Did You Know? “Chekov’s Gun” Must Go Off

Anton Chekov was an acclaimed Russian playwright and short-story author. He was also famous for the writing concept of “Chekov’s Gun.”  (more…)

Forget about Snowflake—it’s time for “Up Lit” and Other New Words

We need “up lit” books as an antidote to so much negativity in politics.

Snowflake is last year’s cliché, while Brexit is so 2016.  It’s time for a fresh batch of new words, or at least newly repurposed words. (more…)

In Praise of the Lowly Comma

One tiny comma can sometimes make all the difference when it comes to the meaning of a sentence or a contract for that matter. Strunk and White advocated for the Oxford comma in their classic book, “The Elements of Style,” while the AP Stylebook doesn’t require series comma. If you’re an Oxford-comma proponent like me, a recent federal court ruling will reinforce your position. (more…)

Did You Know? How “Red Herring” Originated

Dashiell Hammett’s seminal detective novel, “The Maltese Falcon,” opens with the mysterious Miss Wonderly hiring private eye Sam Spade and his partner, Miles Archer, to follow a man who eloped with her sister. It’s a classic red herring. Readers of mysteries, crime fiction, and suspense novels love red herrings, but where did the term originate? (more…)

Do We Really Need the Oxford Comma? A Federal Court Says Yes

Photo via Visual hunt.

If you don’t think the Oxford comma is necessary, a federal court’s recent decision will tell you otherwise. The 1st Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled in favor of delivery drivers who claimed they were eligible for overtime pay under Maine’s regulations. Their argument relied on the absence of a serial comma in the law. (more…)

Snowflake, Alternative Fact, Post-Truth, & Other New Words Stemming from Politics

(Photo via Visual Hunt)

(Photo via Visual Hunt)

The new political order in America has added new words to our vocabulary. The media and technology also continue to influence our ever-growing lexicon. (more…)

Who versus Whom: Remember Just One Rule

Photo credit: rosefirerising via Visual hunt / CC BY-NC-ND

Photo credit: rosefirerising via Visual hunt / CC BY-NC-ND

Do you have trouble remembering when to use who or whom? It’s a common problem with a quick fix from a Grammar Girl video. (more…)

Brexit and Other New Words Stemming from Political News

London Sculpture-VinceFazziPhoto

“Vroom Vroom” sculpture by Lorenzo Quinn, outside The Dorchester on Park Lane in London—where the word Brexit originated. (Photo by Vincent Fazzi, May 2011.)

The European Union’s loss is the English vocabulary’s gain. We’re talking about Brexit, a new word stemming from the news. (more…)

Normcore, Americaphobia, and 8 Other New Words to Take Note Of

Are you emojinal? Photo credit: Wicker Paradise via Visual hunt / CC BY

Are you emojinal? (Photo by Wicker Paradise via Visual hunt / CC BY)

The English language evolves all the time. New words are born and old words change meanings. This evolution is part of what makes writing exciting. Here are 10 new or newly coined words to take note of. (more…)

8 Overused and Meaningless Words to Avoid

Photo credit: Leo Reynolds via VisualHunt.com / CC BY-NC-SA

Photo credit: Leo Reynolds via VisualHunt.com / CC BY-NC-SA

There are about one million English words, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary. If you’re a writer, you have plenty to choose from. You have no reason to resort to overused words that have become meaningless. (more…)