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

Beltway buzzwords – inside the jargon on Capitol Hill… and beyond (part 2)

Washington DC map

Following on from yesterday’s blog post looking at the language used to describe the people of Washington D.C, from staffers to POTUS, Lorna Shaddick continues to explore the jargon of the Hill with lame ducks, slug lines, and Beltway Bandits. Filibuster: from pirates to politics With so many people on the Hill involved in the […]

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Beltway buzzwords – inside the jargon on Capitol Hill… and beyond (part 1)

Capitol building

A move to Washington D.C as a journalist requires several things. Alongside your plane ticket, map of the city, and Congressional press pass, you’ll also need a knowledge of the myriad terms used on ‘The Hill’ (as all locals call the Capitol), where staffers and wonks mingle with lobbyists and of course the lawmakers themselves… […]

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America’s pastime: sabermetrics and rotisserie leagues

Baseball

Baseball fans, whether casual or diehard (such as sabermetricians), know that October means one thing: the World Series. First played in 1903, this “Fall Classic” series of games (which, this year, begins on 23 October) determines the World Champion of the professional sport. While its name implies an international contest, the competition actually only includes […]

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Jimmies, spendy, and shave ice: American regionalisms

ice cream sprinkles

It goes without saying: the United States is a huge country. And while this certainly has some drawbacks (the formidable amount of time it takes to get from one coast to the other, for instance), the United States’ significant landmass also yields significant diversity—particularly when it comes to language. I’m not only talking about the […]

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Red, White, and Blue: the international origins of our favorite Independence Day words

Red, White, and Blue: the international origins of our favorite Independence Day words

Today, many millions of citizens of the United States will engage in a number of rituals all centered on the marking of a historic event that occurred almost two hundred and fifty years ago – namely, the ratification by the Second Continental Congress of the Declaration of Independence (not the voting that passed that document, […]

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mochy, mizzly, or mothery

Mochy, mizzly, or mothery? Ten regional words to describe the weather

The UK is often characterized (particularly in the US) as a damp and windy island with unusually changeable weather. The past week here has done little to dispel this impression, with flash floods in the North and muggy heat here in the South. Last week we asked our Twitter followers to describe the weather in […]

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A ‘smidget’ of regional terms: from ‘squirrel load’ to ‘whoopity scoot’

Squirrel

There are some things I love to an unhealthy degree, such as The Shield, Russian imperial stouts, George Carlin’s comedy, mint chocolate chip ice cream, and Evil Dead 2. My heart beats equally fast for the Dictionary of American Regional English, which recently published its long-awaited final volume. I wrote about euphemisms from DARE—which documents […]

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From warring rutabagas to human beef: the wonderful world of typos

Error

Years ago I learned a valuable twofold editorial lesson: respect the precision of a good keyboarder, and don’t get cute in the margins. The project was an encyclopedia of Japan, and it was back in the era of editing only on paper. One morning, I sat down with the freshly typed arts entries and my […]

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