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Actor vs. Actress

Why do we differentiate linguistically between an actor and an actress, but don’t make a similar distinction between a male doctor and a female one? The profession of being an actor was initially limited to men, so the word actress came later...

Past Tense of Plead

What’s the past tense of plead? Is it pleaded or pled? Within the legal profession, pleaded is preferred. But in our common vernacular, we tend to use the less traditional pled. This is part of a complete episode.

A Gazelle on the Lawn

What do you say if you have guests over and someone in your family has stray food left on the face? In some households, the secret warning is “there’s a gazelle on the lawn.” But why a gazelle? Also, this week: the term for a party...

desire line

desire line  n.— «Note long ago, a friend told me about an intriguing concept called “desire lines.” It seems that when landscape architects lay out walking paths and trails in parks and other public spaces, they invariably...