History

  1. Exploring A Runner’s High And Other Myths

  2. Know Your Meme

    The Original Memes (Before Memes)

    The word meme, coined in 1976 by the evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, goes way beyond social-media pixels. Meme captures the concept of “cultural transmission” of ideas in general, where customs and ideas spread from brain to brain.  Which means memes have been around longer than Success Kid or Kermit sipping tea. Wildfire ideas have been around as long as humans have—in fact, discovering fire is …

  3. A Smack Of Jellyfish And Other Strange Animal Groups

    What do hunting and sexual desires have in common? We could point to several things, but from a linguistic point of view, we’re referring to the archaic word venery, which means both hunting (from the Latin venor) and sexual desire (from Latin veneria, referring to Venus). Strangely, terms of venery is a collective noun that means a group of animals. And, many of these animal …

  4. Every Day Was Wacky Hair Day In The 1700s

  5. The Mind-Bending Stroop Effect: Don’t Read These Words!

    WARNING: Your brain is about to experience conflict and interference, while executing a suspiciously mundane task. Do not scoff. Different-colored words will slow down your mental processing, and there’s almost nothing you can do about it—except read the rest of this article to learn more. You are at the mercy of . . . the Stroop effect! Get ready: The following is a group of words, written …

  6. What Is Louisiana Creole And How Was It Created?

    Dictionary.com’s United States of Diversity series by Taneesh Khera Music resounds from every direction. Drums, brass, and strings clash against the cacophony of song and dance. The crowd, as diverse as the Black, Native, and European people who’ve called the area home for centuries. Smells waft in with the sound: from street-side vendors, gumbo, jambalaya, and cajun and creole spices you can taste in the …

  7. CA Hunter

    This American Children’s Rhyme Isn’t So American After All . . .

    Remember eeny, meeny, miney, moe? A group of kids get together to play a game of Tag. Or, maybe they’re in the middle of a kickball game and the ball’s flown over into nasty Mr. Hunchguts’ yard. In both scenarios, who is it? Which of the rosy-faced children will be designated the chaser in Tag, or the (gulp) fetcher of the kickball from haunted Hunchguts’ …

  8. The Meaning And Symbolism Of Flags From Around The World

  9. Getty

    Taser: A Surprising Acronym With An Unsettling Story

    Many people might be surprised to learn that the word taser is an acronym. The (debatable) non-lethal weapon that causes temporary paralysis was invented in the 1970s by a man named Jack Cover (who worked for NASA at one point). Cover aimed to create a non-lethal weapon that could be used in situations in which firing a real gun would prove fatal, like in an airplane hijacking. …

  10. Why Do We Call It A “Wife Beater” Shirt?

    How did a violent term become a piece of clothing? We’re in a bubbling cauldron of gender issues, and they’re boiling to the surface. To contribute to this heated discussion, we think there’s no better time to take wife beater, the slang term for that ubiquitous sleeveless white shirt, to the dump for good. But, how did the violent term become associated with a piece …