We're back to the mailbag this week with two great user questions:What makes a compound word worthy of dictionary entry?Is there one correct way to spell 'yay'?Hosted by Emily Brewster, Ammon Shea, and Peter Sokolowski.Produced in collaboration
We're joined this week by Mignon Fogarty, aka Grammar Girl, to celebrate the 15th anniversary of her show Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing.Hosted by Emily Brewster, Ammon Shea, and Peter Sokolowski.Produced in collaboration with New Engl
Last week we told you about our irascible forefather Noah Webster. But where does the "Merriam" factor in? Here's the story of George and Charles Merriam, the brothers who took Webster's work and brought it to the world stage.Hosted by Emily Br
Dictionary writer. Spelling reformer. Lovable crank?Meet our ancestor—and the father of American English—Noah Webster.Hosted by Emily Brewster, Ammon Shea, and Peter Sokolowski.Produced in collaboration with New England Public Media.Transcript
Most of the time, the subject of a sentence and its verb get along just fine. But when they don't, they can be just a tiny bit... wildly confusing. We'll try to clear up the trickiest subject-verb situations for you.Hosted by Emily Brewster, Ne
We're joined this week by Johanna Mayer and Chris Egusa from the Science Diction podcast to discuss the psychological origins of the word 'introvert'!Hosted by Emily Brewster, Neil Serven, Ammon Shea, and Peter Sokolowski.Produced in collaborat
First: what does it mean when someone in politics is accused of sounding a 'dog whistle'? And why does the canine metaphor continue in the term 'red meat'?Then: aces are wild as we explore some of the words and phrases from the card table.Hoste
We're back to the mailbag this week with some of our favorite recent inquiries!Hosted by Emily Brewster, Neil Serven, Ammon Shea, and Peter Sokolowski.Produced in collaboration with New England Public Media.Transcript available here. See Privac
When a lot of people look up the same word on our site at the same time, we generally know one thing: something happened, somewhere. So we do a little research, and then that research becomes one of the most enduring M-W features: Trend Watch.
What do French printing presses have to do with overused phrases and unfair opinions? We'll look at how the word 'stereotype' got so... stereo-y. Then, we'll answer the age-old question: is there a difference between someone being your 'colleag
It's one of the biggest questions we get: Is there one "correct" past tense of the verb 'plead'? We'll get into its various legalities. Also: why do some technical words get used in general language, while others are forever stuck in their spec
Finding the first time a word was ever used: seems pretty simple, right? All you have to do is read everything ever written, and then write down where you first saw it. And then hope that it wasn't used for years in speech before ever being wri
Is a simple task "doable," or would you consider it "feasible"? Is it different to "buy" something than it is to "purchase" it? Is this description "readable" or merely "legible"?This week we're looking at what happens when English pulls words
Are we language professionals? Certainly. Does that mean we pronounce every word perfectly? Oh, not even close. Today we'll get into the words that we, the lexicographers, still struggle to say, as well as the joy of learning a word from readin
Shadowy spies, brilliant detectives, danger and action. The language of spy and mystery thrillers has always been a source of captivation for readers, sometimes even affecting the world of spycraft itself. This week we'll look at the contributi
Further and farther. They're one letter apart; how different could they be? Well, we regret to inform you that English is at it again. Also, let's get into another linguistic curiosity: how did we end up with the phrase "raining cats and dogs"?
How did 'wicked' become THE New England signifier? We'll look into that, along with some more questions from readers.Hosted by Emily Brewster, Neil Serven, Ammon Shea, and Peter Sokolowski.Produced in collaboration with New England Public Media
When it comes to defining an entire musical genre, especially one with as many forms and perspectives as jazz, the work can get pretty tricky. Even the word itself has a long and sometimes controversial history. Today we'll look at the story of
Wait, shouldn't every dictionary be a learner's dictionary? Technically, sure. But today we're discussing a specific resource: Merriam-Webster's Advanced Learner's English Dictionary, which was designed and written directly for people coming to
It's one of the most notorious grammar peeves in the entire English language: the commandment that one shall not ever end a sentence with a preposition. But is it actually a rule that holds up? Hmm...Hosted by Emily Brewster, Neil Serven, Ammon
We're going back to our inbox this week to answer some of your most pressing concerns. Such as: what did 'condescension' mean in the work of Jane Austen? Why does 'brilliant' mean "smart"? And what is it about the letter 'S' that strikes fear i
You might've seen the sign at the grocery store: "12 items or less." Depending on what you've been taught, you might also have considered the sign a grave grammatical sin. Today we'll look at one of the most popular "rules" in the English langu
You probably encounter them all the time: new words created to describe the older version of a thing. (Like an acoustic guitar. Or skim milk.) Let's talk about them. Then, we'll check in on the English language's former 27th letter: &. No, that
We're catching up on our email! This week, we answer some listener questions about the murky origins of two famous idioms.Hosted by Emily Brewster, Neil Serven, Ammon Shea, and Peter Sokolowski.Produced in collaboration with New England Public
Strange but true: in the basement of our Springfield office, we have a file of 315,000 words typed in reverse. Why would anyone want (or do) such a thing? We'll explain.Hosted by Emily Brewster, Neil Serven, Ammon Shea, and Peter Sokolowski.Pro
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