Dictionary.com

  • Lexical Investigations: Balaclava

    A motley combination of Anglo-Saxon, Latin, and Germanic dialects, the English language (more or less as we know it) coalesced between the 9th and 13th centuries. Since then, it has continued to import and borrow words and expressions from around the world, and the meanings have mutated. (Awesome and awful once meant nearly the same […]

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  • Dictionary.com “Super Short Story” Sweepstakes

    NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN.  PRODUCT PURCHASE WILL NOT ENHANCE CHANCES OF WINNING A PRIZE. 1. ELIGIBILITY The Dictionary.com “Super Short Story” sweepstakes (the “Sweepstakes”) is offered and open only to legal residents of the United States and its territories (except residents of Puerto Rico) and Canada (except residents of Quebec) who are […]

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  • When the language of life meets the language of literature: encoding Shakespeare into DNA

    From the birth of the sign to the development of new words, we’ve investigated many facets of our living language here at the Hot Word, but rarely do we have the opportunity to look at the language of life itself—DNA. As you might remember from 7th-grade science, DNA stands for deoxyribonucleic acid, the molecular structure that […]

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  • Lexical Investigations: Mazel Tov

    A motley combination of Anglo-Saxon, Latin, and Germanic dialects, the English language (more or less as we know it) coalesced between the 9th and 13th centuries. Since then, it has continued to import and borrow words and expressions from around the world, and the meanings have mutated. (Awesome and awful once meant nearly the same […]

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  • How do you say “basketball” in Latin? And what does it have to do with the retiring pope?

    News of Pope Benedict XVI’s retirement has brought the Latin language to the front and center of minds worldwide. For one thing, the Pope announced his retirement in Latin. Giovanna Chirri, an Italian journalist assigned to the Vatican beat, was able to break the story before her peers thanks to her knowledge of the dead […]

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  • Lexical Investigations: Holistic

    A motley combination of Anglo-Saxon, Latin, and Germanic dialects, the English language (more or less as we know it) coalesced between the 9th and 13th centuries. Since then, it has continued to import and borrow words and expressions from around the world, and the meanings have mutated.

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  • The Value of Signs: Saussure’s rebuttal

    We’ve reached the final installment of our series on Ferdinand de Saussure and the scintillating study of semiology. In our last post we left our friend Saussure in a rather unflattering light, when we explored the first scientific evidence against his hypothesis: that the relationship between the sign (a word) and the signified (the concept […]

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  • scrabble

    Are Scrabble tile values in need of an overhaul?

    Invented by out-of-work architect Alfred Butts during the Great Depression, Scrabble is a staple of word lovers’ lives. The popularity of this beloved game took off in the mid-1950s and has been an essential part of the canon of classic board games ever since.

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  • Lexical Investigations: Art

    A motley combination of Anglo-Saxon, Latin, and Germanic dialects, the English language (more or less as we know it) coalesced between the 9th and 13th centuries. Since then, it has continued to import and borrow words and expressions from around the world, and the meanings have mutated. (Awesome and awful once meant nearly the same thing.)

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  • When dictionaries are a matter of life or death…

    Two recent events have raised the complicated question of whether or not dictionaries belong in courtrooms. A murder trial in Virginia was disrupted because the jurors illicitly consulted two dictionaries and a thesaurus. (The defense is currently seeking a mistrial.) And even on the Supreme Court it seems dictionaries are being misused.

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