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Geoff Nunberg says that, like a lot of the Britishisms peppering American speech these days, "spot on" falls somewhere in the blurry region between affectation and flash. Zdenek Ryzner/ hide caption

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President Obama and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney finish their debate at the University of Denver on Oct. 3. Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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In 1961, the publication of Merriam-Webster's Third International Dictionary sparked an uproar with its inclusion of the word "ain't." Flickr User Greeblie hide caption

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Rep. Paul Ryan has made changes to social safety net programs like Medicare and Social Security — often called "entitlements" — a key part of his political agenda. Win McNamee/Getty Images hide caption

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The word "hopefully" has been used in thousands of NPR stories. Stephanie d'Otreppe/NPR hide caption

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Geoff Nunberg says the magic of metonymy helped propel the word "occupy" into the global consciousness. Douglas Araujo de Moura /Occuprint hide caption

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A message honoring Steve Jobs is scrawled on a blacked-out window at an Apple store in Seattle.

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In the Communist Manifesto, Karl Marx (above) and Friedrich Engels used the German word Klassenkampfen, which translates as "class struggles." Their critics rendered it as "class warfare."

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