Category Archives: Words

New Words Added to Dictionary – February 2017

atkins bookshelf wordsRecently, the editors of the Merriam-Webster, based in Springfield, Massachusetts, announced that they had added 1,000 new words to their online unabridged dictionary. Of course some of the newly minted Trumpian words, like “loser,” “got schlonged,” or “alternative facts” have not been included in this round — stay tuned. The editors wrote: “Just as the English language constantly grows, so does the dictionary. More than one thousand new words have been added, including terms from recent advances in science, borrowings from foreign languages, and words from tech, medicine, pop culture, sports, and everything in between. This is a significant addition to our online dictionary, reflecting the breadth of English vocabulary and the speed with which we seek information. These new entries also highlight the old-fashioned skill of crafting useful and readable definitions that require the expertise and experience of our unique staff.” Here some of the new words added to the dictionary:

binge-watch: watching many or all episodes of a TV series

conlang: a portmanteau: constructed language

ghost (verb): to abruptly cut off all contact with someone by no longer accepting texts, instant messages, phone calls, or emails

net neutrality: the principle that Internet service provides should treat all Internet data as the same, regardless of its source, kind, or destination

photobomb: to move into the frame of a photo as it is being taken, as a joke

prosopagnosia: the inability to recognize faces

Seussian: of, relating to, or suggestive of the works of Dr. Seuss (Theodor Seuss Geisel)

snollygoster: a shrewd, unprincipled person

throw shade: to publicly express contempt for someone by subtle or indirect criticisms

truther: a person who believes that the truth about an important event or subject is being hidden from the public by a powerful conspiracy

walk back: to reverse or distance oneself from a previously stated position or statement

Read related posts: How Many Words in the English Language?
Why Do Some Words Last and Others Fade?

Words with Letters in Alphabetical Order
What is the Longest Word in English?

For further reading:

What Word Has the Most Rhymes?

atkins bookshelf wordsOpen up any rhyming dictionary and you will see that the editors do not list words, but rather vowel sounds that produce rhyming sounds. So the question “what word has the most rhymes?” should actually be rephrased as “what vowel sounds has the most rhymes?” We can open up several rhyming dictionary and find the entries with the most words, or we can turn to a very helpful and powerful online resource, to find the answer. For those unfamiliar with RhymeZone, don’t be misled by the name — it like a literary Swiss Army knife. What makes RhymeZone especially useful is that you can search any word to find rhymes, near rhymes, homophones, phrase rhymes, and similar sounding words; moreover, it functions as a dictionary, thesaurus, adjective or adverb finder, and quotation finder (you can limit the search to only the magnificent Shakespearean corpus).

The vowel sounds with the most rhymes are:
ee as in “be”: 1,305
ay is in “way”: 1,141

Here, for example, are just the one-syllable words that rhyme with be: b, b., baiji, bea, beautie, bee, blea, blousy, bouri, bousy, bouzouki, brea, bree, brie, buie, c, c., cf. p., chea, chee, chely, chewie, chrie, cie, cirri, couthie, couthy, crea, cree, creme, cwmry, d, d., de, dea, dee, di, direly, doucely, droumy, e, e., ee, fee, firry, flea, fleagh, flee, free, freeh, -free, frouzy, fsi, g, g., gee, ghee, gleby, glee, graeae, gyi, he, hee, je, jee, ji, jie, kea, kee, key, khe, ki, klee, knee, kyi, laically, lea, lee, leigh, lf he, lf we, li, lxi, lxxxi, -ly, me, mea, mee, mg three, mi, mousie, murri, ne, neagh, nee, ngwee, nhgri, nhlbi, ni, nie, nnrti, nouri, orczy, oui, p, p., pea, peay, pee, pewee, phratry, pirrie, pirry, plea, pre, pree, prix, qi, quai, quay, qui, ree, reeh, rheae, rhee, roughdry, roughie, roughy, sbirri, scarey, schlee, schlie, schnee, sci, scree, screy, scrie, scsi-3, sea, see, shchi, she, shi, shieh, shih, shree, shri, si, sie, sieh, sirree, ski, slee, sleighty, sloughy, smeary, smee, smoochy, snee, speary, spie, spree, squee, squesy, squirrely, sri, srsly, stooshie, stree, suresby, sze, t, t., te, tea, tee, thee, thewy, thi, three, throughly, ti, toughly, toughy, touhy, tousy, tree, tse, v, v., ve, vee, vieux, we, wee, weiqi, whirry, wiehe, xi, xie, xviii e, xxxvi, ye, yee, yi, yie, youthly, youthy, z, z., ze, zea, zee, zi

