The Merriam-Webster dictionary's word of the year is... "They." According to Merriam-Webster, online dictionary look-ups for the word "they" increased by 313% this year. Others top look-ups include "quid pro quo," "impeach," and "egregious. Makes sense. And it's great that more people are learning that the word "they" is sometimes "used to refer to a single person whose gender identity is nonbinary," according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary definition. From Merriam-Webster:
English famously lacks a gender-neutral singular pronoun to correspond neatly with singular pronouns like everyone or someone, and as a consequence they has been used for this purpose for over 600 years.
More recently, though, they has also been used to refer to one person whose gender identity is nonbinary, a sense that is increasingly common in published, edited text, as well as social media and in daily personal interactions between English speakers.
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Visit Merriam-Webster's "Time Traveler" and select a year from the drop-down menu. Instantly you'll see the English words that were first used in print that year! More specifically, "the date is for the earliest written or printed use that the (dictionary) editors have been able to discover."
Above are the words first used in print in 1989, the year of the very first bOING bOING print 'zine! Cybernaut! Nanobot! Cyberporn! Those sure were the good ol' daze...
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In 1920, Czech writer Karel Čapek penned a play titled R.U.R., a cautionary tale about technology's potential to dehumanize. Read the rest
Merriam-Webster welcomes the furries to its candidate list.
Not all furries manifest their fursonas in the same way. Some see being a furry as a pastime and may only engage their fursona in online role play or chat, or they may participate in furry meet-ups or conventions wearing only a badge depicting their fursona, and maybe other representative accessories—such as a mask, animal ears, and a tail. Others embrace being a furry as a lifestyle and act out their fursonas in full costume—that is, in their customized fursuit.
Photo: Rob Beschizza Read the rest
Because of its ubiquity, the landscape is littered with proposed etymologies of the term "OK." This nice explainer clarifies the murky origins of one of the most widely spoken words in the world. Read the rest
The US Drug Enforcement Agency has released its latest edition of "Slang Terms and Code Words: A Reference for Law Enforcement Personnel." Predictably, some of the terms are rather questionable. From Reason:
A few of the terms, like "terpenes" and "MMJ" (short for medical marijuana), are not actually slang terms. Other names on the list, like "shoe," appear to be completely made up. Worse, "Devil's Lettuce" is italicized in the report, revealing that the relatively old term was only added in this year.
Meanwhile, "blunts," "good," and "gas" were apparently not important enough to make the cut.
This whole thing reminds me of the great "grunge speak" prank pulled on the New York Times in 1992 by Megan Jasper, then Sub Pop's receptionist and now the label's CEO. Anyway, here is the DEA's complete list of current slang words for marijuana:
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420; A-Bomb (marijuana mixed with heroin); Acapulco Gold; Acapulco Red; Ace; African Black; African Bush;
Airplane; Alfalfa; Alfombra; Alice B Toklas; All-Star; Almohada; Angola; Animal Cookies (hydroponic); Arizona;
Ashes; Aunt Mary; AZ; Baby; Bale; Bambalachacha; Barbara Jean; Bareta; Bash; Bazooka (marijuana mixed
with cocaine paste); BC Budd; Bernie; Bhang; Big Pillows; Biggy; Bionic (marijuana mixed with PCP); Black
Bart; Black Gold; Black Maria; Blondie; Blue Cheese; Blue Crush; Blue Dream; Blue Jeans; Blue Sage;
Blueberry; Bobo Bush; Boo; Boom; Branches; Broccoli; Bud; Budda; Burritos Verdes; Bush; Cabbage;
Café; Cajita; Cali; Camara; Canadian Black; Catnip; Cheeba; Chernobyl; Cheese; Chicago Black; Chicago
Green; Chippie; Chistosa; Christmas Tree; Chronic; Churro; Cigars; Citrol; Cola; Colorado Cocktail; Cookie
(hydroponic); Cotorritos; Crazy Weed; Creeper Bud; Crippy; Crying Weed; Culican; Dank; Devils’s Lettuce;
Dew; Diesel; Dimba; Dinkie Dow; Diosa Verde; Dirt Grass; Ditch Weed; Dizz; Djamba; Dody; Dojo; Domestic;
Donna Juana; Doobie; Downtown Brown; Drag Weed; Dro (hydroponic); Droski (hydroponic); Dry High;
Elefante Pata; Endo; Escoba; Fattie; Fine Stuff; Fire; Flower; Flower Tops; Fluffy; Fuzzy Lady; Gallina; Gallito;
Garden; Garifa; Gauge; Gangster; Ganja; Gash; Gato; Ghana; Gigi (hydroponic); Giggle Smoke; Giggle Weed;
Girl Scout Cookies (hydroponic); Gloria; Gold; Gold Leaf; Gold Star; Gong; Good Giggles; Gorilla; Gorilla Glue;
Grand Daddy Purp; Grass; Grasshopper; Green; Green Crack; Green-Eyed Girl; Green Eyes; Green Goblin;
Green Goddess; Green Mercedes Benz; Green Paint; Green Skunk; Greenhouse; Grenuda; Greta; Guardada;
Gummy Bears; Gunga; Hairy Ones; Hash; Hawaiian; Hay; Hemp; Herb; Hierba; Holy Grail; Homegrown;
Hooch; Hoja; Humo; Hydro; Indian Boy; Indian Hay; Jamaican Gold; Jamaican Red; Jane; Jive; Jolly Green;
