Inorite

I like the phrase “I know, right?”, but I somehow almost never encounter a situation in which it seems like it would make sense for me to use it. But I think that may partly be due to my not noticing such opportunities when they occur. For example, I just came across a Facebook exchange […]

Fourieriest

A 2013 SMBC comic that I just saw suggested that the superlative of Fourier is Fouriest. Which reminded me that in 1998, I found a typo in the dictionary. Here’s the email that I sent to Merriam-Webster about it: Hi. I was just leafing through my copy of Webster's Ninth New Collegiate, and I found […]

Endangered alphabets

I’ve long been fascinated by writing systems across languages and history. Languages, whether written or spoken, sometimes remind me of living organisms: Over time they not only change and adapt, but can become endangered and extinct. To reduce the chances of language extinction, the Endangered Alphabets Project aims to play an active role in preserving […]

Eshoo question

A metaphor I was amused by: “The $64,000 question is: How do we put socks on this octopus?” —Congresswoman Anna Eshoo, in a telephone town hall this evening. (A quick web search suggests that the socks/octopus thing is a relatively common phrase, but I hadn’t heard it before.)

somehow or rather

I recently came across the phrase somehow or rather. I initially assumed that it was a typo for somehow or other, but I got curious and did a web search and found that lots of people have used the phrase online. I assume that it’s an eggcorn, but if so, it seems to be a […]

macrodactylous misarchism

A piece of spam email that got past my spam filters the other day included a link to a web page that had the filename macrodactylous_misarchism.html. I suspect that the filename was generated by software that took two random words and strung them together; sadly, there don’t seem to be any web pages that are […]

medakdek

I just came across the word medakdek (which is also spelled medakdeik and m'dakdeik), a Hebrew word (מדקדק) that means something like precise or exact or careful. I infer that in yeshivish (heavily jargonized English as used at US yeshivas and among their alumni) there is a connotation of fussiness, of being overly picky about […]