etymology
Words
'Fake' Etymology: The Story Behind One of the Dictionary’s Most Intriguing Words
The story behind one of today's big buzzwords goes all the way back to the secret slang of early 19th century criminals.... READ ON
Big Question
How Did "Jones" Come to Mean "Craving"?
History
What’s the Origin of Jack-O’-Lanterns?
The term was first applied to people, not pumpkins.... READ ON
Words
The Longest Words in English (by Category)
Antidisestablishmentarianism is still regarded as the longest non-medical, non-coined, nontechnical word in the English language, yet it keeps some robust company. Here are 11 examples of some of the longest words by category.... READ ON
Animals
7 Animals With Grand Mythological Names
Like proud parents, scientists often give their discoveries the biggest, most impressive names they can think of.... READ ON
Words
15 Common Expressions Younger Kids Won't Understand
Here are 15 etymologies to answer the questions of future English speakers. Because the future is already here.... READ ON
History
How the Philadelphia Suburbs Got Their Names
Big Question
Where Does The Phrase "Nice Guys Finish Last" Come From?
Words
From Y'all To Youse: 8 English Ways to Make "You" Plural
Lots of languages have distinct plural forms for "you." Wouldn't it be useful if English had one too?... READ ON
Words
12 Animals Whose Names Etymologically Describe Them
Now the names for these creatures big and small make total sense.... READ ON
Big Question
What Are Smithereens?
“Blown to smithereens” is such a great, colorful phrase. Almost everyone knows exactly what you mean, without being able to define what exactly a smithereen is. What the heck are they?... READ ON
Big Question
How Did Caesarean Sections Get Their Name?
Reader Alistair wrote in wondering about the supposed origins of C-Sections: “Was Julius Caesar really born this way and is it the origin of the medical procedure?”... READ ON
Big Question
Where Do the Words “Mom” and “Dad” Come From?
Reader Jack writes in to say, “I can’t for the life of me figure out where the term ‘Dad’ or its similar cousins like ‘Daddy’ or ‘Dada’ come from. What’s the deal with “dad” and why has it become so prevalent in our society?”... READ ON
Big Question
Where Did the Phrase “Dressed to the Nines” Come From?
After watching the new Justin Timberlake video, reader Katie Rose wrote in ask about the origins of “dressed to the nines.” Reader Donna wrote with the same question, though I don’t know what music videos she’s been watching.... READ ON
History
7 Antiquated Illness Names and Their Meanings
Throughout the ages, people have hung some pretty weird names on what’s ailed them. Here are the monikers of a few of the more strangely-named illnesses, and how we know them today.... READ ON
List
7 Common Words With Little-Known Relatives
When some words hit the big time, they left clunky related words behind.... READ ON

Paul McCartney played bass left-handed, but he wasn't the only southpaw member of the Beatles. Ringo is a lefty as well.

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