Jon-Jem; Joy Smoke; Juan Valdez; Juanita; Jungle Juice; Kaff; Kali; Kaya; KB; Kentucky Blue; KGB; Khalifa;
Kiff; Killa; Kilter; King Louie; Kona Gold; Kumba; Kush; Laughing Grass; Laughing Weed; Leaf; Lechuga;
Lemon-Lime; Leña; Liamba; Lime Pillows; Little Green Friends; Little Smoke; Llesca; Loaf; Lobo; Loco Weed;
Loud; Love Nuggets; Love Weed; Lucas; M.J.;
The blog Homophones, Weakly helps young learners and iffy spellers master English homophones with fun and simple graphic mnemonics. Now, it's coming out as a book. Read the rest
The famously mistranslated phrase featured in Monty Python's Flying Circus; here it is in many languages. [via]
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Afrikaans My skeertuig is vol palings
Albanian (Gheg) Anija jêm ãsht plot mê ngjala
Albanian (Tosk) Automjeti im është plot me ngjala
Aleut Baluunax̂ liidax̂ ayx̂aasim hnin
Alsatian Mini Aéroglisseur esch voll von Ààle
AC-- on Reddit used IMDB's dataset to create a good old-fashined word cloud of the most common words in movie titles. The inevitable Vader movie should clearly be titled "One Big Black Love: Sex and Blood on the Death Star" [via] Read the rest
Sculptor Fred Eerdekens created aluminum and copper works that look like abstract squiggles until lit from the right angle. When lit just right, each spells out a word. Read the rest
While looking something else up, I came across Merriam-Webster's new online "Time Traveler" feature today. It allows you to browse to see what words were first used in print for a particular year.
"Idiot box" was first used in 1955, "granola" in 1970, and "cyberpunk" in 1983. "Bloodletting" was used before the 12th century and "bootleg" first appeared in 1634.
It's a lot of fun to play with but, according to Merriam-Webster, there are the factors to keep in mind when using it:
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The date may not represent the very oldest sense of the word. Many obsolete, archaic, and uncommon senses have been excluded from this dictionary, and such senses have not been taken into consideration in determining the date.
The date most often does not mark the very first time that the word was used in English. Many words were in spoken use for decades or even longer before they passed into the written language. The date is for the earliest written or printed use that the editors have been able to discover.
The date is subject to change. Many of the dates provided will undoubtedly be updated as evidence of still earlier use emerges.
goodbye.domains is an obituary column for the domain names that you, after years of squatting, now accept will never be put to use and which are, furthermore, worthless.
I just let neverie.com lapse. "Neverie" was the title of the first novel I wrote as a teen, in the genre of trash fantasy. I'd imagined that I might one day edit and publish it, hence the domain. But I won't. Goodbye, neverie.com.
Goodbye Domains [via Dean Putney, who retired deansli.st] Read the rest
The Associated Press reports that the classic "whatever" was the most annoying word of 2017, though "fake news" gave it a run for its money. Whatever.
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The recent addition "fake news" was slightly ahead of "no offense, but" for second place, 23 percent to 20 percent. About one in 10 found "literally" to be most grating, as did a similar number for "you know what I mean."
Data wizard Gregor0410 crunched the numbers and figured out what the most common swear words on Reddit are. The top two, running almost neck and neck, are "fuck" and "shit." An order of magnitude behind are "dick" and "bullshit", with "cunt" and "cock" putting in respectable totals each similar in size to other swear words combined. [via] Read the rest
In some parts of America's hinterlands, older folks call green peppers "mangoes." Turns out it goes back to a recipe substitution from the 1700s. Read the rest
A Pew Research study found that "younger adults are more likely than their elders to read the news," but there are other ways of seeing the data.
Overall, more Americans prefer to watch their news (46%) than to read it (35%) or listen to it (17%), a Pew Research Center survey found earlier this year. But that varies dramatically by age. Those ages 50 and older are far more likely to prefer watching news over any other method: About half (52%) of 50- to 64-year-olds and 58% of those 65 and older would rather watch the news, while roughly three-in-ten (29% and 27%, respectively) prefer to read it. ... our research also reveals that, in the digital realm, [younger adults] often get news at equal or higher rates than older Americans, whether intentionally or not.
The most literate and literary people in human history. Read the rest
Nominative determinism: "the hypothesis that people tend to gravitate towards areas of work that fit their names."
Police are confident that 59-year-old John Burns has a connection to at least 19 arsons on Sharon’s west side. All of those fires have happened since the beginning of this year.
At this point, he is only charged with one count of attempted arson and one count of causing or risking catastrophe. ... Over the past two years, the total number of fires in Sharon is estimated to be near 30.
Exhibit B. Read the rest