OFF THE RECORD: is it still possible in this day and age?

off the record

  The term “Off the Record” has to be traced to Latin, where the word recordari means to preserve a note, or to recollect.  But from there we have to go to the modern practice of journalism, where the complete term means to gain information from someone with a promise that it won’t be published.  […]

OBFUSCATE [OB-fuh-skeyt]: to make obscure, foggy or unclear


To intentionally obfuscate an issue is to do something that makes it nearly impossible for someone to see the point clearly.  It is to insert fogginess into something that should be quite clear.  It is a malicious act to confuse and bewilder someone. Obfuscation is a word which comes from “late Latin,”  that segment of […]

SCOOPED: beaten “to the punch” with a breaking story you hoped to publish

On Thursday I was scooped by John Dickerson in a Slate article.  He beat me to the punch with an article about the overuse of umbrage in today’s political world and its relationship to the inappropriate acceleration of the use of  the term war by political organizations.   If you’re going to be scooped, it isn’t […]

DOPPELGANGER: ghost-like apparition of one’s “other self”

In common parlance a doppelganger is a person who is so identical in looks to another person (think Tina Fey/Sarah Palin) that it is uncanny.   I have a friend  who looks so much like me that we are frequently confused by people.  We both go to the same coffee shop so it happens all the […]

DEMOTIC: pertaining to the common people

I ran across the word demotic while reading the recent posting of John McIntyre in his blog You Don’t Say. Demotic is a word used with some regularity, it would seem, in the world of linguistics.  It means “common language” as opposed to “formal language.”   Over decades and centuries of use language changes.   Formal usages […]