Dr. Goodword's Office is where we will keep articles about the nature of language, correct usage, and other fascinating linguistic tidbits. We will focus on the questions that Dr. Goodword (AKA Robert Beard, PhD, Linguistics) has been asked over the past 10 years: from the days of his Web of Online Dictionaries, through his stint as Dr. Language at yourDictionary, and up until now. If you have a question that is not covered here, simply send it to him via our contact page.
- Mamma Teached Me Talk (Language Acquisition)
You learn how to talk from listening to your parents and friends, right? Maybe not.
- Can Chimpanzees Talk? (Language and Mind)
If human beings are not the only species capable of speech, we aren't so special. Are we?
- Can colorless green ideas sleep furiously? (Syntax 1)
We seem to order the words in a sentence the way we think but evidence indicates otherwise.
- Why We Have to Pay Syntax (Syntax 2)
More evidence that sentences have their own rules of order distinct from those of semantics.
- But There are no Such Things as Words! (Morphology 1)
Evidence showing that we do not use words but parts of words when we speak!
- How to pronounce "GHOTI"... and why (Phonology, Spelling)
Most languages do not have writing systems; so what is the relation of spelling to speaking?
- How is a Hippo Like a Feather? (Historical Linguistics)
An examination of how languages come into being and change over time.
- Words: Where do They Come From? (Morphology 2)
A much more detailed discussion of where words come from.
Enjoy this peculiar type of humor in our speech—sentences that lead us down the garden path.
- Glossary of Fortune-Telling Words
Fortune-telling is built into our way of life. Predicting bad luck from a black cat crossing our path, pulling petals from a flower to tell if someone loves us, believing a four-leaf clover brings good luck—all this is fortune-telling. But there is much, much more. Click here for the full story.
- Folk Etymology
Did you know that crawfish started out as French écrevisse? And French got écrevisse from English crab? What happened? People helped it along by trying to change a foreign word into a perfectly English one. Read all about it here.
- Linguistics Glossary for the Good Words
- Rhyming Compounds in English
Have you every wondered about those sing-song words in English like, well, sing-song, not to mention fuddy-duddy and lickety-split? Read the surprising conclusions of Dr. Goodword, then peruse his growing collection of these funny little words.
A Glossary of Eponyms
Here is the authoritative glossary of words from people's names compiled by Dr. Goodword himself.
- Zany Sentences Made from Movie Titles
Hilarious sentences made out of movie titles strung together. You can contribute. A game you can play, too.
- A List of Funny Company Names
Some are real, most are concocted but all are funny. See if you can come up with one funnier and we will publish it.
- A Glossary of Commonly Confused Words in English
Otherwise known as "false cognates", words English speakers commonly confuse with quizzes that will help you avoid confusing them.
- Ambrose Bierce's Devil's Dictionary
The best American tongue-in-cheek dictionary.
- A Glossary of Quaint Southernisms
Dr. Goodword plays with his own original version of English in an attempt to preserve it.
Historical Dictionary of American Slang
A 2500 searchable dictionary of slang with dates that tell you when the slang first appeared.
- IMglish Glossary (Chatroom and IM shorthand with Emoticons)
Shorten your messages using the new language of IMglish.
- Corrected Glossary of Manias
Crazy about something? There is a word for it no matter what it is.
- Corrected Glossary of Philias
We also have words for every kind of love there is: pick yours here.
- Corrected Glossary of Phobias
Don't go without a phobia another day: Dr. Goodword has one for every occasion.
- The Origins of the Names of the US States
The origins of the names of the US states by Dr. Beard based on the latest linguistic research (2007).
- Language Dictionaries
The very best online dictionaries in 300 languages.
- Specialty Dictionaries
Specialty glossaries in categories like sports, medicine, law, finance, biology, theater, music and 150 more.
- New! Idiom Matching Game Do you have the vocabulary to match neophyte serendipity with beginner's luck? Then you should love this game! Just match the idioms with their arcane English descriptions.
New! Idiom & Adage Recognition Can you recognize the idiom "climbing the walls" from the literal interpretation in the picture on the left? You will love this game.
- False Friend Riddles. Riddles made up of English sentences that contain a foreign word spelled identical to an English word. Define the foreign word to build your vocabulary and learn the major false friends (false cognates) of the language:
- The Rebel-Yankee Test
How much of a Rebel/Yankee are you? Take our quiz and we will tell you.
