• Do babies speak with an accent?

    We all know that infants don’t actually speak with an accent because they don’t really speak at all. But for a long time scientists presumed that infants’ brains could not process sounds at all. Professor Patricia Kuhl, the director of the Center for Mind, Brain, and Learning at the University of Washington, wanted to test […]

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  • What word did you last look up, and why?

    Recently we asked members of the Dictionary.com Facebook page a simple question: What was the last word you looked up, what was the specific issue you were trying to solve, and what were the circumstances? The results floored us. At last count, more than 450 people shared their stories. Here are a few examples: “Looked up […]

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  • How did this new species of monkey get its name, and what does it mean?

    You may have read the news about the discovery of a new species of monkey in Africa, known as the Lesula, or Cercopithecus lomamiensis. The announcement of any new species is thrilling, and Lesula is only the second new primate species to be identified in the past 28 years. When something as rare and significant […]

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    Why Left and Right Mean Liberal and Conservative

    During election seasons the words left and right denote political affiliation more than spatial direction. But where do these associations come from? The left hand has long been associated with deviance. The word “sinister” originally meant “to the left” in Latin. The word “left” comes from the Old English word lyft, which literally meant “weak, […]

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  • Could English exist without the letter G?

    Can you imagine a world in which the sounds of G and C were both represented by the letter C? Try to imacine it. Believe it or not, for much of their history, the sounds of C and G were represented by the same symbol. Eventually, however, both sounds received their own differentiated symbols.

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