Articles, quizzes, and grammar tips for word-lovers everywhere

The fiscal cliff

The fiscal cliff

On Wednesday morning, after months of focusing on the electoral horserace, Americans awoke to find themselves in a perilous position; we had been sleeping at the edge of the fiscal cliff. But how did we get here? The metaphor of a fiscal cliff – meaning an anticipated event which will have dire economic consequences unless an […]

Remacadamize? Hybrid words and the development of the English language

Remacadamize hybrid words

I’ve recently noticed a trend for recipes to insist that I absolutely must use unsalted butter. Now I love the creamy taste of locally produced organic butter as much as the next person, it tastes much nicer with honey on bread than the salted sort. Nevertheless I just don’t get why, when I’ve melted my unsalted […]

Bringing warmth and cheerfulness to November

Bringing warmth and cheerfulness to November

No warmth, no cheerfulness, no healthful ease, No comfortable feel in any member— No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees, No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds,— November! That was the poet Thomas Hood’s view of November in 1844, and things don’t seem to have improved much in 168 years. So here to add […]

Some reflections on reflexives

Some reflections on reflexives

Myself and my wife have for some time been amazed at the appalling driving habits of the general population of Grantham. When you read the above sentence, what goes through your mind? Do you think ‘What a perceptive comment, and what an elegant turn of phrase’ or does your internal grammar monitor shriek ‘Eek! Yet […]

Of heffalumps and hunny: the language of Winnie-the-Pooh

Of heffalumps and hunny: the language of Winnie-the-Pooh

November 6, 2012 marks 88 years since the world was first introduced to one of the most famous characters in children’s literature, Winnie-the-Pooh. When We Were Very Young, A. A. Milne’s first collection of children’s poems was published on this day in 1924, and was written for his three-year-old son, Christopher Robin. When We Were […]

Particularly excellent fireworks

Particularly excellent fireworks

As anyone who has read on will know, Gandalf the Grey has bigger fish to fry (dragons to down, necromancers to neutralize, etc.), when he arrives at Bag End at the start of J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, but in Hobbiton it is for his fireworks that the wizard is most fondly remembered. As […]

Nachos, burritos, and nationality

Nachos, Burritos, and Nationality

National Nacho Day (November 6 in the U.S.) invites us to consider the nationality question of Mexican food. The question begins with the curious point that some of the most common “Mexican” foods in the United States such as burritos and taco shells are seldom eaten in Mexico. Nachos actually have become popular in recent […]

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Hip-hop’s “dead presidents”

Hip-hop's "dead presidents"

With the 2012 election looming next week, are you sold on another four years with Obama? Perhaps you’re looking to change things up with Mitt. Which candidate will you choose to represent you? I’m out for dead presidents to represent me. Say what?! Rather than get mixed up in all that political business, I’m here […]

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