Here at Commonplace Fun Facts, we love words. We also love limericks. When we stumbled across The OEDILF, we thought someone had been taking a peek at our Christmas gift wish list.
James while John had had had had had had had had had had had a better effect on the teacher
If you have figured out how to derive the meaning of a sentence containing nothing other than eight uses of the word “buffalo,” then roll up your sleeves and tackle this beauty: […]
The Quest to Add Orbisculate to the Dictionary
What is the difference between a real word and a made-up word? OK, admittedly all words are made-up. We should probably ask what it takes to transform a newly manufactured word into […]
How Many of These Crazy English Words Do You Know?
We love words. We especially love strange words. Fortunately, the English language has a limitless supply of them to tantalize even the most discriminating lexophile.
Words That Seem Like They Should Rhyme But Don’t
Unquestionably, the English language is insane. It is so insane that there is even a poem dedicated to its insanity. We have devoted numerous articles on this site to English and its […]
Is it Kitty-Corner or Catty-Corner?
Suppose a friend asks you for directions to the nearest coffee shop. Your friend knows how to get to the grocery store on the corner of Main Street and Oak Avenue. You […]
Ablaut Reduplication: The English Language Rule You Didn’t Know You Knew
Want to hear about this great new dessert we’ve invented? It’s a chocolate snack cake covered in chocolate and filled with whipped cream. We call it a Dong Ding. The mascots for […]
Measuring By the Meter, Foot, and Smoot
If you are accustomed to the metric system, imperial units can be perplexing. There is logic in the fact that there are 1,000 meters in a kilometer or ten centimeters in a […]
M is For the Many Things She Gave Me
In the vast majority of the world’s languages, the word for mother begins with the letter M. Here are a few examples: Afrikaans: Moeder, Ma Albanian: Mëmë Aragones: Mai Asturian: Ma Belarusan: Matka Bergamasco: […]
Join the Effort to Save These Words and Phrases From Extinction
They are on the precipice of extinction. Without decisive action, all fifty of them will be gone, only to appear as footnotes in the textbooks of the future. Saving them is going […]
The Complicated Grammar Rule You Know Without Knowing
Certain rules of grammar are easy to articulate and uphold. Taking on “commandment” status, some elements of the English language get drilled into our heads at an early age: don’t split infinitives, […]
I Before E Except After C — And Other Lies Your Grammar Teacher Told You
“I” before “e,” except after “c,”Or when sounded as “a” as in “neighbor” and “weigh.” This easy-to-remember jingle is one of the first spelling rules we learned as children. It has been […]
How Do You Pronounce GIF?
There’s nothing we like better than to be able to write about a totally non-controversial subject. It is difficult to express our joy when the matter is so clear and accepted that […]
Andrew Carnegie and Theodore Roosevelt’s Doomed Effort to Simplify Spelling
Wy duz English hav such weerd spelling? Sum words uze silent letters. Others use dubel letters inconsistently for ekwal sounds, such as “blizzard” and “lizard.” Wat if we cud mak it eezy? […]
What Does an Ancient Pickle Recipe Teach Us About Baptism?
Baptism is a sacrament of the Christian faith that is associated with the public declaration that an individual has renounced his or her old ways and has entered into a new life […]