August 25, 2011

The Old Navy Typo T-Shirt (Now Available for Your Back-to-School Wardrobe)

Posted in Word Fun tagged , , , , at 9:49 am by The Word Jar

Nothing says, “I’m a collegiate success!” quite like a huge typo across your chest. If Old Navy has their way, college sports fans across the country will be sporting their new Typo T-shirts as they cheer for their favorite teams this fall.

Image from

In case the typo eludes you, as it did the Old Navy proofreader, “Lets” should be “Let’s.” And don’t even get me started on “Dawgs.”

I know it seems frivolous to harp on missing apostrophes on T-shirts when there are clearly bigger issues in the world, but searching out and destroying typos is why I get paid the big bucks. And I have to imagine that someone at Old Navy also gets paid the big bucks to prevent just this sort of thing from happening before the items hit the store. Perhaps there isn’t an individual dedicated solely to proofreading clothing, but surely this T-shirt passed in front of dozens of pairs of eyes before being given the final approval. No one caught this? Even more discouraging is that these T-shirts represent many different institutes of higher learning, not to mention some heavy hitters. Is this a good way for colleges and universities to represent *their* product, a rather pricey education?

I know no one was harmed in the making or wearing of these T-shirts, so I’ll go easy. But if Old Navy would like to prevent such an atrocity (at least in my proofreading eyes) on future products, I’m officially offering up my editorial services.


April 6, 2011

Word of the Week: Reboot

Posted in Word Fun tagged , , , , at 10:22 am by The Word Jar

My trusty Webster’s 11th defines reboot as “to start or ready for use again.” Pretty straightforward. I chose to highlight reboot this week because I felt it was time to reboot The Word Jar. It’s not exactly The Word Jar v2.0, but after so many months of not posting, it felt like I needed a kickstart.

Enter WordPress’s Post A Week Challenge (or Post A Day, for those chatty types).

Always a day late and a post short when it comes to blogging, I’m coming a little late to this challenge, which started at the beginning of the year. In an effort to get their bloggers to post more, WordPress has challenged its bloggers to post weekly or daily entries. (Daily entries just boggle my mind, if only for the massive amount of time it takes me to prepare a single post, but that’s a blog topic for another week.) Nothing like a little outside motivation to get the creative juices flowing, right?

So, dear reader(s?), I pledge to enrich my life, if not yours as well, by posting at least once a week. I’ll try to keep my end of this bargain. If I’m not busy reading. Or writing a post. Or editing (and re-editing) said post.

I’ll use this post as my official entry into the challenge, so don’t expect another post until next week, but I’ve also updated the blog by adding a page for upcoming book festivals and publishing events. I’ve tried to include events from all over the country, but if you know of a fun book or publishing event in your area that I’ve missed, please let me know and I’ll gladly include it.

Until next week, happy reading (and happy posting)!

July 28, 2010

Word of the Week: Objurgate

Posted in Word Fun tagged , at 8:42 am by The Word Jar

Nightmare-inducing image courtesy of SXC

Summer is here, and it seems that more often than not, the creepy crawlies prefer my air conditioned abode over the heat and humidity of their native outdoors. This can be a problem if you hate creepy crawlies, as I do. It becomes all-out war, with any and all weapons allowed. One of the most vile creatures to come across (indoors or outdoors) is the house centipede (pictured at left). Not only do they look like they are from another planet, they are natural sprinters. Fast. Very fast.

It’s not easy to get rid of these things…insecticides (oh no, I’m not above chemical warfare) only seem to make them run faster, and if you try to squish them with a pile of paper towels (you need a pile, otherwise you feel the squish), you better be fast and have good aim, because they will gladly lose a limb (or two or three) in an escape attempt. And then they will still sprint off at Olympic speed.

But I digress…I believe the purpose of this post was to highlight objurgate.

In an effort to bolster my battle-weary spirits, my neighbor recently sent me the following poem by Ogden Nash:

The Centipede

I objurgate the centipede,
A bug we do not really need.
At sleepy-time he beats a path
Straight to the bedroom or the bath.
You always wallop where he’s not,
Or, if he is, he makes a spot.

