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Naming Nature

For a fantastic read about the history of taxonomy and the ways we use language to try to divide up and impose order on the world, check out Naming Nature: The Clash Between Instinct and Science (Bookshop|Amazon) by science writer Carol Kaesuk Yoon...

Dasn’t, Dares Not

Carol from Clays Ferry, Kentucky, wonders about the term her grandmother used, dasn’t, as in the warning “We dasn’t do that.” The word dasn’t derives from the expression dares not. It’s now antiquated and mostly...

Categorical Allies Word Game

Our Quiz Guy Greg Pliska invites us to play Categorical Allies, a game of two-word pairs where the last two letters of the first word lend themselves to the start of the second, and both words fit into one category. For example, what word might...

flitillary

flitillary  n.— «The erratic, zigzagging flight of courting and songbird-evading fritillaries prompt some people to refer to them as “flitillaries.” Actually, the genus name probably derives from fritillus, a cylindrical cup used by the...

First Female Poet Laureate

For 341 years, the poets laureate of Britain have all been male. That just changed with the appointment of Britain’s new poet laureate, Carol Ann Duffy. Her work has been described as “dealing with the darkest turmoil and the lightest...