History

  1. Getty

    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 …

  2. Getty

    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 …

  3. Nazi vs. Fascist: Is There Really A Difference?

    Linguists have a bunch of fancy words to describe language evolution. When a word’s meaning becomes more negative over time, it’s referred to as pejoration. The opposite–when a meaning is viewed in a more positive light over time–is called melioration. Word evolution like this is pretty common; some words even manage to go through both pejoration and melioration. Two such words that have managed to see-saw like …

  4. We Can Thank Alexander Hamilton For Giving Us These Words

    He may have been 🎶dropped in the middle of a forgotten spot in the Caribbean by providence, impoverished, in squalor🎶 … but by now we all know Alexander Hamilton grew up to be a hero and a scholar. However, did you know the first secretary of the treasury was also quite the linguist? Since Lin-Manuel Miranda turned Hamilton from a mysterious face on our $10 bill …

  5. Famous Sayings That Became Catalysts For Social Change

    Phrases like sit-in or bra-burning might not currently mean much to you. But, these phrases (or calls to action), and the movements that coined them, are the reasons why we continue to fight for social justice today. A catalyst is “a person or thing that precipitates an event or change” (and that’s just one of the definitions of the word.  But back to these early calls to …

  6. 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 …

  7. Old School Latin Phrases We’re Still Using in Everyday English

  8. Learn The History Of The New York Times Crossword Puzzle

    There are plenty of crossword puzzles in publications across the country, but when we think of the pinnacle of puzzledom (Not officially a word, but, perhaps, it should be?), the purveyors of the most preeminent puzzles, we bow to The New York Times (NYT). For more than 75 years, the NYT crossword puzzle has been stumping readers with its clever clues and then sending them …

  9. The Popular Story About Black Friday’s Name Is A Myth

    After Thanksgiving feasts come Black Friday sales. But, where did Black Friday come from? Black Friday myths While many people believe the term Black Friday finds its roots in the sense of black meaning “showing a profit; not showing any losses,” this isn’t actually the case. Historically, black has been associated with days of economic stress as opposed to days of booming commercial success. The first Black …

  10. Which Came First: Turkey: The Bird, Or Turkey: The Nation?

    The republic of Turkey (look north of Egypt, east of Greece) isn’t exactly a breeding ground for the bird that Americans associate with Thanksgiving. In fact, the turkey is native to North America … so, why do they share the same name? Let’s get the word facts The word turkey has been used to refer to “land occupied by the Turks” since the 1300s and …

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