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International Word Competitions

Do spelling bees exist outside the United States? Not really. English is unique for how vast and complicated it is, which makes our bees pretty exciting. In France, they have competitions for taking dictation, and the Chinese hold races for looking...

Raining Cats and Dogs

Get out your umbrellas — it’s raining pitchforks and … bullfrogs? This week, it’s odd expressions that mean “a heavy downpour.” Also, holistic vs. wholistic, recurrence vs. reoccurrence, flash drive vs. thumb drive...

Retranslated Nursery Rhymes Quiz

Our Quiz Guy Greg Pliska has a game of Name That Nursery Rhyme. The catch is the text has been run through the translation site Babelfish. What happens when Little Bo Peep and Humpty Dumpty go from English to Spanish to Chinese and back again? This...

Books With a Letter Missing

Remember those children’s classics, the Velveteen Rabbi and The Little Price? The Twitterverse is abound with these books with a letter missing. And it turns out there’s some pimping going on in our hospitals, but it’s not what...

Bah, Humblebrag!

What’s your choice for the 2011 word of the year? Grant shares some of his picks. Speaking of picks, why do football commentators seem to love the term pick-six? Also, great quotations from writers, the meaning of such Briticisms as cheeky and...

Crankshaft and Basketbrawl

Grant offers examples from his latest words of the year list, including Crankshaft (the code name for the Osama Bin Laden), and basketbrawl, referring to the fight that broke out between the Georgetown Hoyas and the Chinese National Team. This is...