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How Grief Bangs One About

A 1952 thank-you note from then recently widowed Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother is a moving description of how grief “bangs one about until one is senseless,” and the comfort that the gift of a book can provide. This is part of a...

I am Sat vs. I am Sitting

Diana in Duncanville, Texas, notes a difference between British English and American English. In the United States, it’s common to say I am sitting down or He was sitting there or We were sitting there, but increasingly she hears people from...

Mrs. Astor’s Pet Horse

Julie in Greenwood, Indiana, says her mother was fond of the expression Mrs. Astor’s pet horse, meaning “someone who dresses ostentatiously.” The phrase refers to Caroline Webster Schermerhorn Astor, from the ultra-wealthy Astor...

Ermahgerd! A Word Puzzle!

Quiz Guy John Chaneski’s puzzle this week was inspired by the Gersberms meme, and involves adding R sounds to book titles to create books with entirely different plots. For example what George Orwell novella would be about a horse, a duck, a...

Dickens’s Words

What do the terms flummox, butterfingers, and the creeps have in common? They were all either invented or popularized by Charles Dickens. The earliest citations we have for many familiar words and phrases are from the work of the popular 19th...

Lord Byron on Language

Lord Byron continues to make readers think with these words about language: “But words are things, and a small drop of ink, falling like dew, upon a thought, produces that which make thousands, perhaps millions, think.” This is part of a...

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