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The Strange Etymologies of 'the Left,' 'Liberals,' 'Progressives' and 'Red Parties' (Part IV) Jun. 19, 2021

Luis Martínez-Fernández

After peaking during the mid-1960s, the "liberal" political brand entered a prolonged crisis from wh... Read More

The Strange Etymologies of 'the Left,' 'Liberals,' 'Progressives' and 'Red Parties' (Part III) May. 29, 2021

Luis Martínez-Fernández

Despite the increased use of political attack labels like "leftist" and "right-wing" in contemporary... Read More

The Strange Etymologies of 'the Left,' 'Liberals,' 'Progressives' and 'Red Parties' (Part II) May. 22, 2021

Luis Martínez-Fernández

Since its origins in revolutionary France, the definition of "the left" has continuously evolved in ... Read More

The Strange Etymologies of 'the Left,' 'Liberals,' 'Progressives' and 'Red Parties' (Part I) May. 15, 2021

Luis Martínez-Fernández

Languages, especially their vocabularies, are in constant flux. Like living organisms, they are born... Read More

Nothing is Perma'meant' but Change Apr. 28, 2021

The Word Guy

We tend to think of words as immutable objects — solid rocks we fit together to construct the ... Read More

Coach Gets a Lesson in 'Wet'-ymology Feb. 03, 2021

The Word Guy

Early in my teaching career, I was coaching a boys' cross-country team at a local park when my runne... Read More

Do Brainstorms Cause Thunder and Enlightening? Jul. 29, 2020

The Word Guy

We've all been there. You and your colleagues are brainstorming during a Zoom session, shouting out ... 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 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

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

Hacking Around With Backronyms Feb. 12, 2020

The Word Guy

During my first year of teaching, I supervised about 50 boys in a recreational jogging program. It w... 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

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

The Word Guy

Put some words in your wassail and some punctuation in your punch this holiday season with one of th... Read More

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

The Word Guy

Pundits, professors and presidents have been batting around the term "American exceptionalism" like ... Read More

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

The Word Guy

The seemingly harmless preposition "of" is the fly in the ointment of good writing. This pesky pest ... Read More

Whistle(blow) While You Work Oct. 30, 2019

The Word Guy

Pity the poor word "whistleblower." Like the intrepid human it denotes, this term has endured a long... 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

Affection for 'Inflection'? We Get the Point Oct. 16, 2019

The Word Guy

When it comes to the use — and overuse — of "inflection point," we're clearly at an infl... 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

Reading Between the Lines Sep. 25, 2019

The Word Guy

Bing Crosby once crooned in a classic song, "You've got to accentuate the positive/ Eliminate the ne... Read More