Picture of Arika Okrent

Arika Okrent

Editor-at-large

Arika Okrent is editor-at-large at TheWeek.com and a frequent contributor to Mental Floss. She is the author of In the Land of Invented Languages, a history of the attempt to build a better language. She holds a doctorate in linguistics and a first-level certification in Klingon. Follow her on Twitter.

13 words of the year from other countries
Feature

13 words of the year from other countries

The American Dialect Society's word of the year
Feature

The American Dialect Society's word of the year

Your family name did not come from a mistake at Ellis Island
Travelers at Ellis Island
Feature

Your family name did not come from a mistake at Ellis Island

8 ad headlines that sneakily ding the competition
Sweet 'n Low
Feature

8 ad headlines that sneakily ding the competition

20 awesomely titled trade magazines
Magazines
Feature

20 awesomely titled trade magazines

In defense of hamantashen
Mazel tov!
Feature

In defense of hamantashen

How to converse properly: 18 tips from old etiquette books
Conversation
Feature

How to converse properly: 18 tips from old etiquette books

29 answers to the question 'What is a human being?'
"But breath and shadow, nothing more." -Sophocles
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29 answers to the question 'What is a human being?'

The 65-year battle over the Deceased Wife's Sister's Marriage Act
An untitled illustration by Charles Dana Gibson depicts a pair of fashionable young women in London, c. 1896-1898.
Feature

The 65-year battle over the Deceased Wife's Sister's Marriage Act

6 early theories about the origin of language
Will we ever find an answer?
From our friends at Mental Floss

6 early theories about the origin of language

7 overlooked Thanksgiving rituals, according to sociologists
Thanksgivng overlooks
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7 overlooked Thanksgiving rituals, according to sociologists

How to wrap a present with mathematical precision (and waste less paper)
Gift wrapping
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How to wrap a present with mathematical precision (and waste less paper)

The most expensive properties in 11 special edition Monopoly games
Monopoly
Feature

The most expensive properties in 11 special edition Monopoly games

The strange world of USDA place labels
BDubs
Feature

The strange world of USDA place labels

5 baffling foreign-language versions of the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air theme song
Will Smith
Audiophile: Listen Smarter

5 baffling foreign-language versions of the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air theme song

4 surprising things Facebook has learned from your relationship status
The Social Network
Audiophile: Listen Smarter

4 surprising things Facebook has learned from your relationship status

35 classy slang terms for naughty bits from the past 600 years
Prude
Feature

35 classy slang terms for naughty bits from the past 600 years

How many spaces should there be at the end of a sentence?
Typewriter
Feature

How many spaces should there be at the end of a sentence?

Do your texts make you sound old?
Are you still using LOL to indicate laughter? Stop it, grannies.
Feature

Do your texts make you sound old?

What the spelling bee loses by adding definitions
Spelling Bee contestant Vismaya Jui Kharkar of Utah tries to spell her word during the 6th round of last year's competition.
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What the spelling bee loses by adding definitions

Where did the expression 'OK' come from?
A young man makes the OK sign in the 1950s, more than a century after the ubiquitous expression was coined.
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Where did the expression 'OK' come from?

4 crazy, early foreign language versions of Beatles songs
The Beatles
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4 crazy, early foreign language versions of Beatles songs

9 reasons we adore this little girl's sign language version of 'Twas the Night Before Christmas'
'Twas the night before Christmas
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9 reasons we adore this little girl's sign language version of 'Twas the Night Before Christmas'

7 fun facts about the Dothraki language from Game of Thrones
Game of Thrones
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7 fun facts about the Dothraki language from Game of Thrones

Watch the Surf Punks explain the latest slang in this 1980s news report
California surfers, circa 1990
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Watch the Surf Punks explain the latest slang in this 1980s news report

12 onomatopoeias from around the world
Piglets
Feature

12 onomatopoeias from around the world

How does an exception prove a rule?
Adrian Peterson
Feature

How does an exception prove a rule?

How many words do Eskimos really have for snow?
Wow, check out that apusiniq!
From our friends at Mental Floss

How many words do Eskimos really have for snow?

5 words that are spelled weirdly because someone got the etymology wrong
Scissors
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5 words that are spelled weirdly because someone got the etymology wrong

11 classy insults with classical Greek and Latin roots
Taintor
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11 classy insults with classical Greek and Latin roots

26 of Noah Webster's spelling changes that didn't catch on
Noah Webster
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26 of Noah Webster's spelling changes that didn't catch on

15 harsh things critics said about The Nutcracker after its 1892 premiere
The Nutcracker
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15 harsh things critics said about The Nutcracker after its 1892 premiere

What is the most complex Chinese character?
The Chinese character biang is made up of 57 strokes.
Feature

What is the most complex Chinese character?

11 fun word lists to drill your vocabulary on
Pirates
Feature

11 fun word lists to drill your vocabulary on

Don't use 'pants' for 'pantaloons': 19 surprising rules copy editors used to enforce
Newspaper editor
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Don't use 'pants' for 'pantaloons': 19 surprising rules copy editors used to enforce

11 words from a 1940s song about slang
Betty Hutton
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11 words from a 1940s song about slang