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Schwa

Schwa

The most common vowel sound in English causes many spelling problems.

'It is I' vs. 'It's me'

'It is I' vs. 'It's me'

Which is right? The answer is complicated.

Cynic

Cynic

How an ancient philosophical movement devoted to the pursuit of virtue came to describe eye-rolling criticism.

That vs. Which

That vs. Which

When to use each (and when not to get annoyed about their use).

i.e. vs. e.g.

i.e. vs. e.g.

Often used, often confused. Here's some guidance and insight.

Our Dictionary Through Time

Our Dictionary Through Time

Webster's legendary editions - from 1828 through today.

The Longest Word in the Dictionary

The Longest Word in the Dictionary

It's not 'antidisestablishmentarianism' after all, and here's the short, sweet reason why.

Its vs. It's

Its vs. It's

Some practical guidance, and interesting history, about a common mistake.

Weird Plurals

Weird Plurals

One goose, two geese. One moose, two... moose. What's up with that?

Healthy vs. Healthful

Healthy vs. Healthful

Why both words are equally good for you.

Pictures in the Dictionary

Pictures in the Dictionary

The story of those iconic illustrations.

The Ampersand & More

The Ampersand & More

Where the 'and' symbol comes from.

I vs. Me

I vs. Me

'Between you and __'? Simple guidance for a tricky pronoun.

Why Words Get Cut from the Dictionary

Why Words Get Cut from the Dictionary

What happened to snollygoster, hodad, frutescent, and more.

Defenestration

Defenestration

The fascinating story behind many people's favorite word.

Literally

Literally

How to use a word that (literally) drives some people nuts.

Irregardless

Irregardless

It is in fact a real word (but that doesn't mean you should use it).

Okay?

Okay?

Bizarre origins of the world's most recognized word.

What 'Ironic' Really Means

What 'Ironic' Really Means

'Rain on your wedding day' and other disputed usages.

'Mispronunciations' That May Be Fine

'Mispronunciations' That May Be Fine

'Mischievous,' 'nuclear,' and other words to pronounce with caution.

The Awkward Case of 'His or Her'

The Awkward Case of 'His or Her'

Despite what the grammar police might say, it's actually fine to use 'their' as a singular pronoun.

How a Word Gets into the Dictionary

How a Word Gets into the Dictionary

What our editors are looking for when they choose words for Merriam-Webster's.

New Dictionary Words for 2011

New Dictionary Words for 2011

'Cougar,' 'Crowdsourcing,' 'Bromance' & more — the latest additions to America's best-selling dictionary.

Drive Safe: In Praise of Flat Adverbs

Drive Safe: In Praise of Flat Adverbs

You don't have to end all your adverbs in -ly to talk right.

A vs. An

A vs. An

When to use one or the other, and 'an' historical exception or two.

Soop vs. Soup

Soop vs. Soup

Noah Webster: the man who changed the way we spell... up to a point.

Ghost Word

Ghost Word

The story of an imaginary word that managed to sneak past our editors and enter the dictionary.

Hopefully

Hopefully

Contrary to what your teachers may have said, we believe the popular usage of this word is correct. Hopefully you agree.

Ending a Sentence with a Preposition

Ending a Sentence with a Preposition

An old-fashioned rule we can no longer put up with.

Who vs. Whom

Who vs. Whom

Good news for those who feel stuffy saying 'whom.'

Gridiron

Gridiron

From torture to tailgating—the origins of an American football term.

Christmas vs. Xmas

Christmas vs. Xmas

The surprising history behind this controversial abbreviation.

Rhyming Slang

Rhyming Slang

'Put up your dukes,' '86'd,' and other examples of rhyming slang.

Frequently Looked Up Words

Frequently Looked Up Words

An insight into the words often topping the list.

Gourmet

Gourmet

Labels for foodies: the difference between 'gourmet,' 'gourmand,' and 'epicure.'

Stinkeye

Stinkeye

Beyond a dirty look: the meaning and origins of this evocative term.

Open Dictionary

Open Dictionary

What makes a good submission to the Open Dictionary, our collection of New Words & Slang?

Than & Then

Than & Then

When to use 'than' and when to use 'then,' and when those rules get tricky.

Octopus

Octopus

What's the correct plural of 'octopus': 'octopuses' or 'octopi'? Yes – and then some.

Penultimate

Penultimate

What's the difference in meaning between 'ultimate' and 'penultimate'?

Fewer and Less

Fewer and Less

The rule is that 'fewer' refers to number among things you can count – except, that is, when 'less' does.

Posh

Posh

Dispelling some common misconceptions about the origin of 'posh.'

Doozy

Doozy

Does the word 'doozy' really come from the Duesenberg Motor Company's famous cars?

Rein Vs. Reign

Rein Vs. Reign

Do you 'reign something in,' or 'rein something in'?

Hat Trick

Hat Trick

The origins of 'hat trick' - where hockey and haberdashery collide.

Ratiocinate

Ratiocinate

There's something suspicious about Sherlock Holmes and the use of 'ratiocinate.'

Cop

Cop

Just how - and why, where, and when - did police officers come to be called 'cops'?

Slang

Slang

Does slang belong in the dictionary? Yup. Here's why.

Classical Roots

Classical Roots

English is a Germanic language. So where did all that Latin come from?

I Before E

I Before E

A familiar spelling 'rule' and its many exceptions.

Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson's death sent many people to the dictionary. What did they look up?

Affect vs. Effect

Affect vs. Effect

Here's the lowdown on what may be the most confusing pair of words in the English language.