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

The Word Guy

Despite the homogenization of American language during the past century, many delightful words uniqu... Read More

The Fake That Launched a Thousand Slips May. 13, 2020

The Word Guy

When the origin of a word seems obvious, beware! Consider these tricksters: Launch: You might assume... Read More

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

The Word Guy

What is the only letter that does not appear in the name of any U.S. state? What do the city of Pari... Read More

Are You Ready for a 'Double-Cross-Word' Puzzle? Apr. 29, 2020

The Word Guy

Let's play "Guess the Word Origin!" Can you select the correct derivation of these terms? 1. When so... Read More

A Trap Play in the Grapefruit League Apr. 15, 2020

The Word Guy

While working as a busboy in the dining hall during my college days, I became the victim of what wou... Read More

Politicos 'Stand Up' a New Buzzword Apr. 08, 2020

The Word Guy

Today, two random dispatches from the Word Front ... — "Stand Up" Comedy — The Washingt... Read More

'Epidemic'/'Pandemic' Distinction Requires Fine-Tuning Mar. 25, 2020

The Word Guy

During the current coronavirus scare, I've been taking comfort in playing the piano. I'm a terrible,... Read More

How a Virus Got Its Name Mar. 18, 2020

The Word Guy

As the current coronavirus disease spreads, several readers have asked me about the origin of its na... Read More

When Your Name Is Your Game Mar. 11, 2020

The Word Guy

I recently heard a radio interview with a spokesman for Venture Data, a company that conducts teleph... Read More

All's 'Fare' in Love and 'Commuting' Mar. 04, 2020

The Word Guy

Q: Why do we call someone who travels back and forth to work a "commuter"? — Chris Ryan, New Y... Read More

Taking the Terror out of 'Terrific' Feb. 26, 2020

The Word Guy

Q: Could you explain why "terrible" and "horrible" are synonyms but "terrific" and "horrific" are an... Read More

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

The Word Guy

Well, we finally found something that both Democrats and Republicans can agree on: The Democratic Io... Read More

Repartee in the Rathskeller? You Don't Say! Dec. 25, 2019

The Word Guy

Here's your chance to test your mastery of frequently mispronounced words. I'll even throw in some l... Read More

Can You Make Sound Choices Between Sound-Alike Words? Oct. 23, 2019

The Word Guy

Some usage distinctions are so tricky that even very intelligent people find them challenging. OK, s... Read More

Lock, Stock and Peril Oct. 02, 2019

The Word Guy

— Answering a Loaded Question: President Donald Trump's recent description of the U.S. militar... Read More

Should We Put 'Ahold' on Hold? Sep. 18, 2019

The Word Guy

In reviewing a documentary about TV journalist Mike Wallace, critic Kenneth Turan noted that the fil... Read More

This 'Calling Card' Hasn't Expired Jan. 09, 2019

The Word Guy

When a TV weather forecaster described a November blast of cold air as "winter's calling card," I wo... Read More

What Are the Rules for 'Fewer' and 'Less'? Dec. 19, 2018

The Word Guy

My seventh-grade English teacher, Mrs. Morris, was a formidable and forthright woman. And when it ca... Read More

Political Potshots Have Always Packed Punch Dec. 05, 2018

The Word Guy

If you think today's political insults are nasty, consider these mud bombs hurled at Presidents Ulys... Read More

New Books on Language Bring Holiday Cheer Nov. 21, 2018

The Word Guy

There's no place like tome for the holidays. These new books will delight the word-lovers on your sh... Read More