Word Facts

  1. The Most Epic Words You’re Probably Neglecting

  2. Where Does The Name “October” Come From?

    October is here, and in the Northern Hemisphere, that often means the days are flush with falling leaves, chilling weather, and growing anticipation for the holiday season. The tenth month by our Gregorian calendar, October shares a root with octopus and octagon—the Latin octo and Greek okto, meaning “eight.” So, how did October become the 10th month? The original Roman calendar had only ten months, …

  3. Why Are A, E, I, O, U, And Y Called “Vowels”?

    In elementary school, we all learned the vowels of the English language: A, E, I, O, U, and sometimes Y. Or, at least how we write them out, that is. But what makes a vowel a vowel? Vowels and consonants are two different categories of sounds that linguists use to better understand how speech sounds work. The study of the sounds that human beings can produce is called …

  4. “Dissent” vs. “Protest”: Why Choosing The Right Word Matters

    Demonstrations against racism and police brutality have put the words dissent and protest at the center of our vocabulary this year. Dictionary.com has seen a surge of interest in these words, which speak to their relevance to our current times. The death of George Floyd—a Black man who was killed after a white police officer, Derek Chauvin, kneeled on his neck for nearly nine minutes—has inspired worldwide protests that continue …

  5. “Infamous” vs. “Notorious”: Which One Is Better?

    Thanks to clicks, likes, and verified blue checkmarks, a person’s reputation can extend far beyond those who know them personally. For example, it’s widely known that Chris Evans is a real-life Captain America who holds doors open for people, and we all acknowledge that Beyoncé is a goddess among us mere mortals. Speaking of superpowers, before she passed away on September 18, 2020, Supreme Court …

  6. Idioms That Make Our Skin Crawl

  7. Fall Once Had A Different Name

    We may now call it fall, but once upon a time, the season that comes after summer but before winter was referred to simply as harvest. An old name for fall According to the written record, harvest is the earliest name for the third season of the year. It’s found in Old English as hærfest, a word of Germanic stock, perhaps with an underlying, ancient sense …

  8. Funny Words You Probably Don’t Know

  9. “Emotional Support Animal” vs. “Therapy Animal” vs. “Service Animal”: The Differences Matter

    This September, we released our biggest update to the dictionary ever. Our dictionary editors touched over 15,000 entries in a sweeping effort to reflect the many ways language is evolving. From capitalizing Black to adding a separate entry for Pride to revising references to suicide, our update addresses topics that touch us on some of our most personal levels: race and ethnicity, gender and sexuality, …

  10. “Street Art” vs. “Graffiti”: What’s The Difference?

    Now more than ever before, public art is on the rise. New murals crop up in cities, large and small, on what feels like an everyday basis, each one breathing new, vibrant life into the streets that were once blank canvases for creativity. The terms graffiti and street art have long been used interchangeably to describe these public art installations—but what should we really call …