Linguist Geoff Nunberg finds that in the film Lincoln, screenwriter Tony Kushner oscillates between old and modern meanings of "equality." DreamWorks/Twentieth Century Fox hide caption

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Historical Vocab: When We Get It Wrong, Does It Matter?
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There are those who say the phrase "the whole nine yards" comes from a joke about a prodigiously well-endowed Scotsman who gets his kilt caught in a door. iStockPhoto hide caption

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'The Whole Nine Yards' Of What?
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Forget YOLO: Why 'Big Data' Should Be The Word Of The Year
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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/iStockphoto.com hide caption

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Even Americans Find Some Britishisms 'Spot On'
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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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One Debate, Two Very Different Conversations
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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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When Words Were Worth Fighting Over
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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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With Ryan's Ascent, A Few Thoughts On 'Entitlement'
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Taboo Revival: Talking Private Parts In Public Places
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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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The Word 'Hopefully' Is Here To Stay, Hopefully
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Slut: The Other Four Letter S-Word
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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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'Occupy': Geoff Nunberg's 2011 Word Of The Year
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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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Steve, Myself And i: The Big Story Of A Little Prefix
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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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Unlike Most Marxist Jargon, 'Class Warfare' Persists
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No Language Legacy: Where's The Sept. 11 Vocab?
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