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Blog: Words at Play
Words at Play Archive
Drones Are Everywhere Now
But How Did They Get Their Name?
A Handy Guide to Ruffians, Rapscallions, Cads & More
22 Charming Words for Nasty People
Where Did That h/t Come From?
And What Exactly Does h/t Mean?
Poignant vs. Pungent
A Tale of Swapped Histories and Mirror Definitions
A Doozy of a Story
The Origin of
Isn't What You Think
We Asked Our Users: What Words Did You Hear As a Child That You No Longer Hear Today?
Bumfuzzle, Cattywampus, Gardyloo & More
Top 10 Funny-Sounding & Interesting Words
12 Words That Secretly Come from Body Parts
Anatomy As Etymology
A Gender-Neutral Honorific
Mx: Words We're Watching
Chaos: Meaning and History
How a Word for a Void Came to Mean a Confused Mass
Weird Rhyming Words
Words So Nice, You Want to Say Them Twice
The Joy of Tom Swifties
Funny and Exuberant Puns That Turn Adverbs Into Punchlines
: Which Is Correct?
It's a Modern English Mystery
10 Surprisingly Odd Food Names
The Sometimes-Sweet, Sometimes-Unsavory Story Behind Some Bizarre Foods
Mansplaining: Words We're Watching
Are You Feeling Jaded?
You're Not the Only One
Words We're Watching: Practical Effects
Surprising Words from the 1920's
"Robots," "Atom Bombs," and "Rocket Ships" Were All Born in the Jazz Age
Figment: You Can't Make This Up!
Or Can You?
The Mystery of the Backward Index
Why Would Anyone Type Out 315,000 Words Spelled in Reverse?
Slang Goes Legit
What We Can Learn from the 'Language Weeds' of 100 Years Ago
What is Ragtime?
E.L. Doctorow's (1931-2015) Famous Novel Celebrated This Syncopated Music
Should You "Flush Out" or "Flesh Out" Your Plan?
Commonly Confused Words, Vol. 2
Gruntle, Burgle, and Commentate
The Entertaining History and Usage of Backformations
When to Use It's vs. Its
A Simple Rule to Avoid Embarrassment
12 Political Putdowns
For When 'Lowdown Crook' Isn't Specific Enough
A Trick for Dealing with Summer Heat: Estivate
The Summer Equivalent of Hibernate
Here's How Lexicographers Like to Party
Expect Middle English Chitchat, Purple Hair, and Lots of Bowties
Athleisure: Words we're Watching
What is Cakeage
Cakeage: Words we're Watching
Egregious: Meaning and History
From Remarkably Good to Shockingly Bad
What Does "Jiggery-Pokery" Mean?
Antonin Scalia's Unapologetic Use of Rhyming Reduplication
Why "I Before E" Won't Always Help You
Unfortunately, the Rule Is Incomplete
It's Not the Heat, It's the Humidity
Where Do "Muggy" and "Humid" Come From?
ICYMI: Words We're Watching
Precarious Is Not "Before Carious"
The History and Meaning of Precarious
Secular, Atheist, and Agnostic
More Americans Are Identifying with These Rather Than Any Religion
12 Oversized Words
A knickknackatory of brobdingnagian words, especially for epistemophiliacs
Why It's OK To Spell It "Donut"
10 Words You See But Don't Hear
How to Pronounce 10 Words with Unpredictable Stress and Vowel Sounds
How To Use
Meaning and History of
The Secret History of "Secretary"
10 Words That Used to Mean Something Different
The Olympics of Language
The Trials of a National Spelling Bee Competitor
How to Use Lay and Lie
Tripping Up English Speakers for 700 Years
What's a Dilemma?
Use This Incorrectly, and the Grammar Police Will Be after You
Still Often Used After All These Years
Definition and Synonyms of "Albeit"
Is Being Called Tenacious a Good Thing?
The Definition of "Tenacious"
How "Thru" Turned Into "Through"
And Then to "Thru" Again
When To Use "Discrete" vs "Discreet"
Definitions and Examples for Easily Mixed-up Words
Latin Words to Live By ("Love Conquers All" & More)
Top 10 Latin Phrases
Turns Out You Can Unboil an Egg
A Phrase About the Impossible, Which is Now Possible
Where Did the Definition of Tact Come From?
The Meaning is Easy – The Practice is Harder.
When Example Sentences Were Used to Inspire
Gorgeous Quotes from the 1864 Unabridged
Words We'd Like to See Used More Often
Cicisbeo, Lickpenny, and other gems from Merriam-Webster’s Unabridged
Why Do We Skip The "C" in "Indict"?
Yet We Don't Skip It In Edict Or Verdict.
The Shared History of Dissimilar Words
Incumbent, Succumb, and Recumbent
The Opposite of Incorrigible
Why Do We Use Incorrigible and Not Corrigible?
