Talking Chairs
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21 unusual phobias

It’s been said that in English, there is a word for everything. Terms exist to describe groups of animals and other words, and there are even words formed by the combination of two separate words. Having recently unearthed a new phobia—“aerophobia,” or fear of air travel—I’ve taken an interest in words that describe and pinpoint fears. How many of these phobias do you recognize? (Terms from Oxford Dictionaries, Phobialist.com and Fearof.net.) 1. Asthenophobia: fear of weakness 2. Astrapophobia: fear of lightning 3. Ataxaphobia: fear of disorder or untidiness 4....
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Don’t bury the lede: Put crucial i...

“Burying the lede” is the failure to mention the most important, interesting or attention-grabbing elements of a story in the first few paragraphs. In corporate communications, “burying the lede” means you’ve failed to highlight the most important or actionable items at the beginning of your message. Let’s say you are writing an email to all employees about a change to your organization’s health care plan. You wouldn’t begin the email with facts and statistics about the rising costs of health care or about the current turmoil in the health care industry....
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Words we almost misspell

Writers and editors with long and varied experience, it’s safe to say that we are all exceptionally strong spellers. We can recite English spelling rules and their exceptions. We’re the ones who challenge words in Scrabble. Even the written words that appear in our dreams are spelled correctly. There are very few words that give us trouble—except for those that we almost misspell. Last week I used the word “piecemeal” in a text, and for a brief second I asked myself whether it was “peacemeal” or “piecemeal.” Below are a few of these problematic words,...
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Test your ice cream vocabulary

We have entered the dog days of summer. Here in Texas, we fully expect it to be toasty this time of year, but this summer has been torrid. I walked outside after work yesterday, and even my eyes felt hot. So begins our obsession with ways to keep cool: spring-fed swimming pools, cold saunas, smartphone fan attachments and ice cream—pounds upon pounds of ice cream. The average American eats more than 23 pounds of ice cream each year. June is the highest production month, though production stays strong through August to meet the summer demand. Along with demand comes...
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9 misunderstood words and how to use the...

How often do you spot words that are used improperly? Maybe it’s “can” instead of “may” or “less” when “fewer” would be correct. Usage mistakes are common and can damage the credibility of your message and your organization. That’s why it’s important to know your definitions. Below are nine words with misunderstood and misused meanings. How many have you been using correctly? (Definitions and usage guidance came from Oxford Dictionaries, Dictionary.com and Merriam-Webster.) 1. Complement Complement means to add to or complete. It can also mean the...