Posts by Jane Solomon

  1. Where Did “Cinderella Story” Come From?

    The Cinderella that English speakers know and love can be traced to the French story Cendrillon, first published in 1697 by Charles Perrault, though Chinese and Greek versions of this classic tale go back to the 9th century CE and 6th century BCE, respectively. Today, there are over 500 variants of Cinderella in Europe alone. It’s no surprise, then, that describing something as a Cinderella …

  2. Where Do Our Favorite Emoji Come From?

    By Jane Solomon While some people might view emoji as silly little characters, that’s not how we see it. There’s a sophisticated linguistic system in the way people use emoji, and that’s something we take very seriously at Dictionary.com. Emoji are a very real way people are communicating, and who better to think deeply about emoji than a reference source that investigates meaning? In 2018, …

  3. What Is Ghosting?

    The noun ghost has been around a very long time, since before 900, when Old English was spoken. Originally it referred to the soul of a dead person or a disembodied spirit, and this meaning is still in use. In the recent past, ghost and ghosting have expanded in meaning, and today this term is often evoked in relation to dating. How do you know if …

  4. Gender-Neutral Singular They

    On January 8th, 2016, approximately 300 linguists crammed into a room to vote on the American Dialect Society’s 2015 Word of the Year. From microaggression to man bun to emoji with x-rated connotations, dozens of lexical items were debated, but only one could take home the ultimate honor of Word of the Year. This year that title went to they, or more specifically, to the …

  5. Of Man Buns and Moms: New Words of 2015

    Since 1990, the American Dialect Society has held a Word of the Year vote, which is open to the public. This year’s vote takes place on January 8, 2016 in Washington DC. Over the past few weeks, linguists have been discussing nominations for various categories, and the ADS website has a nice roundup of 2015 Word of the Year candidates. Dictionary.com announced our own Word of …

  6. The Deep Web vs. The Dark Web

    Deep web and dark web are so technical in nature that we came across a lot of confusion as to what they actually mean in our research. More tech-savvy publications generally have a disclaimer when discussing the dark web, pleading with their readers that this is not to be confused with the deep web, which is related, but not at all the same thing. So, what exactly …

  7. What Does Calling Someone “Mom” On The Internet Mean?

    While Kim Kardashian was busy “breaking the Internet” with her controversial photoshoot for Paper in November of 2014, New Zealand singer/songwriter Lorde was teaching the world—or at least her Twitter and Tumblr followers—about a new slang use of the word mom. How is mom used on the internet? These three little letters tweeted out by Lorde in response to Kardashian’s cover photo caused such confusion that the 18-year-old …

  8. Can a Hashtag Be a Word?

    #jesuischarlie, #RupertsFault, and #SOTUBURN: 2015 has already produced hashtags that have sparked national and international conversations. But are hashtags really words? At the annual meeting of the American Dialect Society in early January, linguists and word enthusiasts vote on the Word of the Year. This year, the overall winner of this vote was the hashtag #blacklivesmatter. Though it first emerged in 2013, #blacklivesmatter surged in popularity in …

  9. Here Are All The Ways to Use the Word Bae

    Over the last couple of years, the term bae has achieved widespread usage. While the noun form has been around for over 10 years, adjectival and verbal uses, along with other related forms, have more recently started popping up to describe the people and things we love, or at least like-like. Twitter, in particular, is rife with interesting new uses of the term. The popular social …

  10. Vocabulary Unplugged: Technology and the Lexicon

    Even the least tech-savvy lexicographer understands that technology is a robust source of new words. As technologies move from the realm of science fiction into our everyday realities, new words and meanings spring up around them. While it is expected that names for these new technologies and the words describing our interaction with them are regularly entering the language, there are less obvious coinages that …

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