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David Foster Wallace’s Turns of Phrase

David Foster Wallace’s book Infinite Jest includes many unusual turns of phrase, including nose-pore-range for something very close, toadbelly white for a particular shade of the color, howling fantods for the heebie-jeebies, and greebles for...

Myriad Of

Should you use myriad or myriad of? Actually, either is fine. Here’s what David Foster Wallace had to say about the question in his commentary for the Oxford American Writer’s Thesaurus: “[A]ny reader who’s bugged by a myriad...

Acting in Haste

The saying “act in haste, repent at leisure” is typically a warning that means “if you make a hasty decision, you’ll have plenty of time to mull over your mistake later.” It’s likely a variation of an older...

Wheel of Yew

Greetings! In last weekend’s archive episode, we wondered who thinks up those crazy names for paint chips. We also discussed “spam” and “gringo,” dashes and semicolons, the term “first annual,” and wearing...

Oxford American Writer’s Thesaurus

The second edition of the Oxford American Writer’s Thesaurus is chock-full of synonyms, of course, but what makes it special are the essays and usage notes by authors such as Simon Winchester, David Lehman, Zadie Smith, and David Foster...

bean-bag genetics

bean-bag genetics  n.— «As Robert Brandon famously stated, genes are invisible to selection. Yet, population genetics assumes that the genes are visible to selection. How? Via phenotypes. But that is an oversimplified notion that a...