Tag Archives: word nerd

Word Nerd: 6 magical English words from Greco-Roman mythology

17 Jan

Since ancient times, mythology has helped form a bridge between abstraction and personification, between imagination and belief, and mind and speech. Myth is a feature of every culture. In fundamental ways, it helps explain the world to us. The means of that explanation is language. Naturally, myths are embedded in our vocabulary. Often, we use […]

Word Nerd: 5 words banished from the Queen’s English in 2018

8 Jan

Every year since 1976, the Lake Superior State University publishes an annual List of Words Banished from the Queen’s English for Mis-use, Over-use, and General Uselessness. Although the first list was inspired by the pet peeves of LSSU’s late public relations W.T. Rabe and his friends, the list is now culled from thousands of international […]

Word Nerd: Top 10 words and phrases of 2017

18 Dec

It’s been quite a year for words, hasn’t it? Here are our top 10 words and phrases of the year. Let us know what’s missing from the list! 10. Fidget spinner This was the year when this toy became a global industry. Contrary to some manufacturers’ claims, there is no scientific evidence that fidget spinners […]

Word Nerd: German, the original hashtag language

4 Dec

You know how hashtags work. A hashtag is a hash sign followed by a word. Sometimes a phrase is compounded into a single word. People can intuitively understand its meaning from either the word itself or the context. Sometimes, though, it’s possible to take it #TooFar #BeyondAllReason #DoesItEvenMakeAnySenseAnyMore #ICantEven. Well, if you thought this was […]

Word Nerd: 5 colorful expressions that are not really about color

13 Nov

Color can mean a lot of things besides the wavelengths that reach your retina. It can refer to embellished rhetoric, or imparting a certain tone to a story. In music, it can refer to timbre, which is what enables us to distinguish a note played on a violin from the exact same note played on […]

Word Nerd: 5 Aztec words that you definitely know

6 Nov

Technically, the language spoken by the Aztecs is known as Nahuatl, and there are many variants of it. It’s the language Europeans heard in the 16th century, when they first arrived in the great city of Tenochtitlan (the site of today’s Mexico City). Nahuatl has been spoken for more than 1,000 years in Mexico, where […]

Word Nerd: 5 words that are their own opposites

23 Oct

Even if you don’t know Hawaiian, you’ve probably heard the word ‘aloha’ and know it is used as both ‘hello’ and ‘goodbye’. The Italian ‘ciao’ is similar. In Hindi, ‘kal’ can mean either yesterday or tomorrow, which probably goes a long way in explaining Indian attitudes towards deadlines. Such words with two opposite meanings are […]

Word Nerd: 7 words of wisdom that India gifted to the English language

16 Oct

Language and history often go hand in hand. The words we use – or don’t use – often contain fascinating stories within them that carry a good deal of meaning beyond the dictionary definition. Here are a few – feel free to add some of your own in the comments! 1. Ahimsa This Sanskrit word […]

Word Nerd: An English-speaker’s guide to funny Americanisms

25 Sep

By now, many Americanisms have crept into English around the world, thanks to pop culture and Microsoft Word. Perhaps you say ‘restroom’ for ‘toilet’. Or you may be one of those people who say ‘from left field’ even though they’ve never played baseball. And you probably know that a ‘cheeseburger’ is a mere shadow of […]

Word Nerd: 5 Hinglish words that don’t travel well

18 Sep

If you’re an English-speaking Indian, there are bound to be some words that you fully believe are English. And with good reason: they can be found in an English dictionary. But to someone from another English-speaking country, their peculiarly Indian usage can be a head-scratcher. And that’s the best-case scenario – in the worst case, […]