- The Advanced Rebel-Yankee Test
Did you pass the Rebel-Yankee test? Then you are ready for the advanced test.
- Miss Spelling's Multiple Choice Spelling Bee
This one covers all 100 of the most often misspelled words in a tricky multiple-choice quiz.
- Miss Spelling's Real Time Spelling Bee
This spelling bee is just like a real one: you hear the word, spell it, and are then told if you were right or wrong.
The Commonly Confused Words Quizzes
- Commonly Confused Words on A
- Commonly Confused Words on B
- Commonly Confused Words on C
- Commonly Confused Words on DE
- Commonly Confused Words on F
- Commonly Confused Words on GHI
- Commonly Confused Words on JKL
- Commonly Confused Words on M
- Commonly Confused Words on NOPQ
- Commonly Confused Words on R
- Commonly Confused Words on S
- Commonly Confused Words on TUV
- Commonly Confused Words on WXYZ
- The Phobias Quiz
How many phobias do you know the names of?
- The Slang Generation Quiz
Find out in which generation the slang you use places you.
- Miss Spelling's Often Misspelled Words Quiz
An easy fill-in-the-blank spelling quiz that Miss Spelling created to warm you up for the Spelling Bee.
- The Movie Buffet Game Can you make up sentences exclusively from movie titles? Like this one: The African Queen - Saw - An American in Paris - Catch 22 - Thieves. Come on in and try your hand.
- Movie Buffet Home Game. Here are the rules for playing Movie Buffet at home.
- Linguistic Analysis of the 2012 Debates
This article examines the linguistic data for a winner of the 2012 presidential debates.
- Split Infinitives
Do you suffer from split infinitives? Then you have come to the right doctor. Doctor Goodword has just the right medicine to fix your problem.
- He, She, It, They
Can we use 'they' as substitute for singular 'he' and 'she'? Here is Dr. Goodword's final word on the subject.
- Do I Have to Repeat Myself?
The place of redundancy in language
- What is slang?
Dr. Goodword explains why we create and use slang.
- Bad Grammar or Language Change?
The use of 'less' and 'fewer' in English.
- Will I be Arrested if I End a Sentence with a Preposition?
Why shouldn't I end sentences with prepositions?
- Are You and I You and Me?
Does your skin crawl when you hear phrases like 'between you and I'?
- 'Ain't' Isn't a Four-Letter Word
Teachers, tighten your seatbelts when you read this one!
- How Many Words are in English?
Is English the world word champ?
- Do you Suffer the Embarrassment of LVS?
The status of syncope in English speech.
- Yall (Youse, Yuns) Should Read This
Why does English not have a plural form of 'you'?
- A History of an Historical Quirk
Should you say 'a historical' or 'an historical?
- Warspeak: Linguistic Collateral Damage
Does war change the way we speak?
- A Language is a Dialect with an Army
So what is the difference between a language and a dialect?
- Commonly Confused Words in English (False Cognates)
- The 100 Funniest Words in English
- The 100 Most Beautiful Words in English
- The Most Often Mispronounced Words in English
- The Most Often Misspelled Words in English
- Chaos (English is Tough Stuff)
- The Third Word on -gry
- The Most Often Mispronounced Words in English
- The Most Often Misspelled Words in English
- Questions about English Grammar and Style (with Answers)
- Fickle Ns and Ses
- What's the third English word that ends in -gry?
- What's the longest place name in the world?
- What's the longest word in the English language?
- What does "antidisestablishmentarianism" mean?
- How do I say [a common phrase] in language X?
- I need a boy's/girl's name in language X.
- What does this name mean?
- I have something in mind but can't think of the word for it.
- Is it "judgment" or "judgement"?
- Are "imply" and "infer" synonyms?
- What is the difference between "its" and "it's?"
- What is the difference betweem "may" and "can?"
- What is the difference between "there" and "their?"
- What is onomatopoeia?
- What is the difference between an epithet and an epitaph?
- What is an eponym?
- What is an acronym?
- What is a synonym and a homonym?
- What is a thesaurus?
- What is PIE?
- What does the suffix -stan mean in words like "Afghanistan?"
- What does 'kumbaya' in the song, "Kumbaya, my Lord" mean?
- What is the difference between sit/set and lie/lay?
- Will I go to jail if I end a sentence with a preposition?
- When should I say "X and I" and when "X and me?"
- How can I help stomp out the use of "ain't?"
- How many words are in English?