Here, for example, are just the one-syllable words that rhyme with way: a., ae, ay, bay, baye, bayh, bey, blay, bley, braai, brae, bray, brey, c’est, cay, che, chez, clay, cray, d-day, dae, day, daye, dey, dray, dreigh, drey, dreye, fay, faye, fe, fey, flay, fleigh, fray, frey, gai, gay, gaye, gray, graye, grey, guay, haigh, hay, haye, heigh, heugh, hey, hwe, j, j., jae, jay, jaye, k, k., kay, kaye, klay, kley, kray, krey, laigh, lait, lay, laye, lei, ley, leyh, mae, may, maye, mey, nay, neigh, nej, ney, pay, paye, pei, play, prae-, pray, prey, quai, quaigh, quay, quaye, rae, ray, raye, re, rea, reay, rey, say, saye, schey, schley, schrei, scray, screy, seay, seigh, shay, shaye, shea, skeigh, skreigh, slay, sleigh, smay, snay, spay, spey, splay, spray, stay, stray, strey, sway, sweigh, tae, tay, they, tray, tre, trey, vey, waye, wei, weigh, wey, whey, wray, wy, yay, yea, zooey

Read related posts: Words with Letters in Alphabetical Order
What is the Longest Word in English Language?
Word Oddities: Fun with Vowels

What is an Abecedarian Insult?
Difficult Tongue Twisters
Rare Anatomy Words
What Rhymes with Orange?


There’s a Word for That: Bouquiniste

atkins-bookshelf-wordsIf you have visited a used bookstore or antiquarian book fair, you have have probably encountered a bouquiniste, a dealer in secondhand books. The word, pronounced “boo keen NEEST,” is derived from the French word bouquin, meaning “old book” or the Middle French boucquain, meaning “rare old book.”

The word first appeared in the dictionary of the  Academie franchise (the French Academy) published in 1789, referring to the booksellers of antiquarian books that set up shop along a three-kilometer segments on opposing banks of the Seine that runs through Paris, France. With a combined inventory of over 300,000 books, the 240 bouquinistes sell books out of 900 green boxes permanently installed on the walls. In 1991, the banks of the Seine, including the “bouquiniste row” was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site. The French have always known that nothing beats browsing and buying books al fresco.

Related words:
bouquin: a book
bouquiner: to read constantly

Read related posts: There’s a Word for That: Esprit de l’escalier
There’s a Word for That: Jouissance
There’s a Word for That: Abibliophobia
There’s a Word for That: Petrichor
There’s a Word for That: Deipnosophist
There’s a Word for That: Pareidolia
There’s a Word for That: Macroverbumsciolist
There’s a Word for That: Ultracrepidarian
There’s a Word for That: Cacology

Synonyms for Bullshit

atkins bookshelf wordsIf Americans have learned anything from this last excruciatingly nasty presidential campaign, it is that politicians are experts at spinning, pontificating, speechifying, fancy talk, or whatever they want to call it. But let’s face it, folks, no matter how you sugarcoat it — it’s still bullshit. Of course, in polite society we use the more genteel term “nonsense.” An even better word is jabberwocky, coined by Lewis Carroll in his novel Through the Looking Glass (1871), the sequel to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. It’s certainly appropriate. Given the surreal results of the recent presidential election, Americans have fallen down the rabbit hole, and are left scratching their heads, wondering: “how the freak did we get here?” And it seems the only ones interested in answering that question are the very same trumpery-spewing politicians who got us there. The Madhatter might explain it this way: “You can’t bullshit a bullshitter. Let’s face the facts: we are living in the post-Factual world, the Age of Bullshit. No sense in hiding down here because we’re all f——!” Well, if we are going to be slogging through all this political bullshit, we might as well learn about bullshit (or as Kellyanne Conway, Counselor to the President Trump, called it “alternative facts”) in its many colorful variations. Without any further circumlocution, here is a list of synonyms for bullshit (no bullshit!):


blah blah blah

crock of shit

horse feathers
hot air


talking through one’s hat


Read related posts: Synonyms for Said
What is the Most Beautiful-Sounding Word in English
There’s A Word for That: Trumpery
Most Mispronounced Words in English
What Do You Call Words Like Wishy-Washy or Mumbo-Jumbo

How Many Words in the English Language?
How Many Words Does the Average Person Speak in a Lifetime?
The Most Mispronounced Words
Common Latin Abbreviations
Words Invented by Dickens

For further reading: The Dictionary of Bullshit by Nick Webb (2006)
Bullshit: A Lexicon by Mark Peters (2015)


What is the Term for Repeated Phrase?

atkins-bookshelf-phrasesA common rhetorical device used by poets, writers, and public speakers (especially pastors) is anaphora, defined as the repetition of a word or phrase at the beginning of a sentence or clause. Anaphora is derived from the Latin and Greek word anaphora, meaning “reference” and literally “a carrying back.” The anaphora establishes rhythm, but more importantly, it underscores an important idea. Anaphoras are often found in hymns and prayers; however the most famous anaphoras is found in Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech delivered on August 28, 1963 from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. The speech was heard by a crowd of over 250,000 people who came from all over the country to participate in the March on Washington for Freedom and Jobs.

