Nerd used to be a term of derision, connoting someone who was socially awkward and obsessed with a narrow field of interest. Now it’s used more admiringly for anyone who has a passion for a particular topic. Linguists call that type of softening amelioration. This is part of a complete episode.
- Fickle Finger of Fate 11/21/2016: A young woman wants a family-friendly way to describe a statement that's fraudulent or bogus, but all the words she can think of sound old-fashioned.... [more]
- Stars and Garters 11/14/2016: Novelist Charles Dickens created many unforgettable characters, but he's also responsible for coining or popularizing lots of words, like "flummox" and "butterfingers." Also, the life's... [more]
- Proof in the Pudding 11/05/2016: Have you ever offered to foster a dog or cat, but wound up adopting instead? There's an alliterative term for that. And when you're on... [more]
- Boss of Me 10/31/2016: If you want to be a better writer, try skipping today's bestsellers, and read one from the 1930's instead. Or read something besides fiction in... [more]
- Sunny-Side Up 10/24/2016: Baseball has a language all its own: On the diamond, a snow cone isn't what you think it is, and three blind mice has nothing... [more]