No, It’s Called “Dressing”: 3 Thanksgiving Vocabulary Arguments You Can Win This Year

On the last Thursday of every November, American families gather together to half-watch football, complain about airports, and eat foods covered in baby marshmallows. Most people’s goal, apart from stuffing themselves silly, is to avoid conflict. But there are a few brave individuals out there who will risk getting sent to their old childhood bedroom with no pumpkin pie: sticklers.

Top 10 Punny Halloween Costumes—Animal Edition

Regular readers may have noticed that I have a deep, abiding love for both puns and Halloween. Celebrating the combination of the two is becoming an annual tradition around here. But you know what I like better than puns or Halloween costumes? Animals. And you know what I like better than animals? Animals in punny Halloween costumes, of course. Why, they’re pawsitively purrfect!

San Francisco's Punniest Laundromat Names, Ranked—Plus Two that Are Just Plain Fun to Say!

Quite a few laundromats use pun-based names to attract attention. This is a risky strategy because some people just hate puns, period. Even those of us who delight in them are more likely to groan than laugh at puns. But a punny business name has a way of sticking in your head—just ask any of the owners of Vietnamese restaurants who choose fun pho puns. Pho-king pho-nomenal!

San Francisco’s Idiom-Based Laundromat Names, Ranked

Want to make your business name memorable? Make it a play on words. Puns are one option, and I’ll talk about those next time, but today I want to focus on idioms.

An idiom is “an expression in the usage of a language that is peculiar to itself either grammatically … or in having a meaning that cannot be derived from the conjoined meanings of its elements,” according to Webster’s.

Small Businessman? Small Business Man? Small-Business Man? How Do You Write This Term?

If you call someone a small businessman, you’re implying that he is a businessman who is small. While some men may technically fit into this category (e.g., the three-foot-six actor Warwick Davis of Return of the Jedi and Harry Potter fame, who also owns a talent agency for actors under five feet tall, Willow Management), I doubt any of them prefer to identify as such.

What Is a Purple People Eater, Anyway?: Thoughts on Hyphenating Compound Words

“The Purple People Eater,” written and performed by Sheb Wooley, was the song of the summer in 1958—it topped the Billboard chart for six weeks. It tells a very silly story about an alien who comes to earth because he wants to be a rock star and possibly also eat people. From the beginning, people were confused about the meaning of the song. What was purple: the alien or the people?

10 More Punny Halloween Costumes

It's that time of year again. The leaves are turning, the air is nipping, and food is being pumpkin spiced. But most importantly, people are creating their pun-based Halloween costumes.

Last year I celebrated the season with the Top 10 Punny Halloween Costumes. This year I found ten more punderful costumes that you can use to show how clever/broke/last-minute you are. Enjoy!

OK, Let’s Talk About How to Spell “Okay,” O.K.?

O.K., you know what’s weird? OK is one of the most commonly used words in English (number 1654, according to English Club—which is pretty darn high when you realize that English has about one million words). But there’s no definitive way to spell okay! Why is it that we don’t know how to spell a word that we use every day? Because it started as an abbreviation and has become a full word over time.

Wish It Were Still in Style: The English Subjunctive Mood

Zach Braff recently released a teaser for his upcoming Kickstarter-funded movie, Wish I Was Here.

My initial thoughts were, That’s a great wig! and This looks pretty slick, production-wise. How much did he raise? [Answer: $2.6 million, but then a traditional financier brought it up to $10 million.]

And my third thought was, It's called Wish I Was Here? What an unfortunate title. It’s yet another sign that the subjunctive mood in English is dying.

How to Write an Effective Press Release

Press releases used to land in the newsroom, where the story would live or die on an editorial whim. But nowadays, numerous online services will post your release and send it to hundreds of news organizations, building strong links to your website in the process. The good news is that you can easily get your message out there. The bad news is that everyone else can, too, including your competitors.

So how do you make your press release stand out from the crowd? Just follow these six steps.

Presidents Day? President’s Day? Presidents’ Day? How Do You Spell the Upcoming Holiday?

We’re all counting down to the upcoming three-day weekend, but many of us don’t know how to write the name of the holiday on Monday correctly. Is it Presidents Day? How about President’s Day? Presidents’ Day? Well, it all depends on whom you ask.

This Punctuation Mark Is Not a Backslash: /

Grammar quiz time! Say the following URL out loud, as if you were giving it out over the phone:

Did you just say “double-u double-u double-u dot google dot com backslash analytics”? The good news is that you’re not alone; lots of people would say the same thing. The bad news is that you made an error: The punctuation mark / is not a backslash.

Uncommon Words, Commonly Confused

There are commonly confused words—let’s and lets, for example, or it’s and its. Everyone uses these words in everyday writing, and learning to distinguish them is a worthwhile pursuit. But today, let’s talk about a different kind of commonly confused words: words we use rarely that sound like words we use often.