Origins

  1. How December Got Its Name

    Ah, December, that time of year when storefronts 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 the …

  2. 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?
  3. Made-up Words Said By The People In Charge

  4. Why November Is The 11th Month

    Every November, it’s time to begin preparation for the winter months, whether that means pulling out your winter coat, adding another blanket to your bed, or searching for the perfect pumpkin pie recipe. The etymology of our 11th month, however, speaks little to its role in the course of the year. November follows the same pattern as the months before it, September and October, which …

  5. Ghost Words That Are Haunting The Dictionary

  6. 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 …

  7. 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 …

  8. What’s The Origin Of The F-word?

    It’s one of the most versatile words in the English language, but where did the F-word really come from? Originally, the naughtiest of naughty words was actually quite an acceptable word, though no English speaker would say that today.F-ck is believed to have first showed up in written form some time in the 1400s, and it was disguised in a cypher, although it was in use …

  9. 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 underlying, ancient sense of …

  10. What’s So Wrong With “Nice”?

    Why does the word "nice" rub us the wrong way? Why don't people want to date the nice guy? What's so wrong with nice? Doesn't every mom wish you would meet a nice guy?