Why is a daisy called a daisy? Because it comes from the Old English of Day’s Eye, when the flower opens up during the day and closest in the evening. Bonfire? Started from bone fire. Month? A moon cycle, moonth. Being alone? It’s because it’s just all one. Here are some really fun word origins from Arika Okrent. The…
Unsurprisingly, the two men credited with coming up with the term "serial killer" worked, together and separately, on some of the FBI's most gruesome cases: John Douglas and Robert K. Ressler. Their careers were so extraordinary they influenced pop culture, and at least one Oscar-winning film.
A new Chinese character, "duang," has gone viral. Nobody's sure what it actually means, but Jackie Chan has everything to do with it.
As a linguistic phrase, OK is something of a phenomenon, traveling from American English into hundreds of other languages. And there are tons of myths about how OK emerged to mean that things are hunky-dory. But which story is correct? The truth is a little bit goofy.
Romance hasn't always been the stuff of bodice rippers and bad vampire movies. Back in the 18th century, the word "romantic" meant something akin to "foolish" or "fanciful." But then a bunch of hipster sentimentalists changed everything — and invented the idea of love as we know it today.
Over at the Oxford Dictionaries blog, there's an essay by author and Indiana University at Bloomington professor Michael Adams that investigates how The Simpsons has helped shape the English language over the past 25 years.
OK has been traced to a 19th century Boston Morning Post article where a writer was satirizing the "new" craze of abbreviations. The more things change, the more they stay the same, I guess.
Mosquitos suck. It's not just because of those itchy red bites we all get in the summer, either. Mosquitos suck because they're the deadliest animals on the planet, and none of our classic strategies from combatting the threat seem to be working. That's why we're turning the mosquitos against themselves.
As Blaze Miskulin puts it below, "English is a mutt. And a slut. It was born of the random fucking of multiple cultures, languages, and dialects, and it will hop in bed with any language that tickles its fancy. It'a also a thief. English will blatantly steal any word or phrase that it finds interesting. We like it?…
There are so many words and phrases that we use in science fiction—and even science—without giving it much thought. But where did we get terms like "death ray," "terraforming," "hive mind," "telepathy," and "parallel universe"?
Why do we call dunces dunces? John Green gives us the etymological low down on this and 39 other unusual words in the latest episode of Mental Floss.
Among fans, "squee" has become a word that sums up all our feelings of reckless abandon when we wholeheartedly fall in love with a story or character. New Firefly movie? Squee! Shirtless Benedict Cumberbatch photos revealed? Squee! The next Game of Thrones book is out? SQUEE!!! But squee was first used as comic book…
No longer are the terms "nerd" and "geek" used as insults. We have taken them back from those who would mock us, and now wear them with pride. But those who don't remember the past are doomed to repeat it, and thus it is helpful to know what these terms originally meant, and where they came from. If only so we know…
"Cyber Monday" is only the latest (and most awful) mutation of the word "cyber." Here's the profoundly strange history of a word that went from science fiction and porn, to war and shopping.
Now this is impressive: It's called the Atlas of True Names, and it reveals the etymological origins and translations of familiar place names whose original meanings we've mostly forgotten. Looking at it, you'd think North America was some sort of fantasy novel.
English is widely recognized as one of the world's most difficult languages, due in no small part to its deep, highly irregular orthography. Niggling quirks in pronunciation, freaky verb conjugations, and seemingly non-sensical spelling conventions can all make English downright bewildering, even to native speakers.…
Why is a penis called a penis? Most names of our genitals arise from other languages. And once you know the origins of the names for these body parts, you'll discover how sanitized modern language is when it comes to naming sex organs.
"Scumbag," sounds like the kind of hokey insult that would get you laughed at if you used it. When it was used in a New York Times, it got protests from some older readers, because once upon a time it meant "a used condom." Think about every time you've seen Batman refer, in children's cartoon, to criminals as scum,…