History

  1. Words Popularized By Shakespeare That We Still Use

    William Shakespeare died on April 23, 1616 and was baptized on April 26, 1564. His exact birthdate remains unknown, though is conventionally taken to be the same as the day his “bones were interred.” In his honor, we wanted to share some words popularized by the man himself. Did Shakespeare coin the following terms? Probably not. These words may have already been in conversational usage …

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    These Made-Up Languages Aren’t Just For Kids

    It seems like a rite of passage for most kids: your first made-up language. Whether you devised it with a sibling or wrote in a diary only you could translate, there was an allure in concealing your communication in code. The appeal doesn’t dissipate as we grow older, either. Take Igpay Atinlay. Pig Latin, that is. Plenty of parents still use it to speak about things they don’t …

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    What Is A “Ban”?

    The word ban gets bandied about a lot these days, from vegan brides wanting to ban meat-eaters from their weddings to plastic straws getting banned from coffee drinks. On an individual level, banning things we don’t like or agree with can be an easy way to rid them from our life. But, zoom out to a governmental and societal level, and bans become much more complex. What …

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    How Did April 1 Become “April Fools’ Day”?

    For pranksters and mischievous older siblings all around the world, April Fools’ Day, or All Fools’ Day, is as eagerly anticipated as Christmas. What other holiday encourages you to think up elaborate hoaxes, swap your spouse’s keys, or trick your friend into thinking their car got towed? But how did this odd, prank-centric holiday come to be celebrated in the first place, and why is …

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    Why Is The Word “Root” In “Root Beer”?

    Is root beer the world’s most oddly named carbonated beverage … we don’t know, that award might go to 7-up, but we’re going to explore the naming of this soft drink regardless. What, after all, is the root in root beer? The roots of root in root beer The ingredient in root beer that primarily gives the beverage its distinctive flavor is sassafras, which is “the root …

  6. The Story Behind Saint Patrick’s Name

    March 17th marks the annual celebration of Saint Patrick’s Day, or Lá Fhéile Pádraig in Irish. The holiday honors its fifth-century namesake, Saint Patrick, Ireland’s shamrock-loving patron saint, who died on this date in 461 A.D. These days, the holiday is observed all over the world to celebrate Irish cultural heritage, which is ironic considering Patrick himself wasn’t Irish. Nor was Patrick his real name. …

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    Why Do We Say “Beware The Ides Of March”?

    The Ides of March, better known as March 15th, marks an inauspicious anniversary associated with treachery and ill fortune. But, how did a day that was once celebrated by the Romans become so heavily steeped in superstition? Where did the phrase Ides of March come from? First, let’s talk calendars. Unlike today, the ancient Romans didn’t number their calendar days chronologically from the first of the …

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    From Suffrage To Sisterhood: What Does Feminism Actually Mean?

    Falling annually on March 8th, International Women’s Day celebrates the progress women have made over the last century, and the inspiring women who helped make that progress happen. From the suffragist movement of the 1800s to the 2017 Women’s March in Washington, women have used the power of language and oration to inspire countless people. Early inspiration: the Enlightenment Early feminism was heavily influenced by …

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    Presidents’ Day Isn’t The Real Name Of The February Holiday

    If you live in the United States and you’re anything like us, you might view Presidents’ Day as just another three-day weekend in February. But the story behind this important commemorative holiday is more interesting than you might think–especially considering Presidents’ Day isn’t the official name of the holiday at all. When was the first Presidents’ Day? Presidents’ Day was first established in 1885 to …

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    From The Grammys To The Oscars: The Stories Behind The Names

    We are approaching the end of the awards season, which begins each year with the Emmy Awards in November and culminates with the Academy Awards in February. (The Tonys are a summertime outlier.) Rare talents can sometimes win all four of the major performing arts awards–an almost mythic achievement known colloquially as an EGOT: an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar, and a Tony. There are …

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