About Rob Kyff

Rob Kyff

Rob Kyff

Rob Kyff is the language columnist for the Hartford Courant, as well as a teacher, editor and writer. His column  appears regularly in several newspapers across the country.

A native of Armonk, N.Y., Kyff earned a BA at Amherst College and an MA in American Studies at the University of Minnesota. In Minneapolis, he served as director of public information for a social-service agency and edited the employee magazine for a national retail chain.

He has taught English and history at Kingswood-Oxford School in West Hartford since 1977 and also served as the school's director of public affairs, editor of its alumni magazine and advisor to the student newspaper.

His essays have appeared in many newspapers, including the Washington Post,

Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe and Baltimore Sun, and his articles have appeared in Reader's Digest,American History and Northeast. He contributed to

Speaking Freely -- A guided Tour of American English from Plymouth Rock to Silicon Valley, published by Oxford University Press in 1997.

He has published two books: Word Up! - A Lively Look at English (Writers Club Press, 2000) and Once Upon a Word - True Tales of Word Origins (Tapestry Press, 2003).

He lives in West Hartford, Conn., with his family.


Who Was That Masked Mantis? May 22, 2019

Picture a mosquito with a musket, a mantis with a crystal ball, and a larva wearing a mask. Entomology meets etymology, as the Word Guy SWAT team tracks down the fascinating origins of insect names. — Mosquito: The Latin word for a fly was "mus... Read More


Can You Catch 40 Winks? May 15, 2019

Can you find and replace each of the 40 usage errors in this account of my spring-cleaning? (The number of errors in each paragraph appears in parentheses.) The current anti-clutter movement has struck a cord with me, so I've decided to start tossing... Read More


FDR's Prose Crackled with Clarity May 08, 2019

Jill Lepore's new book "These Truths," a delightfully quirky and informative romp through U.S. history, serves up many delicious details and anecdotes. Who knew, for instance, that Teddy Roosevelt wore a ring containing a wisp of Abraham Lincoln's ha... Read More