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Sleepy Winks (episode #1584)

It was a dark and stormy night. So begins the long and increasingly convoluted prose of Edwards Bulwer-Lytton’s best-known novel. Today the annual Bulwer-Lytton Contest asks contestants for fanciful first sentences that are similarly...

Skell Slang

Will, an emergency medical technician in Queens, New York, offers this bit of lingo from his line of work: skell, meaning a “lowlife.” In South African slang, the word skelm means the same thing. Will and his colleagues also use the term...

How Do You Pronounce “Brooch”?

A New York Times article about that trendy accessory, the brooch, prompts a question: How do you pronounce brooch? Does it rhyme with pooch or coach? It’s more commonly pronounced to rhyme with coach, although some dictionaries do countenance...

Prisoners Use Dictionaries for Scrabble

After our discussion about dictionaries being the books most requested by those who are incarcerated, a former prison inmate calls to report that dictionaries are so popular in prison in part because they’re used to settle debates in Scrabble...

Historical Dictionary of Science Fiction

The new online Historical Dictionary of Science Fiction is a comprehensive, quotation-based online resource that’s a delight for language lovers of all kinds, and a treasure trove for sci-fi fans. It’s the work of lexicographer Jesse...

Prison Book Donation Programs

What kind of book is most often requested by people who are incarcerated? The book that prison inmates ask for the vast majority of the time is a dictionary. These books, as well as thesauruses, prove useful for mastering reading skills, writing...