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Demise of the -er Comparative

Perhaps, like me, you were taught in elementary school that most one-syllable adjectives, plus two-syllable adjectives that end in y, form the comparative and superlative by adding –er and –est. Most one-syllable adverbs also form the comparative and superlative with –er and –est. As with every grammar “rule,” there are exceptions, but mostly, short...

Calculus Etymology

I did not take calculus in high school. (I barely made it through basic math.) All I know about calculus is that it is a branch of mathematics that involves a certain type of calculation that entails the study of rates of change. The word calculus has an interesting etymology. It’s a diminutive of the Latin word for pebble, calyx. A calculus is a “little...

Writing the Pandemic

Since the media’s first faltering coverage of the coronavirus called COVID-19, the disease has not only embedded itself in the world’s population, it has also claimed a place in the English language. Coverage of the disease has swallowed so much of the daily news coverage since 2020 that the AP Stylebook, the Merriam-Webster dictionary and other authorities...

30 Ways to Say, “You’re Stupid”

I’ve been bingeing on the Shetland mysteries by Ann Cleeves and have finished them all. The novels are set in the Shetland islands to the extreme north of the UK. One of the many enjoyable features is the realistic dialogue, replete with dialect words and British idioms. I encountered several words, some of them insults, that sent me to the dictionary....

Words to Describe the Way People Talk

If there is any one interest and practice shared by every human being on earth, it’s talking—usually to other people, but not always. Unsurprisingly, these 7.9 billion talkers possess numerous words for different ways of talking. Many speech words in English derive from other world languages, so the following collection is representative of more...

Pandemic Vocabulary

This post was prompted by a reader who poses the following question: What is the preferred way to write Covid-19 in prose English? Answer: If you write for publication, it will depend on your publication’s guidelines. These three versions can be found in various publications: COVID-19 Covid-19 covid-19. So far, I’ve seen the all-lowercase covid-19...

Critical Race Theory

An academic term receiving a lot of attention these days is Critical Race Theory. When a previously specialized term makes its way into the general vocabulary—beg the question, moot, Anglo-Saxon, etc.—misuse runs close behind. Add a hot-button word like race, and the term becomes explosive. Critical Race Theory is a descendant of Critical Theory....

Important News for Free Email Subscribers

DailyWritingTips started in 2007. Right after that we launched a free subscription to our content. Three years ago or so the free subscription was substituted by a paid, more complete subscription with exercises along with our writing tips (which allowed us to remove ads from the website). Despite the launch of the paid subscription we decided to grandfather...

10 More Naming Words Ending in -nym

eponym The person for whom something is named: chauvinism, Caesarian Section, boycott. exonym A name for a people used by outsiders and not by the people themselves. For example, English-speakers call the people of Wales the Welsh. autonym A name by which a people refers to itself. The name the Welsh people call themselves is Cymry. They call...

4 Effects Named for Famous People

Among the meanings of the noun effect is this: Any of various distinct phenomena (originally in physical science, in later use also in other technical fields and in general contexts), frequently named after the discoverer or describer, or after something or someone providing an analogy or model. This kind of effect is always prefaced by another noun....

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