Here I explore my love of the English language, and especially its quirkiness.

Voguish Vocabulary: Shellacking

I think it's important to point out as well that a couple of great communicators, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton, were standing at this podium two years into their presidency getting very similar questions. ... This is something that I think every president needs to go through.... Now, I'm not ... Continue reading

A prayerful inauguration

The verb inaugurate means literally "to practice augury." Happy to clear that up for you. Augury, for those of you who aren't students of classical literature, was the ancient practice of foretelling the future, divining what will come by reading various signs and omens. In Roman times, an augur ... Continue reading

Bulletin: Democrats more fair than God

IFILL: Sen. Biden, .. [y]ou proposed raising taxes on people who earn over $250,000 a year. The question for you is, why is that not class warfare...? BIDEN: Well Gwen, where I come from, it's called fairness, just simple fairness. The middle class is struggling. The middle class under John ... Continue reading

Voguish Vocabulary: Caucus

From the news: Caucus Math 101: Bring a Calculator (In Iowa, Exercising One's Right to Vote May Well Involve Some Head-Scratching), Washington Post, 17 Dec 2007, Libby Copeland. The word caucus is everywhere in the news. Those of us who don't live in Iowa have a vague notion that it involves ... Continue reading

Voguish Vocabulary: Cool

Baby Beats: This band is hip deep in cool music for children, San Jose Mercury News, 6 Sep 2007, Yoshi Kato. A spate of commenters have been using the word cool, a word I use frequently myself. I had always thought cool originated with the jazz and beatnik movements that thrived at the end of WWII. ... Continue reading

Voguish Vocabulary: Plutoed

The American Dialect Society has voted "plutoed" as the 2006 Word of the Year. plutoed, v: to demote or devalue something or someone, as happened to the planet Pluto. "After losing both the Finkleburg and Krane contracts in the same day, Joe returned to work to find his cubicle had been moved to ... Continue reading

Time is tops

According to the Chicago Tribune, a survey by the Oxford Concise Dictionary has discovered that "time" is the most commonly used noun in the English language. To my great surprise, neither "money," "power," nor "sex" showed up in the top 25. "Man" made the list. So did "woman" and "child." "Life" ... Continue reading

Voguish Vocabulary: Censure

censure, n: a judgment of condemnation, often against a public official. From The History of Parliament, 1647: "He was brought to ... the House of Lords to receive his Censure." Example from the news: Fellow Senators Praise Feingold's Censure Resolution: "Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island, offered ... Continue reading