HORS D’OEUVRES [awr DURV]: Any of various savory foods usually served as appetizers


As I’ve said many times before, there are words in our American English language that come to us directly from another language.   John McIntyre, my colleague who writes the blog, You Don’t Say, says  that we tend to forget that our language is somewhat of a slut, in that it is a language that co-opts […]

RAMSHACKLE: loosely made or held together; rickety


Ramshackle is a fascinating word.  It isn’t uncommon; in fact, it is quite commonly used in discussions, writings, and other forms of communication.  But, again, it occurred to me that I didn’t know where the word came from, and I suspected that many of us who use this word regularly are in the same boat.   […]

ELDRITCH [EL-drich] : weird, unearthly

I went to the theater to see Promised Land with Matt Damon this weekend.   But, as ever, it’s impossible to go to a movie without having to endure at least ten minutes of trailers prior to the sigh of relief when the words “Featured Presentation” come on the screen and we are cautioned to turn […]

NOES: the plural form of the word “no”

In a recent article I read the report of someone who was making the case that the Republicans in Congress are the” Party of No!” It is a  criticism which we have heard numerous times over the past eighteen months of the Obama administration.  Clearly, it is a technique decided upon and organized by the […]

COCKING A SNOOK: to show that you do not respect something or someone by doing something that insults them

I’m told there’s a blogging tradition which involves building upon an existing post on someone else’s blog.  I hope I’m right, because today I’m using the same title  that John McIntyre uses today on his blog, You Don’t Say. As I’ve told you before, it’s the first blog I check out every day.  Without ever […]

EDITOR’S EYE: the ability to catch written problems that will confuse the reader

Ever since I began writing this blog in October, 2009, I have been increasingly exposed to the realm of editing.   I was vaguely aware of the profession before then, but of late I have become personally involved as I befriended editors of all stripes and began to hear their stories.  Unfortunately, the primary story they […]