Word Trends & Stories

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    Has The Word “Ninja” Been Culturally Appropriated?

    Traditionally, the word ninja is defined as “a member of a feudal Japanese society of mercenary agents, highly trained in martial arts and stealth (ninjutsu), who were hired for covert purposes ranging from espionage to sabotage and assassination.” These ninjas have captured the Western pop culture imagination since at least the 1960s, when the word was borrowed into English.  Since then, ninja has expanded to describe “a …

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    What Do All Of These Different Heart Emoji Mean?

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    How Does Adding The Word “Possible” Change News?

    by Ashley Austrew What is a possible hate crime? A possible sexual assault? A possible terrorist attack? Crime-related news is often reported in the media using tentative language—like the word possible—that makes it seem as if there is room for doubt as to whether or not a crime was actually committed. But in many instances, either through video, photos, or the victim’s own words and evidence, it …

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    What Is A “Self-Own”?

    Self-own spread on social media, of course To understand what self-own really means, we must know the meaning of the slang term own. To own someone is “to ridicule, embarrass, or defeat them,” a sense of the word ultimately dating back to the 1910s! In a timeless example, Kevin McCallister (Macaulay Culkin) repeatedly owns incompetent burglars in the first two Home Alone movies. We can now imagine what a …

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

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    Hashtags To Help You Get By On Social Media

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    Has The Word “Expert” Lost Its Meaning In 2019?

    by Ashley Austrew What makes someone an expert? In the days of the internet, it seems like it’s gotten much harder to tell. Social media and the instant expert Social media makes it possible for anyone to have a platform, and that’s given rise to the phenomenon known as the instant expert. These self-appointed authorities on everything from federal policy to last night’s episode of This Is …

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    Why Roman Numerals Are The Super Bowl’s Signature

    Sure, the Super Bowl is one of the biggest sporting events in the world, (World Cup fans, feel free to weigh in here) and an unofficial national holiday in the United States. But, do you know how the Super Bowl got its name? Or why it uses Roman numerals? How did the Super Bowl get its name? In the 1960s, American pro football was divided …

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    Words You Didn’t Know Came From Chicago

    Chi Town, The Big Onion, The Windy City. Call it what you will, Chicago is home to a herd of sports teams that could fill a zoo—the Cubs, the Bears, and the Bulls (and, oh yeah, the White Sox too). Not to mention it’s the land of deep-dish pizza and Chicago-style hot dogs. It’s a fantastic city filled with museums, shopping, and industry. This midwestern …

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    These Plain Words Have Very Odd Origin Stories

    Most people have fairly rigid ideas about what words mean, but the thing about language is that it’s constantly changing. Words that mean one thing today may expand in definition over the coming decades or come to mean the complete opposite of their current definition once a few hundred more years pass. Sometimes, words even change meanings entirely, leaving behind little trace of what they …

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