As Marijuana Goes Mainstream, So Does Its Slang
Budtender: Words We're Watching
17 of the Finest Words for Drinking
Try These Out At Your Next Happy Hour
The Comma Queen Meets Mr. Hyphen
The New Yorker's
Longtime Copy Editor Weighs In On Good Compounding
A Wealth of Words
6 of Our Favorite Terms for Money and Luxury
How Senators Are Like Pirates
The Curious History of "Filibuster"
Secrets of the SCRABBLE Masters
Top 10 Words to Win at SCRABBLE
The Real History Behind 10
Game of Thrones
From Septon to Smallclothes
That Shrinking Feeling
Shrinkflation: Words We're Watching
Cache and Cachet: What's the Difference?
How to Pronounce and Use Cache/Cachet
Showrunners Go Mainstream
Showrunner: Words We're Watching
Uranus, Quinoa, and Other Tricky Pronunciations
10 Words That You're Not Sure How to Say
The Ize Have It
The Strange Case of the Poet, the Pond, and Dutch Cleanser
"Archaic" and "Obsolete": What's the Difference?
When Does the Dictionary Use These Labels?
What Do You Call Those Thingies On Your TV Screen
Chyron: A Word We're Watching (on TV)
How We Got Different Words From Common Roots
Doublets: English's Nonidentical Twins
Words We Re-Learned at TED2015
9 Big Ideas that We'll Be Thinking About All Year
How a Word For "Blood" Came to Mean "Optimistic"
The Odd History of "Sanguine"
Why Do We Quit "Cold Turkey"?
Explaining A Common Phrase That Makes No Sense
"Omphaloskepsis" & (A Whole Lot) More
Top 10 Unusually Long and Interesting Words, Vol. 2
Hot Optics: Words We're Watching
The Rise of "Fat Bikes" Big Wheels for the Snow
Fat Bike: Words We're Watching
What Is a "Kinesophobe" So Afraid Of?
Top 10 Unusual Phobias, Vol. 2
Spam. A Lot of Spam.
How Spam Became Something On Your Phone, Not On Your Plate
Work Martyrs Making the Rest of Us Look Bad Since 2007
Work Martyrs: Words We're Watching
Honeymoons, Babymoons, and Other Moons
Why Do Some Come Before the Event, and Some After?
11 Common Terms That Used To Be "Bad Grammar"
It's March 4thHappy National Grammar Day!
7 Downton Abbey Terms Americans Are Not Familiar With
Just How Important is an Earl?
What's a "Lady" in the British Aristocracy?
A Guide to One of the Most-Used Titles On Downton Abbey
A Trending Word Even We Had to Look Up
It's Not You, It's Me
The Oldest Line In the Book Isn't Really That Old
One More Problem with Blizzards
We've Become Very Adept at Handling Them, but Where Did That Word Come From?
The Shady Past of Shoo-Ins
How We Got from Cheating to Awards Season
What To Call That Groove Above Your Lip
Words for Things You Didn't Know Have Names, Vol. 1
Writers Talk About Romance
Some of Our Favorite Quotations About Love
Failed Attempts to Reform English Spelling
8 Spelling Suggestions that Didn't Stick
2014 Word of the Year: Culture
Here's What this Year's Top Look-ups Say About Us
Word of the Year Retrospective
Editors Choose Their Favorite Words from the Past Decade
A Guide to Surviving Winter
Our Favorite Quotations About Winter
Older Than They Look: 'Hipster,' 'Rap,' and More
10 Current-Sounding Words That Aren't So New
Strange Words for Body Functions
Strange Words for Body Functions
"Machiavellianism" and (A Whole Lot) More
Top 10 Unusually Long and Interesting Words
Do These Words Stump You Too?
Top 10 Commonly Confused Words, Vol. 1
Piquant, Ambrosial & More: Food Words Worth Savoring
Top 10 Words About Food
Don't Call Me a Loblolly, You Blatherskite
Top 10 Rare & Amusing Insults, Vol. 2
Big Words on Campus
Words That Spike in Lookups When Students Return to School
Karaoke, Chutzpah, Kerfuffle & More
Favorite Words from Foreign Languages
"A Kiss is a Lovely Trick," & More
Favorite Quotations About Words, Vol. 1
Meme, Ninja, Baseball: Who Used it First?
Meet the Authors Behind the Words
How Dare You Call Me a Snollygoster, You Mooncalf
Top 10 Rare & Amusing Insults, Vol. 1
Zeitgeist & More: Words for Ideas Worth Thinking About
Top 10 Words for Useful & Intriguing Concepts
Frog Tossing & More: Words You May Hardly Believe
Top 10 Words with Bizarre Meanings
Words for Uncommon Fears
Top 10 Unusual Phobias, Vol. 1
A Thoughtful Guide to Words About Nonsense
Buffoonery, Codswallop & More
The Dangerous Creation of "Limelight," & More
Words with Remarkable Origins, Vol. 2
Where Did That "Frisbee" Come From?
