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.


Walking in a Winter 'Worder'-land Nov 20, 2019

Put some words in your wassail and some punctuation in your punch this holiday season with one of these new books about language. Speaking of punctuation, the poor semicolon, long derided as a squishy, halfway compromise between the comma and the per... Read More


'American Exceptionalism' -- What, Who, Why and Really? Nov 13, 2019

Pundits, professors and presidents have been batting around the term "American exceptionalism" like a beach ball for the past 60 years. It's been cited to justify everything from military intervention to space exploration to the global proliferation ... Read More


Shoo, 'Of,' Don't Bother Me! Nov 06, 2019

The seemingly harmless preposition "of" is the fly in the ointment of good writing. This pesky pest can pollute your prose in several devious ways: 1. Off of — Avoid using "of" following "off," e.g., "The cat jumped off of the table." Sure, Mic... Read More


Whistle(blow) While You Work Oct 30, 2019

Pity the poor word "whistleblower." Like the intrepid human it denotes, this term has endured a long, difficult struggle toward legitimacy and respectability. Its parents, "blow" and "whistle," have been sounding the alarm since Shakespeare's time. L... Read More