blog archive

Sweet, Sweet Justice

Did y’all hear? Oakhurst Dairy settled an overtime dispute that “hinged entirely on the lack of an Oxford comma in + more

This Is Literally the Best Thing Ever

I don’t care what anyone says. Trigger Smith, owner of the Continental, a “divey mainstay of Manhattan’s East Village neighborhood + more

The Blind Delight of Being

“Poetry,” writes Christian Wiman in today’s New York Times, “is the deepest expression, and the best hope for survival, of a + more

Multiplicative Idiocy

The Oatmeal has, as usual, nailed it: “Two half-wits do not equal a full-witted person. They equal a quarter-witted person.” + more

“As for man, his days are like grass…”

The two or three of you who regularly follow this blog will no doubt have noticed that we’ve been somewhat + more

“Whoa. Check out the tailfins on this year’s Mongoose Civique!”

In 1955, Robert B. Young, of Ford Motor Company’s marketing research department, sent a letter to the Pulitzer Prize-winning Modernist + more

Words of Wisdom

When people have their writing “corrected,” they usually discover that their long, complicated sentences receive the most correction and criticism. + more

All Hail Professor Toor

Everything about Rachel Toor’s column in Saturday’s Spokesman-Review is absolutely spot-on. Well…almost everything. Toward the end she writes, “As a professor, I’ve + more

Word of the Day

simultaneity (noun) The simultaneous representation of several aspects of the same object. Linda had heard of the concept of simultaneity + more

“In 1973, I invented a ‘girly drink’…”

“The initial thought behind Baileys Irish Cream took about 30 seconds,” writes David Gluckman in the Irish Times. “In another 45 + more

Quote of the Day

“Writing should always be exploratory. There shouldn’t be the assumption that you know ahead of time what you want to + more

Quote of the Day

From Frank L. Cioffi’s indispensable One Day in the Life of the English Language: A Microcosmic Usage Handbook (2015), comes this + more

Speaking of Boxing

­Around here, we do words as well as we can. And sometimes we do them pretty well, though we try + more

Need a Hand with Your Words?

So while I was taking a break from being awesome today, I completed the Chicago Style Workout 17: Hyphens, Part + more

Thursday Thoughts

Can you spot the typo in the following excerpt from page 243 of Where the Water Goes (2017) by David Owen? + more

Stop! Grammar time!

Sarah Sweet’s “Barbarians at the Gates of Grammar” reminds me a little bit of Mark Twain’s apocryphal “When I was a boy of + more

It’s Not Just You: English Really Is Weird

A friend alerted me to John McWhorter’s delightful essay “English is not normal” over at Aeon. Here’s how it begins: English + more

Today in History

The Reverend Sydney Smith to Lady Holland, May 23, 1811: How very odd, dear Lady Holland, to ask me to + more

Word of the Day

hebdomadal (adjective) Taking place, coming together, publishing, or appearing once a week; weekly. Arriving late to helveticka’s hebdomadal staff meeting, Aaron + more

A Neologism a Day Keeps the Clarity Away

This story is all kinds of stupid. But rather than delve into politics, let’s instead focus on that awful word in the + more

Quote of the Day

“At a time when almost everyone writes poetry but scarcely anyone can write a poem, it is hard not to + more

Stop! Grammar Time!

In One Day in the Life of the English Language: A Microcosmic Usage Handbook (Princeton University Press, 2015), Frank L. + more


Today I was going to write about the recent decision by the editors of the AP Stylebook—perhaps my least favorite + more

Stop! Grammar Time!

Unwieldy? Or unwieldly? This is a tough one—because neither the correct word nor its root are all that common these days. We generally + more

“Hello darkness, my old friend…”

“The sounds of the office are essentially sounds of paper and machines. Here are some of them, in a rough + more

Word of the Day

tartle (verb; Scottish) To hesitate in recognizing a person or thing. “Good morning, Courtney,” said Aaron cheerfully as he arrived + more

It’s the End of the World as We Know It

“Just as much as synthesizers, hairspray and record sleeves in the Russian abstract style,” writes Paul Genders at TLS Online, + more

Quote of the Day

“No one ever taught me how to write, and I’ve never made a study of writing techniques. So how did + more

Sign of the Times

Wandering the aisles of Target over the weekend, I came across this curiosity: a section of products developed for the + more

Now THAT’s a Lede

The word lede is essentially journalism jargon for the introductory sentence or paragraph designed either to (a) provide all the + more

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