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Dr. Goodword's Reference Shelf

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.

Dr. Goodword
Linguistics Minicourse
Dictionaries, Glossaries, and Lists
  • Ambrose Bierce's Devil's Dictionary
    The best American tongue-in-cheek dictionary.
  • Commonly Confused Words in English
    Otherwise known as "false cognates", words English speakers commonly confuse plus quizzes that will help you avoid confusing them.
  • 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.
  • Funny Personal Names
    Meet the people from New Monia, Pennsylvanis, who appear in so many Good Words.
  • Glossary of Eponyms
    Here is the authoritative glossary of words from people's names compiled by Dr. Goodword himself.
  • 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.
  • Glossary of Manias
    Crazy about something? There is a word for it no matter what it is.
  • Glossary of Philias
    We also have words for every kind of love there is: pick yours here.
  • Glossary of Phobias
    Don't go without a phobia another day: Dr. Goodword has one for every occasion.
  • 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.
  • Language Dictionaries
    The very best online dictionaries in 300 languages.
  • Linguistic Glossary for the Good Words
    Puzzled by the terminology used in the daily Good Words? Here is a helpful glossary.
  • 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.
  • Names of the US States
    The origins of the names of the US states by Dr. Beard based on the latest linguistic research (2007).
  • Paraprosdokians
    Enjoy this peculiar type of humor in our speech—sentences that lead us down the garden path.
  • 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.
  • Sniglets
    Words not in the dictionary that should be there.
  • Specialty Dictionaries
    Specialty glossaries in categories like sports, medicine, law, finance, biology, theater, music and 150 more.
  • Zany Sentences Made from Movie Titles
    Hilarious sentences made out of movie titles strung together. You can contribute. A game you can play, too.
Language Quizzes & Games
Dr. Goodword's Words on English
Words, Words, Words, Words, Words
English Grammar & Style
Common Questions about Language and Grammar
  1. Fickle Ns and Ses
  2. What's the third English word that ends in -gry?
  3. What's the longest place name in the world?
  4. What's the longest word in the English language?
  5. What does "antidisestablishmentarianism" mean?
  6. How do I say [a common phrase] in language X?
  7. I need a boy's/girl's name in language X.
  8. What does this name mean?
  9. I have something in mind but can't think of the word for it.
  10. Is it "judgment" or "judgement"?
  11. Are "imply" and "infer" synonyms?
  12. What is the difference between "its" and "it's?"
  13. What is the difference betweem "may" and "can?"
  14. What is the difference between "there" and "their?"
  15. What is onomatopoeia?
  16. What is the difference between an epithet and an epitaph?
  17. What is an eponym?
  18. What is an acronym?
  19. What is a synonym and a homonym?
  20. What is a thesaurus?
  21. What is PIE?
  22. What does the suffix -stan mean in words like "Afghanistan?"
  23. What does 'kumbaya' in the song, "Kumbaya, my Lord" mean?
  24. What is the difference between sit/set and lie/lay?
  25. Will I go to jail if I end a sentence with a preposition?
  26. When should I say "X and I" and when "X and me?"
  27. How can I help stomp out the use of "ain't?"
  28. How many words are in English?