The speech contains 1,667 words, however the best known words are contained in the anaphoral phrase “I have a dream,” used nine times in an improvised section of the speech (thanks to a shout out by legendary gospel singer Mahlia Jackson, known as “The Queen of Gospel”) that highlights the contrast between what the world is now, and what it can be:

Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends. And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of “interposition” and “nullification” — one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; “and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.”2

This is our hope, and this is the faith that I go back to the South with.” (Italics added)

A few lines later, as he approaches the speech’s conclusion, King returns to the anaphora, this time using “Let freedom ring” ten times:

And this will be the day — this will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with new meaning:
“My country ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing.
Land where my fathers died, land of the Pilgrim’s pride,
From every mountainside, let freedom ring!
And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true.
And so let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire.
Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York.
Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania.
Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado.
Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California.
But not only that: Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia.
Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee.
Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi.
From every mountainside, let freedom ring.”

Read related post: Why “I Have a Dream” Speech Endures
The Wisdom of Martin Luther King
Martin Luther King and the Suicide Letter

The Gettysburg Address

For further reading: Words That Shook The World: 100 Years of Unforgettable Speeches and Events by Richard Greene (2002)



Resume Euphemisms

atkins-bookshelf-phrasesEach year, millions of Americans enter the workforce — many straight out of college, of course, but many rejoin the business world after a hiatus — moving on from misspent youth, trying a dubious career that didn’t pan out (you know how judgmental employers can be), or raising a family. In most cases, entering the workforce requires writing a compelling resume. And nothing inspires creativity like having to write a resume and promoting your greatest assets — with a bit of embellishment. Susan Ireland, the author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Perfect Resume observes, “It’s most important that a resume be honest. However, being honest does not mean ‘telling all.'” Recruiters agree. Judi Wunderlich, co-founder of a talent and recruitment firm in Chicago, adds: “Honesty is usually the best policy, but you’ve got to be careful not to hit them in the face with it.” So why write “stay-at-home parent” when you can write “child advocate.” Lying is too strong a word; you could call these necessary embellishments “resume white lies,” but let’s use a kinder, gentler term — like “resume euphemisms.” So if you are writing a resume, here are some creative resume euphemisms you can use.

Ran a failed business: “experienced entrepreneur”

Got fired: “advocate for the working class”

In between jobs: “self-employed”

Haven’t had a job in a long time: “consultant” or “freelancer”

Raised a family: “child advocate” or “expert problem solver” or “expert trouble shooter” (and not complete give-aways like “domestic engineer” or “household manager”)

Drug dealer: “pharmaceutical rep”

Stripper: “stage performer”

Drug mule: “transporter” or “commodity relocator”

Worked at a web company: “Internet pioneer”

Grew vegetables in your backyard: “small farm owner”

Helped your children with their homework: “tutor” or “success coach”

Actually completed your children’s homework: “perpetual student” or “fast learner”

Shopaholic: “consumer market researcher” or “product specialist”

Party animal: “social network expert” or “event coordinator”

Reads all junk mail: “direct mail marketing expert”

Dropped out of college: “learned by experience” or “learned by doing”

Had a string of unrelated jobs: “business maverick”

Drunkard: “wine industry rep” or “beer rep”

Keeps a daily diary: “unpublished author”

Filed for bankruptcy: “fiscal realist” or “presidential candidate”

Little League coach: “experienced team player”

Trash collector: “environmental services technician”

Failed at several jobs: “extensive experience” or “explores alternative ideas”

Coached track team: “proven track record”

Watches TV all night and sleeps in late: “dependable”

What other resume euphemisms can you suggest?

Read related posts: Best Job Interview Tips
Job Interview Questions at Apple
How Much Math Do We Really Need?
What is the Toughest Job in the World?
How to Make Ethical Decisions
Traits of Great Leaders

For further reading: The Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Perfect Resume by Susan Ireland (2010)

Writers Are Defined by the Words They Use

atkins bookshelf quotations“In the most basic way, writers are defined not by the stories they tell, or their politics, or their gender, or their race, but by the words they use. Writing begins with language, and it is in that initial choosing, as one sifts through the wayward lushness of our wonderful mongrel English, that choice of vocabulary and grammar and tone, the selection on the palette, that determines who’s sitting at that desk. Language creates the writer’s attitude toward the particular story he’s decided to tell.”

From Writers on Writing (Volume II): More Collected Essays from the New York Times (2004). American writer Donald Westlake (1933-2008) best known for his crime fiction. Westlake was a prolific writer, having written more than 100 novels, several of which were adapted into films — Payback, Parker, Point Blank, The Hot Rock, The Outfit, and What’s the Worst that Could Happen?

Read related post: Do Authors Plant Symbolism in Their Work?
The Most Common Words in English
What is the Best English Dictionary?

Best Books for
John Fowles on the French Lieutenant’s Woman
Books that Shaped America

The Best Love Stories
Books that will Change Your Life
Banned Books that Shaped America
Why Study Literature?
Why Read Dickens?


%d bloggers like this: