Language Reports

Rooted in secrecy

Ammon- and krypto-, roots of this month’s words in question, have a common meaning: “hidden”. Despite their mysterious roots, each refers to a well-known chemical substance, the most famous of which is the fictional kryptonite.

River Thames, Mississippi River, Lake Michigan, Cayuga Lake: the Where and Why of Word Order

Why do the words “river” and “lake” sometimes follow the proper name, as in River Thames and Lake Michigan, and at other times come before them, as in Mississippi River and Cayuga Lake? Rivers and lakes have different sets of naming conventions.

Weird Stories

We pursue our exploration of the animal kingdom in the following Word Stories. Among the weird creatures inhabiting the earth, some enjoy more fame than others. Lexical good fortune has given the long-snouted aardvark a premium spot in most English-language dictionaries, while it has also starred in a number of popular TV series, including the Ant and the Aardvark (1969–1971). The kiwi, a flightless bird, gained celebrity status with its selection as the national symbol of New Zealand, subsequently developing its brand by lending its name to several other uses.

Navigating the British Isles: A Lexical Guide

The terms Britain, United Kingdom and England, among others, are a source of confusion for many people outside (and even inside) the British Isles. With so many overlapping names and entities, it is no surprise that people have trouble choosing their words when talking about these islands and their inhabitants. In this article, we will look at these different names, what they mean and how to use them.

Small Names for Big Beasts

The wild theme continues in this month’s Word Stories. We examine two remarkably similar beasts that hail from opposite corners of the earth: the African plains and the highlands of Asia. 

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