Trend Results : Ben Zimmer

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Language for the people!

Four sure-to-be-amazing talks on language are coming to central Texas on January 8 and all are invited! The four speakers include two of our Language-Logistocracy, linguists and popularizers extraordinaire Ben Zimmer and John McWhorter. Wanna know how English is changing? They'll tell you. Third, Stanford Linguist Eve Clark, who's somehow managed to publish two books […]

Profanity Censorship Is Arbitrary. Stop Doing It.

This post originally appeared on Strong Language, a sweary blog about swearing. Ben Zimmer called the dissemination of Donald Trump’s recorded conversation with Billy Bush a “watershed moment in public profanity,” since major news outlets such as CNN and the New York Times presented Trump’s remarks without bowdlerization. Show More Summary

Mike Zimmer: Adrian Peterson’s knee “has calmed down now”

They’re still awaiting the results of an MRI this morning, but there’s some sense the news on Adrian Peterson could be something other than the worst case scenario. According to Ben Goessling of, those close to the Vikings running back said they hoped he had avoided major injury after injuring his right knee in last…

When Uptalk Went Viral

This is a guest post by Cynthia McLemore, following up on Ben Zimmer's post on "'Uptalk' in the OED", 9/12/2016. Twenty three years after James Gorman coined a word for “those rises” in the New York Times and unleashed a viral phenomenon associated with my name, and on the occasion of the OED's latest entries, […]

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 […]

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