Word Facts

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    Did You Know How This Word Was Formed?

    Words are funny things. For one thing, they are always changing. Consider lit , which, conventionally, refers to “lighting something up, e.g., a lit candle.” But, in slang, lit means something is “excellent.” It’s hot, it’s on fire—which are just more examples of how we play with words. For another, they keep secret stories of the past. Did you know  daisy literally means “day’s eye,” named for …

  2. Words You Didn’t Know Were Inspired By Animals

    Did you know that the word "muscle" is derived from the Latin word for “mouse?” And this isn't the only word in the English language that is unexpectedly inspired by animals.

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    “Compliment” vs. “Complement”: How To Pick The Right Word

    Compliment and complement are commonly confused terms because they’re pronounced alike and originally shared some meanings. But over time, they’ve become separate words with entirely different definitions. What does complement mean? Complement with an E is the older of the two terms. Its noun sense has been around in English since the 1300s. The term derives from the Latin complēmentum, meaning “something that completes.” So, that means if …

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    The Month Of March And “Marching” Have A Historical Link

    Where did the name March come from? The name March is derived from the Latin word Martius (named after Mars, the Roman god of war). Martius was the name of the first month in the Roman calendar. It is one of the only months named after a god. While many have adopted the Gregorian calendar (The Roman ruler, Numa Pompilius, added January and February to the calendar thus making March the …

  5. Why Do Brits And Americans Spell Words Differently?

    Brits and Americans may share a mother tongue, but when it comes to spelling a handful of common terms, we just can’t seem to settle on a shared favorite—or is it favourite?—approach. Thankfully, most words in English are spelled the same wherever the language is spoken. But a select few take different spellings on opposite sides of the Atlantic. These are some of the most common discrepancies …

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    Why Do We Use Onomatopoeia?

    Few words are as fun to say as onomatopoeia, but what the heck does it mean? Despite its complex look and sound, onomatopoeia actually has a simple function in the English language. It’s defined as “the formation of a word, as cuckoo, meow, honk, or boom, by imitation of a sound made by or associated with its referent.” To put it simply, it’s a word …

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    Cough, Cough: Here Are 10 Different Ways To Say “-ough”

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    Dissent vs. Protest: Why Choosing The Right Word Matters

    It seems political conflict in the 2010s has put the words dissent and protest at the center of our vocabulary. More and more, people are speaking out against injustices, voicing opposition to things they disagree with, and organizing to effect change. But, even though dissent and protest are both terms that people can use to describe such forms of disagreement and discontent, they don’t mean the same thing. What is …

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    What Is The Difference Between “Gender” And “Sex”?

    When two words have the same meaning, we call them synonyms. When two words have different meanings but people use them interchangeably, we write articles about what those words actually mean. Take gender and sex. While people substitute one for the other on the regular, their meaning and usage are significantly—and consequentially—different. Because we’re most often talking about human beings when we use these terms, …

  10. Do Zoologists Pick Animal Names Like “Pink Fairy Armadillo”?

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