Origins

  1. Before X Was X: The Dark Horse Story Of The 24th Letter

    With its long, ambiguous history and multiple phonemes, the letter X is quite a dark horse. It can mean Christ, like the X in Xmas, stand for a chromosome, and even show up in friendly and amorous correspondence (XOXO). But, how did X end up in the alphabet to begin with? The origin of X Since its inception, the letter X has struggled to establish its own …

  2. Where Does The Name January Come From?

    If you were asked to pick which month is most often associated with deep reflection, you’d probably choose January. Known for recaps and resolutions, the new year starts with retrospection (as we bemoan past regrets and celebrate successes), then moves forward with hopes for the year ahead! So, in January, we’re all a little bit like Janus, the Roman deity for whom the month is …

  3. What’s The Difference Between “i.e.” And “e.g.”?

    What’s the difference between i.e. and e.g.? They may be small, but their power to befuddle writers and speakers of the English language is mighty. The term i.e. is a shortening of the Latin expression id est, which translates to “that is.” It is used to introduce a rephrasing or elaboration on something that has already been stated. The term e.g. is an abbreviation of …

  4. How December Got Its Name

    Ah, December, that time of year when store fronts are festooned with holiday decorations, and another year is reaching its close. If you live in the northern hemisphere, December might mean pulling off your boots so you can curl up with your smartphone and read Dictionary.com (hey, we can dream). But, what does December mean in the Dictionary? And, where did the 12th month of …

  5. The Suffocating History Behind The Word “Nightmare”

    It's dark. You're alone. Was that a footstep? Did something just brush up against you? You fight to get up, but you're stuck ... right on top of you is a horrifying nightmare. Sorry, did you say a nightmare was on top of me?
  6. Words You Didn’t Know Came From NYC

    Ah, New York—the city that gave the world the Trumps, the 2016 Broadway revival of Cats, and countless regional slang terms that made their way into the national lexicon. We all know that terms like Wall Street and fuggedaboutit are classic five-borough speak, but check out the following Big Apple words that are used nationwide. flea market The Dutch were the first immigrants to New …

  7. Made-up Words Said By The People In Charge

  8. Ghost Words That Are Haunting The Dictionary

  9. Why Is Thursday Named For a Comic Book Character?

    Maybe you’ve read the comic books or seen some of the Marvel movies that feature a big blond guy named Thor, founding member of the Avengers and brother of Loki. But, Thursday is a bigger tribute to the Norse god of thunder than any movie or comic book upon which it’s based. After all, it is “Thor’s day.” Who is Thor? In Norse mythology, the original Thor …

  10. Which Words Did English Take From Other Languages?

    English is a More Varied (and Delicious) Melting Pot Than You Think … English—is one of the most incredible, flavorfully-complex melting pots of linguistic ingredients from other countries that’s been left to simmer for (in some cases) centuries. These linguistic ingredients are called loanwords that have been borrowed and incorporated into English. The loanwords are oftentimes so common now, the foreign flavor has been completely …

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