Friday, December 29, 2006

Today's Word: Yankee Dime

Well, I was thumbing through one of my favorite dictionaries just now, the Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English, when I came across the lovely expressions "Yankee nickel" and "Yankee dime," defined therein as, "A kiss, usu given to a child in return for a small favor such as doing a household chore." The earliest citation given is from 1984.

I got all excited about this, and started cruising the web looking for more -- only to discover that Grant's already written about it (and with a citation going back to 1846, along with a mention of "Dutch Quarters" and "Quaker nickels"). Waykewl.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Today's Word: Demodicid

I could have done without knowing that mites called demodicids live in our eyelashes, but oh well. This is what happens when I spend too much time wandering around the web. The name, by the way, comes from two Greek words that mean "fat" and "wood-worm."

You Say Potato, I Say....

A revealing piece from behind the scenes at the American Heritage Usage panel.(Be sure to click on the Multimedia sidebar there on the left, for various members' takes on various usages.)

Thursday, December 21, 2006

A New Co-Host for "A Way with Words"

Well, y'all, as my North Carolina-born pappy used to say, I'm a-grinnin' like a mule eatin' briars!

Why? Because "A Way with Words" has a new co-host, Grant Barrett -- and I couldn't be happier.

As editor of The Official Dictionary of Unofficial English and the Double-Tongued Dictionary Web site ( Barrett tracks slang, jargon and new words from the fringes of English. In his former role as lexicographer for Oxford University Press, he served as project editor of the Historical Dictionary of American Slang and he edited the Oxford Dictionary of American Political Slang.

Besides being a dogged researcher, Grant is smart and funny as all get-out. I'm thrilled and honored that he's joining me to play in the radio sandbox, and I can't wait for you to get to know him.

Our new season premieres January 20! So please tune in and let us know what you think about AWWW ver. 4.0!

Friday, December 01, 2006

Hear "Not So Much" Much?

I can't tell you how many times I heard the expression "not so much" over the Thanksgiving holiday -- and it wasn't from people refusing large helpings at the dinner table, either. I was mystified as to the origin of this trendy catchphase, but this article cleared it up for me.

I don't know -- I love the phrase, but I think it's already jumped the shark, don't you?