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  1. How Did The Month Of May Get Its Name?

    May may seem like a little simple name, but its origin is actually fairly complex and interesting. Sit back and read up on this little word’s … big history. What does May mean? The fifth month of the Gregorian calendar, May, is defined as “the fifth month of the year, containing 31 days.” Got it. But where did this name come from? The name for …

  2. Playful Words That Jane Austen Popularized

    In her novels, Jane Austen (1775–1817) scrutinized the ways that social codes and class place constraints on individuals and relationships. Her own use of language, however, was anything but constrained. It was so playful and inventive—like tittupy, or “bouncing all around,” which a character uses to describe a rickety carriage in Northanger Abbey. While she may not have exactly coined words like tittupy, Austen’s books …

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    8 Lesser-Known Terms Of Endearment To Try On Your Sweetie

    We’re crazy about hypocorisms at the dictionary. That’s another word for pet name or nickname … you know, the kind of name you give your sweetie or bae. But, why settle for commonplace pet names like honey, sweetie, and darling when you could woo your beloved with lesser-known noms d’amour that delight their intellects (whilst also confusing them slightly)? For the knight-errant: Dulcinea Would you …

  4. Is Friday Named After A Goddess With A Chariot Pulled By Cats?

    In a world that knows too many details about unimportant matters, one would think that our collective expertise could be certain about something as essential as the days of the week. There is, however, a scholarly (and let’s face it, Marvel fan) debate regarding which goddess of love in Norse mythology is the namesake of “Friday.” Who is Friday named for? To complicate matters, it …

  5. What Happens When Memes Go Wrong

    LOLcats. Good Guy Greg. Forever Alone Rage Face. Scumbag Steve. If you recognize that these are internet memes, you’re not oblivious to the raging cultural phenomenon that has swept internet screens in the last several years.  So, what does meme mean? For the uninitiated, an internet meme is any concept expressed through digital media that goes viral—a photo, video, GIF, song, doodle, fictional character, symbol. The …

  6. These Are The Words That Divide Us

    Sometimes it feels as if our country is more divided than it’s ever been. With social media and cable news outlets acting as our own personal echo chambers, it feels like our political differences seem to be dividing us more than ever. But, we should also recognize that this isn’t the first instance of divisive politics in US history. Think about the incredibly tumultuous 1960s, …

  7. Old Words, New Meanings

  8. Try Tongue Twisters Today!

    Try saying this out loud: “Does this shop stock short socks with spots?” Not so easy? That’s because it’s a tongue twister. Tongue twisters are fun verbal exercises full of words that rhyme or sound similar. People will usually try to say them quickly, several times in a row without making any mistakes. Why They Work There are plenty of well-known tongue twisters. One of …

  9. The FANBOY Conjunctions

    What are coordinating conjunctions, and how are they used? Coordinating conjunctions join words, phrases, or clauses that have the same grammatical function. You can remember the seven coordinating conjunctions by using the mnemonic device FANBOYS: for, and, nor, but, or, yet, and so. The coordinating conjunctions and, or, and but are most commonly used. They’re often essential for forming complete sentences because they balance related …

  10. Telling Us How and When: Adverbs at Work

    What does an adverb do? An adverb is a word that modifies or describes verbs, adjectives, and other adverbs. Adverbs typically answer questions like how or when in relation to the action of a sentence. Many, but not all, common adverbs end in -ly, like quickly, usually, and completely. Modifying Verbs As their name implies, adverbs describe or modify verbs. A verb is the action …