The world of real estate often requires a guidebook to make sense of its vocabulary. For instance, a “fixer-upper” means a house you’ll spend the rest of your life repairing. “Cute” means the house’s living room is also an eat-in bedroom. (An agent once told me, “When a Realtor says a house is small, you […]
An Associated Press story this week contained the odd description “southwestern Midwest.” I say “odd” because the Midwest itself lacks a firm description. In an unscientific poll in the spring, FiveThirtyEight asked people who considered themselves Midwesterners to identify which states they thought were part of the Midwest. Their responses ranged from Pennsylvania on the […]
Poor Denise. Poor dependable, compassionate, positive, respectful Denise. She agreed to have her picture appear in this ad. She was such a good sport. Someone who wasn’t as dependable handled the ad, though. Now poor Denise will forever be the employee who makes “her shits fun.” Stuff like this happens, of course. So proclaim any […]
A story in today’s Times contains this bit of curious phrasing. As I read, I imagined this misguided chap bent over in an airport restroom in Amsterdam, his drawers at his knees, and accomplices scattering cluster bombs about his briefs. (Boxers simply wouldn’t have worked for something like that.) I’m afraid to think of alternative […]
Elections often draw unusual write-in candidates. Strike that. Elections always draw unusual candidates, but the write-ins are sometimes the most unusual. Strike that again. Elections always draw unusual candidates, but the write-ins receive votes out of disillusionment or warped voter humor. They range from the fictional (Mickey Mouse, Elmo) to the flamboyant (Paris Hilton, Cher) […]
- Social media and the importance of free speech
- In Vegas, anything goes – except kissing behind the hotels
- Watch those chicken cliches. The piper is back with a reset button.
- Next time you wash your hair, grab this bottle of lice
- A philosophy of writing (and life) for the new year
- 64,700 holiday clichés later …
- No fish were killed in the making of this jacket. I promise.
- Rock-paper-scissors and caption writing at the NYT
- For sale: Something new and cheap, but don’t ask what it is
- Put a bag over your head and sleep away your troubles. Wait. What?
- Another year, another redundancy
- A quixotic search for the Toynbee tiles of Philadelphia
- Answer: Leave out in headlines
- Say what you mean, but learn to verb the web
- Horde vs. hoard and the fading of a grammatical fantasy
- When ‘gad’ is involved, an extra space makes a difference
- Confirmation bias sweeps in with a bad Cockney accent
- Help! The web ads are eating my brain!
- Next time the escalator stops, think genericide
- A hackneyed metaphor flies out of bounds
- Can the Navy survive without its caps?
- When a blog isn’t a blog, and how I got burned by assumptions
- Dear Yahoo: If you’d like us to read, clear away the clutter
- An editor’s advice for graduates, 2013
- A misused word that brings out the Tolkien in me
- An ad with three — that’s right, three! — lessons in one
- Legislature votes to ban words ‘moderate’ and ‘education’
- Commas have power. Use them, and use them wisely.
- A question that brings tears to a journalist
- Why is the Style section mooning me? Or, a lesson in context
- Wonder and disappointment at the end of the driveway
- Yes, context does count, in pictures and in words
- A juxtaposition that speaks louder than the end of the world
- Factual, yes. Helpful, no. Confusing, definitely.
- How to tell 1903 from 1930
- Affect, effect and the peril of snakebites
- Meet the mind-reading search engine version of Autocorrect
- Keeping jalopies alive in word and spirit
- Watch your spelling. You never know who might notice.
- Do yourself a favor: Learn to edit your own work
- Don’t walk on the sidewalk, and other messages from hell
- A lesson about ‘refute’ from the NYT crossword puzzle
- Laying down the principles of ‘lay’ and ‘lie’
- The sky is falling! No, wait. That’s not until tomorrow.
- More language lessons from the App Store
- How ‘ongoing’ creates an ongoing redundancy
- Peonies, Decoration Day, and the rituals of small-town life
- This singer didn’t die. He just capitulated.
