Britain’s new polar research ship is named RSS Sir David Attenborough, even though an online vote overwhelmingly chose the name Boaty McBoatface. Versions of this playful construction go back at least as far as a 1987 episode of the television show “Friends,” with a reference to Hicky McHicks from Hicksville. Since the 1940’s, the Mc- element has been affixed to words to indicate something “typical of its kind.” Similar examples today, like Cutie McPretty and Helpy Helperton, have a teasing tone to them. This is part of a complete episode.
- Hidden Treasures 11/20/2017: A new online archive of Civil War letters offers a vivid portrait of the everyday lives of enlisted men. These soldiers lacked formal education so... [more]
- Butterflies in Your Stomach 11/14/2017: If you're not using a dictionary to look up puzzling words as you read them, you're missing out on a whole other level of enjoyment.... [more]
- Catch You on the Flip Side 11/06/2017: Some countries have strict laws about naming babies. New Zealand authorities, for example, denied a request to name some twins Fish and Chips. • Halley's... [more]
- All Verklempt 10/30/2017: Of all the letters in the alphabet, which two or three are your favorites? If your short list includes one or more of your initials,... [more]
- Hunk Waffle 10/23/2017: Decisions by dictionary editors, wacky wordplay, and Walt Whitman's soaring verse. How do lexicographers decide which historical figures deserve a mention or perhaps even an... [more]