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That vs. Who

Is it okay to say the person that did it, or should you say the person who did it? Both are fine, although who is probably preferable in that it acknowledges that person’s humanity. This is part of a complete episode.

Slushpile Hell Blog Letters

A query letter from SlushPile Hell, the blog of a curmudgeonly literary agent, reads, “Have you ever wished you had represented the author of the Holy Bible and placed it with a publisher?” Erm, sure. This is part of a complete episode.

Cycling Freds

In cycling, a Fred is a chubby poseur who’s bought a fancy bike and a fancier outfit but can’t even pedal up a hill. This is part of a complete episode.

Hobbies and Hobby Horse

What’s your hobby? Or, rather, do you call your interests or passions hobbies at all, or does the word hobby connote something frivolous or strangely obsessive? The term hobby goes back to a nickname for a horse, which transferred to the...

Boffin

Martha shares a British article that begins, “Boffins have discovered a strange new type of spongy mushroom.” But what, you may ask, is a boffin? The word boffin denotes an intellectual with a specific expertise and general lack of...

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...