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.


An Upscale Version of a Noteworthy Event Jun 23, 2021

Did you ever wonder why the names for the notes of the musical scale are "do, re, mi, fa, sol, la, ti, do"? And, sorry "Sound of Music" fans, it's not because a "do" is a female deer or a "re" is a drop of golden sun. In fact, these musical terms can... Read More


Meaning of 'Moot' Is a Moot Question Jun 16, 2021

It's 11:45 a.m. at the faculty lunch table. A heated argument breaks out when an art teacher asks: "Is a moot question a question that's debatable or a question that's insignificant?" The responses from her colleagues are quick and emphatic. A histor... Read More


Is Converting Adjectives to Nouns an Automatic? Jun 09, 2021

The linguistic purist Tradition Al discusses an alarming trend with his more permissive friend Open Mind Ed. Al: As a student of linguistics, have you noticed the appalling practice of turning adjectives into nouns? Let me give you a few examples fro... Read More


I'll Have a Quarantini; Better Make That 40 Jun 02, 2021

As many of us have discovered during the past year, being in quarantine can really do a number on you. But did you know the word "quarantine" actually contains a number? During the 1300s, officials of Italian ports, such as Genoa and Venice, feared t... Read More