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“Go West” Slang Origin

Liz from San Antonio, Texas, often sees the term going west in World War I-era literature and letters being used to refer to being killed in combat. The term go west as a euphemism for dying most likely has to do with the end of the day. J.R.R...

Unusual Word for Ordinary Things

A teacher of English as a second language asks our Facebook group to name some unusual words for ordinary things. The group’s suggestions include winklehawk, which means an L-shaped tear in cloth, and diastema, which means a gap between...

Busted Melon

When writing textbooks about slavery, which words best reflect its cold, hard reality? Some historians are dropping the word slave in favor of terms like enslaved person and captive, arguing that these terms are more accurate. And raising a...

The Language of Tolkien

A sixth-grade teacher from San Antonio, Texas, says he and his students are reading The Lord of the Rings. They’re curious about the words attercop, which means “spider” (and a relative of the word cobweb) and Tomnoddy, which means...