Tag Archives: Wordplay

‘Fake news’ among words we’d like to banish

The wordsmiths at Lake Superior State University in Michigan are at it again. Among the words they’re trying to banish for “Misuse, Overuse and General Uselessness” are fake news, gig economy, impactful and unpack. As an unnamed spokesperson said when releasing the 43rd annual list, “We’ve drilled down and unpacked tons of pre-owned words and phrases […]

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Tragically, Gord’s gone, but his words live on

Like many Canadians, I was dismayed to hear of the death this week of Gord Downie, just 53, quirky lead singer of Canada’s Tragically Hip. His diagnosis with an incurable brain tumour last year made the ending inevitable, but it still came as a shock. Like many musicians, Gord (if I may be so familiar) […]

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New misused words join the list to be banished

Post-truth, on fleek, Dad bod and listicle are among the terms that made the 42nd annual list of words and phrases the wordsmiths at Lake Superior State University in Michigan want to banish for “Misuse, Overuse and General Uselessness.” Distressingly, making the list does not, in fact, banish awful jargon and overused terms. The hated […]

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Truly awful writing to inspire you

(Updated in June 2017) As my friend Sue once said, “Every time I start to lose a little faith in my fellow human beings, along come the Bulwer-Lytton awards.” This annual celebration of the best of the worst is the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest. Writers apply their talents to evil purpose, creating the worst opening sentence […]

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Another odd book title wins cheeky contest

At a time when attention spans are shorter than ever, a long-running quirky contest fits right in. Yes, I’m talking about The Bookseller’s Diagram Prize for Oddest Book Title. “We don’t judge books on the contents within or even by their covers, but by their purest, quickest and shallowest way possible: from the title,” says […]

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Niche reads and odd titles in quirky contest

The clever folks at The Bookseller, a British trade magazine, have a way with words and a good sense of humour. Exhibit A: The Oddest Book Title contest. I’ve written before about this funny contest, conceived in 1978 by The Diagram Group’s Bruce Robertson as a way to avoid boredom at the Frankfurt Book Fair. […]

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Sadly, banning the words doesn’t seem to work

Bless the folks at Lake Superior State University in Sault Ste. Marie, MI. Every year for 38 years, they have tried — in vain, for the most part — to banish the top annoying, misused and overused words creeping into common use. You know it’s a futile effort when words from Year One, 1976, are […]

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Here’s your challenge for National Punctuation Day

National Punctuation Day is fast approaching; do you have your assignment yet? What, you haven’t been eagerly awaiting Sept. 24? That is the day when Jeff Rubin reminds us that “a semicolon is not a surgical procedure,” and urges us to freely toss around punctuation marks. This year’s challenge, which celebrates the 2012 presidential election: […]

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Friday word fun: Aug. 3

It’s a long weekend in Ontario, so let’s lead into it with some Friday word fun! Creative haikus about traffic (thanks to Sue Ridewood for the link). Example appropriate to Ontario holiday weekend traffic: “Need a few days off / after Sunday night drive from / the vacation house.” Shakespeare’s plays compressed into tweets, usually […]

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Friday word fun

It’s Friday, and it’s the start of a long weekend (at least here in Canada). Seems like the perfect time for some word fun! Is it a piece of IKEA furniture or a type of cheese? An amusing quiz from Mental Floss. Thou wayward rump-fed malt-worm! Have some fun with the Shakespearean insult generator. Which […]

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