- A 50-year tug of war over ‘hopefully’ ends with a shrug
- Where the classifieds leave off, the aliens take over
- How to gain followers and influence zombies (it’s all in the headline)
- How bad phrasing creates a perpetual student
- Headline turns an Etta James song into a kick in the teeth
- Teddy Roosevelt channels his inner Bob Dole
- Lewis and Clark go in search of a dictionary
- The genuine, the authentic and the redundant
- Q&A: Is a family a ‘who’ or a ‘that’?
- Read before discarding: A new motto for politics?
- Beware of zombies and 6 other headline tips for 2012
- Think graphics, yes, but think storytelling first
- On Black Friday, did anybody really know what time it was?
- Colgate’s new box promises whiter teeth, worser grammar
- 145 words later, a sentence begs to be edited
- Rogue headline kills 1 million homeowners; editors groan
- Say what you mean: NYT headline shows the danger of wordplay
- The visual complexities behind a tribute to Steve Jobs
- Spelling advice: Use I, not E, unless you really mean Lent
- In memory of Drew Anderson, 1989-2011
- What is the future of news?
- Haste subtracts two days from 9/11. Right, 99?
- Do you know this man? If so, hunch over and bellow.
- Charges cleared in laptop case: A one-act play
- Why it’s important to read your own publication
- Thanks to the classifieds, I’ve learned to print sandwiches
- 100-year picnics, concrete vibrators and other amazing feats of something
- Death by dangulation, or why syntax matters
- How to look drunk in print (it’s all in the spelling)
- Anti- vs. ante-, or what Doctor Who can teach us about usage
- Death, life and the Oxford comma (or not)
- Ordinance vs. ordnance, fact vs. fiction
- Obiter Dicta becomes KUEditing.com
- How to turn a squirrel into a Web celebrity
- Disinterested vs. uninterested and the blurred lines of neutrality
- Believe what you read? It might just cost you
- How the Borg took over my yard, and why I refuse to be assimilated
- Accept vs. except and the addling of fast-talking ads
- A headline headline that makes its point twice twice
- Lode vs. load, and why you and your mother should care
- Next time you flaunt me in an ad, please change my diaper first
- How do you undress a fish? With a ‘p,’ of course
- The weak in review: Typos, solar-powered birds and the American mind
- When what we say distracts from what we mean
- English becomes the official second language of English speakers
- Waiter, there’s sand in my desert
- You want respect? Get the punctuation right first.
- 40+ Sites for Adding Visual Elements to Stories
- Going ballistic: The danger of hastily truncated words
- An apostrophe (or not) that keeps people guessing
- Repelling from the rafters? A comic proves truly comical
- Those other Super Bowl ads, and their invisible language
- Headline trouble of the naughty variety
- Misused words: Taking the ‘dryer’ side for a spin
- How reliable is a Google search? Um …
- Word choice and the theater of unintended meaning
- Those pesky homophones strike again
- Lay vs. Lie: The animated short
- A logo for the dawn of a new … something
- How to tell the 1930s from the 1980s
- The Year of Blather gets off to a baffling start
- Ryan Seacrest gets an inadvertent makeover
- Heading two directions in the same headline
- Dear Cosmo: I’m lost in Wyoming. Yours, Denver.
- A good verb deserves the right mood
- Look, Ma! I swallowed the cocaine!
- Adding weight, not stereotypes, to headlines
- Why a single pie will never equal 391%
- In this election, subliminal messages reign (or is it rain?)
- Why this compliment isn’t
- Seeing plural, missing the singularity
- For National Punctuation Day, a paean to the period
- Honey, the thermometer says 572 degrees. Honey? Honey?
- Fewer vs. less: It’s as easy as pie
- How a virus gave a mosquito a ride
- Lessons from the App Store
- Right vs. rite
- NYT graphic prompts a delicate question: fish or phallus?
- Chop this “word” into oblivion, please
- It’s summer, and the iron is rotting again
- The dangers of “true facts”
- Dear self-appointed gods: Please lowercase thyself
- How advertising turned armpits into vacation destinations
- Q&A: Why you shouldn’t put acronyms in parentheses
- Stationery vs. stationary and the meaning of mobility
- Alter vs. altar and a link to “The Curse”
- Sorry, Dad. We’re selling you along with the old TV.
