Friday, April 18, 2014. Last Update: Fri 2:50 PM EST

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Articles by Merrill Perlman | Email the Author

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Paddle ball

Making a “racket” over “racquet”

Many people are hoping to get new tennis "rackets" this holiday season. But many people who play "racquetball" are hoping... More

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Acts of piracy

The history of ‘filibuster’

During Wendy Davis' "filibuster" of the Texas Senate in May, seeking to block a bill to limit abortions, Gov. Rick... More

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Fighting words

Libel, slander, and defamation

Last week, we promised that you were liable to be surprised by the differences between "libel," "slander," and "defamation." We... More

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Taking responsibility

Some uses of “liable” are likely to be questioned

A friend was handicapping the Academy Award nominations, though they're still months away. "Sandra Bullock is liable to win best... More

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Don’t tread on me

The difference between “trample” and “trammel”

The requirement of the Affordable Care Act that employers provide access to free contraceptives "trammels the right of free exercise"... More

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Language Corner

Next of kin

We have mothers-in-law, fathers-in-law, sons- and daughters-in-law, sisters- and brothers-in-law. But what should you call the parents of your child's... More

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Aggressive passive

Why active voice is not always better

Strunk & White hated it. George Orwell did, too. Nearly every grammar text and English teacher say it: The passive... More

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Consensus taking

It’s okay to repeat yourself

If you're a journalist, you're often trying to save words, so you should try to eliminate redundancies in phrases like... More

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Coming soon

‘Imminent’ changes are afoot

In "eminent domain," a government can seize property for public use, as long as it compensates the owner. In "imminent... More

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Space age

A discussion of spaceage

A few years ago, a student journalist wrote a profile for a class that recalled how she found her calling:... More

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Place your bets

The difference between “gambling” and “gaming”

You have to be in Vegas for a conference, and you decide to while some time away at the slots.... More

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Sex-isms

Gender politics and their words

Spend time on Twitter or Reddit, or anywhere on the internet for that matter, and you'll learn lots of new... More

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Un-words

Prefixes that make opposites, or not

English has many prefixes that make a word into a negative or opposite: Add "non-" to "profit," for example, and... More

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Un-coordinated

When to use commas between adjectives

Recently, in a column about other things, we asked whether you needed a comma in the phrase "the large blue... More

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Misbegotten

When ‘get’ is in the past

The Revolutionary War split the colonies from England, and with it, American English began to split from British English. We... More

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Language Corner

Nuclear attainment

An editorial discussed Iran's "determined program to attain nuclear-weapons capacity." Later, it cited pressure on Iran "to halt its aggressive... More

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Sincere-ly yours

Hyphenating (some) adverbs

The "rules" under which hyphens are used to connect multiple modifiers, like "well(-)known man," are varied and difficult to remember.... More

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Exit lines

Many ways to describe death

When people die, the words used to describe their passing vary greatly, often depending on how close the writer was... More

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Bizarro world

Opposite idioms

In recent weeks, we talked about idioms that are misheard, and thus miswritten. Now, we'll discuss some idioms that say... More

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Sounds like…

All the ways we misspeak and write

For two weeks we highlighted phrases that are written from what people hear, sometimes with amusing results. A reader asked:... More

16 women whose digital startups deserve Vox-level plaudits - A look at the media entrepreneurs who aren’t grabbing headlines

Why was ‘Dasani’ shut out of the Pulitzers? - 5 problems with The New York Times’ ambitious, influential series on the life of one homeless Brooklyn girl

The AP downplays its Obamacare scoop - Repeal on deductible caps marks another step in The Great Cost Shift

The enduring pull of mag covers - Why do magazine cover images still hold so much cultural power in this decline-of-print era?

Michael Wolff’s digital media bloopers - The Newser founder trolls (other) digital-news companies


The shirt on your back

How did the clothes you’re wearing get to you? We trace the human cost of the Bangladeshi garment industry in video, words and pictures

Anxious royalist

Fantastic letter in The Times

Coming out as a porn star

How do you tell your family and friends?

The truth about Google X

A look behind the secretive lab’s closed doors

New Jersey’s good government

Despite the bridge scandal, Chris Christie’s state is relatively transparent and accountable. CJR’s Greg Marx talks to Gordon Witkin

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