17 Stories

App Helps You Get Smarter During Your Wasted Time

MIT software teaches vocabulary during each day's idle moments

(Newser) - How much "wait-learning" have you done lately? That's the term MIT scientists have for picking up knowledge while lingering in an elevator, waiting for a reply to your text, or doing other things that would normally have you simply staring off into space—and now they've got... More »

She Coined 'On Fleek,' Wants You to Pay Her for It

Internet hit Peaches Monroee is crowdfunding for planned cosmetics line

(Newser) - If you've ever used the term "on fleek," Kayla Lewis is hoping you'll see fit to pay her for it. Lewis, better known by her Vine moniker Peaches Monroee, was a teen who broke onto the internet scene in 2014 after supposedly being the first person... More »

You Don't Know as Many Words as You Think You Do

Maybe about 42K if you're a 20-year-old, slightly more if you're older—but definitely not 200K

(Newser) - You don't have to be a lexicographer to have a pretty ample lexicon—but your word knowledge still may not be as ample as you think. At least, that's according to a Ghent University study published in the Frontiers in Psychology , said to be the largest ever of... More »

Donald Trump Talks at a Third-Grade Level

But how does the Republican presidential candidate do it?

(Newser) - Is Donald Trump smarter than a fifth grader? Maybe so, but his vocabulary hovers around a third- or fourth-grade reading level. So says Jack Shafer at Politico : Trump "prefers to link short, blocky words into other short, blocky words to create short, blocky sentences that he then stacks into... More »

You're Misusing the Word 'Cool'

It does not mean what you think it means: Seth Stevenson

(Newser) - You think your iPhone or tablet is "cool"? Think again. Silicon Valley has "co-opted" the term and "hordes of techies" are misusing it, but let's remember its origins, suggests Seth Stevenson on Slate . It used to mean "not giving a f--k," and coolness... More »

National Spelling Bee Kicks Off With Unusual Twist

Up first: first-ever vocab test

(Newser) - Simply knowing how to spell words won't be enough to win the 86th Scripps National Spelling Bee; for once, competitors will actually have to know what some words mean, too. The event kicked off today, with, for the first time in its history, a vocabulary test . Some 281 spellers... More »

National Bee Not Just About Spelling Anymore

281 contestants will need to answer vocab questions, too

(Newser) - This year, it won't be enough for National Spelling Bee contestants to know what words look like; they'll have to define them, too. Local contestants—who have all already been selected—will have to spell live and on a computer as well as answer vocabulary questions in order... More »

Sheen Teaching Kids New Word: 'Rehab'

Twins Max and Bob are 2

(Newser) - In his relentless pursuit of Father of the Year honors, Charlie Sheen is giving his 2-year-old twins vocabulary lessons. "I am teaching them words, because they're speaking now," Sheen tells TMZ. But not just any old words: "I'm teaching them the word 'rehab' so... More »

Radio Exec Bans 'Flee,' 'We're Back,' and 'Death Toll'

119 words, phrases go on CEO's naughty list

(Newser) - Anchors and reporters at WGN radio in Chicago have a new job requirement: Don't say any of the station's 119 undesirable words and phrases on the air. Randy Michaels, CEO of parent company Tribune Co., wants information delivered in a more down-to-earth manner, without "newsspeak." On the Voldemort... More »

Oldest English Words Include 'Two,' 'Three'—But Not 'Four'

(Newser) - "I," "we," "two," and "three" have existed for tens of thousands of years, making them among the oldest words in the English language, new research reveals. Computer analysis of Indo-European languages helped isolate "the ways we think words change and their... More »

'Green' Tops 2008's Most Annoying Terms

'Maverick,' 'staycation,' and 'game-changer' also make appearances

(Newser) - Did you get your fill of mavericks this year? Or companies claiming to go green? Those words made Lake Superior State University’s list of the most overused words and phrases of 2008, the AP reports. Other annoying winners:
  • Carbon footprint
  • First dude
  • Bailout
  • Wall Street, in comparison with Main
... More »

Top New Phrases of 2008

Schott compiles list of 2008's most memorable neologisms

(Newser) - 2008 will be remembered not only for a historic election and financial gyrations, but for the words and phrases that came into use this year. Ben Schott, author of Schott's Almanac, lists some of 2008's most interesting neologisms in the London Times.
  • Terrorist fist jab: A blunt Fox News-ism to
... More »

'Bailout' Named Word of the Year

'Trepidation' and 'turmoil' also top list of words readers often look up

(Newser) - The word "bailout," in frequent use in newspapers, magazines, and TV thanks to the economic meltdown, has been named Merriam-Webster's 2008 Word of the Year, reports the AP. It was the word most looked up on the company's online dictionary, edging out other newly prominent and worrisome terms... More »

PBS Unleashes Martha for Vocab Help

(Newser) - What if the family dog ate alphabet soup by mistake? Susan Meddaugh answered her 7-year-old son’s question by writing a book, Martha Speaks, which has now become a PBS show about the talking dog. PBS hopes it will teach challenging vocab—"diminish," "concoct," and "... More »

Depressed Dads Make Kids Less Literate

Sad fathers don't read as much to babies, whose vocabs suffer

(Newser) - About 10% of new fathers show signs of clinical depression—a rate twice that of other men—and that can have a noticeable effect on their children, an American Psychiatric Association study finds. Sad dads interact less with their progeny, which means less bedtime reading and a smaller vocabulary by... More »

The Most Useless Words of 2007

'Surge,' 'random,' 'under the bus' top list of cringe-worthy neologisms

(Newser) - Do you roll your eyes every time a newscaster calls a coincidence a "perfect storm"? Cringe the thousandth time a teenager invokes "random"? The faculty at Lake Superior State University shares your vexation. Here are some selections from the school's list of words and phrases to... More »

Toddlers Learn Language Slowly and Quickly

Kids stockpile simple words in buildup to vocab explosion

(Newser) - Toddlers learn to speak by simply using small, familiar words to acquire harder ones, new research says, throwing a curveball at scientists who assumed a more complex cognitive system. Youngsters can rapidly go from spouting babble to intelligible chatter as long as their words have varying levels of difficulty, Scientific ... More »

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