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How Was “Gnarly” Coined?

A surfer in Imperial Beach, California, wonders who coined the word gnarly to describe waves that are particularly challenging. This term may have originated in the slang of surfers in South Africa in the 1970s and eventually spread into everyday...

A Louse in a Wrestling Jacket

A California college student is campaigning for international scientific authorities to adopt the slang term hella as an official prefix indicating a huge number. Will he succeed? Also, how to pronounce niche, the regional terms doppick and nixie...

Prefix “Hella”

Whether it’s bytes of data or intergalactic distances, humans are accumulating ever more massive amounts of data. But how do we use language to describe such mind-bogglingly huge numbers? There’s mega, as in mega-millions, and giga, as...

Typewriters We Have Loved

Death of the Typewriter  Ding! In this week’s episode, Mark Twain would be pleased. Reports that it’s the end of the line for the typewriter have been greatly exaggerated. Well, slightly anyway: it’s not the horseless carriage...