Trend Results : Ben Zimmer

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Vaina == jawn?

Philly has jawn — see Ben Zimmer on "The Etymology of Jawn", or listen to this story from WHYY: According to Philly native Mary Seaborough, who works at Cook-Wissahickon elementary, where my kids attend school, "It really can mean anything you want it to mean."  Seaborough grew up in South Philly. She uses "jawn," and […]

Adrian Peterson has a pulled hamstring

Vikings running back Adrian Peterson has lamented the grind of training camp. Training camp is here for the Vikings, and he’s not yet grinding. Via Ben Goessling of, coach Mike Zimmer said that Peterson has a pulled hamstring. He got the injury while working out on his own before camp. But Peterson passed his…

Screw the Pooch.

Who can resist such a lovely and slightly naughty-sounding expression? It’s well known from The Right Stuff, but where did it originate? Ben Zimmer tells the story (or as much of it as can be found) at Slate: Searching for clues, I noticed that the entry for the expression on Wiktionary had been anonymously edited […]

"Among the New Words"

Ben Zimmer, Jane Solomon, and Charles Carson, "Among The New Words", American Speech May 2016: In this installment we continue our consideration of items nominated at the American Dialect Society’s 2015 Word of the Year proceedings […] The overall winner is considered here: they used as a singular third-person pronoun, a gender-neutral (or “epicene”) alternative […]

Silicon Valley Startup Speak Gets a Dictionary

Dogfooding? Decacorn? Those mystified by Silicon Valley jargon now have their own dictionary, says Ben Zimmer.

Vikings reportedly add Pat Shurmur to coaching staff

The Minnesota Vikings hired former Eagles offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur, who will join Mike Zimmer's staff, per Ben Goessling of ESPN. The position for Shurmur isn't yet known, but the Vikings already have Norv Turner in place as offensive coordinator and Scott Turner as quarterbacks coach. Show More Summary

Politico Performs Deep 'Schlong' Analysis

Just how much did Ben Zimmer chuckle while writing this "schlong" analysis for Politico? Well, no matter how much he was laughing, he did manage to write in a serious tone on the subject...which made it come off even funnier than was probably intended. Show More Summary


This is very silly, but I can’t resist sharing it: Ben Zimmer at the Log reports on the latest auto-replace disaster, which produced a sentence beginning “When the particitrousers of the revolutionary movement in Korea…”: We can surmise that when the UK edition of Harden’s book came out for the Kindle, an editor felt the […]

The bearded barbarian

Ben Zimmer mentioned to me that he was on the Slate podcast Lexicon Valley talking about the origins of the word "gringo": It's most likely derived from Spanish "Griego" 'Greek' to refer to the "gibberish" of foreign speakers. That has led to some discussions of similar words for foreigner-talk in various languages. On Twitter, Mara […]

From Alphabet to Google

Google has picked "Alphabet" as the name for its new parent company: "‘Alphabet,’ From Ancient Greece to Google", by Ben Zimmer, in Word on the Street, Wall Street Journal (8/13/15) I think it's a brilliant choice, and our colleague Ben has done a good job of explaining why. [h.t. June Teufel Dreyer]

'Alphabet,' From Ancient Greece to Google

By betting on “Alphabet” as the name for its new parent company, Google is relying on a word that has only existed in English for about five centuries, writes Ben Zimmer.

Heebie Jeebies: The 1920s Dance Craze That Helped Launch Louis Armstrong

The following is excerpted from my book Louis Armstrong, Master of Modernism. It has been edited for clarity and length. As lexicographer Ben Zimmer pointed out recently on an episode of Slate's Lexicon Valley podcast, the phrase heebie-jeebies...Show More Summary

Filtering information

Ben Zimmer "Donald Trump and Others With ‘No Filter’", WSJ 6/26/2015: When Donald Trump gave a speech announcing his candidacy for president last week, he seemed to utter whatever thoughts popped into his uniquely coifed head. […] The “filter” metaphor evokes the image of a straining mechanism functioning on a person’s thoughts and feelings, testing […]

In the weeds

J.K. Trotter, "Ben Smith and Jonah Peretti: The Gawker Interview", 4/22/2015 (From Ben Zimmer, who picked it up from Sebastian Stockman on Twitter — emphasis added): Keenan: They’re running the Pepsi Twitter account? Ben (to Jonah): Yes. Is that exactly accurate? I’m not in the weeds in this, but they had been— Jonah: They had been […]

Question from ACES2015: Is it time to accept ‘they’ as a singular pronoun?

The Associated Press didn’t announce any earthshaking changes last week at the annual American Copy Editors Society conference. But Ben Zimmer did notice a recurring topic. “It feels like at every session I’ve attended, singular ‘they’...Show More Summary

Creeping kanji

Ben Zimmer was recently in Pittsburgh, where he gave the keynote address at the American Copy Editors Society conference. He mentioned that one of the copy editors (Bill Walsh of the Washington Post) was confused by a sign for a newShow More Summary

Fancy, Evasive Language

Gary Cee beats around the bush and a video clip of the heart-stopping final moments of the 2015 A.C.P.T. provided by Ben Zimmer.

Correctly English

Ben Zimmer called my attention to this book cover, via David Adger's Twitter account: You can read for yourself what the English says.  Let's see how well it matches the Chinese: bi?ozh?n ?? standard Y?ngwén sh?ngyè huìhuà b?irì t?ng ?? ???? ??? English commercial conversation; expert in a hundred days fù Zh?ngwén dúy?n ji?shì ??????? […]

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