Verbatim is no longer publishing. However, this is a fan site dedicated to the legacy of Verbatim. Please enjoy the archives we were able to find and share with you all!

What’s Verbatim? Verbatim is a magazine devoted to what is amusing, interesting, and engaging about the English language and languages in general. We strive to bring fascinating topics out of the dusty obscurity of dry linguistic scholarship and polish them up for the general reader with an intelligent interest in language. We gently poke fun at the messes people can get into with English and the misunderstandings that arise from our common language. All this, plus a generous helping of book reviews, should provide an hour or two’s diversion for the person interested in language.

VERBATIM Online Issues

VERBATIM Articles, Book Reviews, News

Word Words

Jon O. Newman United States Circuit Judge We need some new words to describe words. English already has several well known -onym words (from the Greek onyma meaning 'name'), such as synonym (same meaning), antonym (opposite meaning), and homonym (same sound). Less...

Authors and Articles Volume XIV

Authors and Articles VolumeNumberAuthorTitle XIV1Demy, Nicholas G.Go to the Dictionary, Thou Sluggard XIV1Cahill, BrianWay To Go, Aubie! XIV1Soyka, Dan E.Whither Thou, Thee, Thy and Thine XIV1Cohen, HarryMicrolinguistics XIV1Howard, VirginiaIn Praise of St. Jerome...

Slayer Slang (Part 1)

by Michael Adams Albright College Buffy the Vampire Slayer (BTVS), a recent teen television hit, coins slang terms and phrases in nearly every episode, many of them formed in the usual ways, some of them at the crest of new formative tendencies, and some of them...

Authors and Articles Vol XIX

XIX1Brashear, WilliamHocus Pocus XIX1Bernstein, Marc A.A Toast: To the Tautology XIX1Lowrey, BurlingInvestigating the Racqueteers XIX1Swift, BobJoin Me For a Spell XIX1Carver, Craig M.Etymology as Educated Guess XIX1Simpson, David L.Of "Coat-wearers" and "Kekiongas":...

The Art and Technique of Citation Reading

Laurence Urdang Editor, VERBATIM The uninitiated often wonder where lexicographers find the words they list and describe in the dictionaries they compile, edit, and revise. Nonprofessional and unprofessional dictionary compilers may often get them from secondary...

Epistolae 243

While reading William Dougherty’s article "Bromides" (XXIV/1) about the reluctance that physicians exhibit in speaking frankly about their patients’ life-threatening conditions, using euphemisms and circumlocutions, I remembered an experience I had that illustrates...

From A Dictionary of Interesting Collisions

Abasement Flat: Digs hard-up tenants lower themselves by renting. About-facetiousness: earnestness; the reverse of frivolity. About-preface: Epilogue or afterword; an antonym for introduction. Acuwomen: Form of female intuition; shrewdness peculiar to women....

Authors and Articles Vol XXI

Authors and Articles VolumeNumberAuthorTitle XXI1Bennett, MartinThe Lamps of Speech XXI1Tius, Mary M.Stress XXI1Bailey, BelSlang from Greyfriars XXI1Blackford, PaulSome English Loanwords in Thai XXI1Schindler, Marc A."Schindler's List" of Ashkenaz's Names XXI1Ramson,...

Quick Post: Noun Overuse Phenomenon

A subscriber from long ago rediscovered us again today, and asked particularly after one article: Noun Overuse Phenomenon Article, from Vol. 2, No. 4. So there it is -- click on the link to read it. It's a favorite!Please remember that if you are ordering VERBATIM as...

Darn!

I was thinking of Dwight Bolinger the other day (as you do) and remembered that he had written a very nice short article about "Darn!" for VERBATIM back in the day. Enjoy!...

Letters, We Get Letters

One of my favorite parts of VERBATIM has always been the letters to the editor. They're often more like bite-size articles than like traditional letters to the editor. This one, below, was the first letter in Volume I, No. 1, from Eric Hamp. Dear Sir:People often...

Authors and Articles Vol XV

Authors and Articles VolumeNumberAuthorTitle XV1Lederer, RichardGunning for the English Language XV1Bria, GeorgeDuende: Gypsy Soul and Something More XV1Bauerle, RichardThe Expanding Lexicon of One-letter Words XV1Davidson, J.A.The Joy of Scottish English: Chambers...

What’s the French for “Fiddle de dee”?

What’s the French for "Fiddle de dee"? Margaret of Scotland, Wife of Louis XI, provides an answer for Lewis Carroll Here’s a question to explore, A query Alice merely parried When she was examined for The right to wear the crown she carried, And to be a pawn no more....

Favorite Words

Last year sometime (we?re very exact here at VERBATIM world headquarters) we asked you to send us your favorite words. Not necessarily the words whose meaning you most admired, but the words you found a joy to say, write and hear (and as some of you pointed out, to...

Preposition Pollution

Foreigners trying to learn English often have more trouble with our prepositions than with any other feature. But I see and hear so many awkward uses of prepositions lately that I think we all have more trouble with them than with any other feature--and more trouble...

All about All

In the movie Spartacus,1 the Roman general, Crassus, ensures the cooperation of the slave dealer, Batiatus, by making him the following promise: "I authorize you to be the agent for the sale of all survivors." When Crassus wins the final battle and orders that all...

On Blue Moons, and Others

Nature has favored us with a single large satellite with two felicitous peculiarities: It always turns the same face towards us, and it appears exactly the same size in the sky as our sun. The latter property makes a total solar eclipse, if we are fortunate enough to...

Darn, Durn, Down, Doon, Damn

Dwight Bolinger Professor of Linguistics Emeritus Harvard University Minced oaths are etymological landmines, and if I were a better guesstymologist I probably would not tread on this one; but if it is a coincidence it is too good to be true, so here goes....

Review of A Feminist Dictionary

Review of A Feminist Dictionary, by Cheris Kramarae and Paula A. Treichler Where to begin? With the unpleasant little entry for lexicographer? With the nasty piece on dictionary? with the inaccurate definition of grammar? the somewhat silly entry at language? It is...

Widows, Orphans, and ?–Semantic Holes

Sol Saporta University of Washington (retired) In lectures delivered in Japan in 1987, Noam Chomsky discussed the notion of a ‘conceptual framework’ which he proposed as ‘a common human property’ He suggested that ‘the concepts . . . are available, independently of...

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