A nice explanation by Shweta Narayan about smol having become a separate word, with different connotations, from small. (Published in 2017, I think.) (Via Jen L.)

To an eel

The headline of this New York Times article did its job by getting me to click through to the article: When an Eel Climbs a Ramp to Eat Squid From a Clamp, That’s a Moray But that’s not all. The article includes three brief videos. Here are their captions: When an eel wants a squid […]


I recently got curious about the history of sarcasm, so I looked up sarcasm in Wikipedia. I was surprised to see that Wikipedia distinguishes between sarcasm and irony (which can refer to many things, but in this context they’re talking about saying the opposite of what you mean), so I checked my dictionary. And I […]

Makes list

Google News keeps showing me this headline: St. Francis student makes list of U.S. Presidential Scholars And every time I see it, I think, Huh, I feel like creating a list of scholars isn’t that noteworthy an achievement? Why are they writing a news article about it? And then I re-realize that they mean “gets […]


In response to a Facebook post of mine in 2017, a friend introduced me to the word malaphor, which refers to a phrase that mixes two (or more) idioms. My post used the phrase “The devil’s hands make light work.” A couple of other examples that friends gave in comments: The road to hell wasn’t […]


One good thing about the extremely infuriating daily aggravation of finding out what the New York Times Spelling Bee has chosen to accept or not accept is that occasionally I am provoked into looking something up in the OED. Yesterday’s such word was TIPPET, which I was vaguely aware was a garment of some kind, […]

Word-internal sound repetition?

Is there a name for a kind of quasi-rhyme where a sound or syllable is repeated, but not in as organized a way as it is in rhyme? As you may know, two words rhyme if all the sounds from the final accented vowel to the end of the word are the same. (For details, […]