Top 10 Words of Summer
Favorite Pictures in the Dictionary
Exotic & Intriguing Things, Well Illustrated
Word Games & Brain Teasers
Top 10 Quick Quizzes
Paintings, Flowers, Fleas & More
Top 10 Words for Unusual Colors Worth Looking At
"Urbane," "Incisive" & Other Good Things to Be
Top 10 Sophisticated Compliments
Language of Love: The Story of "Romantic," "Infatuation" & More
Top 10 Words for Valentine's Day
A List We Hope You Don't Find Insipid
Top 10 Sophisticated Insults
"Opportunity," and Other Words We Love
Most Popular Tweets About Words, Vol. 2
Seen & Heard: Good Quotes from Great Books
Favorite "Seen & Heard" Comments from Readers
Seen & Heard: Nine Conflicts and One Compliment
Favorite "Seen & Heard" Comments
Ten More Ways to Improve a Conversation
Simple but Intelligent Word Choices, Vol. 2
The Origin of "Nerd" & More
Most Popular Tweets About Words, Vol. 1
"Teflon," "Gunk," & More: Products That Became Words
Top 10 Words from Trademarks, Vol. 2
"The Art of Conversation Is..." & More Word Wisdom
Favorite Quotations About Words, Vol. 2
"Please Don't Whinge About Being Knackered, You Prat"
Top 10 Favorite British Words
Passionate About Fireworks, Movies, Cheese & More
Top 10 Particular Kinds of Lovers
Keystone, Mansard, Balustrade & More
Architecture Terms Worth Looking At
Metropolis, Matrix & More
Words That Come from "Mother"
"Fast-Rope," "Viewbicle," "Brandjack" & More
Top 10 User-Submitted Words, Vol. 7
"Defenestration," "Kerfuffle," & Other Greatest Hits
People's Top 10 Favorite Words
"Kiss of Death," "Shibboleth," "Armageddon" & More
Top 10 Words from the Bible
Daily Favorites: "Gumption," "Canoodle" & More
Top 10 Most "Liked" Words of the Day
"Humble Brag," "Planking," "Stuffocation" & More
Top 10 User-Submitted Words, Vol. 6
If This List Seems Dodgy, Perhaps You're Just Stroppy
Favorite British Words, Vol. 2
Winning Words and the Champs Who Spelled Them
Top 10 Spelling Bee Winning Words
Ten Painless Ways to Improve a Conversation
Simple but Intelligent Word Choices, Vol. 1
What Exactly Is This "Nonversation" All About?
Top 10 User-Submitted Words, Vol. 5
The Strange but True Story of "Eavesdrop" & More
Top 10 Words With Remarkable Origins, Vol. 1
"Pretentious" & More: The Words Most Often Looked Up
Top 10 Most Frequently Searched Words on M-W.com
When "Thingamajig" & "Thingamabob" Won't Do
Words for Things You Didn't Know Have Names, Vol. 2
"Heroin," "Granola," & More: Products That Became Words
Top 10 Words from Trademarks, Vol. 1
What Makes Someone a "Sanctimommy"?
Top 10 User-Submitted Words, Vol. 4
How "Punk Rock" Got Its Name
Top 10 Words of the 1970s
What Kind of Style is "Retrosexual"?
Top 10 User-Submitted Words, Vol. 3
Where the "Green-Eyed Monster" Comes From
Phrases from Shakespeare
Where Did "Hip Hop" Get Its Name?
Top 10 Words of the 1980s
The Meaning of "Camp," and Why We Like It
Top 10 Favorite Definitions
Why Did "Cloth Diapers" Make a Change?
Top 10 New Words for Old Things
Why Did the "Riot Act" First Get Read?
Top 10 Words Born in Conflict
Would You "Complisult" A Frenemy?
User-Submitted Words, Vol. 2
How Is "Goth" 1,000 Years Old?
Top 10 Words of the 1990s
Who Gave "Ritzy" All That Style?
Top 10 Words from People's Names
Where On Earth Does "Bikini" Come From?
Top 10 Words from Place Names
What Crisis Did "Celebutante" Emerge From?
Top 10 Mashup Words
Who Made "Rogue" So Big In 2008?
Top 10 Words of the '00s
New Words and Slang
Top 10 User-Submitted Words, Vol. 1
Odd Words for Underwear
Top 10 Odd Words for Underwear
Language Inspired by Filmmakers
Top 10 Words Inspired by Filmmakers
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10 Charming Words for Nasty People
Put-downs with flair
When "Literally" isn't, well, literal
How to use a word that (literally) drives some people nuts.
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Ailurophobia, and 9 other unusual fears
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