Ben Zimmer is the executive producer of Vocabulary.com and
the Visual Thesaurus, language columnist for The Wall Street Journal, and
former language columnist for The Boston Globe and The New York Times Magazine.

The Wall Street Journal

How ‘Affirmative Action’ Acquired Its Meaning (Apr. 26, 2014)
Justice Sotomayor isn’t the only one to find the phrase ‘affirmative action’ problematic; it has always been a slippery designation. (free via G+)

‘Bicoastalism’: A Long Flight To ‘Mad Men’ (Apr. 19, 2014)
The word ‘bicoastal,’ used this season in ‘Mad Men,’ goes back to the early days of transcontinental aviation. (free via G+)

Secrets of the Bright Orange ‘Black Box’ (Apr. 12, 2014)
The use of the phrase "black boxes" to describe flight recorders, as in Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, has its roots in World War II. (free via G+)

Read more language commentary in The Wall St. Journal here.

Slate / Lexicon Valley

Sorry, That’s Not an Emoticon in a 1648 Poem :( (Apr. 15, 2014)

An Olympic Snowboarder Said “Huck It,” and the BBC Freaked Out (Feb. 9, 2014)

Read more language commentary on Slate here.