Right when I begin to feel all smug and literate, up pops a word I’ve never seen before, much like a creepy crawlie you suddenly notice racing across your kitchen floor. So, I had to grab the dictionary (which would be an awesome weapon against the vermin, if only I were willing to soil its precious and pristine cover). Objurgate means to rebuke harshly. That’s nice and all, but it takes a stronger word than objurgate to convey my true feelings about these alien beasts. Plus, it doesn’ t mean “destroy.” The poem at least gave me a good chuckle, and I felt a momentary camaraderie with Mr. Nash.

So, if you come across any unwanted creepy crawlies in your house this summer, feel free to objurgate the heck out of them. Then destroy them.

(If the image above isn’t enough to freak you out, maybe this video of House Centipede vs. House Spider is. Watch at your own risk. You’ve been warned.)

January 20, 2010

Word of the Week: Oeuvre

Posted in Word Fun tagged , , , at 2:48 pm by The Word Jar

So many vowels, so few consonants! Now that’s a word!

The full power of vowels is on display in this word with obvious French etymological roots. According to Webster’s 11th, the definition of oeuvre (pronounced “oovra”) is “a substantial body of work constituting the lifework of a writer, an artist, or a composer.”

It may seem like an uppity little word, but I came across it in Pieces of Happily Ever After (a fun mom lit book) by Irene Zutell, and it was being used by a former adult film star referring to her filmography. Surely a word for the masses, even if the definition of artist is a bit stretched in this instance.

April 15, 2009

Word of the Week: Scobberlotcher

Posted in Word Fun tagged , , at 11:23 am by The Word Jar

How fun is that word? Go ahead. Say it. Scobberlotcher. It makes me feel like a pirate. “Walk the plank, ya scobberlotcher!”

According to Scobberlotch, the blog of author Karen Harrington, scobberlotch means “to loaf around, doing nothing in particular.” So, if we want to use it as a noun like I did above, we can say that a scobberlotcher is one who loafs around, doing nothing in particular (quite the leap, right?). In addition to expanding your pirate-sounding vocabulary, this word can also help you communicate with a lazy significant other: “Mop the floor, ya scobberlotcher!”

If you have a few moments to scobberlotch today (or even if you don’t), I’d suggest checking out Scobberlotch. She always has fun posts about books, her writing and publishing experiences, and her family. She also hosts some great giveaways!

Happy scobberlotching!

April 1, 2009

Word of the Week—Opsimath

Posted in Word Fun tagged , , , at 10:47 pm by The Word Jar

Our Word of the Week is again from The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett. What a book—two words I’ve never heard or seen before! Although I couldn’t find opsimath in my trusty Webster’s 11th, several online sources corroborated the definition from The Uncommon Reader: “one who learns only late in life.” Such a bittersweet definition—the thrill of learning something new late in life, but the disappointment of knowing that you could have been enjoying it so much sooner (or, a bit of a downer, realizing you have little time left to enjoy it).

The context of opsimath in The Uncommon Reader is that the Queen of England, at this late juncture in her life, takes up reading and finds she loves it. Although I’m not nearly as “late in life” as the Queen, there are things I hope to pick up in my adulthood. I would love to learn how to play the piano and the cello. I’d love to learn how to sail. I’d love to learn Spanish. And I’m sure there are a million things that I don’t even know about yet that I would love to learn. So, although I’m not technically an opsimath yet, I better get started on these things before I have to fully embrace that bittersweet title.

Are you an opsimath? What have you learned late(r) in life that you wish you would have picked up sooner?

March 25, 2009

Word of the Week—Amanuensis

Posted in Word Fun tagged , , , at 7:32 am by The Word Jar

Welcome to the inaugural “Word of the Week” post! I hope to post a new word each Wednesday, as it follows the alluring alliteration of “Word of the Week.” I’ll post and discuss a word I’ve come across while reading, a word I’ve heard recently, or a word that I’m just enjoying at the time.

