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Pour Over vs. Pore Over

Do you pour over a document or pore over a document? Although it’s tempting to assume that the phrase alludes to pouring one’s attention all over something (as if your vision was a substance), the correct word is pore, a term that since...

Well-Crafted Bookstore Names

Just as books at independent bookshops are carefully curated and hand-sold, the names of the stores themselves often reflect the owner’s personal vision and preferences, such as The Wild Detectives in Dallas, Texas; Wild Rumpus and Moon Palace...

Where Do Color Names Come From?

Why does English derive words for some colors, such as blue and orange, from French, but not words for other colors, such as black and white? A fantastic resource about the history of colors is Kassia St. Clair’s The Secret Lives of Color...

Origin of Cataract

A cataract is not only an eye condition, it’s also a waterfall. And the two uses of the word are related, in the sense that in the ancient world, a cataracta was one of those iron gates that hung outside a city, such as Pompeii, to protect...

Firefighter Attire

Firefighters don and doff their equipment, words that derive from “do on” and “do off.” New York City firefighters’ buff-colored uniforms apparently inspired our word buff, as in a fan — a reference to fire...