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The Word Guy - ArcaMax Publishing



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Should We Reverse Reverse Engineering?

Aug/16/2017

Reverse engineering. No, I don't mean backing up a locomotive or designing cars that parallel park all by themselves. This scientific term refers instead to examining a device or product to discover how it was put together in order to design ...





These Origins Will Wig You Out

Aug/09/2017

Is the term "wig out," related to wigs? Are Formica counters named for formic acid? Why is a big truck called a "semi"? Let's find out! --Wig out: You might think that this term, meaning "to lose one's cool," is derived from the days when ...





Keeping the Frogs in the Wheelbarrow

Aug/02/2017

U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski served up a delightfully amphibious metaphor recently to describe Sen. Mitch McConnell's efforts to line up Republican senators behind his health-care bill. "The majority leader is trying to keep all the frogs in the ...





Will Texting Ruin Our Writing? OMG!

Jul/26/2017

Texting -- a tumultuous treehouse full of bizarre spellings, incomplete sentences and weird abbreviations -- is being widely blamed for the decline of students' composition skills. A pugnacious posse of teachers, parents and pedants, armed with...





When Should 'Predominate' Dominate?

Jul/19/2017

Q: Nowadays, I see more and more journalists use the verb "predominate" as an adjective, instead of "predominant." Are these journalists wrong? -- Curt Guenther, Memphis A: A journalist wrong? My stars! Quick confession. I made the error you ...





I Know Where You're Coming From

Jul/12/2017

Trick question: If it's "quarter of four in Boston," what time is it in Seattle? Answer: "Twelve forty-five." People in New England usually say "quarter of" and "quarter after" when telling time, but Pacific Coasters tend to say the number of ...





Dishing Up the Origins of 'Chafing'

Jul/05/2017

I was serving as a "celebrity chef" at a recent fundraising event (despite my being neither a celebrity nor a chef). Suddenly one of my fellow c.c.'s (who actually WAS a celebrity) approached and asked why the device warming the scrumptious Coq ...





Read These Bloopers and Commiserate

Jun/28/2017

The ever-vigilant Word Guy Blooper Patrol reports these recent sightings: 1. "We wanted a highly qualified superintendent ... and we have to pay someone a commiserate salary." Is the pay really that low? (Spotted by Stuart Jay Sydney, Storrs, ...





I Know What You Said Last Summer

Jun/21/2017

Summertime, when the living is easy . . . But the lingo of summer isn't so easy. Here's a handy guide to pesky terms that dive bomb us like mosquitos on long summer evenings. Speaking of long evenings, remember that it's "daylight saving time"...





The Devil Made Me Chew It

Jun/14/2017

Picture a devil on your left shoulder and an angel on your right shoulder. Now select the correct origin for each diabolical or heavenly food name: 1. Deviled eggs A. They often have red paprika sprinkled on them. B. They're often made with ...