. And then poof, it was gone, like a gnat buzzing just out of your reach when you’re about to smack it mid-air. So what the heck is going on. Is there a word to describe what you meant to say when you just can’t remember that word? Well, yes! It was …

  6. Where Does Champagne Get Its Name?

    Champagne has been associated with luxury, special occasions, and rites of passage since the days of French royalty when kings were anointed with bubbly. But not just any bottle of the sparkly stuff gets to be called a champagne. Where did this festive libation get its name? And what makes a champagne a champagne? What champagne is made from Champagne is a sparkling wine made …

  7. The Surprisingly Religious Background Of “Golly,” “Gosh,” and “Gee”

    Gosh, golly, and gee casually express surprise or excitement, right? Well, yes, but when they were first introduced to the English language, these short words had a much more serious origin and purpose. Where did golly, gosh, and gee come from? While this folksy trio are informal interjections, they are also euphemistic alterations of the word God or, in the case of gee, Jesus. The use of gosh predates golly …

  8. Do You Give Presents Or Gifts? Here’s The Difference

    Where do the words gift and present come from? Why does English use both? We’re pretty sure it’s not just so that children can ask for toys in multiple ways… Language is not a linear, predestined development. Even though it may feel as if the language we speak is in some way the logical conclusion of thousands of years of development, every word that we …

  9. What’s The Difference Between “Yule” And “Christmas”?

    The lyric from “Deck the Halls” goes “Troll the ancient yuletide carol.” Amidst all the fa-la-la-ing, did you ever ask yourself exactly what yule is? While some people use the word as a synonym for Christmas, there’s more to Yule than the goings on that happen on December 25th. What is yule? Yule is the ancient name in the Germanic lunar calendar for a winter festival …

  10. These Idioms Were Turned Into Some Of TV’s Most Popular Shows

    Television has a habit of repurposing and repackaging common sayings into names of shows, from Breaking Bad to Six Feet Under, and it’s easy to understand why: Idioms are packed with rich associations that resonate instantly with viewers, and when applied to titles of the small screen, they quickly communicate the sensibilities of the shows. Take a look at how some of these idiomatic phrases were …

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