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.


Iowa Caucus 'Debacle': Worse Than We 'Thaw't' Feb 19, 2020

Well, we finally found something that both Democrats and Republicans can agree on: The Democratic Iowa caucuses were a "debacle." That's the word reporters and political analysts seemed to seize on most often when describing the recent Hawkeye havoc.... Read More


Hacking Around With Backronyms Feb 12, 2020

During my first year of teaching, I supervised about 50 boys in a recreational jogging program. It was so low-key and undemanding that the kids called it "Hack," as in "hacking off." Trying to be cool, I scrawled the word "Hack" atop the attendance r... Read More


Some Metaphors Are Beyond Comparison Feb 05, 2020

We swim in a sea of metaphors. Our everyday conversations teem with the minnows of comparison: We bite the bullet, go back to the drawing board and miss the boat. As consumers, we're stalked by sharklike, predatory metaphors: Budweiser is the king of... Read More


Sitting in the Cat Word Seat Jan 29, 2020

On an evening dark and dreary, I was pondering possible topics for my next column when my gray tabby cat jumped boldly onto my lap. I had found my subject: the origins of familiar phrases involving cats. "Evermore," purred he. — Cat's pajamas: ... Read More