- AP on social media: Words of guidance and caution
- Much ado about “adieu”
- Give them an “i” for a headline, matey
- Random books and cheeky thoughts meet the painful reality of butt piercing
- Sale! Save nothing! Or, why you should read beyond the exclamation points
- Staunch vs. stanch
- An editor’s advice to graduates: 2010
- Dear spammer: Here’s to your lousy spelling
- Taking “the next level” down a few notches
- The butchery of “editing”
- He’s a lectern! But does he know what one is?
- A source emerges from hell, or somewhere thereabouts
- That’s “sleight of hand,” not “slight of hand”
- Writing Web headlines: An Obiter Dicta extra
- Next time, just order the chick wings
- Obiter Dicta No. 10: the download
- A comics double-take
- Throwing a flag on first and sloppy
- Number of homes grows 13-fold! Or not.
- With egg on my irrational face
- From toasted chips to hips
- 136 ears and still publishing
- Stepping in a royal headline error
- That sneaky ‘aide’ is at it again
- Pre-Madonna confusion
- How to spot an urban legend
- Here’s to agreement, wherever it are
- Going north for the winter
- How a single word undermines our credibility
- Its, It’s and Its’?
- Q&A: Ladies coats or Ladies’ coats?
- As Comma goes rogue, Punctuation loses its Essentials
- How fame and legend expose ignorance
- An anagram waiting to happen?
- Use vs. utilize, headlines and the art of third thoughts
- Poetry in motion (with a message)
- A headline that deserves a AAA rating
- Punning your way into confusion
- Asking questions we never answer
- How fast can you see? and other p. 1 questions
- North Pole, meet South Pole
- Let firsts happen first; the annuals will follow
- How haste inflates the size of a crowd
- ‘Coed’ trouble, doubled
- To ensure agreement, choose your post-holiday subjects carefully
- Grammatically speaking, a cabinet of medical curiosities
- To the bathroom and beyond, one abbreviation at at a time
- Multi-digit double-entendre
- Seeing a sign amid the ‘Idol’ sloppiness
- Crowing with quotation marks
- Stimulus spending as an Olympic sport?
- I open the bottle electric
- Why headline writers should keep their mouths shut
- If ‘aide’ is on the chopping block, will the ‘e’ go first?
- Look! Up in the sky! It’s … a bleeding face
- Watch your neck, Mrs. Malaprop
- A reign at Notre Dame comes mainly with the reins
- It’s time to close the door on ‘going green’
- Is bad usage infectious?
- This headline is not all right either
- Unruly hair, heal thyself
- Steering into confusion
- If Russell rustles, does that make him a verb?
- Confronting the zombies of troublesome usage
- How juxtaposition stole the Halloween spirit
- Finger me not
- Your home it is?
- No, it isn’t fair
- An intents lesson
- Lead Head
- Apostrophes of stone
- But was it charged?
- A barrel of what?
- Usage that makes you want to flee
- How a single letter sends meaning into retreat
- Down with up!
- Tennis makes way for business (a 360-degree interactive panorama)
- Interactive panorama of Jayhawk Blvd. construction (updated)
6/24/14 •An incumbent recumbent, riding toward re-election
9/27/13 •For sale: Something new and cheap, but don’t ask what it is
5/15/11 •Accept vs. except and the addling of fast-talking ads
5/07/11 •Lode vs. load, and why you and your mother should care
1/10/11 •Creative spelling: ‘Vacume’
7/14/14 •Tennis makes way for business (a 360-degree interactive panorama)
6/24/14 •Interactive panorama of Jayhawk Blvd. construction (updated)
9/06/13 •A quixotic search for the Toynbee tiles of Philadelphia
8/30/13 •Say what you mean, but learn to verb the web
8/06/13 •Confirmation bias sweeps in with a bad Cockney accent
11/15/14 •Heading to the southwest Midwest by way of confusion
10/13/14 •When this happens, about all you can do is flush
3/24/14 •In Vegas, anything goes – except kissing behind the hotels
1/30/14 •Next time you wash your hair, grab this bottle of lice
10/08/13 •Rock-paper-scissors and caption writing at the NYT