blog archive

Word of the Day

shih (noun; Chinese) An insightful, elegant kind of knowledge. Though she considered him ill-bred and loutish (if not a downright cad), Courtney had to admit + more

Stop! Grammar Time!

Principal or principle? This is one of those questions that, even after 15 years as a professional writer, can still + more

Who Needs Beauty, Anyway?

Kudos to the Spokesman-Review‘s Stefanie Pettit, who sounds the alarm over the “declining into banality” of language. Here’s the money quote: + more

Stop! Grammar Time!

Great reminder from June Casagrande that your dictionary is good for more than just definitions: Here are just a few of + more

Stop! Grammar Time!

This is from David Foster Wallace’s handout on five common usage mistakes, which he gave to students taking his Fall 2002 section of English + more

Quote of the Day

From James Wood’s How Fiction Works (2008): Nietzsche laments, in Beyond Good and Evil: “What a torment books written in + more

Stop! Grammar Time!

I heard someone say in a meeting the other day that she needed to “flush out” some creative concepts. Now, the old Aaron + more

Pre-Thanksgiving Thankfulness

There are at least two reasons for my success as a professional writer. (And by “success” I mean my ability to convince CK + more

Word of the Day

Floccinaucinihilipilification (noun) The action or practice of estimating something as worthless. When asked to provide the client with a ballpark + more

Writing vs. Grammar

From Clear and Simple as the Truth, by Francis-Noël Thomas and Mark Turner: The teaching of writing in America is + more

Stop! Grammar Time!

I’ve noticed a lot of nouning lately. You know, taking a verb and turning it into a noun. Regular readers + more

How to Write Good

This article by Steven Pinker is a treasure trove of quotable lines: “Rules of usage are well worth mastering, but they + more

Stop! Grammar Time!

As a writer of no small renown, I’m sometimes asked whether any rules of grammar or usage still have the + more

[Sensitive and Considerate Title Here]

This may be the dumbest thing in the history of dumb things. It’s an app that promises to help you + more

Stop! Grammar Time!

This is really more of a usage note than a grammar issue, but I was too lazy to come up with + more

Today in Existentialist History

Suffering from tuberculosis, the Reverend John Sterling had written to his friend Thomas Carlyle that he had only a few + more

Jargon vs. Clarity

“If you want to succeed in the business world, don’t bother utilizing your bandwidth to drill down on core competencies. + more

Word of the Day

postprandial (adjective) Occurring after a meal. Courtney’s steep decline in productivity as the afternoon wore on was initially thought to be + more

Quote of the Day

The poet, novelist, and essayist Philip Larkin, in an album review for The Daily Telegraph in 1965: I’m afraid I poached Bob + more

What’s a meta for, anyway?

“Can metaphors be designed?” asks Michael Erard. They can—and they are: In the 1960s, the US philosopher Donald Schön spent some + more

Outstanding in Their Field

Regular readers know of my love affair with Field Notes. (See here and here, for instance.) Looks like developer/designer/illustrator Erik Schneider + more

Can I Get an “Amen”?

The Reverend Sydney Smith to his son-in-law, Dr. Henry Holland, June 8, 1835—180 years ago today: I am suffering from + more

Word(s) of the Day

execration (noun) The act of cursing or denouncing. eructation (noun) A violent belching out or emitting. Though Morgan’s execrations toward Aaron were certainly expected + more

Take a Squizz at This…

Back in 2012, I alerted readers to the Australian slang word boofy. At the time, I wondered whether a term that seemed + more

Quote of the Day

C. S. Lewis, from his introduction to Athanasius’s On the Incarnation: “Every age has its own outlook. It is specially + more

Stop! Grammar Time!

It seems a lot of people are confused about the difference between singular and plural possessives—and wonder where the heck the apostrophe + more

More Often than Not

OFF-uhn? Or OFF-tuhn? Here’s Paul Brians: People striving for sophistication often pronounce the T in this word, but true sophisticates + more

Stop! Grammar Time!

This is a delightful trip down the unlikeliest of rabbit holes: the contranymic nature of the word “no.” Occasionally, however, a + more


Went for a stroll the other day and happened to pick up a copy of Clive James’s Poetry Notebook: Reflections on the + more

Yay! Writerly Stuff!

Today I bring you not one, not two, but three articles with at least a tenuous connection to the writing life: Barton + more

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