Wednesday, April 16, 2014. Last Update: Wed 3:22 PM EST

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etymology

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Bell curves

Lots of “ring” words

“You must be a ringer,” the journalism instructor told the student, who insisted that, though he had many years of... More

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Blame excuses

Where to point the finger

"Deer Creek blames fire on science experiment," read one headline. "Arsonist blames fire on living conditions," said another. Some people... More

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Career advice

On the fast track to ‘careen’

Two accidents, two verbs: In New Jersey, “The car careened down the street and smashed into several parked cars before... More

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Digging in

The etymology of a “clawback”

“Jamie Dimon: JPMorgan Will Likely Claw Back Pay From Responsible Executives,” the headline said. Dimon, JPMorgan’s chief executive, was telling... More

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Empty pockets

A phrase with several meanings

Max Crittenden posted on Language Corner’s Facebook page: I’m seeing some peculiar usage (misuse, to my mind) of the phrase... More

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Logue jam

A catalog of dialogues

“Catalogue” can also be spelled “catalog.” “Dialogue” can also be spelled “dialog.” But “monologue” is rarely spelled “monolog.” The Americans... More

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Lucky strike

Not all fortunes are good

As Evan Jenkins wrote here in 1997, “fortuitous,” strictly speaking, does not mean “lucky”; it means “by chance.” So when... More

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Martial arts

A black belt in spelling

When a society gets out of hand, a government can try to "marshal" its forces to settle things. But the... More

Not Just Desserts

How “junket” became a bad word

The good times were back on Wall Street, the news report said. Executives of a banking firm were staying at... More

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Organically Grown

The DNA of new words

Language evolves. New words and concepts show up and catch on—“app,” “smartphone,” “podcast”—or die from disuse or dysfunction—“Y2K,” “newsreel,” “rad.”... More

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Our funny language

Puzzling English expressions

As we bid farewell to the holiday season (whatever you may celebrate), here are a few final presents to amuse... More

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Pluralistic

Those pesky possessives

Two of the longest sections in most grammar and style guides concern how to form plurals and how to form... More

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Robbing ’hood

Words involving theft

Trying to teach journalists the finer points of law is nearly as hard as trying to teach them the finer... More

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Season openers

Baseball terms and myths

Major league baseball season gets under way this week, so let's throw out the first ball, left-handed. That's called "southpaw."... More

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Shhh! It doesn’t matter

A “moot” discussion

The silence is deafening. All over the Internet and printed publications, people are making “mute points”: • A press release... More

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That’s that, part two

Keeping a reader on the right path

Last week we talked about the use of “that” after a verb of speech, like “said,” “acknowledged,” etc. This week,... More

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Worldly goods

Badly needed reminders

English teachers used to drill into students that they did not "feel good." They "felt well." It was the corollary... More

It doesn’t add up - A science writer questions the conventional wisdom of US-born STEM workers

#Realtalk: Dear reader - For small sites, loyalty might be a better path to pageviews

Falling for internet hoaxes - Some people who share satire don’t realize they’re missing the punchline

Digital First plans layoffs (Updated) - High-level executives and high-profile digital projects targeted

Nobody’s that lucky’—except in Florida’s lottery? - Palm Beach Post ferrets out lottery fraud, prompts tightening of “meager” safeguards


The slaughter bench of history

How war has made the world safer and richer

How burrowing owls lead to vomiting anarchists

Or SF’s housing crisis explained

Jill Abramson on tattoos, Anita Hill, Nate Silver

“I’m very sorry, but The New York Times is always the prettiest girl at the party”

Bend it, charge it, dunk it

Graphene, the material of tomorrow

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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