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35 Kinds of Hot, Sexy Homophone Action

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An article in the Salt Lake Tribune reports that Tim Torkildson, a social media specialist for an English learning center in Provo, was fired after his boss objected to a post he wrote about homophones. Torkildson said that the language center owner, Clarke Woodger, reprimanded him, saying that “now our school is going to be associated with homosexuality,” and told him to clean out his desk.

The story has gone viral, though it does seem somewhat suspicious. (Woodger says his problem with Torkildson is that he'd "go off on tangents" that some might consider offensive; the Tribune article also ends with the line “interestingly, [Torkildson] was hired on April Fools’ Day.”) But this Woodger character may be on to something. Sure, it’s easy to laugh at someone who would read anything about sexual orientation into an innocent term for words that sound alike but mean different things, but the world of homophones is not as innocent as it may seem. As a matter of fact, it’s totally sex-crazed. Just look at what homophones are into:

Suggestively racy behavior!

Oh owe
Wet whet
Laid lade
Bases basis
Oral aural
Sighs size
Cruise crews
Moan mown
Groan grown
Butt but
Sighed side
Intense intents
Illicit elicit

Drugs!

Weed we’d
High hi

Bondage!

Cord chord
Locks lox

Sexy Role-playing!

Nun none
Colonel kernel
Maid Made
Knight night
Serf surf

Weird fetishes!

Feet feat
Fur fir
Pee pea

Threesomes!

For four fore
Do due dew
Ewe you yew
Pedal peddle petal
To too two
Their they’re there
Buy by bye
Mary merry marry*

*They’re not into this one in New York, Boston, and Philadelphia 

And even foursomes!

Carat carrot caret karat
Medal mettle meddle metal

So laugh all you want. I, for one, will not be teaching my kids about homophones until they are at least 25.

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'Froyo,' 'Troll,' and 'Sriracha' Added to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary
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Looking for the right word to describe the time you spend drinking before heading out to a party, or a faster way to say “frozen yogurt?" Merriam-Webster is here to help. The 189-year-old English vocabulary giant has just added 250 new words and definitions to their online dictionary, including pregame and froyo.

New words come and go quickly, and it’s Merriam-Webster’s job to keep tabs on the terms that have staying power. “As always, the expansion of the dictionary mirrors the expansion of the language, and reaches into all the various cubbies and corners of the lexicon,” they wrote in their announcement.

Froyo is just one of the recent additions to come from the culinary world. Bibimbap, a Korean rice dish; choux pastry, a type of dough; and sriracha, a Thai chili sauce that’s been around for decades but has just recently exploded in the U.S., are now all listed on Merriam-Webster's website.

Of course, the internet was once again a major contributor to this most recent batch of words. Some new terms, like ransomware (“malware that requires the victim to pay a ransom to access encrypted files”) come from the tech world, while words like troll ("to harass, criticize, or antagonize [someone] especially by provocatively disparaging or mocking public statements, postings, or acts”) were born on social media. Then there’s the Internet of Things, a concept that shifts the web off our phones and computers and into our appliances.

Hive mind, dog whistle, and working memory are just a few of the new entries to receive the Merriam-Webster stamp of approval. To learn more about how some words make it into the dictionary while others get left out, check these behind-the-scenes secrets of dictionary editors.

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How New Words Become Mainstream
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If you used the words jeggings, muggle, or binge-watch in a sentence 30 years ago, you would have likely been met with stares of confusion. But today these words are common enough to hold spots in the Oxford English Dictionary. Such lingo is a sign that English, as well as any other modern language, is constantly evolving. But the path a word takes to enter the general lexicon isn’t always a straightforward one.

In the video below, TED-Ed lays out how some new words become part of our everyday speech while others fade into obscurity. Some words used by English speakers are borrowed from other languages, like mosquito (Spanish), avatar (Sanskrit), and prairie (French). Other “new” words are actually old ones that have developed different meanings over time. Nice, for example, used to only mean silly, foolish, or ignorant, and meat was used as blanket term to describe any solid food given to livestock.

The internet alone is responsible for a whole new section of our vocabulary, but even the words most exclusive to the web aren’t always original. For instance, the word meme was first used by Richard Dawkins in his 1976 book The Selfish Gene.

To learn more about the true origins of the words we use on a regular basis, check out the full story from TED-Ed below.

[h/t TED-Ed]

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