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sexting

sexting  n.— «The teen engages in “sexting,” a term for a kind of text messaging that often involves sending erotic, nude pictures. Young says, “I don’t pose nude, but I do send pictures and get pictures and my brother he...

coping classes

coping classes  n.pl.— «The term “coping classes” is the new omnibus term for those who consider themselves to be struggling financially to keep their head above water.» —“Hardworking families and Sierra Man join coping...

Nominations for 2008 Word of the Year

It’s that time again, when people start thinking about a new or resurgent word or phrase that best captures the spirit of the past year. And what a year! We heard the words bailout and lipstick more times than we’d ever dreamed, and saw...

Etymology of Slang “Dude”

Dude, how’d we ever start using the word dude? The Big Grantbowski traces the word’s origin—it’s over 125 years old. Here’s a poem about dandy dudes from 1883, the year the word zoomed into common use. Ben Zimmer at Visual...

Baby Talk

A Minnesotan has been observing his infant babbling, and wonders if words like “mama” and “papa” arise from sounds that babies naturally make anyway. Are there some words or sounds that are instinctive? Or do babies only...

rifle shot

rifle shot  n.— «Prodded by advocacy groups on both sides of the issue, members of Congress are considering various narrowly targeted proposals—”rifle shots,” in Washington parlance—to ease or tighten the limits on legal entry...