Amanuensis. Isn’t that a gem of a word? I came across this delicious nugget while reading The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett (a fabulous little book that will be reviewed here soon). I had to post this word because I have never seen it before, have never heard of it before, and had no idea how it was pronounced. I did find the pronunciation in the dictionary, but I know that if I tried to say it, it would sound nothing like it should!

As defined in The Uncommon Reader, amanuensis means “one who writes from dictation; copies manuscripts. A literary assistant.” Webster’s offers a similar definition but leaves off the literary assistant designation. And that’s my favorite part!

I guess I was drawn to this word because when I was in elementary school, I loved copying poems and passages that I liked out of books. Just to have them. To read them again and again whenever I wanted. It wouldn’t have been the same to photocopy them; and that would have been much more expensive.

At the same time, in the book this term refers to a boy who helps the Queen of England by returning her library books and looking up words and quotations. A literary assistant. Very helpful.

Keeping that usage in mind, I can’t decide if I want to be an amanuensis or if I want to have one.

March 16, 2009

Movie Review: Wordplay

Posted in Word Fun tagged , , , , , at 1:34 pm by The Word Jar

WordplayI recently had the pleasure of viewing Wordplay, a great little documentary about crossword puzzles and crossword lovers—the people who make them and the people who fill them in. Will Shortz, the editor of the New York Times crossword puzzle is interviewed, as are Merl Reagle, crossword constructor extraordinaire, past American Crossword Puzzle Tournament champions, and several crossword fans, including Bill Clinton, Jon Stewart, and recently retired Yankee pitcher Mike Mussina.

The top competitors in the annual tournament are insanely good. They can complete the Sunday New York Times crossword puzzle in mere minutes. Minutes! I’m pretty sure I–even as a lover of all words–couldn’t do it in a whole day. With help. And the answers in front of me.

But the most interesting part to me was seeing a puzzle constructor at work. I figured that all crossword puzzles these days were made with complex computer programs. But there is Merl Reagle sitting at his dining room table with a blank grid on a piece of regular paper and a pencil, creating a puzzle on the spot for the Times. And he just starts filling in words. That makes it sound much easier than it must be. You of course have to know enough words to fill in the whole grid and make everything fit nicely. And real words are probably best to use. No making things up here. I thought I had my dream job now, but I may have found a new calling.

Wordplay is a fun film for all fans of words and crossword puzzles. You get to see “behind the curtain” of the crossword machine, and you feel the intensity as the final round of the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament plays out. Wordplay may just inspire you to grab a pencil (or pen, if you’re really daring!) and tackle a puzzle today.

Word Fun Fact (from Wordplay): “Intercoastal” is an anagram of “altercations.” I know . . . I just blew your mind!

February 16, 2009

Countdown to 1,000,000

Posted in Word Fun tagged , , , at 9:28 pm by The Word Jar

Get out the party hats! The Global Language Monitor predicts that the English language will surpass one million words on April 29th (give or take a few days). Woo! I checked their website today, and we are currently 1,227 words away from the milestone.

According to their website, “Global Language Monitor (GLM) documents, analyzes and tracks trends in language the world over, with a particular emphasis upon Global English.” If ever I decide to give up my day job, this could be my next career path!

Check out The Economist to read an article about this momentous occasion (and the questions raised by linguists as to the officiality of this event).

With almost a million to choose from, it may be hard to decide, but what’s your favorite word?

February 9, 2009

A “Case” of Word Origination

Posted in Book Talk, Word Fun tagged , , at 1:11 pm by The Word Jar

Ever wonder about the origination of the words uppercase and lowercase? Me neither. Until I started reading Righting the Mother Tongue: From Olde English to Email, the Tangled Story of English Spelling by David Wolman.

In a delightful little detour from the history of spelling, Wolman discusses the operations of a Gutenberg printing press. Typesetters would sit at cases of letters, quickly setting lines of type to be placed in the press. To increase efficiency, letters and symbols used less frequently, such as capital letters, were placed in a high case. Non-capitalized letters had to be within easy reach, since they were used more often. So, capital letters were stored in the “upper case,” and non-capitalized letters were stored in the “lower case.”

Boom! Word origination! Good stuff!