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.


Summer Books for the Alone Ranger May 27, 2020

Whether you're self-isolating at a cove, cabin or campsite this summer, or just stuck at home like the rest of us, you can still savor one of these new books about words and language. Pronouns, those humble, innocuous stand-ins for nouns, have sudden... Read More


Are You A-Where of These Regional Terms? May 20, 2020

Despite the homogenization of American language during the past century, many delightful words unique to a certain region survive. Can you match each regional term with its definition AND select the region or state where it flourishes? Regions: New E... Read More


The Fake That Launched a Thousand Slips May 13, 2020

When the origin of a word seems obvious, beware! Consider these tricksters: Launch: You might assume the small motorboat known as a "launch" is so named because it's "launched" from shore. In fact, "launch" derives from the Malay word "lanchar" (quic... Read More


Are You Game for Some Word Games? May 06, 2020

What is the only letter that does not appear in the name of any U.S. state? What do the city of Paris and the letter "F" have in common? What familiar phrase is represented by the sequence "tu(singing)ne"? If you answered "Q," "they're both the capit... Read More