Glossophilia’s top 21 posts


Celebrating its 70,000th visitor earlier today, Glossophilia brings you its 21 most popular posts so far. Subjects include Cockney Rhyming Slang and other quirky Englishisms; contranyms and homophones; when to use which and when to use that; British tea – when is it low and when is it high? and British school – when is it public and when is it private?; some modern words like yolo and like, and a not-so-modern one: dildo. And, of course, some American-British differences that we can never get enough of — this time in the kitchen pantry  …

Enjoy (them)!

21. Portmanteaux, neologisms and malapropisms  Brangelina-type word-blends and other newfangled vocab.



20. Oliver’s army is on its way   Are collective nouns singular or plural? That depends …



19. It’s 4.20: do you know where your teen is? Is he at low tea or high tea? Or just high?   What makes tea “low” or “high”? And talking of high, why “420”?



18. Guess the contranyms (and the word with many meanings)  Words whose one meaning is the opposite of its other meaning.



17. Oxford and Cambridge: a new battleground for an old rivalry?  The Oxford comma isn’t the only divisive comma, it seems …



16. Which Witch?  The difference between which and that and which to use when …



15. Why Boxing Day? Where did that mysterious British holiday get its name from?


14. Celebrating the rule of three on Glosso’s third birthday  The ubiquitous rule of three, and how it governs our language and phraseology.

Birthday Cupcake


13. Homophones, and similar words that confound us   Not to be confused with homonyms …


12. Whomever Horton hears in Whoville  There’s some over-correction going on in Who-ville (whomever? or whoever?)



11. The British “public school”: what does public really mean? Private?   That public-private thing that confuses Americans …



10. Cat’s pajamas, bee’s knees, and dog’s bollocks Where did these animal body-parts expressions come from?



9. Done up like a kipper  … and some other quaint and quirky British expressions



8. Boys will be guys   The word boy seems to have an age restriction, unlike its female counterpart.



7. The ubiquity of like   Not, like, in the sense you might think.



6. You say biscuit, I say cookie   Brits and Yanks and what they call their food items. We never tire of airing our differences.



5. He can’t drive home: he’s Brahms and Liszt!   The wonderful world of Cockney Rhyming Slang.


4. Literally, or figuratively?    Is there a difference any more?



3. With a hey nonny nonny and a diddle dildo   Is dildo a modern word, or has it been around longer than we think?


2. YOLO: from the sublimely stupid to the ridiculous  The evolution of one of the 21st century’s favorite acronyms.


1. The language of sex: come one, come all   An exploration of come and cum: come one, come all …



And here is my personal favorite:

Happy posters   A poster on the New York City subway goes under the Glossophilia microscope…


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